June 25, 2010

From the Front: 06/25/2010

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: Holey Bagoley - My Aunt says that a lot, it cracks me up. Well, I'm up here in New Hampshire, enjoying some much needed get-back-to-the-roots time with family, and I've finally decided to actually write a real post and I'm not going to delete it this time, promise. So we've been doing a lot of relaxing up here in the good ol' New England air. Lots of sleeping in for mommy too, always a plus. My family is finally starting to recover from the stomach bug we seemed to have caught. Well, everyone but my poor mommy, she has been so under the weather. I have my fingers crossed that tomorrow will be her day. We did some good shopping earlier in the week. Spoiled the crap out of my daughter, of course. She got sooo many new outfits, some shades, a Sox hat... and mommy spoiled herself with a new Coach diaper bag and Shades and a Sox hat too! Ah, retail therapy! The rest of the time we've been just hanging, visiting with family, and reeeelaxing. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: McChrystal out, Petraeus in - Top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal was relieved of his post yesterday less than 40 hours after a Rolling Stone profile reported his critical comments about senior Obama administration officials. Yesterday afternoon in the Rose Garden, Barack Obama announced that he had accepted Gen. McChrystal's resignation with "considerable regret," and appointed CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, the architect of the 'surge' in Iraq, to succeed Gen. McChrystal, emphasizing, "This is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy". Obama said that the conduct described in the article "undermines civilian control of the military" and "erodes" the trust necessary for "our team to work together" in Afghanistan. One analysis attributes Gen. McChrystal's downfall to his "lack of political skills". Obama made the "uncharacteristically swift" decision to relieve Gen. McChrystal after reportedly consulting with, among others, Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who advocated keeping Gen. McChrystal in command. (READ MORE)

Timothy Hsia: Rolling Stone Article’s True Focus: Counterinsurgency - “COIN doctrine [is] an oxymoron.” – Chief Adm. Eric Olson, U.S. Special Operations Command. The Rolling Stone profile on Gen. Stanley A. McChyrstal has made civil-military relations a national debate. But an equally important question raised by the article is the limitations of counterinsurgency, or COIN. The article by Michael Hastings article should not be read simply as a profile of a general but also as an indictment on counterinsurgency and the growing dissatisfaction inside the military with COIN theory and its practice in war (though General McChrystal’s replacement on Wednesday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the leading proponent of counterinsurgency, seemed to indicate there would be no immediate shift away from the strategy). Those in favor of continued resolve in Afghanistan argue that counterinsurgency is a manpower intensive strategy which requires broadened time horizons, and that it is the approach that will finally correct previous missteps made in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Chandler's Watch: Same General/Same Politicians … Different War - Will Hillary Suspend Her “Willing Suspension of Disbelief” in Gen. Petraeus? Seeing some of the ‘damage’ done by Gen. McChrystal’s and his inner circle of staff’s undiplomatic utterances to a leftist/liberal anti-war/anti-military rag publication I believe it is also now upon Gen. Petraeus to mend those international, most specifically our NATO allies, fences. Normally that would be upto the administration’s Secretary of State. However, our current holder of that title has been less than effective over the last year and a half. Not only is there the muddied waters stirred by the McChrystal ‘quotes’ (especially about the French), but Obama himself has done a very nice job of crapping all over our Euro-Allies during that same time period. So now Gen. Petraeus must be diplomat, not only to the Afghan people and government, but to those who are supposed to be fighting the good fight side-by-side with us. Yeah, he’s about to save Hillary’s ass in all of this too. (READ MORE)

Weasel Zippers: MoveOn Scrubs “General Betray Us” Page From Website - It was there the last time Google cache took a screen shot of it (June 18th), so it was scrubbed sometime between then and today. If you try the link now (http://pol.moveon.org/petraeus.htm) it goes to MoveOn’s default page. The despicable ad was a crowning achievement for MoveOn.org, but their blind obedience to Hope-N-Change has trumped their dignity: According to a lorien1973 (a Hot Air regular), the page was up this morning… Update 3: MoveOn also scrubbed the page explaining their rationale behind the ad: Google cache link here as of June 19th (http://pol.moveon.org/petraeus.html) (READ MORE)

Citizen Soldier: ANOTHER DAY CLOSER TO PARADICE - It is so funny how you look forward to getting to where you are going and when you get there you start looking forward to leaving. We are getting ready to leave here and I cannot share the date yet but it is soon. Our mission here was cut short because of the drawdown of troops in Iraq. I am not saying I mind and I will be glad to get out of here. I have enjoyed it somewhat. I have enjoyed the friendships that I have made. I guess when you only see eachother a weekend a month it is hard to get to know people. When you are with them 24/7 you get to know more than you want too. There are some people here you think would be cool and then you hang around them and they are compltete idiots. I had a great opportunity to hang out with some officers on my missions. The only thing I can say is they were great. Sometimes when you see an officer they have this you are below me attitude. Not the ones I met and had to work for. (READ MORE)

