May 18, 2010

From the Front: 05/18/2010

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

Army Household6:
the last phase - Last week our good freinds (and former neighbors in Virginia ) Joe, Sonya and their boys moved here to Colorado Springs from Europe. We hadn’t seen each other since November 2008. We decided to have dinner to catch up — We mutually agreed on Outback — since we all love it! Of course the food was awesome as it usually is .. but the amazing thing was that it was like they never even left. I’d usually post a picture but we were so busy talking that I forgot to take any. (we are so glad that they are here with us … once SGT Daddy is home we are ALL going out to dinner) I think that is the thing about really good friends — that no matter how long you haven’t seen each other , it seems like it was yesterday. They are always there for you no matter where they are and what they are doing. You can trust them completely and know that have your best interests at heart. SGT Daddy and I are so grateful for all the good friends that we have both here in our military family but also in our large internet family too. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Taliban suicide attacks blast Afghanistan, Pakistan - A Taliban suicide bomber rammed a Toyota minivan filled with more than 1,000 pounds of explosives into a U.S. military convoy outside an Afghan Army recruitment center in the Afghan capital of Kabul earlier this morning, killing at least 12 Afghan civilians and six service members including five Americans, and injuring around four dozen during a busy rush hour. It is the deadliest attack for NATO since September, and the first major attack in Kabul since February, coming shortly after the Taliban announced a 'spring offensive' called Al Fatah -- Arabic for 'victory' or 'to conquer' -- against coalition forces. As Afghan and international forces gear up for major operations in Kandahar, an Afghan military investigation has accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, an influential and controversial figure in Kandahar, of stopping Afghan officials from reclaiming 150 acres of military land in the southern province that are being used by some of Wali Karzai's allies. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Live Your Life Well - The U.S. Army acknowledges May as Mental Health Month. “Live Your Life Well-Promoting Health and Wellness in the Army” is this year’s theme. Commanders and leaders across the Army are encouraged to use the month of May as an opportunity to educate Soldiers, Army civilians and family members about the Army’s behavioral health resources and programs available on Army installations, military treatment facilities and within their local communities. At the United States Army Medical Symposium and Exposition, May 17-21, 2010, San Antonio, Texas, MEDCOM will formally roll out a new Comprehensive Behavioral Health System of Care (CBHSOC) Campaign Plan. The CBHSOC is nested under the Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention to standardize and optimize the vast array of behavioral health policies and procedures across the MEDCOM to ensure seamless continuity of care to better identify, prevent, treat and track behavioral health issues that affect Soldiers and families during every phase of the Army Force Generation cycle. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Defense Department Seeks Families’ Input - The Defense Department wants to better understand how military families are weathering nearly a decade of war so officials have launched the Military Family Life Project. The Military Family Life Project is a department-wide survey designed to capture the long-term impact of deployment on families and to improve the support provided to them. Beginning this month, 100,000 military spouses and 40,000 married active-duty servicemembers, selected at random from all services, will be invited by mail to participate in this confidential online survey. “This is your chance to be heard on issues that directly affect you and your family,” Virginia S. Penrod, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy, told me. “Your answers will help shape policy, programs and services for military spouses and families.” All participants will be surveyed again a year from now, Penrod said, and the survey’s results will be released soon after. (READ MORE)

