June 8, 2010

From the Front: 06/08/2010

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

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: Preparations - Our Battalion is getting ready for homecoming. I'm not going to tell you how close, but the time is near(ish) and this is just more unwelcomed reality smacking me in the face. I should be there. I should be at the Battalion decorating with my best friends. I should be working on Jonny's banner. I should be freaking out about cleaning my house so that he comes home to a nice clean space. I should be picking out homecoming outfits, planning for family to visit and planning our vacation. Our second honey moon we were going to take. Should, should, should. Am not. I am not making his banner, I am not getting ready. I am not going to hug my Marine when he gets off the bus. God, I was looking so forward to that, to that reunion. They say marrying military is like getting to fall in love all over again, a honeymoon every time he comes home. I'll never know. I'll never see him get off the bus. I hate this. (READ MORE)

Kandahar Diary: Flight Home & Scary Questions - I am sitting in the Emirates Business Class Lounge on the way home. I’ve had a day and night in Dubai to get my head straight and de-pressurise before I head back the ‘the world’ and, now that I’m out, I’m assailed with mixed thoughts. On one hand I can’t wait to get home, but on the other I already miss my lads and worry about how they’re doing. I’m worried that something will crack off while I’m away and that I’ll miss it. I worry that my team need me and that I’m not there to help – which is ridiculous because, firstly, no-one is indispensible and, secondly, they are all big boys many of whom have a lot more experience than I do. Still, I can't shake the feeling of selfishness; that’s I’m somehow greedily drinking in the luxuries of a world outside Afghan while they are all still stuck there. Unfounded, I know, and pointless but I still can’t help feeling it. Significantly, I’ve begun thinking about why I’m there and whether the whole thing is worth it. (READ MORE)

Michael Yon: Gobar Gas - A Gurkha Idea - Among the more interesting coalition forces fighting in Afghanistan are the legendary Nepalese Gurkhas. Trained and fielded by the British, as they have been since colonial days, Gurkhas are a fascinating admixture: today, they are elite soldiers used to traveling the world. But many of them grew up barefoot and poor in remote and primitive mountain villages in the high Himalayas—places that closely resemble parts of Afghanistan, geographically and culturally. Forefathers of some of today’s Ghurkas fought in the Afghan region during earlier wars. Gurkhas understand impoverished life in a harsh environment, though Nepal has enjoyed material progress in recent decades that is mostly unrealized in Afghanistan. Unlike forces from Europe or America, who often regard Afghanistan as an outpost of 13th Century life, Gurkhas can provide a link between primitive Afghan standards of development, and the possibilities for progress, with insights and connections that might elude most Westerners. (READ MORE)

AfghaniDan, Part II: The press, the shakeup & a TV moment - Yesterday I attended a press conference in the morning, and by evening was shown on Afghan television channels alongside three of my colleagues. In between, the Minister of the Interior (whose department held the unrelated-but-later-much-quoted conference) tendered his resignation -- which was surely the sole reason for airing the video clips of the morning media fest. The day started out as randomly as any Afghanistan day: After breakfast, an e-mail check and some work, I was off in a pickup truck to the ministry for an up-close viewing of the post-Jirga press conference... And I do mean UP CLOSE, at least when it comes to Afghan camera work...whose practitioners either haven't learned about 'zoom' or just refuse on principle to use it. Either way, it creates odd situations at every event attended by media, as one lens after another is shoved into the faces of audience members, or held down at crotch level so nostrils can be fully explored... (READ MORE)