POLITICO: Afghanistan: Five key dates ahead - President Barack Obama's decision Tuesday to replace his insubordinate Afghan commander has refocused the attention of an anxious nation and a divided Congress on the war in Afghanistan and on a series of crucial moments expected over the next two years of a long, messy conflict that thanks to American politics is on a very tight schedule. What happens in Afghanistan will be dictated by factors only partially under Obama's control. And elements of his war plan - an offensive in Marja that has been far more difficult than expected, and a promise to retake Kandahar - have grown more complicated as Taliban resistance has stiffened and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been slow to crack down on corruption. But the domestic politics of the Afghan war are on a clearer schedule than the complications of Afghan politics allow, and the clock is ticking more loudly than supporters of the war would like. Here are the dates that are on their mind: (READ MORE)

FaST Surgeon (in Afghanistan): Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (For Sam) - If I used rocks to spell "GOODBYE" here in Afghanistan... it would be like looking at one of those cards that the eye doctor uses to test for color blindness... it would take some effort to pick out the "GOODBYE" rocks in the sea of other rocks that permeate every inch of this FOB :)... Therefore, these photos will serve as my lasting GOODBYE to Sam. I know that this whole post may be considered a bit much. But for anyone who has truly spent time with Sam, they would know why he is worth such praise. On Fathers Day, CPT Timms did a good job of giving him the send off that he deserved and clearly appreciated. Of course, Sam is an expert story teller and spinner of yarn. When he speaks, you just can't help but be engaged (note the photo above). He is self-deprecating, and would be the first to tell you he talks too much. Frankly, he just somehow has something to say that always adds to the conversation. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Unprecedented - General McChrystal is in hot water over this article in Rolling Stone magazine. Last night news reports indicated remarks from “aides” to the reporter seem to be blunt, confidential assessments from the General about the President, Vice President, NSC head Gen Jim Jones (USMC Ret) and the American ambassador among others. Later in the evening stories of McChrystal being summoned back to Washington for a Presidential ass chewing hit the wires and this morning there are dozens of pieces up on the impending relief for cause. When I first heard about this my reaction was stunned disbelief. I can’t imagine how or why senior staffers to General McChrystal would talk to a Rolling Stone reporter about anything let alone confidential assessments of the National Command Authority by the boss himself. It is inconceivable that senior staff of a four star general would reveal the personal confidences of their boss to anyone be they inside or outside media. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Military Parents Express Education Concerns - I visited Fort Belvoir Elementary School, Va., yesterday to attend a roundtable discussion on the education challenges faced by military families. Gathered around tables in the school’s library, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III; Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden; Education Secretary Arne Duncan; Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his wife, Sheila; and other military and school officials met with military parents to hear their concerns. The military parents took full advantage of the venue, speaking up to voice concerns on a variety of education-related issues, ranging from school-transfer difficulties to the need for improved teacher training within Defense Department and public schools. Kathryn Griffin, whose husband is in the Virginia National Guard, expressed concern for Guard children. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Maliki's Own Goal - Nouri Al Maliki has just dug his own grave. The man has been in trouble for a while, but today he's in serious trouble. The man gave a speech regarding the demonstrations that are spreading across the country. People are angry because of the lack of electricity and water in extreme heat. The people demanded the resignation of the minister of electricity, and the man quit. Maliki said Hussein Shahrestani, the current oil minister, would handle the electricity portfolio for now. This, so far, has not calmed the crowds. So what does Maliki have to say about the protesters? He said, "they should have had a permit from the ministry of interior." (I swear). This is what he has to say to the crowds calling for the resignation of the entire government. The protests reportedly have spread to Basra, Karbala, Baquba, and Ramadi. Maliki called the crowds "destructive riots." And the guy said it would take at least two years (I swear) to fix the electricity problem in Iraq. Two years!!! (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Day 2: Press Day in Los Angeles for "Restrepo"- Day 2. Yesterday kicked off Press day in L.A. It's for the bloggers, movie reviewers, magazine reporters to come and talk to Sebastian and Tim about the movie Restrepo. One of the PR staff offers advice to Sebastian and Tim: be prepared to answer questions about General McChrystal. They say, sure, we handle it. Later, as the three of us are working at different desks, I look over to Tim and Sebastian and give them my perspective as an army wife. No matter who is directing, our men and women will still be serving. They'll be on the FOB's, the COPS. They'll still get up every morning, strap on the gear, patrol, and try their best to make inroads with the Afghan population. They will fight, be injured, and sadly some will die. Some will live under very difficult conditions. The leadership may change, but the presence of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors in Afghanistan remains steady and dedicated. (READ MORE)

