May 10, 2010

From the Front: 05/10/2010

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

Dispatches:
Kandahar Diary:
Dear 'Pissed Off' in Kandahar... - I need to vent....I really don't want to be here today.... I suspect it is probably mid-rotation blues but I am really asking myself what I’m doing here. There is so much bullshit flying around and I don't feel like I'm doing anything worthwhile. I’m supposed to be taking a ‘strategic view’ but every time I try I get slapped down by HQ, comfortably ensconced in their office in Dubai, who keep sending people in to, seemingly, second guess me and my team here on the ground. Imagine if a G3 on a Div HQ was reaching down to a company commander and you get an impression of what it’s feeling like. HR is coming in to quiz me about 3 dismissals I made with the Country Manager a week or so ago. I expect I’ll have to break out the tissues and get a lecture on ‘natural justice’ – the fact the three of them were bent and largely incompetent seems to count for nought. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: An Afghan Story - Published: 9 May 2010 - If normal life were a river, most days would likely be a slow-moving, meandering passage. But when a life squeezes into the gorge of war, there can be a deafening whitewater, falls and yet bigger falls, slams against stones, falls again and underwater no air and over the falls again and time stretches and compresses and seems to defy normal experience and over the falls again and you drown or don’t. Some people come out the other side exhilarated and want to do it again and again, while others are terrified, and yet others will just do what needs to be done. The persistence of the memories wrought would seem to leave clocks drooped over limbs or floating away. From wars grow countless wild stories, many of which are true. Even a single witness will hear thousands over the years. Back at home, the retellings can seem vague, distant, and as soulful as a soleless boot. (READ MORE)

270 Days in Afghanistan: Travel - As you might imagine, coming home again was another ordeal. I started my journey on the 27th of April, and it took me until the 2nd of May to get to Ft. McCoy for the demob process. Just a word to my fellow soldiers about going home...the folks in charge of Ali Al Saleem will not book you on a R&R flight if you are toting weapons. Also, R&R passengers take precedence over everything. I was on an emergency leave/Red Cross message, yet because I was returning from Active Duty and had weapons with me, they refused to put me on the first thing smoking. I had to wait until the Freedom Bird which only flies once a week. Unfortunately, due to the volcanic activity in Iceland, there were too many people for the one freedom flight, and some people had to stay there in Ali Al Saleem for another week. Seriously. Fortunately, I was able to get on the flight and I did not have to wait the extra week, but my care and concern goes out to those troops who were left behind. (READ MORE)

Bullet Wisdom: Why is a Coach Visiting Iraq Important? - These days, Texas A&M Head Footbal Coach Mike Sherman isn't much of a household name. Back when my team was winning in the late-nineties, he was coaching in the NFL. A lot of people are still wondering just who the hell the guy is after he replaced savior-turned-homewrecker Dennis Franchione. Sherman's two seasons coaching the Aggies are remarkable only in their ability to continually confuse and frustrate our fanbase. Disclaimer: I'm an Aggie. So, when I got word he took the time this last week to visit with Soldiers in Iraq, two words came to mind: Thanks, Mike. Iraq is slowly fading from the American public's rearview mirror, and that's a good thing. For years, the only news on Iraq was negative. It was viewed by a good chunk of our national leadership as a lost cause that should have been abandoned for the good of all. But you don't hear that anymore. The protests have died down. The finger pointing has mostly ended. (READ MORE)

TIM HSIA: The Performance-Enhanced Military - The military has received much scrutiny in recent years for allegedly overmedicating soldiers who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or from other mental illnesses associated with combat. Although there has been much attention devoted to the military’s use of drugs to medicate mental illnesses, there has been little attention focused on the sharp rise of supplements used by service members. During my deployments in Iraq there were often rumors that certain soldiers were taking steroids because of their sudden increase in physical size. When the unit deployed these soldiers looked no different from the average soldier, but upon completion of the deployment they looked Rambo-esque. Some soldiers felt that others were getting away with steroid use because these soldiers were rarely seen in the gym and because drug testing through urinalysis was rarely done by units while deployed. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Pakistani Taliban "behind" Times Square plot - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder hit the Sunday talk show circuit yesterday and said, "We've now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," the most definitive official statement to date of the group's role in the failed Times Square car bombing. Obama administration counterterrorism adviser John Brennan also said Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani-American arrested in connection with the case, "was working on behalf" of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and is "being cooperative" in the investigation. The Times Square plot could signal a TTP shift toward targets outside of Pakistan. The TTP itself is sending mixed messages about its involvement in the Times Square plot; although spokesman Azam Tariq has twice claimed Faisal Shahzad was not one of theirs, other members of the militant group reportedly circulated messages saying Tariq did not speak for the whole organization. (READ MORE)