Fraser From Iraq: Still Here – In Case You’re Not Paying Attention - Yeah – We’re still here. Funny thing, I was in Vegas during the week before I left this time. While there I met a couple from my home state of Texas. We traded the small talk – where are you from, what do you do etc., blah, blah, blah. They said, “Hey we’ll be in Austin in a few weeks, we should grab some beers.” I said, “That would be great, except I’m leaving in a couple of days to get back to the four letter Sand Box”. Their reply was, “Oh? Do we still have guys over there?” I had to break the news to them; “Yeah, we’re still there.” I also recommended some newspapers to read and Cable TV channels such as CNN, FOX, CNBC etc. [Bloomberg & MSNBC - ed.] that they might use to keep current on world events. Over here is the same as it ever was. The only thing that’s changed since February is that they’ve moved a few T-Barriers around. There must be a freaking million T-Barriers here at all the bases and Green Zone areas. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Necessary Secrets - The Powerline Blog has a post this morning on a surprising honest review in the Washington Post of the new book Necessary Secrets. From the Powerline post: “The review is by Leonard Downie, Jr., who was the Post’s executive editor until 2008. Downie is obviously uneasy with Schoenfeld’s view that editors and reporters at the New York Times should be prosecuted and imprisoned for revealing two of the Bush administration’s antiterrorism programs – the warrantless intercept program for monitoring calls to the U.S. by foreign terrorists and the program though which the international financial transactions of terrorists were secretly tracked.” The exposure of these programs by the fearless reporters and editors at the Times unquestionably contributed to the prolonged detention of David Rohde because we lost the tools for finding to a kidnap victim in the tribal areas of Pakistan. For that very reason the Times was forced to find “outside the box” options to try and gain Rhodes’ freedom... (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Politicians Still Dealing - Looks like the winning candidates originally blocked for having Baathist ties really can keep their seats in parliament. The story was originally reported in the NYT and now is being confirmed by such sources as Al Arabiya television. The decision by the so-called Accountability and Justice Committee to ban the candidates, eight of whom were from Allawi's list and one from Maliki's, was perceived as an attempt to overturn election results that handed the Shiite prime minister a narrow loss. Local news reports say the the politicians are still in talks to form a unity government. They expect an announcement within days because they must have a government in place in time for the first session of parliament. The new parliament is expect to start meeting the first of June. Let's see what they come up with. (READ MORE)

Matt G: Remembering Mark - In November of 2007, the British author Christopher Hitchens wrote a nonfiction piece for Vanity Fair entitled "A Death in the Family." If you haven't read it, I suggest that you do so - NYU's esteemed journalism school recently nominated it as one of the decade's top eighty works in that field. It's about the death of a young lieutenant in Iraq, and the resulting effects on his family, his community, and the author. The lieutenant's name was Mark Daily, a 2005 graduate of UCLA, and he was my friend. We met in September of 2005 at Fort Knox in Kentucky, and like 40 or so of our peers, we wore gold bars and exuded green - something that, if known at the time, would've mortified us. For seventh months, we labored through the Armor Officer Basic Course and Scout Leaders Course together. Even though Mark was in a different training platoon, we became familiar through mutual friends, Matt Gross and Chris Demo, and we cultivated our own relationship from there. (READ MORE)

Knights of Afghanistan: Down Time - OK, so apparently a few of you have noticed that I haven't posted anything in a while. By way of response to the email questions I received: No, I'm not dead (yet). No, I haven't been fired (yet). Yes, my internet is working fine. The reason I have been quiet of late is that I have been taking some much-needed time away from The Rockpile. As I mentioned previously, working for an Afghan company does not allow me the generous 3-months on, 1-month off rotation that many contractors have, so I have left Afghanistan only a few times in the last fourteen months. Fortunately, my visa expired and the new rules put in place by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dictate that I leave the country, re-apply for a new 30-day visa and then re-enter A-stan and obtain a proper six-month visa and a new work permit. Note that while I would normally complain endlessly about the GoA's byzantine bureaucratic rules and red tape, in this case I'm going to let it slide since it allowed me to spend a couple of weeks in the States. (READ MORE)

Learning to Live: thinking about Sean - I don't write much about Sean these days... doesn't mean I don't think about him because not a day passes without thinking of him or remembering something special to us. Tonight I found myself reading these comments. For some reason I googled his name and this popped up…reminds me that people do still remember him even after 5.5 years have passed…wow, isn't that hard to believe? I was touched by the comments from the escorts in the air and on ground; had no idea they posted comments years after he died. The last few weeks Sean has been on my mind a lot… not sure why but he has…I also find myself very emotional and crying more than normal. And while I am sure he would be fine with me trying to move on with life, I just don't know that for sure, and I guess that causes me doubt and emotions. I guess that is why I don't write about this that often as it still remains hard for me… just when you think you have it figured out or under control something happens. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Suicide bomber kills 12 in Pakistan's northwest - A Taliban suicide bomber killed 12 Pakistanis during an attack on police convoy in northwestern Pakistan. The suicide bomber detonated his car packed with explosives as a police van passed by in the settled district of Dera Ismail Khan. Three policemen and nine civilians were killed, and 10 Pakistanis were wounded, according to Reuters. Today's attack is the first major suicide strike in Pakistan since the April 28 bombing in Peshawar that targeted a police checkpoint. Four policemen were killed in the attack. Pakistan's security forces in the Taliban-plagued northwest are a common target of suicide and organized attacks. The Taliban also focuses their attacks on pro-government tribes and politicians in effort to demoralize the opposition. Further north, in the tribal agency of Arakzai, the military claimed it killed 47 Taliban fighters during clashes over the past two days. (READ MORE)

