May 7, 2010

From the Front: 05/07/2010

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

Dispatches:
CounterInsurgency Center:
WHO GIVES A DAMN ABOUT COIN? - Back in the 90's, a female acquaintance of my mine said, “have you heard about this Sara Yevo chick? She is all over the news. What did she do?” Of course that Sara Yevo chick was not a new Hispanic starlet but rather, was the Bosnian City of Sarajevo which was under a bloody siege at that time. When I explained what Sarajevo was, her topic of conversation changed to Oprah’s latest guest. The lesson learned for me was the general public is often not really too concerned with life and death missions in far flung places, ethnic cleansing, or the intervention of their armed forces. What was topical was Oprah’s latest guest. And, fair enough, we pay people like me to think about that stuff and to deploy to those places and let’s be honest, Bosnia was not a critical interest of your average North American. This last weekend, I was invited to a dinner party with some super people through my wife. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: True grit - For 31 years, Command Sgt. Maj. John Laborde served his nation without asking for much in return. By all accounts, he only had one consistent demand: take care of our men and women in uniform. "John was about the Soldiers," the headquarters company 1st Sgt. Mark Taylor said. "If it isn't for the good of the Soldiers, he would say we shouldn't be doing it." On April 25, a stirring, tearful ceremony in honor of Command Sgt. Maj. Laborde was held at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Daniel Lonowski reports that troops stood under the hot sun to salute the respected leader, who died on April 22 in a non-combat related incident. The article said that while an investigation has been launched, the cause of the 53-year-old Bronze Star winner's death is believed to be natural. Laborde joined the Marine Corps in 1975, then became an Army Reservist in 1985. (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: RE: the B.C.T.--Tell You What It Means to Me - Family and friends (not to mention the media) have recently demonstrated confusion over the pieces and parts comprising a Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.) The following attempt at a primer isn't exactly official Army doctrine (in actually, sizes of units vary greatly depending on function or specialty), but, as they say, it's close enough for government work. When I say that, remember that government work always goes to the lowest bidder. Also ... remember that you get what you pay for. So here's some decidedly fuzzy Sherpa math: Each level of military unit fits into a larger one. A squad is about 8 soldiers. Four squads plus a small "headquarters" (platoon leader, platoon sergeant, radio-telephone operator, machine gun) comprise a platoon. Four platoons comprise a company. A company, then, is about 120 soldiers. Three or four "line" companies plus a headquarters company equal a battalion--about 500 soldiers. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Damned Fine Thoughts On "Restrepo." Worth Reading! - "Just saw Restrepo at the SF Film Festival...here are my reflections: This film touched my soul. It has been weaving in and out of my mind all day and night since seeing it at the SF Film Festival last night. As an American, initially this movie made me feel incredulously disconnected to the war in Afghanistan…but by the end, it delivered a combination of profound understanding, gut-wrenching compassion, camaraderie with fellow Americans, and a genuine pride and thankfulness for my freedom that these soldiers are putting their lives and emotional health on the line for. For those that made it out alive, many are suffering sleepless nights and worse to preserve my freedom as an American woman, freedom to be who I am in a world where there is so much oppression. I shudder to think what life I would have as a woman in Afghanistan… (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Who Fought the Iraq War: Coming Home the Hard Way - About once a month, I would run into Chief Warrant Officer Tim Blosser on Tallil Ali Air Base. He is a funny guy in a very dry way. We would occasionally have serious conversations, but mostly we made rapid fire bad jokes then went back to whatever we had been doing five minutes before. Last weekend I called Tim up just to see how he was doing. He is the sort of guy who can make the best of any bad situation and I expected him to be back into a comfortable life and having a good time. He's not. Tim came back to primary custody of his two high-school age kids and a job that disappeared while he was in Iraq. The people who rented his house while he was in Iraq left a big enough mess that he is renting an apartment until the house can be repaired. still for someone who spent a year away from his wife, he only sees his wife two days each month. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Day Out in Kabul - Lance Corporal Andy Wallace and Patrol Dog Gromit make a great team. Based at the Working Dogs Section at Camp Bastion, Wallace and Gromit have been sent up to Kabul to do a tour of duty patrolling the streets and enhancing security there. Their tour will last a few weeks before they return back to Bastion to guard the base. Andy, 25, from Stanley in County Durham, is usually based in Sennelager, Germany with 105 Unit, Royal Army Veterinary Corps. Here in Afghanistan, the brave buddies leave Camp Souter every morning as part of a security patrol and go out onto the streets to reassure the local Afghans that the area is safe. Andy says: “Both Gromit and I love getting out. The local people are always glad to see us. Well, they’re glad to see me!” Andy explains that Gromit is not necessarily a cuddly character - he’s trained to be a protection dog. “If ever a crowd becomes too rowdy or riotous, Gromit is brought in to calm things down." (READ MORE)