Thomas Joscelyn: Times Square bomber discusses Taliban ties at plea hearing - During a plea hearing in New York on Monday, Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, pled guilty to all of the charges levied against him and discussed his ties to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (the TTP, or Pakistani Taliban). In a back and forth with District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, Shahzad said he had made a "pact" with the TTP. Shahzad also admitted that he was trained in a Taliban camp in Waziristan beginning in late 2009, and that he received money from the organization twice after returning to the US in early 2010. Shahzad's testimony provides additional confirmation that the TTP was heavily involved in the plot. The first indications of the TTP's involvement were seen the morning after Shahzad's attempt. The Long War Journal received an email from a person claiming to be a TTP representative on the morning of May 2. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: For what it’s worth (politically): Continuing CF Afghan role post-2011 - Somehow I doubt this Senate committee (now with a Conservative majority and chair) report, in itself, will have much impact. Hope I’m wrong, it may just push the discussion along: Some Canadian troops should stay beyond 2011 to mentor [and train] Afghans: Senate committee The problem with that is that mentoring means going out in the field with the Afghans and, inevitably in many parts of the country, engaging in combat at some level. Which no longer seems acceptable in this country. A strictly non-combat training role is something else and may just be acceptable if the government gets some guts and if the Liberals play straight. Text of the report is here, plus an op-ed by the committee’s chair and deputy chair–Conservative and Liberal respectively: Our Afghan mission isn’t finished. Meanwhile, Tom Friedman of the NY Times explains why it’s all useless anyway. (READ MORE)

The Armorer: This is huge, really. - And brings into question the quality and impartiality of the initial investigations. It does speak well for due process and due diligence overall - but I think it really speaks badly for the initial investigation. Army Releases Findings of Wanat Review - Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that the Army has completed action on the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) independent investigation of the July 13, 2008, battle fought by soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Wanat, Afghanistan. This engagement claimed the lives of nine U.S. soldiers and resulted in 27 casualties. On Jan. 27, McHugh appointed Gen. Charles Campbell, former commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, to review the CENTCOM investigation and take appropriate actions with regard to officers identified therein. Campbell's examination involved a detailed analysis of the CENTCOM investigation, as well as a review of the original investigation conducted by the 101st Airborne Division. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Hometown of heroes - Serving in the Marine Corps was a huge honor for Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez. Yet according to the 20-year-old Texan's plans, it was only the beginning. After fulfilling his military obligations, Lance Cpl. Hernandez wanted to become a police officer. Protecting others wasn't just part of his job description. From a young age, it was part of his identity. "He was such a wonderful little boy that everybody would deserve to have," [mother Virginia] Reyna said proudly. KRGV-TV reports that the city of Edinburg raised the American flag in honor of Hernandez over the weekend. While tremendously moved by the gesture, his family is in mourning, as the Marine was killed on June 6 in Afghanistan's Helmand province. He died alongside a fellow Texan, Sgt. Brandon Bury, as well as Cpl. Donald Marler. According to Texas state representative Aaron Pena, Hernandez is the fifth U.S. volunteer warrior from Edinburg to make the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq or Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Zach in Afghanistan: Losing Faith - On a calm April night at Combat Outpost Baraki Barak, a survivor is recalling the bomb that nearly killed him a couple of days before. He was in his MRAP when a command-wire IED blew it up; he pulled people out of the burning truck, got them onto litters, and picked up his weapon, ready to kill, but as in many of these attacks there was no clear target to shoot. The seriously wounded were airlifted and the surrounding Afghan population yielded no intelligence; the unit circled their remaining trucks and watched the stricken truck burn. He was sent to the hospital for a nasty cut on his head, only six stitches wide but down to the bone. At the hospital he looked in on one of the troops he pulled out, a 19 year old on his first deployment. “I’m not gonna lie,” he says self-effacingly, “I acted a bitch and started crying. I meant to go in there and console him but I think I only freaked him out more.” (READ MORE)