New Girl on Post: Dear Deployment... - You can suck it, seriously. Today is one of those days, where I've had it with deployments. I've had it with my husband being gone,with crappy phones in Afghanistan, with being alone to take care of stupid things like car repairs and without someone to cook me a sizzling steak and the best baked potato I've ever had. I'm so frustrated and stressed about Sean's back and what this means for us. I have no idea when he's going to Germany or if his back is bad enough that they will send him to Walter Reed. I don't know if this will be the end of our time in the Army, if they'll let him re-class or if we'll be starting all over in the coming years with a new life that is not the Army. If I could know, even one little detail, I'd feel so much better. I'm trying to medicate with talking to my mom, some chocolate and the next Sookie Stackhouse book. Let's hope they work! (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: The Combat Arms Fashion Show - The gearheads in Red Bull Land have nearly wet themselves in anticipation of being issued MultiCam uniforms prior to our Afghanistan deployment. Most of us wish that we could just be issued the goodies now, so that--individually and collectively--we wouldn't have to cart all our sage-green-and-beige gear halfway across the country. The more-than-rumor, less-than-fact story is that Our Tactical Christmas, however, will most likely NOT come early, so all you elves can go pound sand. Still, that's not to say there isn't plenty to talk about around Ye Olde Office Lyster Bag: The "Kit Up!" blog, for example, reports that Uncle Sam has decided to call our new duds the "Operation Enduring Freedom Flame-Resistant Army Combat Uniform" (F.R.A.C.U.) Even it it turns out not to be true, I am determined to get my fellow Red Bull soldiers to start calling them "Frak-Yous." (Yes, I watched Battlestar Galactica when I was a kid. And more recently, too. Why do you ask?) (READ MORE)

Our Army Life: Deployment 2010: IED Heroes - The men of the 1141st Engineer Company, 203rd Engineer Battalion, Missouri National Guard are some serious heroes. As Engineers, their job over the past few months has been to keep routes in Khost province clear of IEDs, which they have accomplished by aggressively patrolling routes and dominating terrain. As a result of their increased exposure, nearly 25% of the men in the 1141st Engineers has suffered a concussion from an IED blast. They are seeing results, however: [Sayer] said new rules limiting soldiers to a maximum of five concussions are geared at keeping them from long-term mild traumatic brain injury. They are seeing results and Sayer’s men believe the approach works. The steady presence gives insurgents less time to plant and camouflage bombs or to make them as powerful. Sayer’s men got to know the road, something he considers a key factor the last route-clearing unit forfeited by staying off the road. (READ MORE) Momentum Change - As has been reported widely by,,, and even the New York Times, the Provisional Government has retaken control in the South almost as quickly as they lost it. As one commenter noted yesterday, this is an encouraging sign. The Counter-Revolution was previously scheduled for May 17, so many are hoping that it has fallen apart before it started. In what may interpreted as a sign of the pro-Bakiev forces underlying weakness, several homes belonging to the family were burned in their home village of Teyit. There seems to be two lines of intent to the conspiracy. One, as stated by Bakiev’s ‘grassroots’ supporters in the South, was that the Counter-Revolutionaries would declare an Autonomous Southern Krygyz Republic, which would maintain its own separate security forces but share foreign and trade policy. This version is in keeping with the attempts by Bakiev to divide and conquer since his downfall... (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: A Crazy Day at Kabul International Airport - Today was a crazy day at Kabul International Airport. I flew on a commercial flight departing from Kabul International today on a rare trip out of Afghanistan. We loaded the bus and headed to our plane. As we pulled up to the Safi Airways plane the motorized stairs pulled away from the plane we were heading toward and drove away! The bus followed the stairs, and then the plane was pulled away by a tug. Soon the stairs, the bus and the plane were following each other around the taxiway in a merry parade. Finally, the plane stopped, the stairs pulled up and the bus unloaded the passengers and we filed on to the plane as if nothing had happened. I can't remember ever seeing anything like it at an airport in all my travels. On the plus side, the Kabul airport functions quite normally (in most respects) and appeared safe as we made our way through security, to our gate and onto our plane. (READ MORE)

