June 23, 2010

From the Front: 06/23/2010

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

Dispatches:
A Little Pink in a World of Camo: Annoyed - Good God am I annoyed today. I am just so over facebook drama. I can't say anything without everyone taking it personally and flipping the fuck out. I put up a status about How obnoxious it is when someone puts in their status every single time "I LOVE AND MISS YOU..." or "I LOVE YOU..." I personally just think it's annoying. My personal belief. Why does that need to be in every single status in my feed? Maybe it's the fact that I'm overly irritable these days, umm hello, I'm grieving assholes. But either way, I never singled any person out, nor did I say "Change this or I'm not gonna be your friend" I just bitched about it. Well, two people in particular, that I caught, had something to say about it. One, a person who I didn't even know who she was until I asked a few people, had a really low blow ending in something like "At least I have a husband to love" Umm are you fucking kidding me?! I have a husband to love too, he's in Heaven and I'm more proud of him than you can be of a person. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: GEN McChrystal speaks his mind, and Bouhammer Supports him - If you have been watching the news lately then you know that GEN McChrystal is on his way back to Washington, DC to get his butt chewed by the President. Looking at the critical time we are in with regards to Afghanistan and the technologies we have today, I am wondering why the President can’t just speak his mind over a secure video tele-conference. We have those with Afghanistan all the time. Do we really need to waste the time of the Commander of the war in Afghanistan by spending dozens of hours flying back and forth? Save the money, time and the environment and do it on a damn con call. It is a shame that GEN McChrystal spoke his mind to a Rolling Stone reporter, of all people. I can’t say I blame GEN McChrystal at all, and I know the General feels bad that he said those to a journalist as he has already apologized. We really don’t have time for all of these distractions as there is something more important to focus on... (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Gen. McChrystal awaits his fate - After yesterday's bombshell Rolling Stone profile of top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff caused the general to be recalled to Washington to explain the mocking remarks in person, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and later President Barack Obama will meet with Gen. McChrystal this morning. Obama, who was reportedly furiously "angry" at the profile, said Gen. McChrystal "showed poor judgment" and wants to speak with him face-to-face before making any decisions about whether to fire the Afghanistan commander. Gen. McChrystal, who reportedly told an Obama administration official that he "compromised the mission," is said to have prepared a resignation letter and is ready to deliver it if the president has lost faith in him, and speculation is of course rife. The White House, which wants to be prepared if Obama decides to let Gen. McChrystal go, has reportedly asked the Pentagon to put together a list of possible replacements. (READ MORE)

Brian Fishman: West coast jihad - As a native Californian, I am willing to accept that Adam Gadahn, the American-born al-Qaeda propagandist who was raised in California, will often be labeled as such by the media. But my Golden State often gets a bad rap when it comes to other high profile characters who have spent time in Afghanistan and Pakistan. For the record, the "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh spent his first ten years in Maryland before the family moved to California. And Gary Brooks Faulkner, who carried a sword while hunting for Osama bin Laden in Pakistan's tribal areas, has not been a Californian since he moved to Colorado in 1968. But that factoid did not prevent the Post, al Jazeera, or a slew of other media outlets and blogs from referring to him as a Californian. Place of birth aside, the most important news about Gadahn's recent screed, Legitimate Demands, Barack's Dilemma, is that very few Americans seem to care about it. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Improving wounded warrior care - Today’s post is a guest blog from the Army Wounded Warrior Program, commonly referred to as AW2. Read as Col. Jim Rice, director of AW2, shares his thoughts about the AW2 Symposium, which is designed to gather input on the top issues affecting wounded warriors and recommended improvements. For the sixth year in a row, AW2 is bringing in more than 65 delegates—severely wounded, injured and ill Soldiers, Veterans and their spouse/caregiver—to identify the top issues facing this population and recommend improvements. While delegates are hard at work, their children will participate in Operation Purple®, an urban adventure camp hosted by the National Military Family Association. I look forward to this event every year. Not only does it keep AW2 focused on what is important to the Army’s wounded warriors, but it unites Soldiers and Veterans together—as well as their Families. (READ MORE)

