May 5, 2010

From the Front: 05/05/2010

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

Kandahar Diary: The Heat is On - Things are heating up... and it’s not just the weather. KAF is rocketed almost every night and teams of insurgent suicide bombers have infiltrated Kandahar Province, making their way to Kandahar city, looking for soft targets. IED activity is on the increase and our convoys are being hit every other day SAF from quite well-laid insurgent ambushes. The ANP are doing a good job in the city, hunting down and arresting or otherwise dealing with, bomber teams. Today, three bombers were captured, along with all their kit and explosives but more are on the loose. I have a close relationship with the ANP in this area and they work hard, every single day, to keep us safe as best they can – but as my contact says: “We try our best, but you must be ready”. We are. Yesterday, one of our interpreters was arrested by ANP CID for alleged links to the Tehrik-i Taliban. He is from Pakistan and, apparently, the Taliban have his family in their sights unless he feeds them information about our position and movements. (READ MORE)

Richard Lowry: Chapter 1 (Part 3) Fallujah: The Most Dangerous City in Iraq - Within hours of the Blackwater ambush on the last day of March 2004, the Marines moved to cordon off the entire city. Inside, the enemy prepared for the inevitable assault. Major General James Mattis and Lieutenant General James Conway, however, recommended restraint. The Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General John Kelly, sought to temper America’s response in the Division’s daily report: "As we review the actions in Fallujah yesterday, the murder of four private security personnel in the most brutal way, we are convinced that this act was spontaneous mob action. Under the wrong circumstances this could have taken place in any city in Iraq. We must avoid the temptation to strike out in retribution. In the only 10 days we have been here we have engaged the “good” and the bad in Fallujah everyday, and have casualties to show for our efforts." (READ MORE)

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: The Sun is Shining - Ok maybe not so literally today. It's actually quite over-cast and was raining this morning and there is clearly more rain coming... buuut it was this weekend and it is today for me in my little cloud of the world. This post is probably going to be a lengthy one, so if you stick it out to the end, mad props to you. I'm going to start with a slight weekend recap. I wanted to blog quite a few times this weekend but it was just so busy that I didn't really get a chance. After the last post, this one should be a bit more on a happy note and some of you might think I'm a little nuts how much my mood shifts but that's 1. Part of grieving and 2. Part of being a woman in general. So, just bare with me, mmk? After the memorial, I hung out with Rachel (Jonny's mom) for a little bit at the house. We talked a lot and she had some really good insight and perspective that really helped me come to terms with things, including the "why's." (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: One of the worst ideas ever! - You have got to be kidding me? Promising awards to soldiers for “not shooting”! NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing troops for “courageous restraint” if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives. That is as dumb as what Shinsenki did when he came up with the idea of the Black Beret. He did that because he saw how proud and great looking Special Operations troops looked in their berets so he wanted the whole Army to have them. The thought that a soldier will be more professional or proud looking because of a piece of wool on their head was as foolish then as it is now. The idea that the promise of an award will be in the decision making process of taking a human life is flippin’ ludicrous. Anyone that has been in a TIC or firefight (as they are commonly known as) can tell you that when you are behind cover, returning fire and being fired on, the last FRIGGEN thing you are thinking of is “I wonder what medal I will get out of this”. (READ MORE)

Mike T: Letting the Colors Run - There is no easy way to admit that sometimes things get past you. Someone once told me that if a person has to throw a brick at you to get your attention, then you are moving too fast in life. My brick hit and punched a hole through my chest. It caused an awakening that has been teetering in my head and heart for a while. There are so many reasons and causes for things in my life, but I have stood the line many times before and followed my beliefs and this is no different. Maybe I am saving myself or someone is helping me, either way everyone has to be saved at some time. My time is now and I am here with open arms. I do not blame all my problems on combat, is there a relationship there? Of course, but who I am and what I do is because of free will. The past twelve years of my life and the events that have occurred in that time frame have shaped who I am today. I have struggled to find out who I am and what I want, all this to include distancing myself from certain friends and most of my family. (READ MORE)