Fire and Ice: Finally Found - Back in November of 2005 I took a photo of a Marine fire team leader with 2nd Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment. I had just joined this platoon for Operation Steel Curtain. I always try my best to get all the information possible from each of my portrait subjects. Many of the photos I took would be turned into drawings. There was one drawing where I failed to find out who the Marine was. Thanks, in large part to Facebook, I finally know who the subject of this drawing is . . . Corporal Leon Salisbury. A few days after photographing Leon he was severely wounded and medevaced to Germany. He, along with 11 other members of his platoon, were wounded the morning of November 16, 2005. 5 others lost their lives in a hellacious firefight in and around a "hell house". On that morning Leon's squad, led by Corporal Javier Alvarez, were assigned to two tanks supporting Fox Company for the final push through the last 100 acre pocket of Ubaydi, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Son Presents the Perfect Mother’s Day Gift - My husband asked me what I’d like for Mother’s Day this year. Without a moment’s hesitation I blurted out, “Someone to clean my house.” Between a busy job and three kids, my daily housekeeping definitely has fallen by the wayside. I cringe each time I walk into my bathroom and see the spots of mildew in my tile grout or the pile of discarded clothes in my bedroom that I tried on and then dismissed as unsuitable for work that day. The thought of someone taking the grunge work off of my hands was heavenly. As I sat on my couch, dreaming of a spick-and-span house wafting with lemon-scented cleaner, my son suddenly startled me out of my clean house fantasy. “Here’s your Mother’s Day gift,” he said, handing me a handmade paper box filled with glitter “because you’re so sparkly.” He looked at me expectantly. He had been so eager to give me his gift that he couldn’t wait for the weekend. I was touched by my 6-year-old’s efforts. (READ MORE)

Hellcat Betty: You are loved... - Not in the creepy uncle kind of way, but more of the presidential proclamation of a day just for you kind of way. [Whew] Unless you live under a rock, or my blog is the only milspouse blog you follow, you already know that today is National Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Also in May are Dance Like a Chicken Day and Sea Monkey Day... which goes to show some of the weird crap American's will go in for in the name of celebration... but I digress. I just wanted to take a moment away from writing the last paper of my grad school career (woot!) to tell you all that you're awesome. Milspouses really are a special breed; we are loving and loyal, patient and strong. And the bond between us is like no other, except perhaps the bond forged by our husbands with battle buddies. We are each other's "battle buddies," reminding us that it's normal to cry in the grocery store on occasion, and encouraging us to down a bottle of wine and take a bubble bath if that's what's needed to numb the craziness of one more day without our husband. (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Emergency Leave - One of the stories I did not have time to write was a process story about how our unit handled emergency leaves. From the week we mobilized till the last weeks in Fort Dix, New Jersey, soldiers in Task Force Diablo got a visit from their commander and first sergeant to deliver a Red Cross message. In fact, for soldiers who knew the procedure, seeing a company commander and first sergeant together, walking to someone's door, both looking stone faced, almost certainly meant bad news for someone in that room. The soldier at the center of emergency leaves was Sergeant First Class Lori Burns, the NCOIC of the battalion S-1--the people who handle the paperwork. When the brigade received a Red Cross message, they passed it to our Operations (S-3) section who notified the battalion commander and command sergeant major and Lori. She started the paperwork and the very delicate process of determining whether this emergency was actually an Emergency Leave or not. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Here We Go Again - Another terrorist uses Iraq as one of his excuses to justify murder. According to an NYT article, Anwar Al Awlaki says he had no choice but to become an extremist. In fact, he was a pleasant type until the U.S. forced him to embrace jihad: "He was a nonviolent moderate until the United States attacked Muslims openly in Afghanistan and Iraq, covertly in Pakistan and Yemen, and even at home, by making targets of Muslims for raids and arrests." What's different about this guy is he does not claim to be a victim such as the Fort Hood murderer who reportedly was picked on by his fellow officers. Awlaki sees himself as a noble person. The story says, "He merely followed the religious obligation to defend his faith, he said." We really are living in strange times. If a guy hears about murders of people far away, he feels compelled to help organize murders of other people in another country also far away. I am certain that Iraqis don't want him killing anyone else for our sake. (READ MORE)