Battle Rattle: Mattis to lead Afghan fight? - Lots of speculation out there about the fate of Gen. Stanley McChrystal after his uncharacteristic display of indiscipline during interviews with Rolling Stone magazine. At least one Washington military analyst says the job should go to Army Gen. David Petraeus, but will more likely go to Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, who just got passed over for the job of commandant and is about to step down as head of Joint Forces Command. In a blog entry at foreignpolicy.com, author and former Washington Post military writer Tom Ricks says it “may be time for a whole new team in Afghanistan” and that Mattis could be the man to head that team, despite his reputation for being even more outspoken than McChrystal just became. What do you think? (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: Reports On The Future Of The Mission - The Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence has released a report called "Where We Go From Here: Canada's Mission in Afghanistan." It's a good read, and I recommend it to everyone. Terry Glavin, from the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee, spoke before the committee in April and is quoted multiple times in report, including this gem: We held the fort with the contribution of the Canadian Forces and the dignity with which the Canadian Forces has conducted itself. We make mistakes, but we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and carry on. We are respected in that country. Canada is respected in that country in no small part because of the contribution that Canadian soldiers have made. No one we spoke to wants the Canadian Forces to withdraw completely. Although there is clearly some disagreement in the committee about how to proceed politically. (READ MORE)

Fraser From Iraq: Beer Day Gone Wild - Let me say “Happy Birthday ARMY!”, for 230 years of service to our country. So that is great. Congratulations! To celebrate this auspicious occasion – we get BEER. The Army has issued a temporary suspension of General Order Number One (a- b – xyz?? I can’t remember which one it is). This suspension authorizes forward deployed troops to ingest alcohol. Intoxication control measures have been implemented, and as usual they are designed to take the fun out of it. Each soldier (the “Ingestee”) will receive one beer. Ingestee must first check in to a DFAC (official Dining Facility) and present their ID card. Ingestee must then sign for such beer. Ingestee then can consume the beer right there, and cannot share the beer or give it to another person. Upon completion of said beer, Ingestee must return the empty beer to the front check-in desk, whereupon they will be given their ID card back. And now, after the one beer, the Ingestee must be driven back to place of duty. So we didn’t get any beer. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Meanwhile, back in Afg 2: the Good Guys of Gizab - The WashPost has a "ray of light" piece on Afghanistan. Gizab, a valley in Daikundi province (although that is disputed) with a majority Pashtun population (also disputed), is apparently steadfastly anti-Taliban. Good for them. People are wondering how to replicate that success, which is a good discussion. Three points. The obvious fact is this is a place in completely marginal territory for the Taliban, hard up against or in the Hazarajat, the central Afghanistan refuge of the Shia Hazara people, who the Taliban in the past have done every depredation short of hunting for sport. The Pashtuns in this area are economically and socially interlinked with the Hazara, who form the overwhelming majority of the region's population. For them to be anything other than pro-peace given that situation (and the likelihood they'd be running for their lives the moment civil war ever breaks out again) would be surprising. Indeed, if the government can't keep these Pashtuns onside, it's fair to see it couldn't keep any. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Meanwhile, back in Afg - The McChrystal article, if you haven't read it yet. Schmedlap has a point. The U.S. commander for Afghanistan is quoted saying the current Afghan policy was a hard sell in Washington at first ("I was selling an unsellable position"), pretends not to know the vice-president, ("Who's that?") and does make some scathing remarks about both Ambassador Eikenberry and special envoy Richard Holbrooke. But that's still pretty borderline as far as the whole-military-law-subordination-to-civil-authority sort of thing. All the other smack-talking is his anonymous aides, a couple of whom, if they are ever exposed, really do need to resign. And it does pretty clearly show that the Obama civilian-military team for Afghanistan (or at least its top three people) is dysfunctional to the point of needing to replace SOMEBODY. But no, it's not *quite* MacArthur-Truman. (READ MORE)