Army Blogger Wife: Still here.... - For some reason I cannot access my mom's wireless, so I have to sit on the floor and plug directly into her modem. I'm too old to be on the floor. My feet fall asleep. My legs start to hurt. Hence the reason I am not blogging as often. We have been busy! Read about some adventures here. (The first two posts--yes, my daughter called 911, before she ate ice cream on my mom's couch, but after she painted herself with tar) Abs and Em are off at camp, and I am glad to say that we have successfully made it 24 hours without a phone call. I almost think it is easier to keep her (Abs) with me, because I can deal with her antics, and I don't worry about her as much. This is supposed to be a stress-free time, but I am worried about her! Junior went to spend two nights with the outlaws. They needed some time, and he thinks he is at Camp Oma. They took him to DQ tonight and he had a gigantic milkshake, and I can imagine it was followed by a giant ice cream sundae. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Gold Stars, Golden hearts - We couldn’t help but feel the emptiness as we looked around the room at spouses dressed in golden shades of yellow, embracing each other like family. There was a huge void in the capitol rotunda as the Gold Star Wives of Americagathered together to celebrate the 65th anniversary of their organization May 27. The emptiness was the space next to each of them where a spouse should have stood. But at the same time – through that emptiness – we saw honor. We saw loyalty. We saw the utmost form of patriotism and sacrifice for our great nation. And most importantly, we saw love. As America took time on Memorial Day to remember those who fell in battle, we thought how Gold Star spouses live with that loss 365 days a year, marked by memories in one way or another. It may come in the form of an empty seat at a dinner table; a folded flag above a mantle; an empty spot on the other side of the bed; a pain no one should ever have to bear. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: Canadian Press Reporter Bloviates Wildly - I clicked over to CBC to read an account of the latest Canadian soldier to fall victim to a Taliban land mine, Sgt. Martin Goudreault. But that story was nowhere to be seen; instead, a large headline breathlessly announced that "PMO Scripted Afghan Mission: Records." The whole thing is a non-story, as admitted by the Canadian Press reporter far down into the piece: There is nothing new about a wartime government trying to mould public opinion. But for the first time, documents detail how the Harper government attempted to shape perceptions of Canada's fiercest combat mission since the Korean War. So then why the hell are you getting so damn worked up over this? It's a communications strategy. All governments do it (though this one is particularly clumsy at it). There's no scoop here. Sorry. The story is clearly written to make us all understand that we were only tricked into thinking that this mission is about democracy. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: A Blow To Followers Of Canada’s Military - Anyone who at all follows military blogging in Canada knows that the premier blog is “The Torch”, as in “to you with failing hands we throw.” But alas, the blog has shut down suddenly and unexpectedly. I contacted the authors, but they would prefer not to share the reasons publicly. Sufficed to say that this is a huge loss to the Canadian blogging community. The blog owner, Damian Books, became the first Canadian blogger to be invited by the Canadian military to do embedded blogging in Afghanistan. His reports offered a rare and insightful look into Canada’s mission. Sadly, those reports are also now gone. I hope this is only a hiatus. Such a loss to the Canadian blogging community will be deeply felt by all, and in particular those who support the mission in Afghanistan. There was no better source of information about Canada’s military out there, and that includes information directly from the government military web site. (READ MORE)

Ssg B: Wikileaks Leaker: Army Specialist Arrested - So we finally have a name and a face behind this Wikileak scandal. Let’s be clear about something, just like those at Abu Gharib have blood on their hands for the hundreds (if not thousands) of Americans who died in the wake of their scandal, this traitor should have on his. I don’t believe there is any other way to describe these allegations other than treason. And we are at a time of war. Wikileaks is an anti-American organization that must be judged by their actions as having little concern over American operational security or of the lost of American lives overseas. Aiding in their campaign is a punishment that should be considered to be along the same lines as Major Hassan. This young man should never again see the light of day as a free man. He deliberately betrayed and took advantage of a clearance given to him to in order to save lives in a very difficult battlespace. (READ MORE)