What? Mermaids?: "You look much happier since your husband is home." - Dr. Jim smiled at me as I handed him $.40 in change for his coffee. I nodded, agreeing. "I am much happier." "You were worried even though you pretended not to be." Dr. Jim is so insightful. He's ancient. I think I've blogged about him before, when he told me the story of his grandmother leaving lace and ribbons on her porch for birds to build nests with. Dr. Jim tells magnificent stories. Anyway, I really am happier with Matt home. I sleep better at night with his arms around me. Annie is happy that she's always getting loves and rubs. He just makes my life brighter. :] (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: The media is not the enemy - It's unfortunate that the long-term ramifications of Gen. McChrystal's sacking may likely lead to reduced access to the military by the press. In a blog entry at the US Naval Institute, Commander Salamander chastizes the vanity of senior military leaders by agreeing to interviews with outlets like Rolling Stone and Esquire, noting: Reporters are not your fans. They are not your friends. They have a paycheck to earn. They have their own desire to see their names in front of millions of people. They don’t care about your goals, your plans, your Commander’s Intent. They care about getting a story. All this is well known. Why then in the last three years have we seen Admiral Fallon, Admiral Mullen, and now General McChrystal fall into the media vanity trap? Simple. They forgot their place. Vanity, definitely someone's favorite sin. While there's a degree of truth in this post at USNI, I think that Commander Salamander is being a bit too harsh on journalists. (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Does Petraeus Mean a Return of Afghanistan Air War? - General David Petraeus may have been the editor-in-chief of the military’s counterinsurgency manual. But it was General Stanley McChrystal who put in place some of the book’s most radical precepts about limiting the use of force. Now that Petraeus has replaced McChrystal as the front-line commander in Afghanistan, we’ll see if he rolls back McChrystal-style counterinsurgency in favor of something more like what Petraeus practiced in Iraq. When McChrystal took over as Afghanistan’s top general, he put limits on night raids, and curbed pursuits into populated villages. Most famously and dramatically, McChrystal severely restricted the use of air power — America’s biggest technological advantage in the war. The bombs were causing too many civilian casualties, he reasoned. And as the counterinsurgency (COIN) manual noted, “an airstrike can cause collateral damage that turns people against the host-nation government and provides insurgents with a major propaganda victory.” (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldier: Hands of time - Protecting two presidents at Camp David was a highlight of Cpl. Donald Marler's military career. The middle Marine in the above picture, Cpl. Marler often stood just feet from his commander-in-chief, whether during a weekend retreat or crucial diplomatic meeting. Yet the young man from St. Louis wanted to do something he felt was of even greater consequence. He wanted to serve alongside fellow Marines in Afghanistan. According to KDSK-TV, Marler asked for a combat assignment in December 2009. He left for Afghanistan a few months later, and ended up serving in Helmand province, one of the war zone's most dangerous regions. A tragic June 6 vehicle accident took the Marine's life, along with Lance Cpl. Derek Hernandez and Sgt. Brandon Bury. All three Marines were assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. (READ MORE)

Jason Thomas: If I Had 5 Minutes with General Petraeus - An Australian Perspective on Afghanistan - While participating in a Commander’s briefing in March this year at the Tactical Operations Centres (TOC) on a US military Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Afghanistan, the XO prepared the military staff before they gave their presentations by saying “be brief, be bold and be gone.” So given five minutes with General Petraeus it would certainly be bold of a little Australian to give this highly intelligent, supreme commander of Coalition forces in the Middle East any advice at all. In 1991 Petraeus was accidently shot in the chest at Fort Campbell while observing a training exercise. The M16 bullet pierced his lung and artery. A week after the operation Petraeus proved to the doctor he was fit to be dismissed by doing 50 push-ups in his hospital room. He is one tough soldier as well. We know that General Petraeus is not averse to taking advice from Australians, so here are some ideas from one who has been on the ground in Afghanistan for the last eight months. (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: Book Review: 'Afghan Journal' - 'Afghan Journal' by Jeff Courter - Illinois Army National Guardsman Jeff Courter weathered a 2007 deployment to Afghanistan with plain-spoken good humor, quiet faith, and a passion for trying to put it all together. A former Marine cook and Navy Reservist, he deployed to Afghanistan as an Army communications sergeant. Along with his Embedded Training Team (E.T.T.) mates, his mission was to train Afghan Border Police (A.B.P.) in Southeastern Afghanistan's Paktika Province, along the Afghan-Pakistan border. The ABP were even less-funded, -trained, and -equipped than the Afghan National Police (A.N.P.). At one point, the ABP personnel at Courter's location mutinied and disappeared. (Courter later found out the police revolted after a self-serving translator had knowingly driven a wedge between ABP and their American allies.) Throughout his time in Afghanistan, Courter struggled to do what he could to make a difference. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Senior Jemaah Islamiyah commander captured in Indonesia - Indonesia's elite counterterrorism police unit, Detachment 88, recently captured the most wanted member of an al Qaeda-linked terror group that was plotting attacks in the Southeast Asian country. Two of his aides were also captured and another was killed. Detachment 88 captured Jemaah Islamiyah commander Abdullah Sunata, an aide named Sogir, and another unnamed aide during a raid in Katen in Central Java, the Jakarta Globe reported. The fourth terrorist, Yuli Karseno, was killed in a shootout. The terror cell was plotting to bomb the Danish Embassy in Jakarta as well as conduct a series of Mumbai-style attacks in the capital during Indonesia's Independence Day ceremony on Aug. 17. The president and foreign dignitaries were to be targeted during the planned assault. The cell also targeted three policemen during shooting in Central Java. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Coalition and Afghan forces kill Taliban commander in Kandahar - Afghan and Coalition forces have killed the top Taliban commander in a vital district in Kandahar province after destroying an IED factory in an airstrike. The clashes took place after Coalition aircraft bombed the Taliban IED factory in Panjwai yesterday. A Coalition and Afghan force raided the attack site and battled with a Taliban force in the area. The combined force "quickly overwhelmed insurgent forces defending the area near the destroyed IED factory," the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release on its website. Izzatullah, the Taliban's military commander for Panjwai, was among those killed. A police chief put the Taliban casualties at 15, according to Xinhua. Izzatullah "planned and conducted attacks against coalition forces and was involved in the attack on Sarpoza prison outside of Kandahar City in June 2008," ISAF stated. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Press day 3: Brotherhood, and Bringing "Restrepo" To Your Town - First off, I have news of my own. I'll be on VFW's The National Defense with hosts Jerry Newberry and Randy Miller. We'll talk about this blog, Restrepo, and talking about how people can get the movie to their town. Today, 1:25 PM, CST. Yesterday was the final press day in Los Angeles. From here, Sebastian takes off for D.C. and Chicago. Tim heads to screenings in Dallas and Fort Hood. Yesterday was another long day of back-to-back interviews. Phone ins from around the country, including former L.A. Times reporter Patt Morrison on KPCC. What makes Tim and Sebastian such a pleasurable interview is that they're very articulate guys. They don't speak in sound bites, rather, their answers to questions are complete and thoughtful. The two have a grasp of understanding that doesn't necessarily match up with the stereotypes held by many. (READ MORE)