Joan D'Arc: WANTED: PCS Fairy - Today I began "Operation PCS to Hawaii." I cleaned out the coat closet by the door, my half of the bedroom closet (well, the clothes - still have a bunch of stuff on the floor and shelf to go through), and my dresser drawers. I even got both my kids to start working on their bed rooms on Sunday for "30 minutes." I have a sneaking suspicion my husband and children are going to hate me soon. Especially after today - my first day of really working on the stuff in my house - my husband groaned because I asked him to go through HIS coats and decide what to keep, pitch/give away, and put in storage (NOTE: I am the one who took all the coats out of the closet and conveniently put them in one place for him to go through them). It literally took him 2 minutes. Then he told me which pile was which and sat back down. Ummmm..... Honey? Yeah, you can actually use your hands and feet to put YOUR coats where they need to go. I mean, really... (READ MORE)

airforcewife: I'm Obviously Too Old For This - Oh the pressure of seeing the end of the deployment tunnel! I still have a few months until Air Force Guy is home for good (or rather, what passes for "for good" in our world. Probably about three months) and the workouts have been going great. I've managed to hit the gym 6 days a week, I've watched my diet pretty well with one brief foray into Haagen Daz (and that temptation they hit me with was TOTALLY not fair!). And I think I'm doing pretty well! Or rather, I was doing pretty well... I'm openly admitted to being accident prone. I get into a lot of humiliating situations, and I tend to stress and strain odd parts of my body. I'm not sure how it happens, but it does. I think it's because I'm old. Anyway, I worked through the debilitating butt injury - since that one only acted up when I ran or did step ups it didn't put too much of a wrench in my workout plans. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: 'Death before dishonor' - In the Perry, Iowa, high school gym that Lance Cpl. Joshua Davis once used as an athletically talented student, a stirring photo was shown to an emotionally devastated audience on Saturday. It was a tattoo that Lance Cpl. Davis proudly displayed on his chest. "Death before dishonor." In 19 brief years, the young Marine never came close to dishonoring himself or the American flag. Even though he was captain of the wrestling team and a gifted football player, Davis insisted on serving in the Marines before pursuing any personal success as a civilian. His deeply-held moral obligation to serve our nation in its time of need makes the following paragraph even more difficult to write. According to the Pentagon, Davis was killed on May 7 in Afghanistan's Helmand province. A powerful report in The Des Moines Register relays an account of the valiant Marine's final moments from 1st Sgt. Brandon Eckardt. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Celebrating a job well done - Sgt. Alex Tobusch just finished his third combat tour in Afghanistan. As his mother, Kathy, worried about her son's safety, she felt the best way to honor his service on the homefront was to work hard for the troops. While she never asked for anything in return, the Marine mom was rewarded with an event she will never forget over the weekend. The Daily Herald reports on Sgt. Tobusch's homecoming to Batavia, Illinois, which included a surprise celebration at the local VFW Post on Armed Forces Day. "This is a big event, and I have never had anything like this before," said Alex Tobusch, who spent seven months with the LS Platoon stationed in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. "It means a lot and is awesome." The 23-year-old Marine's mother kept busy by sending care packages, letters, and support to troops and military families affected by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Nagl v. Galbraith. FIGHT! - By now, you've probably seen an article in the Economist featuring CNAS President John Nagl (Ph.D., Lt. Col. Retired) and former UN Envoy to Afghanistan Peter Galbraith. What's interesting is that Nagl focuses on the counterinsurgency campaign from an operational standpoint. Certainly, ISAF now has the resources and the momentum to clear, hold, and build on a scale they previously hadn't before. This, of course, is good news--although the most recent assessment indicates that, although the Taliban are no longer advancing throughout most of Afghanistan, ISAF is not really advancing either. Granted, this is a long-awaited shift in equilibrium, but we'd be wise not to be too optimistic yet. Mr. Galbraith, the former UN envoy, sees the Afghanistan problem as a largely political affair, and rightly so, as counterinsurgency is largely a political issue. While military action is the vehicle through which political action is taken... (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Marine Corps Prepares for Budget Cuts - When it comes to defense spending generally, I have pointed out before that the percentage of defense budget versus GDP has shrunk over time for the U.S. The notion of defense spending that is out of control is a perception created by a liberal administration bent of printing and spending trillions of dollars on entitlements and redistribution of wealth rather than defense . Little more needs to be said about that because of the obvious disparity in interests of this administration. However, that doesn’t mean that any particular branch of the service has spent money wisely. Regarding the concept of expeditionary warfare floated by Commandant Conway, I have pointed out how inherently contradictory it is. Conway believes that the Corps is getting too heavy, yet he invests an incredible amount of money in the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. He believes that the Corps needs to be capable of many kinds of warfare with its equipment, but invests in implements of warfare intended to perform only one task: (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Forever War - Dexter Filkins does a quick-and-dirty job of street reporting on the big car bomb in Kabul that killed five U.S. soldiers, another NATO soldier and 13 Afghans, wounding dozens more. NYT: "KABUL, Afghanistan — A man driving a Toyota minivan laden with explosives steered into an American convoy on Tuesday morning, killing five American troops and 13 civilians caught in rush-hour traffic in the Afghan capital.Forty-seven civilians were wounded, and a sixth soldier from another NATO country was also killed, officials said." He apparently was on scene pretty quick. Matter of fact, pretty gruesome, touches all the bases, with a couple of graphs of larger context and one bit of speculation that suggests some familiarity with the subject. No editorializing verbiage. Straightforward piece of work suggests someone who knows what he’s doing, doesn’t mess around, keeps his head and lets it tell itself. (READ MORE)

