June 29, 2010

From the Front: 06/29/2010

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

Dispatches:
Bouhammer: It is about time the Army starts to “Get it” - H/T to Matt B. from www.blackfive.net for this article. I was first intrigued to read the article below because it quoted BG McMaster who I have long been a fan of and who will be a guest on You Served Radio on July 15th at www.blogtalkradio.com/youserved. As I read the article I really liked it because I am glad to finally see someone in the Big Army get it. They could not be more correct when they say the leaders and soldiers in the Army MUST have negotiation skills when they deploy to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The Army has concluded that teaching soldiers how to negotiate is as important as traditional soldiering skills designed to kill the enemy. Weiss is part of an experiment to improve the negotiating skills of junior officers by drawing on boardroom experience. After I was a few months into my Afghanistan tour in 2006, myself and several of my team-mates were all in agreement that our suspicions were correct. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Celebrating five years of serving Soldiers - The Army’s Post-Deployment Health Reassessment, PDHRA, is critical to the well-being of Soldiers and DA Civilians returning home from combat. And believe it or not, the PDHRA is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. To discusses the PDHRA and its five years of success, we have a guest blog post from COL Sophia Tillman-Ortiz the Army’s PDHRA executive officer. For the last five years, the U.S. Army Post-Deployment Health Reassessment has offered post-deployed Soldiers and DA Civilians the opportunity to take a closer look at their health. Having led this program for the last two years, I have witnessed how the PDHRA has directly impacted lives. Now, I am proud to say that this June we celebrate our fifth Anniversary, and look forward to continuing our mission of serving our Soldiers. With 600,000 screened to date, we continue to spread the word about how the PDHRA supports Soldiers and DA Civilians, because identifying issues and opening doors to care can dramatically improve lives, families and futures. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: McChrystal to retire - Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top commander in Afghanistan who was fired last week after a controversial Rolling Stone profile, has told the Army he plans to retire. Senate confirmation hearings for his successor, Gen. David Petraeus, begin today at 9:30am EST. The Obama administration's "multiple signals to multiple audiences" about the meaning of the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan has left many "wondering what will happen next summer". The head of the House subcommittee on appropriations on foreign aid, Nita Lowey, has vowed not to spend "one more dime" on aid to Afghanistan, of the $3.9 billion requested by the Obama administration, because she is outraged at a story in the Journal reporting that billions of dollars in aid are flown out of the Kabul airport and a story in the Post describing how Karzai administration officials are allegedly impeding corruption investigations. (READ MORE)

AfPak Channel: AfPak Behind the Lines: Karzai's connections - Karzai expressed his support for General McChrystal in the aftermath of the explosive Rolling Stone profile of the general. How does the general's resignation affect the campaign in Afghanistan, on a medium to long term basis? What do we know about Karzai's -- and his half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai's -- relationship with Gen. Petraeus? The U.S. administration has gone out of its way to send the message that there will be no fundamental change in the military strategy and that the campaign will not be affected by the departure of McChrystal. The question is whether this "business as usual" message is the one you want to be giving. More importantly, it is not even clear what an unchanged strategy would look like on the ground. The surge, with at the forefront the operation in Marjah and the planned operation in Kandahar, has not succeeded in changing the mood, let alone the strategic realities. (READ MORE)

Brian Fishman: In command in Afghanistan - When President Obama relieved General Stanley McChrystal over comments published in Rolling Stone last week it was big news, but it was not the first time a political leader fired his most important commander in Afghanistan. In late 2007, Quetta Shura Taliban leader Mullah Omar fired his commander for southern Afghanistan, Mullah Mansoor Dadullah because "he disobeyed the orders of the Islamic Emirate." The command failure was serious. Mullah Omar had never trusted Mansoor Dadullah and worried that he would be as independently minded, and brutal, as his older brother who he replaced. Mullah Omar's fears were born out when Mansoor Dadullah struck out on his own (described variously as negotiating with the Afghan government and refusing to negotiate with the Afghan government), even threatening attacks outside Afghanistan. Such an approach would have been a major policy shift and directly undermined Mullah Omar's carefully crafted political position. (READ MORE)