Omar @ Iraq the Model: Maliki at a Crossroads - Two months after election and six weeks after results were announced, we are farther from figuring out the shape of the new government than we were on election eve. The largest three blocs (Allawi's Iraqiya, Maliki's SoL and Hakim/Sadr's INA) are struggling to wrestle the initiative from one another. Recent developments over the last week appear to have given Maliki the advantage. Maliki has tried to keep his options open by negotiating on multiple tracks with both INA and Iraqiya. He recently agreed to enter a coalition with INA to form the largest bloc and consequently the new government. A few days after that reports came that he's been engaged in serious negotiations with Iraqiya. His strategy appears to be working. Today the Sadrists, who had been adamant in their refusal to let Maliki stay in office are saying that they don't have redlines regarding any future PM candidate, including Maliki. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Still Up In the Air - The air is growing more tense each day. The politicians are still feuding over who will set up the new government and who will be prime minister. The Shiite alliance of INA and State of Law say they have four possiblities: Nouri Al Maliki, Ibrahim Al Jaafari, Bayan Jaber Solagh, and Adel Abdel Mahdi. The U.S. newspapers have been saying it's likely to be the cousin of Moktada Al Sadr, Jaafar Al Sadr. Sadr Movement politician Baha Al Aaraji said his group would never support another Maliki prime ministership. Ibrahim Al Jaafari's candidacy is also very troubled. Bayan Jabr Solagh is hated by the Iraqi people because he presided over prisons. Jaafar Al Sadr says he wants a western style democracy for the country. Adel Abdel Mahdi appears reasonable when he's on television. The Kurdish parties say they have an alliance of their own and are ready to talk to the central government candidates. (READ MORE)

Kit-Up!: Kit Up! is Heading to The Stan - Well folks, the time is almost here for Kit Up! to pack our last minute snivel gear and lift off for another pump in the Sand Box. We’re wheels up the night of 9 May and supposed to hit Kabul International at 0600 on 11 May. We’re heading straight for FOB Salerno (known in the AO as “Sal”) and right out to our first unit with the 101st Airborne. The schedule is to hang in RC-East for two weeks and then thread our way down to RC-South to hitch a ride on some MV-22s. I’ll be traveling with Military.com Editor Ward Carroll on this trip and we’ll be pumping out blog entries, stories, pics and vids with a reckless abandon (comms permitting) primarily here, but also on Defense Tech, DoD Buzz, Under the Radar and other Military.com properties depending on the subject. We’ve set up a landing page where we’ll consolidate all of our content as a sort of one-stop-shop for info and gouge. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: A Stand-In Mother's Day Card - Today, Luke Larson guest blogs for Mother's Day. - On this Mother’s Day millions of heartfelt cards will be sent. When opened they will reveal great appreciation for all the sacrifices mothers endured for their children. However there will be one group who desperately would love such a card - although their mailbox has the highest chance of remaining empty - they are the mothers of the 180,000 service members presently in Iraq and Afghanistan. These moms would gladly forfeit their card for the knowledge that their grown children are safe. So I offer this letter as a stand-in to my own mother for my twin-brother, a Marine officer, who is currently deployed to Helmand Province in Afghanistan I also offer this to all the mothers whose adult children are in a combat zone a world away in dangerous cities such as Ar Ramadi, or Marjah. During my two tours to Iraq in 2005 and 2007 I did not write my dear mother on Mother’s Day. (READ MORE)