Corporal Matthew Olsson: Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) - The Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) is based out of Camp Bastion. We are a multi-disciplinary trauma team which is deployed forward to the point of wounding to commence resuscitation and stabilise patients using advanced techniques not available to medics on the ground. Our team consists of Tri-Service Specialist Doctors, Royal Air Force Emergency Nurses and Royal Air Force Paramedics who have extensive training and experience in all aspects of trauma management gained through pre-deployment military training and civilian placements. Some of us are also members of the Reserve Forces. I am Matthew Olsson, a MERT Paramedic working with the Royal Air Force out here. We respond to and continue treatment for our injured personnel on the battlefield. Our aims include the quick and safe transfer of the injured by helicopter, to definitive care at hospital. In some cases these may be Afghan civilians. (READ MORE)

Army.mil: Military Child of Year learns life lessons from late father - Willie Banks III has big plans. He wants to go to West Point and become a general in the Army, and when he's done with that, he'd like to play in the NFL. At 10 years old, Operation Homefront's 2010 Military Child of the Year has set himself some high standards. Chosen out of about 700 children aged eight to 18 nominated on Operation Homefront's website during the Month of the Military Child, the Fort Lee, Va., fourth-grader's story stood out. Willie was endorsed for the award by Brig. Gen. Jesse R. Cross, commandant of the Quartermaster Center and School at Fort Lee, who mentors Willie. As part of the award, Willie and his family were brought to Washington, D.C., where he was honored at a luncheon, got a personal tour of the White House by first lady Michelle Obama, and received $5,000. "I'm only going to spend $500," Willie said of the money. The rest, he promised, is going to be saved for college. (READ MORE)

the semi-normal, day-to-day life of a female marine: I Hate MCMAP - I hate MCMAP. There, I said it. MCMAP is the "Marine Corps Martial Arts Program" and let's face it, I hate it. I don't think there's anything wrong with martial arts or with the MCMAP program but I think it should be voluntary and not a requirement for Marines. Why do I hate it? Let me count the ways...1. I'm small. If the wind blows towards me when I'm walking and one foot is in mid-air, I get thrown off-balance. That kind of small. So why does this matter? Obviously, for someone my size knowing how to defend myself and practicing on larger people is a good thing. But I do not appreciate being used as a test dummy for men bigger than me. I do not feel SAFE being a large man's punching bag. At MSG school we were practicing moves and I was paired against a guy. The female Marine instructor observing the class decided that he wasn't trying hard enough and told him to stop being careful and "go 100%!". He replied, "I don't want to hurt her" and the response was, "I SAID GO 100%!!!!" (READ MORE)

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: Discussions - Yesterday was pretty emotional. I had talked to some people in the morning and I realized that I needed to sit down and have a discussion with my husband. I talk to him all the time, but I think I let him know too often how angry I still am at the situation. So I sat and I talked with him. I really opened up my heart and reminded him how much I do love him and that no matter what, that will never, ever change. I laid on the floor and just talked and talked, and it felt so good to be openly communicating the way we once did. I then needed some music so I put on the playlist I had made for him and recorded on to a tape to send him to Afghanistan. I found that I needed more of him, I wanted to hear him too, so I did it... I listened to the tape. It was difficult, I cried through much of it. He talked about being so excited to come home and hold us and hearing those things after the fact is so hard. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Bad Developments in Iraq - Allawi was concerned about the Iraq vote recount. As it turns out, he should have been, and then again, it won’t matter after all. Iraqpundit notes that Maliki did all of this for his own benefit. 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. (READ MORE)

Kandahar Diary: Hardening Up - Day 38 and a touch over half-way to my first leave. I shouldn’t think about it – it does my head in. Since the attack we’ve been busy hardening our defences and today was no different. Veiled-Speech Warning here as I don’t intend to give anything away while still trying to give you an idea. Still more Bastion Hescos rolled out and filled, T-walls used to provide depth to my defences, razor wire, endless numbers of sandbags, and one or two surprises I intend to keep up my sleeve. I’ve been around and personally sited every one of my guns on their primary and secondary tasks (thank God for those endless MG siting lessons on a hot and dusty range as a young LT) and made certain every one of my obstacles is covered as it should be – if you are a former senior Infantry soldier or officer you’ll know what I’m talking about. I’ve tightened down hard on search and entry procedures at all gates, no matter who it is: (READ MORE)


News from the Home Front:
Brigade that sustained soldiers in Iraq starts coming home - Families and friends are preparing to welcome home about 200 soldiers from the Middle East tonight, when members of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 593rd Sustainment Brigade are scheduled to march into Wilson Gym at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. (READ MORE)