Hell Cat Betty: I Admire... - It's too easy to forget sometimes, that there are people who are incredible on a daily basis. I am not incredible every day. I can't even claim to be incredible once a week, but I have my flashes of brilliance. There are some people that remind me that there are in fact amazing folks out there. Because many of my readers are military spouses and the like, I'm going to share a bit about two incredible people with ties to the military. They have a blog, and I read it and hang on every word. I don't comment, I'm just a lurker. But every time I open up the page and read an update I'm inspired to try harder, do better, BE better. Their names are Patrick and Jessica, and I don't know them. But I admire them. Patrick: One of the surviving victims of the November 5th, 2009 shooting at Fort Hood. He is still recovering from four gunshot wounds sustained that day. He's stubborn, optimistic, and determined... and it's working for him. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Protests Spread - The protests are spreading to other towns. The electricity minister resigned. Now the protesters are calling for the resignation of the entire government. They demand one that will deliver services. As you can see from the photos if you click on the links, the protesters are carrying Iraqi flags and other signs. But so far they do not appear to belong to a single group, say to the Sadr gang, as some reports in the media have said. The Sadr gang would love to take credit and have claimed they support the protesters. Allawi's list also stated their support for the protests and called for peaceful response to the crowds. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: What WAS he thinking? - A lot of folks are scratching their heads about how a sharp operator like Gen. Stanley McChrystal gave carte blanche access to a Rolling Stone reporter whose all too accurate portrayal of the less attractive side of his command did him in. I mean it’s Rolling Stone, what did he expect? Michael Hastings, the former Baghdad correspondent for Newsweek Magazine, says he has no idea why McChrystal was so generous with sharing his innermost doubts, and invited him along to witness the irreverent and sometimes contemptuous attitude of his top aides. Hastings speculated to ABC, among others that it might simply be a character flaw, “a sort of natural kind of recklessness.” I have another theory based on my 16 years of traveling with senior defense officials and military officers. Gen. McChrystal might have been under the misimpression Hastings would protect him, in return for the great access and candor. (READ MORE)

Kerplunk: Like a Rolling Stone - I'm off to Chicago today for this event at the Pritzker Military Library, but of course the hot issue of the day is General McChrystal's interview with Rolling Stone. Now, I haven't read the whole article yet, but considering General McChrystal has already apologized for its content, the fears of an unnecessary distraction - and the pending fallout - seem valid. While the public and DC is mostly going to focus on the political nature of McChrystal's/aides' comments, and use them accordingly depending upon their own agenda, the strategic implications for Afghanistan will unfortunately be put on the backburner. (What evidence do I have for this? Just nine years of the American public largely ignoring the war, and politicians' reactionary diatribes. That's all.) A central tenet of any military organization is unity of command, and this reads like the exact opposite of that. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Day 1: Restrepo PR machine comes alive in L.A. - Restrepo is a finely crafted documentary, with moments of loudness and chaos followed by reflection. Last night, in a theater of around 300 in Los Angeles, an audience of film buffs, military supporters, veterans, and even some from the anti-war crowd gathered to watch Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger's documentary about the 2/503 Battle Company, 173rd ABN. Working on the PR team, we were anxious to see how it would be received. The past month had passed quickly as we prepared for not only this evening, but for all others to follow, including the opening dates. The reason to get the word out is for the soldiers --not just these ones, but for all the men and women who serve around the world. This is a small film, and the making of it was fully funded by Tim and Sebastian so they could have total editorial control. They put everything into it including taking on debt. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US, Afghan forces hammer the Haqqani Network in Paktia - US and Afghan forces again battled with the deadly Haqqani Network in eastern Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. The joint US and Afghan force killed "a large number of insurgents, including several key leaders for both the Haqqani network and Taliban" during a military operation in the Jani Khel district in Paktia province, according to the International Security Assistance Force. "Arabs, Uzbeks, Turks, and Chechens" were among those killed, according to the ISAF report. The fighting took place during a two day offensive in Jani Khel that targeted the "largest insurgent camp in the area." Local villagers in Jani Khel joined the fight in an attempt to block the retreat of Haqqani Network fighters into neighboring Khost province. "When Haqqani network fighters attempted to retreat from Jani Khel to Musa Khel, a neighboring district in Khost, villagers from Kotkai prevented the foreign fighters from moving through their village," ISAF stated. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: I wouldn't have it any other way! - The Army holds a special piece of my heart. I guess it always has. When I was 5 years old, my daddy took me to an air show where I saw the Army's parachute team, The Golden Knights, perform. I looked at my daddy and said "I wanna be in the Army when I grow up". And Join the Army, I did. I knew BCT would be hard, I was prepared for that. What I wasn't prepared for was the 'relationship BCT' that I would go through after I met my husband! After being in the same Brigade for nearly 4 years, he and I finally connected. Both of us had been on the same installation for the duration of our careers, with the exception of our respective combat tours. It seems like that all changed when we had our first date, and one date was all it took, we were both hopeless! I was a newly promoted E-5, he was a newly promoted E-7. We basically had 2 months together before the Army sent him to ANCOC for nearly 3 months. (READ MORE)