Kit Up!: Turning the M-16A4 into the M-16A5 - A Kit Up! reader forwarded me some great info on a few things that gun accessory makers are doing to improve current M4s and M16s. One of these is the EMod A5 combo kit manufactured by VLTOR. Basically the company is marketing the kit to the Marine Corps as a way to upgrade their inventory of M-16A4s. The company says that if the Corps adopts the kit — which they say the USMC is looking at — the rifle would thence be called the M-16A5. A lot of the improvements to performance go over my head, but VLTOR says the improved combo kit delivers better reliability on both M16s and M4s. The patent pending Vltor A5 configuration stock kit is not just an EMod stock with M4 components; it’s developed as a completely new operating system. For example, the receiver extension is longer, housing a longer and specially weighted buffer, utilizing the M16A2 action spring. The A5 receiver extension features seven adjustment positions. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: Are Embeds Dead? - Two unfortunate consequences are likely to flow from the demise of Gen. Stan McChrystal because his incautious, career-killing over-sharing with a reporter for Rolling Stone. 1. Opportunities for reporters to witness the inner workings of military commanders firsthand will dry up, at least in the short run. 2. The credibility of mainstream defense media will take an unfair hit, as critics pounce on the “revelation” some journalists have are not been reporting everything they see and hear, in return for continued access. But, “Did Rolling Stone Just Kill War Reporting?” as the Atlantic wire so bluntly put it? Short answer, No. But there will be a chilling effect while the military and the media do a hotwash on the rules of the road for future high-level embeds. And for now commanders are not going to want reporters talking to their troops on such an incendiary subject as whether the President did the right thing in sacking McChrystal. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Sadr Thugs Try to Steer - Maliki is still mismanaging the anger of the people over the lack of services. Local news reports say the protests have spread to seven provinces, and the Sadr movement is trying to harness that anger to advance its own political agenda. The gang has called for protests after Friday prayers at mosques in Baghdad and Kufa. The demonstrators are shouting what happened to the money? And what happened to services? They have been waiting for electricity and water for more than seven years. They had limited services during Saddam's era. And the past three governments have each promised to deliver services, but none has done so. The demontrations send the message that the government hasn't met their needs. It remains to be seen whether the Sadr gang will have much success. Earlier when the Sadr office issued statements calling for demonstrations, relatively small numbers showed up. The temperatures have been cooling a little, and tomorrow is not expected to be terribly hot. (READ MORE)

Heather Forsgren Weaver: Not the ‘Forgotten War’ - This week marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War. I was not yet born when the Korean War was fought, but I have much admiration for the veterans of what some call the “forgotten war.” These veterans fought their fight and returned to little fanfare, unlike “the greatest generation.” Their war became almost a footnote to history. I say “almost” because I, like many of my generation, first learned about warfare by watching the TV series “MASH,” about life at a U.S. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. “MASH,” which covered a three-year military conflict, spanned 251 episodes and lasted 11 seasons. It is still in syndication and I have recently been able to relive my youth by watching various episodes. Some of my favorite “MASH” episodes are about family, whether about the “military family” of the fictional 4077th MASH unit, the father-daughter relationship between Maj. Margaret Houlihan and her father, or the love Col. (READ MORE)