Gareth Porter: Why Petraeus won't salvage this war - As Gen. David Petraeus prepares for his next command, his supporters are hoping he can rescue a failing war for the second time in just a few years. But both the dire state of the war effort in Afghanistan and his approach to taking command in Iraq in early 2007 suggest that Petraeus will not try to replicate an apparent -- and temporary -- success that he knows was at least in part the result of fortuitous circumstances in Iraq. Instead he will maneuver to avoid having to go down with what increasingly appears to be a failed counterinsurgency war. Petraeus must be acutely aware that the war plan which he approved in 2009 has not worked. Early this month, he received Stanley A. McChrystal's last classified assessment of the war, reported in detail in The Independent Sunday. That assessment showed that no clear progress had been made since the U.S. offensive began in February and none was expected for the next six months. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Programs Help Warriors’ Families - The military has always recognized the sacrifices of the families of fallen or wounded warriors, but I’d like to share some information about some ways the Army and Air Force are reaching out to help them. The Army’s Survivor Outreach Services is a relatively new program that supports families of fallen heroes in a number of ways, and for as long as they want. I read about the program in an Army News article, “SOS Keeps Survivors Connected to Army Family.” “The SOS program works with the spouse, children, siblings, parents and loco parents of the deceased servicemember, and not just in war time,” Janine Smith, Army Community Services SOS coordinator for Installation Management Command Europe, told Army News. “Once the casualty assistance officer goes away, that survivor is left alone – that’s where ACS SOS comes in,” Smith said. Whether it is helping to set up child care, or helping a widow to arrange the shipment of household goods back to the States, “We’re just a phone call away, a walk through the door, a website away,” she said. (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Last Workout Before the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) - Today I went to the gym before my ride to do one last workout before taking the APFT on Wednesday morning. Now that I am 57, I need 54 pushups and 64 situps to max the test. The run time to max is now 15:13. I haven't been running fast, so I don't know if I could do that, but it doesn't matter because I fall under the "choice of aerobic activity" rule allowing me to either run, walk 2.5 miles or ride the bike 10km. The walk and bike are pass-fail and my score is the average of the scores of the other two events. To pass on the bike, I need to ride 10 km (6.1 miles) in 28 minutes. I have to ride a one-speed bike or lock the gears to one speed. On a good day, I can ride 10km in 16 minutes. So if I have a bad day, I will still pass. I think if I have a flat I could change it and still pass. I did 66 situps in 2 minutes today and 50 pushups. Assuming I can squeeze out four more pushups on Wednesday, I might be able to max the test. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Is a Lousy Deal Better than No Deal? - According to news reports here, the Shiite alliance has made it clear to Maliki that they will not support his candidacy for prime minister. Without the alliance, he simply can't win anywhere near enough votes in parliament for a second term. The problem with the alliance is they are unable to agree on a different candidate, leading us to believe they will support Ayad Allawi. The reports also say that tomorrow (Tuesday) morning Maliki will meet with Allawi. They definitely feel the pressure to set up a government. Since the start, Allawi has said he will work with anyone. Originally the other politicians ignored Allawi, but now that the court certified the election results, he is acknowledged by all as the winner of the most seats in parliament. It is possible that Allawi and Maliki will reach some sort of agreement. In other words, it is possible that Allawi will be supported as prime minister by his fellow lawmakers. (READ MORE)

Kerplunk: What Hastings got wrong in Rolling Stan - Like many Americans, I’ve spent the last few days observing the fallout from General Stanley McChrystal’s Rolling Stone profile with a mix of fascination and perplexity. Facetiously nicknamed “Rolling Stan” and “McClusterfuck” on the Internet, this public relations nightmare blends all the melodrama of reality television with the actual realities of war. Uncouth commentary about superiors? Check. Drunken aides dancing at an Irish pub in Paris? Check. Direct access to the most powerful fighting man in our military? Check. A significant impact on the war effort in Afghanistan? Not quite. There’s no doubt Michael Hastings’ article will go down in the annals of journalistic star-makers, as it effectively ended General McChrystal’s career. However, it seemed clear when reading the article that Hastings also wanted to deride the current counterinsurgency strategy undertaken by military leaders in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Afghan, US forces launch offensive in Kunar - The Afghan Army and US military launched a major air assault yesterday in a remote district in eastern Afghanistan that borders Pakistan. More than 700 US and Afghan troops were inserted by US Black Hawk helicopters into the Marawara district in Kunar province on Sunday and immediately came under fire from a large force of Taliban fighters, estimated at more than 200 men. Soon more Taliban fighters poured into the area to battle the battalion-sized assault force. "Once the battle began, others from the area tried to maneuver into the area," Colonel Andrew Poppas, the US Army commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, told The Washington Post. "This was a tough fight." The US military claimed that more than 150 Taliban fighters were killed in the attack during heavy fighting. Two US soldiers and one Afghan soldier were reported to have been killed during the assault. (READ MORE)