C. J. CHIVERS: General Faces Unease Among His Own Troops, Too - Riding shotgun in an armored vehicle as it passed through the heat and confusion of southern Afghanistan this month, an Army sergeant spoke into his headset, summarizing a sentiment often heard in the field this year. “I wish we had generals who remembered what it was like when they were down in a platoon,” he said to a reporter in the back. “Either they never have been in real fighting, or they forgot what it’s like.” The sergeant was speaking of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and the circle of counterinsurgents who since last year have been running the Afghan war, and who have, as a matter of both policy and practice, made it much more difficult for troops to use airstrikes and artillery in the fight against the Taliban. No matter the outcome of his meeting on Wednesday in Washington over caustic comments he and his staff made about President Obama and his national security team, the general, or his successor: (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: Death to Floppy Socks! - I'm 0 for 2, with as many on-the-spot corrections made on yours truly in as many days. Yesterday, I made the mistake of assuming that officers would not want to be saluted outside our the Entry Control Point (E.C.P.) of our big circus tent of a Tactical Operations Center ("TOC"). Once, in my experience, officers avoided being saluted "in the field," fearing observation by enemy soldiers with long-distance rifle scopes. Soldiers would darkly joke about "sniper checks" when forced to salute under field conditions. Our TOC tent complex is surrounded by three strands of Concertina--looping strands of flesh-and-uniform-stripping razor wire. To enter the complex, one has to clear one's weapon, present security badge, and proceed along a hard-plastic walkway into the TOC. Again, I figured that the ECP is a choke-point for larger groups of people. A suicide bomber need only wait until observing a flurry of salutes outside the ECP, before going for it. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Without controversy - The war in Afghanistan is the top story on most cable news shows and websites today, but only because controversy has erupted over an interview Gen. Stanley McChrystalrecently granted to Rolling Stone. Unfortunately, finger pointing and beltway bickering interests many members of the press much more than sacrifices being made on the battlefield. Over the past 24 hours, the Pentagon has announced six Army casualties from various locations in Afghanistan. The fallen heroes hailed from different states, where their families and friends grieve at this hour. The Unknown Soldiers will make every effort to bring you their stories in the weeks ahead. Spc. Joseph Johnson, 24, Flint, Michigan - Pfc. Gunnar Hotchkin, 31, Naperville, Illinois - Spc. Nathan Cox, 21, Fremont, California - Pfc. Benjamin Park, 25, Fairfax Station, Virginia - Staff Sgt. James Hunter, 25, South Amherst, Ohio - Spc. Scott Andrews, 21, Fall River, Massachusetts... (READ MORE)

Terry Glavin: The Inevitable Betrayal In 'Peace Talks' - After years of fierce fighting and numerous counterinsurgency initiatives, the Afghan government and some of its international allies seem to have reached to the peak of desperation. They are now even exploring whether Afghan women's rights can be sacrificed in order to declare "mission accomplished". The idea of subsuming women's rights so that the war can end has come in formal and informal talks between some parliamentarians, government officials and is also reported to be part of cynical discussions among some of the international diplomats in Kabul gatherings. Many women activists believe the growing Talibanisation of the Afghan government will not only bring further instability, as it could upset the diverse ethnic composition of Afghanistan, but also predict that they will pay for this political settlement with their rights. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: General McChrystal Recalled: What’s Important About This? - General Stanley McChrystal and his staff have allowed close access by Michael Hastings writing for Rolling Stone, and the report contains somewhat embarrassing information for the Obama administration. You can read for yourself and judge whether the views expressed by the General and his staff rise to the level of insubordination, and if so, what should be done about it. Frankly, I don’t think it matters very much. But when considered as part of the general warp and woof of their relationship, it’s a little late to be complaining about how dense the administration officials are, regardless of how true that view is. Recall that this conversation took place. Inside the Oval Office, Obama asked Petraeus, “David, tell me now. I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?” “Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame,” Petraeus replied. (READ MORE)