Last of Iraqis: Time Square - It’s really strange to be able to see things; same things, from completely different point of view without having to have multiple personality! Being in the land of violence, death, lawless and experiencing life threats every day and hearing about some incident that could have killed innocent people, well from that point of view it’s nothing, important….but from the land of peacefulness, life, law and ability to plan a year ahead it’s a very big thing. I heard the news and was totally shocked, flashbacks started, it brought back the dark memories that we are trying so hard to put behind, I kind of experienced it all again…after having 3 months of peace; which is the longest time I have ever experienced . After all of that, explosions are here! I just started to live normally and believe me living normally is such a huge great thing, I’m sure anyone not from Iraq will not be able to appreciate it, but it’s the best blessing a human can have. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US airstrike kills 10 'rebels' in North Waziristan - The US killed six people in an airstrike in a known al Qaeda haven in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan. Unmanned Predator or the more deadly Reapers fired at least two missiles at a compound in the town of Inzar Kala in the Datta Khel region near the Afghan border. Ten "rebels" were killed in the strike, according to AFP. “The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners,” a Pakistani official said, referring to al Qaeda fighters. “It was, however, not immediately known if any high-value target was present in the area at the time of attack.” Today's airstrike took place in a region administered by North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani and Central Asian jihadist groups shelter in Bahadar's tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region. (READ MORE)

MAJ Daneker: ILE: The First Weekend - There were many tired souls wandering around the classroom areas of ILE Class 10-002 today. It's Friday, May 7, only the third "full" day of class but me, and many of my distinguished classmates, were exhausted. Not from late nights studying, not from partying, but from trying to adjust to the student "battle rhythm". The assigned homework isn't overwhelming...pages in books here, handouts there. The classwork isn't overwhelming...discussions on topics that have so far ranged from 'what is a leader?' to 'is studing military history relevant?'. We have ample breaks and plenty of access to the caffeine source of choice. So, why are we all so tired? Because our schedules have been thrown out of whack and our brains are in overdrive. While the information we're being given or researching isn't rocket science, it is a lot of minutiae and concepts and themes. It's a different life than what we're used to and it's going to take some time to master that ever-important student battle rhythm. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Misquote Madness - Over the last few days, there's been a bit of a debate over at Kings of War regarding the origin of a quote often attributed to the Greek historian Thucydides: "The nation which draws too broad a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools". Both Captain Hyphen and I have made the mistake of attributing it to Thucydides in recent posts. So has Congress. Fortunately, a KoW regular known as "Christopher" has corrected us, correctly identifying the quote as one from the British author Sir William Francis Butler in his book "Charles George Gordon". (You can see the quote in its original form on page 85 of the Google Books version) The gang over at On Violence has done us a great service, collecting some of the most notable military misquotes in one central location. However, there's one I think they're missing; although I wouldn't so much categorize it as a misquote as I would label it a quote taken out of context. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Happy al-Faath Day - The fighting season is rapidly ramping up to make this the bloodiest yet which makes it the perfect time for President Karzai to go to Washington for a little face time with the Commander in Chief. What is to be accomplished during this meeting is easy to predict: Not one damn thing. This article in the Washington Post explains why – here is a quote from it: “We don’t have a plan yet,” worries the senior military official.“ With the operation to clear Kandahar on hold that’s a huge problem. I’m worried too. As often happens when the good President leaves to conduct important affairs of state the Taliban have declared that they will ramp up a major offensive targeting ISAF, the Afghan government and all internationals. This offensive even has a name; al Faath (victory) and it is scheduled to start tomorrow. Threats of this nature have come often in the past but this one is being taken more seriously by Afghan security forces and internationals working outside the wire. (READ MORE)