One Marines View: We don’t promise you a rose garden on Tuesday either… - Monday has come and gone. What was your response as you looked yourself in the mirror before you hit the rack? Only you can answer that one. In case it wasn't exactly like you wanted there are ways to help yourself get to where you want to be. First,get organized. It’s not a ground shaking idea, actually very easy. I tend to a binder kind of guy. If I have a bunch of info I need to track pertaining to a larger topic, get some dividers and organize them in a way that help you quickly reference them when needed. In the book “American Soldier” by Retired General Tommy Franks, he would utilize index cards to get organized. He would write 5 challenges that he thought he would face on one side of the card and on the other side of the card he would write 5 opportunities that may arise the next day. By doing this it made him successfully prepare for approaching challenges and have solutions/opportunities loaded. (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: Red Bulls Get Exclusive Sneak Peak at 'Restrepo' - More than 50 leaders and staff of the Iowa Army National Guard's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division attended an exclusive sneak-peak of the documentary "Restrepo" Sunday, June 27. The Sundance Award-winning film, which depicts how one company of U.S. soldiers conducted counterinsurgency operations in the hotly contested Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, opens in theaters nationwide from now until early July. While previously shown in special screenings on active-duty military bases, the Red Bull "Restrepo" event uniquely offered an opportunity to Army National Guard soldiers in a pre-deployment training environment. The audience comprised much of the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company (H.H.C.)--the non-commissioned, warrant, and commissioned officers who will lead and support the unit during its deployment to Afghanistan later this summer. (READ MORE)

Naheed Mustafa: Dispatches from AfPak: Notes from a Rally - “I would rather they kill him. Just take him into the street, fake a police encounter, and shoot him like a dog. At least then I will have his corpse and I will learn to live with his death. The way it is now, I am neither living nor dead. I don’t know if or when my son will come home.” Zainab Khatoon from Lahore talking about her son Faisal Faraz They were a small group, maybe 80 or so, holding pictures in gilt frames of their sons and fathers and brothers, shouting slogans and demanding justice. They assembled here in Islamabad in front of Parliament House, kept sufficiently far away from anyone with any power, by reams of barbed wire, concrete blocks, and a line of police. They called out President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani, punching the air with their fists; cars drove by, slowing down to stare momentarily at these families of the disappeared. The members of this group — disparate in their backgrounds, education, sophistication — shared a camaraderie. Many have been meeting at these rallies for nearly half a decade. (READ MORE)

LTC Rich Phillips: Everyone Hates BAF - In my total of 18 months in Afghanistan I have learned one universal truth: Everyone Hates BAF. Why, you may ask, does everyone hate BAF? I have pondered this question and come up with the following three answers: One reason people hate BAF is because most Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines experience BAF as a transient, and BAF is a terrible place for transients. As a transient you are tired, hungry and unsettled and the facilities at BAF are not well suited to caring for transients. The passenger terminal is small and overcrowded. The USO is small and overcrowded. The dining facilities are far away. If all you see of BAF is the passenger terminal as a transient you will not be impressed. Another reason most people hate BAF is because BAF is overcrowded. BAF has grown in size since I left in 2008, but it's population has outpaced that growth. Take a walk or drive down Disney Drive and you will know that BAF is overcrowded. (READ MORE)