Uncle Jimbo: If McChrystal goes, Eikenberry & Holbrooke must follow - The two biggest obstacles to success in dealing w/ the Afghan govt, and consequently with our chances of success w/ the war there are Amb. Eikenberry and Special Envoy Holbrooke. When Obama took over the first thing he and his brain trust decided was that Karzai must go. Eikenberry and Holbrooke were the main architects and implementers of that dismal failure. Consequently Karzai took a very dim view of the US and our commitment to helping him achieve peace. He opened larger discussions with the Pakistanis and with the Taliban themselves since they seemed to him, rightly I might add, to be the folks with the most skin in the game. In the course of our attempted diplomatic coup of Karzai, both Eik and Holbrooke became personas non grata in Afghanistan. Holbrooke can't even get a meeting with the Pakistanis, last time he tried they more or less said they were going to their Dad's house for a cook out. (READ MORE)

Mr Wolf: Someone Broke The Rules - THAT Broke McChrystal - It's been a long time since I've posted, but given recent events, I must come back online and throw in (throw down?). With McChrystal likely going to resign this week (we are still working to confirm the UK's Telegraph article) or be kicked out, we must look at what transpired to bring us to this point. Right now, I'm of a mind to blame not only McChrystal, but Michael Yon for how this all turned out. This could likely have been prevented, or McChrystal could have done damage control beyond what's going on (or NOT going on) right now. Yours truly has tried approaching powers that be over in AFG to help them sort out how IO/PA=STRATCOM is not effectively working. This is similar to the issues I faced in Iraq when I helped stand up STRATCOM as an entity. Seemingly, those with lessons learned are of no value to AFG chiefs. McChrystal's situation just reinforces my belief in this. (READ MORE)

Uber Pig: Afghanistan Policy Review - It has become increasingly clear to me that we have a failure of leadership in Afghanistan. Obama has failed by not articulating to us, and to the military, what his desired end state should look like. A democratic state with equal rights for women? One that tolerates gay marriage? Or would he accept perhaps a less liberal state headed by a Pashtun strong man who can prevent the export of Islamic terrorism? I'm comfortable with either one. Just define it for us, Mr. Obama. Holbrooke apparently is considered a lightweight, and can't get meetings. Eikenberry has a habit of leaking memos that hurt our efforts. And McChrystal can neither stand Eikenberry, nor keep his mouth shut around Rolling Stone reporters. Whether you like it or not, the only one of these men who can't legally be replaced is President Obama. (READ MORE)

Yankee Mom: A General vs A Secretary - General McChrystal has been called on the WH carpet for his comments in the Rolling Stone article (Rolling Stone?? Really, General, Rolling Stone?? But then, you did vote for Obama…sigh) about several members of the civilian leadership regarding the war in Afghanistan. Now having read the article, I must say I can’t see much wrong with what he, or his aides - mostly his aides - said. In fact, Obama being the CinC of my daughter and son-in-law gives me some sleepless nights. I was furious at the dithering Obama did around the surge, taking too long to come to grips with what needed to be done. Listening to the bogus crap coming out of Eikenberry and Jones and Holbrook, I can’t say McChrystal was too off the mark in his descriptions of them. Now, I don’t agree with all of McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy, what little I do understand, but, that he has to work with this bunch of inexperienced buffoons in the White House has to exasperate him no end. (READ MORE)