Battle Rattle: My drink with Gen. Jim Amos - Tired of standing in a crowded Washington bar, my friends and I spied some open seats at a table already in use by a couple eating dinner. We joined them, and moments later the Corps’ future commandant bought me a whiskey. The long version goes like this: Back in February, I was just digging into my new role as Marine Corps Times’ news editor, so I did not immediately recognize Gen. Jim Amos, who was out of uniform and with his wife, Bonnie. My friends and I asked the couple if we could share their table space, and they were happy to oblige. Striking up conversation, Amos asked what I was doing in Washington. I explained my job to him, and he smiled. “I’m the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps,” he said. My eyes practically popped out of my skull. Sure, the place was across the street from Marine Barracks at 8th & I, but I had no reason to think I’d stumble into a seat next to one of the Corps’ top leaders. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Remembering our Korean War Veterans - June 25 marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. The Pentagon, along with Korean War veterans and families, commemorated the occasion with an opening ceremony and reception in the Pentagon courtyard this morning. Guest speakers included Han Duk-soo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea and Joseph W. Westphal, Under Secretary of the Army, who hosted the event. Other guests included senior Defense Department dignitaries, members of Congress and representatives of the Allied Nations. “The Korea and U.S. alliance – an alliance forged in blood – is still strong and valued by both sides today. This is why we call the Korean War a true victory,” Duk-soo told the crowd of service members and veterans. “You won freedom, democracy and prosperity for our nation. That is what you fought for, and that is what the republic of Korea stands for now – not just for itself, but around the world.” (READ MORE)

John McDonald: Life as a Drill Sergeant / Problems with the NCO Corps - So… I have been doing a lot of thinking.. and going back to days past. In alot of ways, on a professional level, my time as a Drill Sergeant was the apex of my career. Everyone knows I hated dealing with the bureaucracy. Dealing with Officers and some Senior NCO’s that thought they knew how to train civilians and turn them into Soldiers. But this post is not about that. This is about the good things of being a Drill Sergeant. During my entire time in the military, I have witnessed the slow erosion of the NCO corps into what it is today. Only the oldest of the NCO’s remember back when “The Backbone of the Army” still had backbone. Some of the finest NCO’s I ever worked with, was back when I was a Private. I remember watching the best CSM I have ever witnessed, let alone work for (CSM Sneed) lock up a Major who came into this office with the wrong attitude. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: dust settles on McChrystal firing - Senior Obama administration officials have been quick to offer their support for Barack Obama's decision to fire top commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal over comments in a Rolling Stone profile, and for the continuity of the president's strategy in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Robert Gates assessed that the U.S. is not "bogged down" in Afghanistan, though it is "slower and harder than we anticipated," and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen said he felt "nearly sick" when he first read the magazine article. The lengthy transcript of the Gates/Mullen press briefing is available here. Adm. Mullen is headed to Afghanistan and Pakistan today to assure leaders there of the mission's continuity, and both Obama and Gen. Petraeus yesterday reiterated their support for the planned July 2011 beginning of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Shuja Nawaz: General Petraeus's reality - President Obama's decision to replace General Stanley McChrystal with Centcom commander General David Petraeus has unleashed a tidal wave of commentary, with expectations that the second coming of Petraeus will yield results in Afghanistan that perhaps were unattainable before. Nothing could be further from reality. Indeed, the underlying situation in Afghanistan and -- don't forget -- Pakistan remains fraught. And the new commander in Afghanistan faces the same uphill task, unless he can change the basic parameters of U.S. plans for the region and the cross-border battle scenario. If Petraeus can persuade the president to delay or even eliminate the July 2011 deadline for the beginning of withdrawal, build a military-civilian partnership in Kabul that replicates his relationship with Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Baghdad, and cajole his Pakistani partners into denying the Taliban the freedom of movement they now possess in Baluchistan and parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas... (READ MORE)

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: I Want My Husband - I just want you here. Now. There is nothing more in the world that I want. […] Each day is a reminder that I don't know how long it will be until I see you again. You're not coming home. I close my eyes and I see us reuniting, you getting off a bus, meeting your daughter. I close my eyes and I can almost taste it. We were so close. I want it. I do not want this you not here thing. It's not what I agreed to. I agreed to a long, crazy life with you. I agreed to 20 plus years in the Corps. I agreed to short seperations. I agreed to moving, traveling, loving, fighting, eating, sleeping, not sleeping, raising child(ren). I agreed to unpredictability, chaos, peace, joy, entertaining, cuddling, sleepless nights waiting, and even being pregnant again (I would have done it). I agreed to homecomings and working through issues, I agreed to being there no matter what. I did not agree to this! (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Statement by General Stanley McChrystal - This morning the President accepted my resignation as Commander of U.S. and NATO coalition forces in Afghanistan. I strongly support the President’s strategy in Afghanistan and am deeply committed to our coalition forces, our partner nations, and the Afghan people. (READ MORE)

DOD Announces Installation Realignments in Germany - The DoD announced today that it will return 22 U.S. Army, Europe, sites in Mannheim and Heidelberg, Germany, plus the Giessen General Depot between 2010 and 2015. (READ MORE)