Army Blogger Wife: Things I wonder about... - Why am I more productive with children home? Why can't the Army decide on a deployment date and stick with it. It's later, then sooner, then later, now sooner again. Make a decision and stick with it. Why can't Abs have a great day at school and at home? Is that too much to ask? Why did the Air Force (or is it all military) decide that when you take your dog to the vet it costs a $25 set appointment fee. She got paid $5 a minute to see Sammy in addition to the shot, flea stuff, etc. I mean, I understand it, but I'm thinking it's not as cheap to take him on base anymore. Why didn't I think to call the groomer first before calling a million dog kennels. I found a great place and Sammy has to go for an admissions test on Monday. I hope he passes. Thanks E! Why does the Residence Inn have to charge a $50 non refundable pet fee when I will only be there about 12 hours. What did I do with the preschool paperwork for Junior? (READ MORE)

Andrew Lebovich and Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: NYC bomb suspect admits training in Waziristan - In a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in New York, the federal government charged alleged failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad on several terrorism-related counts, including the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Shahzad reportedly cooperated with investigators before and after being read his Miranda rights, and confessed not only to attempting to execute the bomb plot but also undergoing explosives training in the Pakistani tribal region of Waziristan during a recent 5-month stay in Pakistan. Shahzad's claim that he received training in Pakistan's tribal areas, as well as phone calls he received from Pakistan in the days before the attack, has reportedly led investigators to focus on the potential role of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and other Pakistani militant groups in the attacks. (READ MORE)

C.J. CHIVERS: Toggling Between Fighting and Outreach in Afghanistan - However the Afghan war is faring over all, across the wide and varied expanse of Afghanistan, with all of its political and cultural complexity, one thing is abundantly clear: toggling between fighting and outreach can create head-spinning scenes. Some of these scenes underline the difficulties inherent in a counterinsurgency doctrine that mixes lopsided violence with attempts to make nice. But they also simultaneously demonstrate that the efforts to follow the doctrine far from Kabul, out on remote ground, have become a central part of how the war is waged, even as the merits of the doctrine are quietly debated. One example was in mid-February, when Kilo Company, Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, was still isolated and alone in the agricultural strip in northern Marja, a region of small villages between patches of open steppe and irrigated poppy fields. (READ MORE)

better when we're together: Back for the moment - Why is it that the longer you (read: I) stay away from blogging, the harder it is to come back? I've been meaning to write a post, but the more I kept putting it off, the less I knew what to say. The truth is, I still don't know what to say. So, for now I guess I'll do bullet points of some of the things we have been up to. The biggest thing I have been up to is going to at least one doctor appointment a week for several weeks. I asked the milspouses about finding out whether or not Tricare covers a procedure a while back. Well, the procedure has been approved and I will be having a pretty quick outpatient surgery in a couple of weeks. So, I've had countless appointments related to that. The whole process has been more frustrating than I thought it needed to be. My doctor back home has been urging me to have this surgery for 2 years now, but I've just put it off because it isn't a life/death situation and frankly surgery makes me nervous. (READ MORE)