Chuck Z: General McChrystal--from my position - First, let me say this: I believe General McChrystal is not the smartest man in the room, he's the smartest man in the county. Second, I believe that every man has limits, especially when fighting a war, and trying to prosecute an incredibly difficult and detailed strategy without support from above. Third, the rolling stone article does attribute some things that no General (or Officer, for that matter) has any business saying, in a public format, about the commander in chief, or the vice President (regardless of how true those statements may be.) I see this as the actions of an extremely frustrated leader, who is trying to do something that his superiors simply don't understand, and based on their apparent priority for listening to him, don't care to learn. However, General McChrystal chose to resent himself and his staff to the writer from Rolling Stone. I doubt he did this without forethought. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Rolling Stone - Oh, boy. This sort of thing is what happens when a senior officer and his aides, under pressure, blurt out the truth. Biden is indeed something of a stuffed shirt, and the president has been disappointing to many people who once hoped for more. Most of the general’s dissatisfaction appears to have been generated by friction with US ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who was himself a 3-star general and former commander of US forces in Afghanistan. The sometimes controversial COIN changes that McChrystal has instituted are changes to Eikenberry’s policies, while the ambassador has declined to release funds to sponsor the kind of local anti-Taliban militias and infrastructure upgrades in Kanduhar that made the Sons of Iraq game changers in the Sunni-dominated Iraqi province of Anbar. As for Holbrooke and Jones, well: Too many cooks spoil the broth. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Too Rolling Stoned - Rolling Stone will probably get around to publishing their piece on General Stanley McChrystal sooner rather than later - for now the powers that be there are probably reveling in the advance publicity. Appropriately enough, the article has already been leaked in full. (And I've read the whole thing.) Having been once bitten on the topic, they're prepping to deflect possible questions about the vice president - and clearly joking. But such insider humor is best not shared with reporters, and is most definitely best left to non-military members of the administration: But with the Rolling Stone story - and even with several stories already reporting (with varying degrees of accuracy) the Rolling Stone story, the president is confronted with multiple challenges - not the least of which is to what degree a magazine more focused on shaping opinion on Lady GaGa or the Jonas Brothers will determine the future course of American efforts in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Victor Davis Hanson: Military Dissent Should Be Private - During the Bush administration and the so-called revolt of the generals (the retired ones, mostly), the media were quick to praise public dissenters as lone wolves who spoke truth to power about the ineptness in Iraq. But it is not good when military officers go public with complaints about their civilian overseers. One of the great contributions of Matthew Ridgway to the war effort in Korea was that he stopped officers’ public sniping at the Truman policy, much of which he was probably in disagreement with. Later he aired his differences with Eisenhower, and paid a price, but in times of war, officers must make their views known through official (and thus private) channels, and may not freelance through the media. It was wrong during the furor over troop levels and the surge in Iraq, and it is wrong now. Generals provide input and can dissent privately, and then the president goes forward with the consensus and officers obey. (READ MORE)



News from the Home Front:
General Stanley McChrystal tenders his resignation - A senior Capitol Hill source tells me that General Stanley McChrystal had tendered his resignation to President Barack Obama and that the White House is actively discussing a replacement who could be quickly confirmed by the Senate. (READ MORE)

McChrystal denies offering to resign - At a precarious moment in the war in Afghanistan, President Barack Obama prepared to hear his top war commander explain biting published complaints about the commander in chief and his aides. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Taliban must be blacklisted - Four senators are seeking to force the Obama administration to blacklist the Pakistani Taliban, a day after the failed Times Square bomber pleaded guilty and admitted getting training from the group. (READ MORE)

Civilian press aide resigns amid flap over McChrystal's 'Rolling Stone' profile - Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's civilian press aide resigned Tuesday over an upcoming magazine story that portrayed the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and some of his aides as derisive toward Obama administration officials. (READ MORE)

McChrystal’s Fate in Limbo as He Prepares to Meet Obama - President Obama will confront the fate of his top commander in Afghanistan Wednesday after a firestorm over remarks the general and members of his staff made that were contemptuous of senior administration officials. (READ MORE)

McChrystal is woven into Obama's Afghanistan strategy - As President Obama weighs whether to relieve his Afghanistan commander over inappropriate comments in a magazine article, he is also wrestling with the future of a war that he has taken on as his own. (READ MORE)

Military Blogs Ask: Should He Stay or Go? - Schadenfreude among his critics, gloom among his admirers. That sums up the military blogs’ reaction to Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s flattening by a Rolling Stone profile. (READ MORE)

Article Prompts Speculation About McChrystal’s Future - Ahead of a meeting at the White House on Wednesday between Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and President Obama, speculation is rife in Washington and online on whether the general will remain America’s top commander in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Obama has free rein to act on McChrystal, but system is still complex - The Constitution spells it out clearly: Civilians are in control of the military, with one in particular deemed the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States when called into the actual Service of the United States." (READ MORE)

McChrystal Tests Obama’s Priorities - Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal has highlighted the conflict between President Obama’s encouragement of dissent and his no-drama management style. (READ MORE)

The President and His General - Until this week, Gen. Stanley McChrystal had a reputation for fierce self-discipline. That makes his hugely undisciplined comments in Rolling Stone magazine all the more puzzling and disturbing. (READ MORE)

Gates Issues Statement on McChrystal Profile - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a statement today, June 22, regarding a profile article on Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Arlington Cemetery Fields Phone Calls From Worried Families - Officials at Arlington National Cemetery have established a special call center to address concerns worried family members may have about the potential mishandling of their loved ones' remains. (READ MORE)

Marine Missing in Action From World War I Identified - The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War I, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors. (READ MORE)