FaST Surgeon (in Afghanistan): 07 JUN 2010 "Combat Mailman" - Logistics isn't sexy, but when done well, everyone is happy. Mail is one such thing that makes soldiers happy. But it doesn't just appear out of thin air. Somehow, you have to move all this stuff by air (over 7,000 miles) through a war zone, and (in the case of FOB Shank) then lift it by helicopter over the mountains at an elevation of over 6,500 feet. Then someone has to unload that helicopter and sort through it and get the package or letter to its intended recipient. But guess what.... There ain't no mailman wearing blue shorts in Afghanistan. So, each unit supplies its own people. In the case of the 909th... you can't just be a medic, or a nurse.. you have to be a carpenter and electrician and janitor and sand-bag filler and pest controller and ... you guessed it.. mailman. So here's to our multi-talented and hard working soldiers of the 909th Thank you and Hooah! (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Inside the wire - On the Question Period TV show this weekend, Liberal foreign affairs critic Bob Rae said the Liberals supported the deployment of Canadian soldiers as trainers "inside the wire" in Afghanistan. That sounds easier than it is. Afghan police and soldiers are trained on their own bases, obviously, but those are not "inside" coalition military facilities in any real sense. Afghans of any kind aren't normally allowed free run of ISAF military facilities, so the two have to remain physically distinct. So really what you're talking about is "inside the Afghan wire," at least part of the time: in other words, either cohabiting with Afghans, or failing that, "commuting" from a nearby ISAF base. Which can be fine, of course, given some sensible precautions: I always felt quite safe in those sorts of situations. But in this context it might be worth noting today's news from Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: The Heat Is On - It is 88˚ Fahrenheit during the day in Jalalabad making this the coolest start to summer in memory. Unfortunately the number of security incidents in Jalalabad and around the country have started climbing like the temperature normally does. Yesterday, for the first time since a one-off attack in 2008 the villains struck at the U.S. army inside Jalalabad City. A VBIED (vehicle borne improvise explosive device) attacked an RG-31 MRAP killing both the VBIED driver and the turret gunner and also causing injuries of various severity to 11 local people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have been waiting in vain for the Afghan president or media to pile on the Taliban decrying in strong language the deliberate targeting of innocent Afghan civilians. It is not just the Taliban and other insurgent groups turning on the heat – GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) is putting the heat on the reconstruction battle too. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: British forces push back Taliban in southern Nad 'Ali - British soldiers have been involved in a dramatic push south into insurgent-held territory to move Taliban fighters away from the population centres of the southern Nad 'Ali district and establish new patrol bases. The operation was undertaken by Combined Force Nad 'Ali whose units include 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, the Royal Dragoon Guards, the Queen's Royal Lancers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, 21 Engineer Regiment, the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force and the Joint Helicopter Force (Afghanistan). Afghan security forces also took part in Operation TOR MAHKE ZI, or 'BLACK PUSH FORWARD', that took over a week to complete. Royal Engineers supported the infantry operations too by building the new bases. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Some Matter More than Others - This story says it all. No fewer than 47 Arab representatives went to Gaza to show their solidarity with the Palestinian people. They took time out of their presumably busy days to travel to Gaza to show their support for the boatload of activists delivering building materials to Gaza. The Arab delegates also showed their support for the boat people who appear to have been armed. This photo here shows what looks like a guy with knife and a bloodied Israeli soldier. We can all agree that Israel's response to the boat was misguided. But my question why is the focus on the Gaza boat? I don't recall this reaction when, say, the Rwanda genocide was underway. When I have compared the support the activists get with the total disregard for the Iraqi people, I've received some tough comments on this blog. A few weeks ago a busload of Christian kids was bombed in Hamdaniya. Even the Vatican overlooks the Iraqis. (READ MORE)

Kerplunk: Re: the Wikileaks Kid - Wired has an excellent rundown on the recent arrest of the Apache video (amongst others) leaker, Specialist Bradley Manning. Outed by a hacker of all people. Admittedly, I'm torn on this. My initial reaction is to tear this kid a new one, because security violations of this type cannot happen. (Though, of course, they will in this digital era). But ... though obviously bright, it sounds like he's not right in the head and been ostracized in a way that can cripple the psyche of a young man. He's also only 22. What 22-year old kid isn't a bit self-possessed and guilty of viewing the world in black-white, right-wrong telescopes? It certainly sounds like from his viewpoint, he felt like he was doing the right thing. Was that viewpoint totally screwed up and asinine? Sure, but from what I've read thus far, I don't believe he realized the possible far-reaching effects of his actions, and that is a crucial differentiation - if not for the military, at least in the court of public opinion. (READ MORE)

Knights of Afghanistan: Tough Questions - The anonymous author of Kandahar Diary asks some tough questions of himself and his mission while waiting for a long-anticipated leave flight home. “…Everyone knows what will happen to this place when the west pulls out – at best, continued fighting as warlords and their factions vie for power and, at worst, all-out civil war. I’m no expert but I simply cannot imagine a scenario that includes a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. It just seems to me, right now, that it’s all a gigantic waste of time, money and lives.” I confess to thinking the same thoughts all too often, especially late at night after a long day. My own answers vary, depending on the type of day I've had. Even the best intentions get ground away by life in this place, and all you're left with is your mission and your men. One can find temporary refuge in trying to do what's best for your people and leaving the bigger questions for later contemplation. (READ MORE)