CI-Roller Dude: "With That Said"...arrgggggggggg!!!! - From the Soldier side: There are some things in any organization that those who pay attention start to wonder out loud: “Why do we have that? It’s a waste of money.” The larger an organization, the greater chance this item is not an item but a human. In the United States Army, there are many such persons. They may be in a position of authority, leadership or some private who just can’t seem to get anything done. With privates, a good NCO figures that there is always hope. That hope may come from the thought that: “We’ll get him/ her to understand how to do this and become a good soldiers” or “We think he/she is just too retarded, so we need to kick them out of the Army.” In either case, I figure that there is some hope. Some chance. Some glimmer of something to make things all better…since we can no longer do “Wall to Wall Counseling.” But, as a soldier stays in the Army, they are expected to move up in rank. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Crazy Contractors - It has been a long time since we have seen a crazy contractor story from Afghanistan. This story, about reckless security contractors, popped up in the news yesterday, saying “...Private Afghan security guards protecting NATO supply convoys in southern Kandahar province regularly fire wildly into villages they pass, hindering coalition efforts to build local support ahead of this summer’s planned offensive in the area, U.S. and Afghan officials say.” Well now, I have gone on record as saying security contractors don’t do those sorts of things only to find that maybe they do. Look at this quote from the linked article, “Especially as they go through the populated areas, they tend to squeeze the trigger first and ask questions later,” said Capt. Matt Quiggle, a member of the U.S. Army’s 5th Stryker brigade tasked with patrolling Highway One, which connects Afghanistan’s major cities.” (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: General Petraeus visits Task Force Helmand - General David Petraeus, the Head of US Central Command, visited Helmand Province on Saturday to meet British Foreign Office and military staff in Lashkar Gah. General Petraeus - who was accompanied by the Commander of ISAF Joint Command, Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, and the ISAF Regional Commander South, Major General Nick Carter - was met by the Commander of Task Force Helmand, Brigadier Richard Felton and the Director of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, Lindy Cameron. General Petraeus received an update on current and future operations with key briefings given by Colonel Shirin Shah of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA), and Colonel Kamulladin of the Afghanistan National Police (ANP). Colonel Shirin Shah outlined some of the challenges that the ANA face and highlighted the steady progress that is being made by his six kandaks (companies). Colonel Kamulladin said that recent partnership operations were continuing to improve the ANP’s capabilities. (READ MORE)

Sgt Danger: Let Me Sum Up - It’s over. I’m back in the United States, and this time for good. The past year and a half has been one of anticipation, fear, excitement, frustration, despair, hope, anger, fun, comfort, and, well, just about every other emotion possible. I’m ten pounds lighter, but still heavier than I want to be. I became a pretty damn good gun truck commander, but not the brilliant leader I hoped for. I made a dozen new lifelong friends. I let my temper get the best of me at times. Other times, I learned to forgive and to be patient. I made some good money, and didn’t have to send Uncle Sam a penny. Good or bad, easy or hard, I had the kind of experiences that taught me what I needed to learn and led me to where I am now. More than a few times, on my knees, I thanked God for taking me on a path that I wouldn’t have chosen. Take a few minutes to read about the experience, and tell me what you think. (READ MORE)

Kandahar Diary: Terp Speak - Our convoy interpreters risk their lives every day. Working with us they are targets in a big way from all sorts of directions not limited to the insurgents. They have to live inside the compound because they wouldn’t last a night in the city. I admire them (although they can be bloody sly at times). But there is something about them – that any soldier who has worked with them will know – that can be bloody funny: their English. It’s a weird melange of Hollywood, Bollywood and good old Anglo Saxon obscene. Me: “S, what’s the story with (a location)? We’re getting hit there too much… should we delay the convoy?” Terp: “No boss, no muther-fuckin way. We ready to go much no worry. We go and the Taliban come then we cool to rock n roll over the fuckers.” Me:”So that’s a ‘No’ to the delay?” Terp: “Much a big fuckin no boss. Leave it with me. It’s cool, no problems.” {Big grin, thumbs up and off he goes} (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Maliki's Generous? - What's funny about the recount is that Nouri Al Maliki claims he's doing it for the Iraqi people. He himself said as much on one of the TV channels. And his oil minister said at a press conference that the State of Law want the government the Iraqi people chose. In other words, they are demanding the recount and complaining about how it's being conducted not for them to all keep their jobs. It's for the Iraqi people. Now that's generosity. It certainly is a curious claim. Because the Iraqi people have not demanded a recount. You really don't hear anyone other than well-placed government employees who want to keep their jobs waiting for the recount results. You can even see Iraqis interviewed on TV saying the people voted, they chose Allawi, enough is enough. Iraqis just want a government that functions. An outsider might say they're afraid to protest. Actually that's not the case. Because Iraqis marched in the streets a couple of days ago to protest the murder of Christians. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: Michael Ware PTSD “Misunderstanding” - After days of negative publicity for appearing to dump war correspondent Michael Ware, who says he is suffering from PTSD, CNN tells the New York Times, there may have been a misunderstanding. While the report, which originated on the blog that follows Ware, has been circulating for days, it took CNN a while to figure out what to say in response. “We will continue to support him during this time,” a CNN says without explaining precisely why Ware thought his services were no longer required. On doesn’t need to be a cynic to look at the available facts and suspect that maybe CNN had an adverse reaction to the adverse publicity. The Times report has CNN blaming ware for Ware neglecting to mention his PTSD, when requesting more leave, a request that was originally denied. The CNN statement, issued Friday says “We hope that when he is ready and able he will be back doing what he does best.” (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: The War is HERE…and its Not a Revolution - ( I know I promised kittens but this was much more important) In November of 2008 when my son’s brothers came home from Iraq I wrote this: “As we drove on Veteran’s Day I thought about how lucky the people in this country are to have the men and women of our military. Between it being Veterans day and where we were heading I had no choice but to see things from a perspective most Americans fail to look at. We drove without fear of IEDs. There were no check points. We could stop along the way and not fear snipers or suicide bombers. When we were hungry we had a multitude of options. And I knew without a doubt that these freedoms and this security are due fully to the fact we have such an outstanding group of people who made the choice to wear the uniform and defend these things.” This past Saturday there was an attempted car bombing in New York. If they had succeeded the results would have been devastating. (READ MORE)