Army Releases Findings of Wanat Review - Secretary of the Army John McHugh announced today that the Army has completed action on the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) independent investigation of the July 13, 2008, battle fought by soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Wanat, Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Army overrules inquiry faulting officers in Wanat ambush - The Army has overruled a military investigator who found that command failures on the part of three Army officers contributed to one of the deadliest ambushes of the Afghan war. (READ MORE)

If not the Marines, then who? - In this age of sophisticated, cheap anti-ship missiles, I understand why one might question the need to assemble hundreds of ships for an Inchon-style beach assault or thousands of ships for another D-Day. (READ MORE)

CIA hires controversial Blackwater for providing security services in Afghanistan - The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has reportedly hired the controversial private security firm, Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater, for providing security services in Afghanistan and elsewhere. (READ MORE)

Veterans to get new Lakewood home, years after quake - Nearly a decade after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake damaged the old building, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday will celebrate a new 83-bed residential center at the American Lake VA in Lakewood. (READ MORE)

IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN: American casualties total 500,000, counting injury and disease, writer claims - Here's an eye-popping number: A blogger and writer claims American military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan now exceed 500,000. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:
One Goal, No Cheers - Battling the summer heat, blackouts and security scares, Iraqis watched the United States celebrate Landon Donovan’s last-minute goal in silence, while the announcer consoled disappointed viewers, “Nevermind.” (READ MORE)

Field Sanitation Teams Taking Larger Role - A small group of Soldiers from the 64th Brigade Support Battalion and 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division participated in Field Sanitation Team training, June 5, at COB Adder. (READ MORE)

Muthanna Takes Steps Toward Brighter Future - The Muthanna province has seen much progress thanks to construction projects that are result of the partnership between the Provincial Reconstruction Team and the government of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Tactical Skills Unit Conducts Urban Training - Soldiers of Company C, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division conducted urban maneuver training for the Iraqi Police's Muthanna Tactical Skills Unit at the Provincial Regional Training Center recently. (READ MORE)

Iraqis Arrest 5 Al-Qaida in Iraq Associates - Iraqi security forces arrested five suspected associates of al-Qaida in Iraq members in recent operations in northern and central Iraq, military officials reported. (READ MORE)

'Vector' Performs for Troops in Kirkuk - To bring a little bit of home to service members in Iraq, the U.S. Air Forces Central Command band, 'Vector' out of Langley Air Force Base, Va., preformed for Soldiers and Airmen on Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, June 20. (READ MORE)

Iraq Says Gov't Workers Not Exempt From Power Cuts - An Iraqi minister warned government workers Friday against using their influence to escape the country's widespread power cuts and urged Iraqis to cut down on air conditioning as temperatures soared. (READ MORE)

9 Policemen Killed in Bombings Around Iraq - Nine Iraqi police officers were killed during a series of attacks in Mosul and Baghdad late Wednesday and Thursday as the country’s political stalemate dragged on. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, June 24 - Afghan and international forces conducted several operations in and around Kandahar during the last 24 hours. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, June 25 - An Afghan-international security force killed several insurgents, including Faizullah, a Taliban sub-commander, as the insurgents were placing an improvised explosive device on a road near Kandahar City yesterday. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan disappointed with McChrystal's dismissal, hopeful about Petraeus - Afghanistan is unhappy with the US' decision of dismissing Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in the country. (READ MORE)

Seven Afghan workers killed in bombing - Seven private construction workers have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan's Oruzgan province, the Afghan government says. (READ MORE)

Taliban vow to fight in Afghanistan - The Taliban will continue their insurgency in Afghanistan regardless of a switch in NATO command after the White House sacked General Stanley McChrystal, a spokesman says. (READ MORE)

NATO chief committed to Afghan strategy - NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance will maintain its approach to Afghanistan after US President Barack Obama relieved his top general in the country from command. (READ MORE)

June deadliest month for foreign troops in Afghan war - The deaths of another four NATO troops in an accident in Afghanistan made June the deadliest single month for U.S.-led foreign forces in the nearly nine-year conflict, according to an AFP tally Thursday. (READ MORE)

How McChrystal lost his Afghan command - Gen. Stanley McChrystal's team knew it had a problem on its hands last Thursday, when fact-checkers for Rolling Stone magazine sent in questions for an upcoming cover story. (READ MORE)

Change of command won't end questions of strategy in Afghanistan - President Obama's decision to accept Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation and draft his superior, Gen. David Petraeus, to lead the war in Afghanistan eliminates a source of friction, but it doesn't address the problems plaguing U.S. policy there. (READ MORE)

Bulgaria’s Karlovo Sends Off Military Unit to Afghanistan - A send-off ceremony will be held in Karlovo, Central Bulgaria, on Thursday for a company-sized military unit which will join the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan to provide security at Kandahar Airport. (READ MORE)