New Girl on Post: What's Going On... - I just wanted to do a little update on what's been going on around our casa and also to let you know I'll be MIA off and on for the next two weeks. Sean is back home from Germany. He's still in pain and will be doing a few rounds of shots in his back and then most likely surgery. We're not sure exactly when this will happen. It's good to have him home though. I feel guilty, considering all my wives and lot of you ladies out in blog land still have deployed loved ones, but I do cherish the fact I have him home. I have visitors coming from the States this week and so I'll be out and about with them for the next couple of weeks. We are doing Rome, then our Greek cruise, Florence and then Innsbruck. I have to admit I'm most excited about the cruise. We're going to Croatia, Turkey and two Greek islands. *squee* Last, but not least, I know I have some new followers. Please, please let me know what your blog URL is so I can add it to my list! (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: A Change in Command: Dust-up or Sandstorm? - There was lots of rumor and innuendo in the bull pen this past week, as the commander and top non-commissioned officer of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry Division were abruptly reassigned. This is only days before the unit moves out to three weeks of Annual Training in Camp Ripley, Minn., and only a few months prior to deployment of approximately the unit's 3,000 soldiers to Afghanistan. The Des Moines Register splashed the news on the front page, and attempted to offer context without a lot of information. The news article indicated Col. Tom Staton and Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Berte were relieved "due to violations of Army regulations"--a phrase that, weather-wise, could mean anything from gale-force winds to the proverbial "tempest in a teapot." I'm not personally privy to the particulars of this human resources sandstorm, nor do I wish to speculate. As they say, whatever happened is "way above my pay grade." (READ MORE)

Small Wars Journal: A Chance in Hell - Colonel Sean MacFarland’s brigade arrived in Iraq’s deadliest city with simple instructions: pacify Ramadi without destroying it. The odds were against him from the start. In fact, few thought he would succeed. Ramadi had been going steadily downhill. By 2006, insurgents roamed freely in many parts of the city in open defiance of Iraq’s U.S.-backed government. Al-Qaeda had boldly declared Ramadi its capital. Even the U.S. military acknowledged the province would be the last to be pacified. A lanky officer with a boyish face, MacFarland was no Patton. But his soft voice masked an iron will and a willingness to take risks. While most of the American military was focused on taming Baghdad, MacFarland laid out a bold plan for Ramadi. His soldiers would take on the insurgents in their own backyard. He set up combat outposts in the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Snipers roamed the dark streets, killing al-Qaeda leaders and terrorist cells. (READ MORE)

The Two Malcontents: The Rumor Doctor: Can troops in Afghanistan chamber a round on patrol? - The Rumor Doctor has seen blogs claiming that U.S. troops in Afghanistan can’t have a round in the chamber when they go outside the wire. That means troops would have to do more than aim and pull the trigger to shoot. They’d have to pause and pull back on the charging handle to prepare the weapon for firing. That extra moment can be precious when faced with a life-and-death situation. Of course, with an increased emphasis on preventing civilian casualties, that extra step might also prevent accidental discharges or give troops more time to think before reacting. But would that be going too far and would it endanger soldiers’ lives? The Rumor Doctor was naturally curious. And he found that such a rule was not the result of any wide-ranging instruction. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan has not issued any such general order, said ISAF spokesman Lt. Col. J. Todd Breasseale. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Darkness falls - As Tuesday dawns in Afghanistan, it is Monday night in a nation that has spent more than eight years fighting terrorism in the war-torn land. While news from the front has been mostly missing from daily headlines for several years in the United States, the tragic events of June 7 command our undivided attention. Numerous reports, citing information from NATO's International Security Assistance Force and U.S. military officials, said seven American troops were killed in three separate Monday tragedies. Three allied soldiers, from countries that have not been specified by NATO, were also lost in the fighting. Two American volunteer warriors fell in southern Afghanistan, one in a small arms attack and the other in a bombing. In the east, five U.S. troops died when a roadside bomb planted by terrorists exploded near their patrol. The identities of these seven American heroes will be revealed in the coming days, after the military has officially notified their families. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Innocent until Proven Guilty - We have seen it with SF Sniper teams in Bermel Afghanistan, a Marine Special Operations Company between J-bad and Kabul, three Navy Seals in Iraq and the Marines who were in Haditha. Lots of accusations and charges but all of them are cleared and were innocent. Over the last few days a story has been out about soldiers from 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division being charged with killing innocent Afghans. “The Army said Friday that Spc. Jeremy Morlock had been charged with three counts of premeditated murder and one count of assault. On Monday, Lt. Col. Tamara Parker, a Joint Base Lewis-McChord spokeswoman, said ‘there is enough evidence to say that five may be charged,’ although Morlock is the only one charged so far. A second Soldier is being held in confinement in Kuwait, and the other three remain with their unit in Afghanistan, she said.” To read this and especially to write about it is very tough. As a soldier it is tough to see other soldiers even be accused of it. However I have a personal connection to Jeremy’s family and in fact I know this soldier and knew him as a young boy. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Warlord Builds Afghan Empire with U.S. Dollars - "The most powerful man in this arid stretch of southern Afghanistan is not the provincial governor, nor the police chief, nor even the commander of the Afghan Army. It is Matiullah Khan, the head of a private army that earns millions of dollars guarding NATO supply convoys and fights Taliban insurgents alongside American Special Forces." First, if it is suicide to travel the roads without Matiullah’s men, that is a sad commentary on the relative strength of the insurgency, even now. Second, setting aside the issue of having to work with the more unseemly elements of society in counterinsurgency operations, there is something huge that is being lost in this whole affair. It is contact between U.S. troops and the population. A Marine Regimental Combat Team could not only do a better job of securing the countryside and roadways, it could also interact with the population in the process, possibly setting into motion something that could last beyond their own presence. (READ MORE)