Knottie's Niche: Trip To the Air Show and Down Memory Lane - Yesterday we loaded up and drove a few hours to the Altus OK air show. It has been years since I went to an air show and I was looking forward to it. Not so much for the aircrafts but from the demonstrations they put on. Now the day started off with me running into one of my good friends in Army recruiting and getting big hugs so as you can imagine it was a good day. My youngest son had never been to an air show so he was very excited. He loved sitting in the cockpits and “pretending” to fly the different planes and helicopters. When the parachute demo started he didn’t take his eyes off the sky. The sheer joy and wonderment on his face reminded me of many years ago and the first time we took Micheal to an air show. The same look was on his face too. I think that was when Micheal fell in love with airplanes. And like Micheal who was able to spot an airplane when it was nothing more than a dot in the sky Anthony was able to locate and point out the parachutist before most of us. (READ MORE)

The Life of the Wife: Positivity - I had a client the other day ask if my husband was deployed. As most of you know, he is. She then told me that if she were the spouse at home she would cry all day. I never cry! Reason one, I am a HIDEOUS crier. And not even doing ugly-cry I am hideous. You don't want to see it. I promise. I'm actually quite happy. I've learned how to fix my 1990 German-spec BMW, how to order parts at the German auto store (mildly scary), how to say "I have diarrhea" in German, though thank God I haven't had to actually implement that yet. Life is good! I get to go home and see my family and eventually hang out with my awesome and cool husband. But why am I happy? I firmly believe it has to do with 3 things: what I eat, what I drink, and (cue collective eye roll) CrossFit. What I eat: regulated portions of slightly modified Paleo. Nothing processed, no crap, limited dairy, lots of green things, limited grains. (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: Life on base - THE END OF AN ERA: Well, 1 May has come and gone and all the local vendor shops are CLOSED! And Subway, Popeyes, Burger King and Pizza Hut are CLOSED! At least here on BAF. I don't know what is happening on other FOBs but this mostly affects BAF, Kandahar and Salerno. The lines at the dining facilities are longer, but Soldiers are probably already saving money and losing fat. Personally, I tried to avoid the fast food places anyway and it has helped me with both; saving money and losing weight. :-) I was not consulted on this decision (I'm not consulted on any, really) but it seems like a good thing. Less amenities makes more room for more Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to do the work. And we definitely need more room, at least here on BAF! Thankfully, they did not cut to the bone. We still have the PX, and the internet provider and Green Beans Coffee (a local coffee shop in the deployed areas, I sure wish I had thought of the idea). (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: The real stars - During an intense firefight in mid-July, Sgt. 1st Class James Goodin repeatedly put his life on the line without hesitation. As U.S. forces fought hard while trying to apprehend a wanted Taliban leader, the soldier noticed two fellow troops in harm's way. With almost no regard to his personal safety, he helped his injured brothers in arms. For his actions during the battle, which included volunteering to hold a dangerous position during an ambush by terrorist fighters, Sgt, 1st Class Goodin was awarded the Silver Star by Gen. George Casey on Friday. Pictured above is the Chief of Staff of the Army pinning the third-highest military decoration on the brave soldier's uniform in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province. Back in Hays, Kansas, where Goodin hails from, there are undoubtedly some very proud relatives, friends, and neighbors at this hour. (READ MORE)