Dena Yllescas: Once again, I apologize for my lack of writing! - I swear things never seem to slow down, they only pick up speed! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. We went to my parents and had a great time with family. The girls loved the Easter egg hunt grandpa and grandma do every year. I just got back from Ohio. I actually took 2 trips there. The first was to help one of my very good friends, Karen and Craig Bender, with the birth of their baby boy, Jacob Robert. I was honored to be a part of the first few hours of his life. He is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations Karen, Craig, big sister Logan, and big brother Zach!! The second trip, I went with my mom and met up with Karen and some other dear friends to attend the Women of Faith Seminar. I've been to one in the past and it is AWESOME. It really leaves you with a rejuvenated heart and spirit. While we were gone, my dad watched the girls for me and he just about got Eva potty trained!! (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: New British Ambassador to Afghanistan visits Nad-e-Ali in Helmand province - The new British Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Sir William Patey, has visited British troops and international redevelopment projects in Nad-e-Ali in the heart of the green zone. Arriving at forward operating base (FOB) Shawqat, the Ambassador was greeted by the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Frazer Lawrence and the District Governor Habibullah Khan. The regiment is currently on a six-month deployment to the region. After receiving a joint briefing from the Commanding Officer and District Governor about the redevelopment of the area, the Ambassador took a tour of the town with Afghan and British security forces. The tour took in the village school, a farming techniques training centre, a medical facility and the bustling bazaar. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: The Ghosts of Kandahar - As I have discussed before, in 2004 in Najaf, the U.S. Marines had Moqtada al Sadr surrounded. The British leadership in Iraq, who felt that we simply had to learn to work with the fabric of Iraqi society, worked feverishly with Ali al-Sistani (the senior Shi’ite cleric in Iraq) to convince the U.S. political and military leadership to release Sadr. This Charlie Rose interview with John Burns is instructive for its clarity regarding the event. As later disclosed to me, Sadr wasn’t just surrounded. The 3/2 Marines had Sadr in their custody. They had arrested him and had held him for three days prior to being ordered to release him. Today, six years later, a resurgent Sadr after having received religious training in Iran is doing Iran’s bidding for them. A Shi’ite coalition is attempting to retain control over the government in the wake of the recent elections and not only exclude Allawi from power, but give ultimate authority over final political decisions to religious cleric Sistani. (READ MORE)


News from the Home Front:
Gates: Cuts in Pentagon bureaucracy needed to help maintain military force - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates vowed Saturday to lead an effort to cut as much as $15 billion in overhead costs from the Pentagon's $550 billion budget and warned that without the savings, the military will not be able to afford its current force. (READ MORE)

Holder Backs a Miranda Limit for Terror Suspects - The Obama administration said Sunday it would seek a law allowing investigators to interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their rights, as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. flatly asserted that the defendant in the Times Square bombing attempt was trained by the Taliban in Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Obama's good luck terrorism strategy - Responding to Republican charges that Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad's plot failed only because of luck, Rep. Ike Skelton, Missouri Democrat, said, "What's wrong with being lucky?" Nothing at all - until the luck runs out. (READ MORE)

U.S. blames Pakistani Taliban for Times Square bomb plot - Senior Obama administration officials on Sunday blamed the Pakistani Taliban for the attempted car bombing in Times Square, saying in the most definitive terms to date that the militant group was responsible for planning and financing the botched attack. (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:

Maliki's actions, and Obama's inaction, threaten an Iraq democracy - Since the success of the 2007 surge in Iraq, violent attacks have fallen more than 90% and Iraqis have been making steady progress toward stability and democracy. (READ MORE)

KBR to Get No-Bid Army Work as U.S. Alleges Kickbacks - KBR Inc. was selected for a no-bid contract worth as much as $568 million through 2011 for military support services in Iraq, the Army said. (READ MORE)

Where Iraq Meets Iran, Guards See Shifting Lines - In a barren stretch of desert in southeast Iraq, an American soldier recently waved to his Iranian counterpart pulling guard duty at a fort on the opposite side of the border. (READ MORE)

Partial Iraqi Election Tallies Sent for Approval - Iraq's election commission announced Sunday it will send all results of the March vote to the Supreme Court for final ratification except for those from Baghdad, where a recount is under way. (READ MORE)

At Least 84 Killed in Attacks Across Iraq - A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a textile factory Monday in a crowd that gathered after two car bombings at the same spot in the worst of a series of attacks that killed at least 84 people across Iraq, the deadliest day this year. (READ MORE)