Navy SEAL McCabe Found Not Guilty - Navy SEAL Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe was found not guilty Thursday evening on charges of assaulting detained terrorist Ahmed Hashim Abed, dereliction of duty, and impeding an investigation based on a false statement. (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:
Abducted Kurdish Writer Is Found Dead in Iraq - A Kurdish journalist was kidnapped here in the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, tortured and then found dead with two bullets in the head on a highway, his family and members of the security forces said on Thursday. (READ MORE)

USF-I Deputy Commanding General Hosts Camp Cropper Detainee Facility Transfer Conference - Dignitaries of the government of Iraq and key leaders of United States Forces - Iraq met at the Iraqi Corrections Officer Dining Facility to discuss the future of the internment facility at Camp Cropper, Iraq, April 23. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
Afghans Hopeful for Peaceful Future, U.S. Leaders Say - U.S. military and civilian leaders in Afghanistan say they are more optimistic than ever about success there, due not only to military and government advances, but also to the changing will of the Afghan people. (READ MORE)

Marja Success Proves New Afghan Strategy, Officials Say - Ongoing operations in Marja, Afghanistan, are proving the Obama administration is on the right track in that country, Defense and State Department officials said today. (READ MORE)

Nato gambles on collaboration with Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar - Nato has taken one of the biggest gambles of its mission in Afghanistan by reluctantly deciding to collaborate with Ahmad Wali Karzai, the notorious power-broker of Kandahar — despite allegations that the half-brother of the President is involved in the drugs trade. (READ MORE)

Too few Afghans ready to take over in Taliban strongholds, Senate panel is told - Not nearly enough trained Afghans are available to take control of key Taliban strongholds such as Marja after the military has pushed out the enemy, U.S. officials told a Senate panel Thursday. (READ MORE)

Top-Level Afghan Delegation to Visit Washington - Afghan President Hamid Karzai and several members of his Cabinet will visit Washington next week for several days of sessions focused on ensuring success of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and strengthening the two countries’ long-term partnership, defense officials confirmed today. (READ MORE)
U.S. calls Marja offensive a success - The U.S.-Afghan military operation in Marja succeeded in securing the town, but American officials said Thursday that steep challenges remain to improving local government functions throughout Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Dutch Afghan experience a lesson for Harper? - Dutch Prime Minister Jan Pieter Balkenende has offered some telling advice to Ottawa as Canada prepares to pull its soldiers from Afghanistan — you can't do training without troops. (READ MORE)

First Afghan Corrections Officers Graduate in Parwan - The first class of Afghan Corrections Officers to complete training in preparation for duty at the Detention Facility at Parwan graduated May 6 during an official ceremony here. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, May 7 - A Haqqani network improvised explosive device commander and two other militants were captured this morning by an Afghan-international security force in Khost. (READ MORE)

Officials urge US to send more troops to Pak following bungled Times Square bombing - In the wake of the reported confession of Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of plotting the unsuccessful Times Square bombing, that he had received bomb-making training in the ungoverned tribal region situated along the Afghanistan border in Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Australian troops confirm capture of Taliban commander Atiqullah - The Australian military said on Friday that it had captured a Taliban commander in a joint operation Afghan police last month. Atiqullah, was responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times journalist David Rodhe and two Afghans working with him. (READ MORE)

Pak Taliban supports Shahzad's 'noble' work, but disowns him - The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has denied having links with failed Times Square bombing plotter Faisal Shahzad, but said it supports his 'noble job' and that other Muslim youths should also follow him. (READ MORE)

Taliban commander Mullah Atiqullah captured in Afghanistan - THE Australian military says it captured a Taliban commander in a joint operation Afghan police last month. The captured Taliban leader, Mullah Atiqullah, is responsible for the kidnapping of New York Times journalist David Rodhe and two Afghans working with him. (READ MORE)

Taliban's Kandahar killings hurt governance - U.S. - The Taliban has launched an assassination campaign against Afghan officials in Kandahar, undermining Washington's goal of building up local governance, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. (READ MORE)

Karzai may face hostile audience in US Congress - Once hailed as a hero in the U.S. Congress, Afghan President Hamid Karzai may find the welcome mat a bit smaller when he visits Washington next week. (READ MORE)

Poll reveals more Afghan anger at NATO - A survey reveals 61 percent of Afghans feel more negative about NATO forces after Operation Moshtarak, than they did before the February operation began in southern Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Police commander shot dead - Unknown gunmen shot dead a police commander and his relative in the limits of Qalat , capital of Zabul province, an official said Thursday. (READ MORE)

~~~Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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