War is Boring: Humanitarian Aid, a Warmonger’s Best Friend? - Does humanitarian aid prolong wars? Yes, argues Dutch journalist Linda Polman in her new book War Games: The Story of Aid and War in Modern Times, which was just reviewed by The Guardian. War Games is just the latest addition to the booming cottage industry of criticizing aid, aid workers, and international activism related to humanitarian crises. It joins NYU economist Bill Easterly’s The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, veteran war correspondent Rob Crilly’s Saving Darfur: Everyone’s Favourite African War, Zambian economist and former banker Dambisa Moyo’s widely misunderstood, but even more influential for it, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa, and an expanding anti-aid blogosphere. If Polman’s Guardian interview is any indication, her book will be a huge hit for taking extreme positions and providing a wealth of quotable quotes. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Acknowledging our allies: Canada - I've been getting a number of hits from Canada recently, so I decided I'd not only dedicate a post to one of our closest allies, but also an entire week to our allies in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Americans and Canadians fought alongside one another at Normandy Beach; serve together in North American Aerospace Defense's Cheyenne Mountain; and took part in fierce fighting during Operation Mountain Thrust in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Canadian forces worked with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the US Army's 10th Mountain Division during Operation Mountain Thrust. This brigade calls Fort Drum, New York its home--located a mere 20 miles from the Canadian border) I'm also risking getting my American citizenship taken away when I say this, but we Americans occasionally acknowledge some pieces of Canadian equipment as superior, copying them for ourselves. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: I don’t think they want us in Nimroz - You probably have never heard about Nimroz (or Nimruz as it is spelled below), and the reason is because we (Coalition and even Afghan forces) have hardly ever been there. Nimroz is in the extreme southwest of Afghanistan and for the last 9 years it has been a no-man’s land when it comes to our or the Afghan Security Forces presence there. I have been pressuring many a Commander on the DOD Blogger Roundtables about Nimroz and have talked about it on blogs and in person that we need to push in there and establish a presence. I know the Marines have been venturing in there since last year and it seems there may be a presence there now. It also seems that the Taliban don’t like us there. I am sure the military expected this and I think we can expect many more violent actions there as it is bordered by both Pakistan and Iran, our two biggest nemesis in the fight in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: What we must do to win Kandahar - There are reports that the rules of engagement in place in Afghanistan has given the insurgents enough space to operate that they have been seen laying down their weapons, walking to another location (where a weapons cache is located), picking up another weapon, and then firing again. There are even reports that Taliban fighters have been seen forcing women and children to carry their weapons to the next fighting location, all the while peering at U.S. troops without fear because they know that they cannot be fired upon due to the ROE. The Strategy Page explains why the ROE has not lead to decreased casualties. The majority of civilian combat deaths are at the hands of the Taliban or drug gangs, and the local media plays those down (or else). It’s a sweet deal for the bad guys, and a powerful battlefield tool. The civilians appreciate the attention, but the ROE doesn’t reduce overall civilian deaths... (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Obama "Coldly Reprimanded" Military Brass For Daring to ... What? - During the Bush administration, wasn't it Democrats and progressives who screamed bloody murder about how Rumsfeld brutally crushed dissenting voices in the military brass? And wasn't it Democrats and progressives who loudly demanded that George Bush "listen to the Generals"? What a difference an election makes: “The book says Obama laid into Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen in an Oval Office meeting in October. Obama was irked by the leak of a confidential report by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, calling for an expanded military presence there, and by McChrystal saying he could not support a strategy relying on special forces and unmanned drone attacks. Obama was conducting a lengthy review of operations in Afghanistan at the time.” (READ MORE)