Auto accident kills 4 NATO troops in Afghanistan - NATO says 4 of its service members have been killed in a vehicle accident in southern Afghanistan. The international military coalition said the accident happened Wednesday but did not provide further details, and did not identify the nationalities of the dead. (READ MORE)

All Quiet on the Australian Front on Role in Afghanistan - The lack of debate here concerning Australia’s military involvement in Afghanistan is unlikely to change in the near future despite the recent deaths of five Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel in the war-ravaged nation. (READ MORE)

NATO Says No Change In Afghan Strategy - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the alliance's strategy in Afghanistan "will not miss a beat" despite the dismissal of the United States' top general in the war-torn country. (READ MORE)

McCain: Setting Afghan withdrawal date ill-advised - Sen. John McCain said Thursday he still thinks it's a mistake to publicly announce a July 2011 date for the start of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan militants behind interethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan - national security chief - Afghan militants were sent to Kyrgyzstan to organize interethnic clashes in the Jalalabad and Osh regions of the ex-Soviet Central Asian republic, the Kyrgyz national security chief said on Thursday. (READ MORE)

15 militants killed in southern Afghanistan - Over a dozen Taliban insurgents were killed as troops stormed their hideout in Kandahar province south of Afghanistan, police said Thursday. (READ MORE)

UK Says Brit General Taking Charge in Kabul - Prime Minister David Cameron says a British general is temporarily taking charge of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan following the ouster of American Gen. Stanley McChrystal. (READ MORE)

Germans question involvement in Afghanistan - Omid Nouripour's effort to keep German troops in Afghanistan is an uphill battle, and he knows it. (READ MORE)

From Pentagon, Messages of Dismay and Support - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, who had sponsored Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander in Afghanistan, expressed profound disappointment in his judgment on Thursday — tempered with thanks for his years in combat — after he was fired from the post. (READ MORE)

Boss’s Firing May Result in Departures From Kabul - The business of running the war in Afghanistan went on seemingly as usual on Thursday, although many in the NATO command headquarters here were reeling over the rapid-fire events that culminated in their boss’s dismissal, forcing many of them to polish their résumés. (READ MORE)

New US Commander for Afghanistan No Stranger to Counterinsurgency - President Barack Obama has named General David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. Central Command, to replace his top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, following a magazine interview in which McChrystal and his aides were dismissive of the U.S. administration. (READ MORE)

Will Holbrooke be next to exit? - By ousting his top general in Afghanistan, President Obama may have solved the biggest personnel problem in conducting the war. But he made it clear that there are others, and hinted that more heads could roll. (READ MORE)

Gates, Mullen Cite Progress in Afghanistan - Although it has come more slowly than expected, progress is, nonetheless, being made in Afghanistan, the top Defense Department civilian and military officials said today. (READ MORE)

Partial win in Taliban transfer bid - An anti-war activist has won "a partial victory" in her High Court challenge over Britain's policy of transferring captured Taliban suspects to the Afghan authorities. (READ MORE)

UK court rejects halt to Afghan prisoner transfers - A British court said Friday that suspected Taliban captives face the risk of mistreatment in a Kabul jail, but rejected an attempt to ban British troops from handing them over to Afghan security forces. (READ MORE)

Bodies found beheaded in southern Afghanistan - Two U.S. troops were reported killed and the bodies of 11 men, some beheaded, were found Friday in rising violence across Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Afghan girl regains her health - Zahra’s journey started in 1997 when she fled civil war in her native country of Afghanistan. She and her family sought refuge in neighboring Iran. (READ MORE)

Australian new PM reassures Obama on Afghanistan - Australia's new prime minister said she used her first telephone conversation with President Barack Obama on Friday to assure him the country's military commitment to Afghanistan would not change under her leadership. (READ MORE)

Pak Army kills 39 more Taliban in Orakzai Agency - With the Pakistani security forces continuing its offensive in the Orakzai Agency of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), at least 39 more Taliban extremists were reportedly killed in the region. (READ MORE)

Pakistani province funds terrorism-linked charity - The government of Pakistan's Punjab province has given more than $1 million to institutions run by an Islamic charity that is on a U.N. terrorism blacklist and affiliated with a group the U.S. considers a foreign terrorist organization. (READ MORE)

Pakistan: Anti-Terror Court Convicts 5 Americans - Five American men were convicted Thursday on terror charges by a Pakistani court and sentenced to 10 years in prison in a case that has heightened concerns about Westerners traveling to Pakistan to contact al-Qaida and other Islamist extremist groups. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Sentences Five Americans in Terror Case - A Pakistani court sentenced five American Muslim men who had been arrested in Punjab Province to 10 years of labor in prison on Thursday for conspiring to carry out terrorist attacks. (READ MORE)

5 N.Va. men convicted on terrorism charges in Pakistan, given 10 years in prison - Five Northern Virginia men were convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Pakistani court Thursday in a case that focused U.S. concern about citizens linking up with foreign extremist groups. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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