American Power: 1,000 Americans Dead in Afghanistan - And naturally, New York Times is fast out of the gate with the news. See, "Grim Milestone: 1,000 Americans Dead": "On Tuesday, the toll of American dead in Afghanistan passed 1,000, after a suicide bomb in Kabul killed at least five United States service members. Having taken nearly seven years to reach the first 500 dead, the war killed the second 500 in fewer than two. A resurgent Taliban active in almost every province, a weak central government incapable of protecting its people and a larger number of American troops in harms way all contributed to the accelerating pace of death." The Times focuses on the death of Private Patrick Fitzgibbon, who stepped on an IED in August 2009. But readers should check the slideshow at Knoxville News, "Remembering Patrick Fitzgibbon: Knoxville soldier killed in Afghanistan." The main story is here, "Suicide Bomber Hits U.S. Convoy in Afghanistan": (READ MORE)

Kandahar Diary: Another Statistic... - Sadly, it’s old news when an IED claims another life in this place. At 1125 this morning one of our convoys went in to a short halt as our guards deployed to secure a choke point in the vicinity of Hawz-e Madad. As they fanned out to cover the convoy’s passage, an IED detonated killing one of my guards. His comrades gathered his body and the convoy proceeded with no damage. Another successful fuel delivery. Yes, it happens every day all around this country but I wanted to post this because the guard – I know his name but can only call him M.Y here – needs to be remembered, if only until the next one. Later in the afternoon a band of insurgents ambushed another of our convoys in the vicinity of Gereshk. Minor injuries and a partially damaged tanker. Again, the fuel got through which, for us, is what it’s all about. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
"Be safe. Make us proud," governor tells Washington National Guard troops preparing to deploy to Afghanistan - Colors were cased. Hugs were exchanged. Tears were shed. Some 70 members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment of the Washington National Guard furled their guidon and prepared for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan this morning. (READ MORE)

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for April 2010 - The Department of Defense announced today its recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for April 2010. (READ MORE)

Recalled Helmets No ‘Direct Risk’ to Soldiers - Army Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller told reporters today that while the helmets failed to meet Army standards, there is no evidence that any soldier was ever harmed from their use. The recalled helmets provided a safe degree of protection, Fuller said, but they were “just not up to our standards.” (READ MORE)

Appointment of admiral seen as key in 9/11 trial switch - The appointment of a well-respected ex-Navy lawyer to oversee war-crime trials is being seen in military legal circles as a sign the Obama administration might reverse its decision to bring Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to New York for a civilian trial. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Baghdad to enclose city with 15ft wall to keep suicide bombers out - Baghdad is to resort to one of the oldest forms of defence by building a massive wall around the capital to keep out insurgents, The Times has learnt. (READ MORE)

After Iraq elections, panel says it will keep trying to disqualify new lawmakers - A commission that disqualified scores of prospective lawmakers in the run-up to the March 7 parliamentary elections announced Monday that it was unable to ban nine others after the vote. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Court Supports Barred Candidates - An appeals courts ruled Monday that no winning candidates would be barred from Iraq’s Parliament for ties to the Baath Party, Iraqi officials said, ending for now a bitter dispute that tarnished the election in March. (READ MORE)

ISAF, U.S. Embassy Members Connect with Soccer - With the start of the FIFA World Cup competition fast approaching, U.S. servicemembers and their NATO counterparts are keeping their excitement primed by gathering for friendly soccer matches every week. (READ MORE)