Grim: An Answer to a Question - Jimbo's favorite Juice Box Boy, Matthew Yglesias, asks a question. “An alternative investigation might focus not on who leaked classified video of a U.S. military operations, but on the question of why that sort of video should be classified. Certainly I can see why the Army might have preferred to keep it under wraps—in the eyes of many it reflected poorly on their conduct—but it hardly contained operational military secrets.” There's actually a very good reason that gun tape is classified by default, but there's no reason you would know it if you haven't been to war. The gun tape contains telemetry information from the helicopter that reports "operational military secrets," for example, details about the movement of troops and maneuver units (to whit, the helicopter!). That stuff is there as part of the feed, and needs to be stripped out using software, which then requires verification that all the operational information has been removed. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Freedom’s Dues - … turn out to be bureaucratic control-freak greedhead union crap. This Marine fought for his right to work, now a teacher’s union wants to dun him in exchange for … nothing. Marine ROTC instructor Maj. Stephen Godin says he won’t pay union dues, and they’re trying to fire him. Boston Herald: “A retired U.S. Marine who runs a high school ROTC program in Worcester says he faces the boot for refusing to pay local union dues, leaving the 58-year-old father of two crying foul and school administrators bewildered. 'It just seems crazy that they’re gonna fire me over $500,' said Maj. Stephen L. Godin, senior naval science instructor at the Naval Junior ROTC Unit of North High School. 'Everyone’s talking about finding good teachers – I haven’t missed a day in 14 years.'” Figures. Serve your nation, come back, keep serving, get chiseled by stay-at-homes. Worcester is the kind of blue-collar place where you’d expect a lot of support for the military, a little more common sense and less tolerance for this kind of nonsense. (READ MORE)

From My Position - On The Way!: Ripples in the pond - From an email conversation with Afghanoldblue. I won't go into the particulars of the conversation, but in general, it was about a wounded soldier who was writing businesses to ask them to support soldiersangels.org, and relating his experiences with them. All below is from Old Blue, and directed toward one of my Favorite Angels in Germany. --Chuck “Every action is like a pebble tossed into a pond. You have no idea how far the ripples travel nor the effects they have. Some things ARE unforgetable. I saw, and so I'm not surprised that those who are not too drugged to do remember those Soldiers Angels who gave them such a touch at a moment when their lives had been so changed. I saw those who would only have the vaguest of images in their memories of who brought them that blanket that they clutched, like the most precious thing in the world, all the way home. I've never seen so much respect for sacrifice before.” (READ MORE)

Soldiers Angels Germany: (VIDEO) Duty, Honor, Country - Lt. Dan Berschinski, wounded August 2009 in the Arghandab River Valley of Afghanistan, at his recent homecoming celebration in Peachtree, GA on Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to Andrea Taber for this abridged version of Dan's speech. The orignal, in two parts (here and here), courtesy of Dan's father. Dan has a blog, too. Well done, Dan. Much love to you from everyone at Landstuhl. (READ MORE)

DAN BERSCHINSKI: The End, But Not Really - I thought about beginning this post with an apology for taking so long to write up the events of last weekend, but it seemed that most of you were there anyway. For those who couldn't make it, it will be impossible to put in words what the day felt like, so I will leave the profundities for another time. For those of you who could join us, thank you for running and walking, flag waving and cheering, laughing and crying, sweating and sogging. To more people than we know, the Berschinski family again says Thank You. With that, and at Dan's request, I am ending this blog. It's a testament to Dan that this news will come as a disappointment to some. But life goes on. That's Dan's whole point, I think, and why people have been drawn to his story. During a war, like all others, in which some do not come home -- one from his platoon, two from our own community, and another nine in the last two days -- his life goes on. (READ MORE)