News from the Front:
Iraq:
At least 9 Iraqis killed in bombings - Bombs killed at least nine Iraqis on Tuesday, including two leaders of government-backed Sunni militias that have fought al-Qaida in Iraq, officials said. (READ MORE)

Al-Qaida Front Group Says It Bombed Baghdad Bank - An al-Qaida front group has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Trade Bank of Iraq earlier this week that killed at least 18 people. (READ MORE)

Lack of electricity and water puts Iraqis on edge during heat of summer - At least three times a week, Maher Abbas brings one of his two young children or his elderly mother to the hospital to be treated for dehydration, stomach bugs or heat exhaustion. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
Australia may begin Afghanistan pullout in 2012 - Australia Wednesday signalled it could start bringing some troops home from Afghanistan in two years. (READ MORE)

Afghan peace process offers little hope for women - "If the conflict is to be wound down, real compromises will have to be made on the constitution, women's rights and civil liberties." These are the words of an editorial comment in Afghan Scene, a magazine written by and mainly for the international community in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan police struggle ahead of U.S. pullout - Afghan policemen lie on the ground and fire ageing AK-47 assault rifles at cardboard boxes to prepare for the day, next year, when U.S. troops leave and they have to face Taliban militants on their own. (READ MORE)

Afghan leaders voice strong support for McChrystal - Afghan officials said Wednesday that firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal would disrupt progress in the war and could jeopardize a pivotal security operation under way in Taliban strongholds in the south. (READ MORE)

Afghan government backs McChrystal to keep job - The Kabul government got behind U.S. General Stanley McChrystal on Wednesday, hoping he keeps his job despite the furor over an interview in which he criticized top American officials. (READ MORE)

2 U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan attacks - Two American service members died following bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Australian soldiers could begin leaving Afghanistan in 2012 - Australia may begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as early as 2012 when it concludes its mission to train Afghan soldiers, Defense Minister John Faulkner said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Undisciplined Afghans endanger Marjah Marines - Many Afghan National Army troops who work and patrol with U.S. Marines are considered a nuisance at best and a danger at worst. (READ MORE)

Bulgaria to Send More Troops to Afghanistan - Bulgaria says it will send 65 more troops to the NATO-led force in Afghanistan in early September. The government said in a statement Wednesday that 10 of the soldiers will be medical personnel based in Kabul and the southern city of Kandahar, and 10 will be instructors for the Afghan army. (READ MORE)

US Defense Officials Questioned About Afghan Trucking Contract - U.S. Defense Department officials say they take any allegation of corruption and wrongdoing seriously in response to a congressional report saying tens of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayers' money have been paid as extortion money to Afghan warlords... (READ MORE)

US Funds Used to Pay Afghan Warlords - A congressional investigation says tens of millions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer funds are indirectly being paid to Afghan warlords, public officials and even the Taliban to ensure safe passage of U.S. supply convoys in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)



Pakistan:
Nine people killed in Karachi firing incidents - Nine people including two women were killed and several others injured on Tuesday in a fresh wave of killings in Karachi. (READ MORE)

Six dead in Karachi target killings - Six people with different political affiliations were reported dead and eight injured in separate incidents of target killings in Karachi on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Taliban 'openly raising funds' in Pakistani Punjab - Militancy seems to be gaining ground in Punjab A Pakistani intelligence report says militants are publicly raising funds in Punjab province, the BBC has learned. (READ MORE)

43 more Taliban killed as Pak forces continue to pound militants in FATA - Continuing its offensive in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas' (FATA) Orakzai agency, Pakistani security forces have reportedly killed 43 more Taliban militants in the region. (READ MORE)

Taliban demands release of militants in return for kidnapped Pak soldiers - The Taliban has demanded from the Pakistan government the release of an unspecified number of militants currently locked in jails across the country in return for the 33 Frontier Corps soldiers, who were taken captive by the extremists near the Afghan border a week ago. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Predicts Conviction in US Terror Trial - Prosecutors in the trial of five Americans accused of plotting terrorist attacks in Pakistan say they are confident the men will be found guilty when their trial concludes Thursday. (READ MORE)

Taliban regrouping in Pakistan areas thought secure - As Pakistan delays a long-awaited offensive in North Waziristan, the remote area dubbed the last bastion of indigenous Taliban and al Qaeda, Taliban insurgents are quietly staging a comeback in several districts and territories where the military earlier declared victories. (READ MORE)


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Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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