Twelve Killed By Bicycle Bomb In Pakistan - A bomb planted on a bicycle in the northwestern Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan killed 12 people on Tuesday, including three policemen, police said. (READ MORE)

Suicide Attack Kills 11 People in NW Pakistan - A suicide bomber on a bicycle killed 11 people Tuesday when he attacked a police patrol in an area of northwestern Pakistan where many citizens fled last year to escape a large army offensive against the Taliban, police said. (READ MORE)

Pakistan seen restricting data from mullah - U.S. intelligence officials are expressing growing concerns that Pakistan is holding back valuable intelligence data obtained from captured No. 2 Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. (READ MORE)

NATO Aids Search and Rescue Efforts in Afghan Plane Crash - Afghan officials say a commercial flight carrying at least 43 passengers crashed Monday in the northern part of the country. The U.S.-led NATO force is involved in search and rescue efforts. (READ MORE)

NATO says night raid killed Afghan insurgents; residents say it killed civilians - District police chief Abdul Ghafour woke to a cellphone call after 1 a.m. Friday: There was gunfire at Rafiuddin Kushkaki's home. Ghafour put on his uniform, sent two police trucks ahead and followed in a third. (READ MORE)

Suicide Attacker Kills At Least 18 In Afghan Capital - A Taliban suicide car bomber attacked a NATO-led military convoy during rush hour in the Afghan capital on Tuesday, killing 12 Afghan civilians and six foreign troops, including five Americans, officials said. (READ MORE)

Bomb attack on NATO convoy kills 18 in Kabul - A powerful car bomb exploded early Tuesday within a few feet of a passing military convoy in central Kabul, killing at least six soldiers from the international security force along with numerous civilians, military and Afghan officials said. (READ MORE)

Afghan suicide bomb kills at least 18, including 5 Americans - A suicide car bomber struck a Western convoy on a busy road in the Afghan capital Tuesday, setting off a powerful blast that killed at least 18 people, including five American service members and a foreign soldier whose nationality was not immediately disclosed. (READ MORE)

In Afghanistan’s North, Ex-Warlord Offers Security - In a country still gripped by war, the families picnicking around the azure-domed shrine in the central square here are perhaps the clearest sign that this northern provincial city has distinguished itself as one of the most secure places in the country. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, May 18 - In the Tarin Kot District of Uruzgan province yesterday, an ISAF patrol discovered a weapons cache consisting of three rifles, a rocket-propelled grenade fuel cell, two recoilless rifle rounds, a machine gun and a pair of binoculars. (READ MORE)

Army Specialists Overcome Challenges at Combat Outposts - Living at a remote Afghan national army outpost in northern Afghanistan, two U.S. Army soldiers operate autonomously to ensure construction projects for ANA and coalition soldiers are completed correctly and on time. (READ MORE)

Explosion in Kabul - ISAF Joint Command is working with our Afghan partners to assess an explosion that took place this morning on the Darulaman Road in Kabul. Afghan national police have secured the area. (READ MORE)

Abdullah: Afghan parliamentary election a 'big test' - Former Afghan Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah warned on Monday that a rigged parliamentary election in his country will be much more catastrophic than the discredited presidential election in August that prompted him to abandon his challenge to President Hamid Karzai. (READ MORE)

Noted Pak TV journalist, Hamid Mir, Taliban, rubbish telephonic chat reports - Noted Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir has rubbished media reports that he had a telephonic conversation with a Taliban spokesperson during which he described former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) official Khalid Khwaja as a Central Investigation Agency (CIA) collaborator. (READ MORE)

Business booms for ancient Afghan letter writing art - Scribes like Mohammad Qasim once wrote poignant love letters of Persian poetry for illiterate Afghans. Now he mostly helps people fire off forms to the government, especially complaints over abuse of power. And business is booming. (READ MORE)

Bill for Afghan War Could Run into the Trillions - The U.S. Senate is moving forward with a 59-billion-dollar spending bill, of which 33.5 billion dollars would be allocated for the war in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan forces recover abducted UN workers - Afghan security forces recovered four UN workers captured by unknown a month ago, a military commander said Monday. (READ MORE)
Afghan president describes US visit as successful - Afghan President Hamid Karzai Tuesday described his recent visit to the United States as very successful. Relations between United States and Afghanistan had strengthened after his trip last week, Karzai told a press conference. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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