Tales From the Home Front of the 103rd ESC's Deployment: We no longer sleep under the same sky - 356 days until we are back in the same time zone for good. He has now moved over seas. I’m taking it pretty hard. We no longer sleep at about the same time. We no longer are on the same continent. It’ s not even the same day half of the time. His morning is my last night. Do you all have any idea how much I want him to get on a plane, say screw this and just come home? He is now in a country with a warning on the State Department’s watch list. He’s one step closer to the war zone. He’s a whole lot further from me, and I won’t see him for months. This is a whole new level of worry and longing. He and I have never been this far apart. Every time before when he’s been gone, I’ve always known that if something were to happen to either of us, we were a short plane flight apart. Not so any more. If something happens to him, I have to hope the Army lets me go to him. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
I Corps commander bids farewell Tuesday - The departure of Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. was reported back in March, just days before he returned from a deployment to Baghdad as commander of I Corps, which put him in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq. (READ MORE)

Army: 5 soldiers implicated in 3 Afghan killings - Five soldiers from the same Washington state-based unit have now been implicated in the killing of three Afghan civilians, an Army spokeswoman said Monday. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Iraqi Students in Baghdad - Final exams started this month for tens of thousands of students at Baghdad University, the country’s largest institute of higher learning. (READ MORE)

Tennessee Guardsmen Patrol the Perimeter - Conducting daily perimeter patrol missions, the Soldiers of Crusader Troop, 1st Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment headquartered in Milan, Tenn., can be seen leaving a trail of dust across the desert surrounding Q-West, Iraq, on a regular basis. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Forces Target al-Qaida in Mosul, Baghdad - Iraqi security forces killed seven al-Qaida in Iraq members and captured three others during June 5 security operations in northern Iraq. (READ MORE)

Bombs Explode Outside Homes of Iraqi Police Officers, Killing 4 - A series of bombings outside the houses of police officers in western Iraq on Monday killed four people and wounded at least 20 others, signaling a new tactic by insurgents seeking to spread chaos three months after a national election that has not yet delivered a clear winner. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, June 8 - An Afghan-international security force detained a number of individuals suspected of insurgent activity in Helmand province last night. (READ MORE)

Marines Near End of Deployment Continue to Patrol Amidst Taliban Attacks - Waking up in the early morning, the Marines with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, mark down one more day until they can return home to wives and children, their families and friends and perhaps most importantly, leave the past several months behind them. (READ MORE)

2 Australian Soldiers Die in Afghanistan Explosion - Two Australian soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan, the worst fatalities the country has suffered in a single day during military deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, an official said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Bomb Kills 2 US Troops; NATO Losses at 23 for June - Two more American troops were killed in Afghanistan on Tuesday, the military said, extending a spike of bloodshed into a second day and pushing the NATO losses in the country to 23 in just over a week. (READ MORE)

10 NATO troops killed in Afghanistan - Ten NATO troops were killed Monday in bombings and shootings in eastern and southern Afghanistan, military officials said, in the deadliest day for the U.S.-led international force this year. (READ MORE)

Afghan Troops Fear Life After Foreign Pullout - Standing beside a machinegun in a sand-bagged watch tower, an Afghan soldier contemplates a future once Western forces leave the country. (READ MORE)

14 militants killed in Afghanistan - The Afghan forces backed by NATO-led troops killed 14 Taliban militants in Kandahar province, the provincial government said in a statement Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Afghan ex-intel chief opposed Karzai peace plan - The former head of Afghanistan's intelligence service quit after seeing himself as an obstacle to President Hamid Karzai's plan to reach out to insurgents for talks, he said on Monday, a day after his resignation. (READ MORE)

Taliban 'court' publicly executes tribesman in Pakistan - A tribesman accused of killing two brothers was on Tuesday publicly executed on the orders of a Taliban "court" in the volatile North Waziristan region in northwest Pakistan. (READ MORE)

Oz firm on NATO commitment in Afghanistan - Despite two Aussie soldiers being among the ten NATO troops who were killed in separate attacks on a bloody day for NATO in Afghanistan, the Australian administration stands firm on its commitment to NATO. (READ MORE)

Security Council selects official to assist with Al-Qaida and Taliban sanctions - A Security Council committee overseeing sanctions against the Taliban and Al-Qaida today appointed a Canadian judge to help decide which names of individuals or entities to remove from the committee"s consolidated list of people facing sanctions. (READ MORE)

Afghan Suicide Bombers, Snipers Kill 10 - Ten foreign soldiers, including seven Americans, were killed in separate attacks on the deadliest day of the year for Western forces in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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