CJ: Thank You - It's no secret that life has been an utter disaster for me for the past few years. It's been an uphill road for as long as I can remember. Somehow, I've always pulled myself through with the help of friends, writing, family, medication, or counseling. The past year has got to have been the worst of them all. I just want to take a quick moment and thank the members of Soldiers' Angels who took time out of their lives to send words of support and encouragement to one of my troops. He hasn't been back yet to read them, but they are in a large folder waiting for him to come back to work. I probably have about 100 cards on my desk for him. I also want to thank some of those same Angels that sent cards to me after the passing of my grandparents exactly one week apart. It hit me like a ton of bricks due to other issues I was dealing with at the time that were compounded by the grief of losing a very influential person in my life (and others). (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
CNN Is ‘Standing With’ Stressed-Out War Correspondent - Michael Ware has spent so much of the past nine years reporting from war zones for Time magazine and CNN that it’s almost like he’s a citizen of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Detainee Transfers Announced - The Department of Defense announced today that two detainees were transferred yesterday from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, one each, to the custody and control of the governments of Bulgaria and Spain. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

AP Exclusive: Iraq Deal Gives Clerics Final Say - An agreement signed by Iraq's two main Shiite blocs seeking to govern the country gives the final decision on all their political disputes to top Shiite clerics, according to a copy obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Iraq Shi'ite Blocs to Join Forces In Parliament - Iraq's two big Shi'ite political coalitions, one led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and one whose leaders have close ties to Iran, agreed on Tuesday on an alliance to form a single bloc in parliament, officials said. (READ MORE)

Iraq's two major Shiite political blocs to unite in effort to form government - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition and another Shiite political bloc announced Tuesday night that they would band together to form a new government. (READ MORE)

Shiite Alliance in Iraq May Push Allawi Aside - The electoral coalitions of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and the other major Shiite bloc in Iraq announced a postelection alliance on Tuesday night that cleared the way for a Shiite-dominated government for the next four years. (READ MORE)

The Iraqi Hunting Club Flourishes - It was my day off, so, my mother invited me for coffee at the Iraqi Hunting Club. At first I was not very enticed, so as not to fall into the depressing comparisons of the place yesterday and today. (READ MORE)

Afghan militants attack government buildings - Nine suicide bombers have been killed along with four bystanders in an attack on government buildings in the Afghan city of Zaranj, officials say. (READ MORE)

Militants Attack Government Buildings In Afghan South - Taliban suicide bombers launched simultaneous attacks on three government buildings in southwestern Afghanistan on Monday, killing four people, including a government official, the Interior Ministry said. (READ MORE)

Taliban Suicide Squad Attack Afghan Compound - Taliban suicide bombers disguised in police uniforms tried to infiltrate a government compound Wednesday in southwestern Afghanistan, sparking gunbattles that killed a provincial council member, two police officers and a civilian, authorities said. (READ MORE)

20 killed in flash floods in western Afghanistan - Afghan aid agencies and NATO troops Wednesday rushed relief supplies to western Afghanistan, where flash floods triggered by torrential rains have killed at least 20 people, officials said. (READ MORE)

Albania's Imami makes surprise visit to Afghanistan - Albanian Defence Minister Arben Imami paid a surprise visit to Herat, Afghanistan on Monday (May 3rd) where he met with Albanian troops. (READ MORE)

House committee considers progress in Afghanistan - The House Armed Services Committee is taking stock of the Obama administration's new counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan on Wednesday. (READ MORE)

More Afghan schoolgirls ill in suspected gas attack - Twenty-two Kabul schoolgirls and three teachers fell suddenly ill and were hospitalized on Tuesday in what Afghan authorities described as the fourth suspected poison gas attack on a girls' school in weeks. (READ MORE)

Afghan Lawmaker, 2 Cops Killed In Taliban Attacks On Govt. Buildings - A group of nine Taliban militants wearing suicide vests and armed with automatic weapons Wednesday attacked government buildings in western Afghanistan killing a lawmaker and two policemen, reports quoting local officials said. (READ MORE)

Nato acknowledges Taliban strong in Kandahar - Nato’s civilian representative in Afghanistan acknowledged Tuesday that the Taliban was a strong opponent in Kandahar, the main battleground in US-led efforts to beat back their nine-year insurgency. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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