Dozens Die In Iraq as Battered Qaeda Shows Strength - Suicide bombers, car bombs and gunmen using silencers killed at least 66 people in Iraq on Monday after insurgents carried out a wave of assaults against markets, a factory car park and police and army checkpoints. (READ MORE)

Coordinated Attacks Strike Baghdad - Gunmen attacked at least six checkpoints across Baghdad on Monday and two car bombs rocked the city of Hilla, south of the capital, in what appeared to be a combination of attacks on civilians and coordinated assaults against Iraqi police and army units. (READ MORE)

Report details depravity of SEALs' accuser - The just-concluded military trials of three exonerated Navy SEALs showed the terrorism suspect at the center of the case to be one of the most dangerous men in Iraq. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
Six killed in US drone attack in NWA - At least six extremists were killed and various others injured in a missile attack by the US surveillance plane in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) area of Dattakhel, Geo News reported Sunday. (READ MORE)

How to manage Karzai - The Obama administration, unhappy with Karzai's attempt to pack the Afghan Electoral Commission with supporters willing to ignore voting fraud, briefly held the visit hostage this spring. (READ MORE)

The military tries nation-building in Afghanistan - When asked whether nationalism is putting down roots in Afghanistan's tribalized society, Gen. David Petraeus is judicious: "I don't know that I could say that." (READ MORE)

Afghan Violence Victims Want Voice in Peace Talks - Ahmad Shah knows more than most Afghans about the nation's 30 years of bloodshed, repression and war: He lost his hands in a mine blast. (READ MORE)

Afghan Floods Kill 10, Destroy Hundreds of Homes - Heavy rain sent floodwaters tearing through villages in northeast Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people and destroying hundreds of homes, police said Monday. (READ MORE)

Shootings of Afghans on Rise at Checkpoints - Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints have spiked sharply this year, becoming the leading cause of combined civilian deaths and injuries at the hands of Western forces, American officials say. (READ MORE)

US, Afghan officials shrug off Afghanistan Taliban's threat of new offensive - The Afghanistan Taliban announced Saturday it would begin a new, nationwide campaign of attacks against US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, as President Hamid Karzai heads to Washington for talks. (READ MORE)

Taliban to Launch Major Offensive In Afghanistan - Taliban insurgents announced on Saturday an offensive against NATO and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, just as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is due to travel to Washington. (READ MORE)

Swift and bloody: the Taliban’s revenge - The sniper’s aim was merciless. Lieutenant Brandon Barrett was shovelling sand into bags to fortify his post in the Helmand town of Marjah when a Taliban gunman slotted a bullet between armoured vehicles pulled around for protection, hitting him in the chest. (READ MORE)

Fatal Fighting Pits Villagers and Taliban in Afghanistan - Four men from a village militia set up by American troops in western Afghanistan were killed on Saturday, and they may have been beheaded by Taliban militants, an Afghan Army officer said on Sunday. (READ MORE)

U.S. military runs into Afghan tribal politics after deal with Pashtuns - U.S. military officials in eastern Afghanistan thought they had come up with a novel way to stem the anger and disillusionment about government corruption that fuels the Taliban insurgency here. (READ MORE)

Tensions between Eikenberry, McChrystal will be focus of their Washington visit - They are both decorated generals, West Point graduates who studied at Harvard University and earnest taskmasters who would rather work than sleep. (READ MORE)

Karzai Says Allies Have 'Miles to Go' - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has written in The Washington Post that the international effort in Afghanistan still has "miles to go" before security operations are successful in his country. (READ MORE)

Obama makes personal diplomacy part of Afghan strategy - President Obama has bluntly instructed his national security team to treat Afghan President Hamid Karzai with more public respect, after a recent round of heavy-handed statements by U.S. officials and other setbacks infuriated the Afghan leader and called into question his relationship with Washington. (READ MORE)

Karzai arrives in Washington as Taleban threaten fresh assault - President Karzai arrives in Washington today for crucial talks to mend relations with the US as the Taleban threaten a new assault in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

New book reveals how Afghanistan led Obama to lose his cool - A fascinating account of Barack Obama’s temper — at odds with his public image of cool unflappability — emerged yesterday in a new book. (READ MORE)


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Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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