She of the Sea: The Green and Blue Dress - (Details have been changed to protect the innocent. And because I can't remember details well anymore.) Well, we are now 12 days into our three year, government paid European vacation and it has been fun interesting so far. At this base, there is a six day orientation course that everyone attends when they arrive. While not the point of the orientation (and heck, not even encouraged in any way), you do get to know some other new people as you sit through various briefs and slog your way through paperwork together. As happens when you get a bunch of military people together, the stories come out pretty quickly. As a few women and I sat together, waiting our time to turn in yet another packet of paperwork to a single representative who was surprised by the 80 people in our group, we got talking about how quickly we had tired of the clothes that we packed, and what we failed to pack, and what we packed but would clearly never use. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: 'It feels amazing to be home' - Elgin, Texas, has felt the pain of war. On September 5, 2009, Capt. Joshua Meadows was killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan's Farah province. The 30-year-old Marine, who was awarded a Bronze Star for valor, left behind his wife and mother in Elgin. Thanks to Military Moms Of Texas, the central Texas community got the chance to express some different emotions on Saturday, when the city saluted two Marines currenly on leave from war zones. KVUE-TV reports that Lance Cpl. Branon Rountree, who spent the last eight months in Afghanistan, is cherishing his visit home. "The first thing I wanted to do was, like, get off [the plane] and kiss the ground," Branon said. "It feels amazing to be home." Rountree and fellow Marine Kyle Mogonye were honored in the Western Days Parade and presented a 'deployed night out' certificate by MMOT. Founder Tracy La Porte, who has a son serving in Iraq, told the TV station that organizing a float to recognize the hometown heroes was the least she could do. (READ MORE)

Boston Maggie: Listen Up! I Want Something! - Yeah, yeah, I know I am demanding all the time. But for the moment I am serious. My fav BMCS has found a particular problem in Khandahar. His unit has come across a group of wounded Marines who have slipped through the cracks so to speak. They come in straight from the field with the clothes on their back. In most cases, these Marines have suffered a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). They are in this location to see the doctors at the nearby facility, which is top-notch, before being shipped out to other facilities. So, what's the problem? Well, for one thing, the Marines have none of their own gear. Except for seeing the docs, they are sitting around bored silly. So, my BMCS has rounded up some stuff for them (cumshaw, anyone?); a TV, a DVD player and an X-Box. But he needs more stuff. It's a specific list and as much as you might want to embellish, should you decide to help....and I hope you do, stick with the list please. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Boomerang - US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, in a Herald Sun op-ed that defends Australia’s Afghan involvement at the end of a bloody, tumultuous month, says what his boss won’t. “This war will end when we – Australians and Americans – are safe from the same terrorists who attacked us before, and when Afghans themselves are safe.” In fact, he says a lot of things his boss can barely bring himself to spit out: “In the past three weeks we have mourned together the loss of 95 coalition troops in Afghanistan, including five Australians. Today, we honour these brave soldiers; we grieve with their families; and we pray for those who remain fighting in Afghanistan. But we also know that more difficult days await us as we enter one of the most dangerous and important periods in the fight to defeat terrorists in Afghanistan. It is only natural at this time to ask again why our troops are so far away fighting in this bitter battle, and when we can expect to bring them home.” (READ MORE)

Guard Wife: Sneaky Peeper - My husband has been doing more than the doctor has asked as far as doing NOTHING. Where the doctor said it was okay to take meals on the porch in the cooler evening air and to be up to 'shower', I have made my husband stay in bed for everything but the bathroom and he took his first hot bath in YEARS yesterday because I wouldn't let him shower for fear it would hit his eye. I even make him brush his teeth in bed. But, that didn't stop his eye from having more bleeding. Today we went to the eye doctor for his recheck and I was so excited as the assistant turned out a light, had him cover his good eye and waved her hand in front of his right eye. He could see the movement. That was AWESOME. What was not awesome was when the eye specialist came in, looked in his eye and told us there is a fresh layer of blood on top of the old layer. Sigh. She wanted to hospitalize him, but found out he would not have a private room. (READ MORE)

Greyhawk: Meat - Has everybody gotten all the trivial issues raised by the Rolling Stone article out of their system yet? (Those would be the the ones re-reported endlessly by various "news" agencies, and what you might have seen on T.V.) Done with all the conspiracy theory angles? (Mostly blogs here, but probably "news" agencies, too.) Yes? Good. Because here's an actual paragraph from "The Runaway General" worth talking about: Even in his new role as America's leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though." In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Manifold Absurdities - Pakistan has taken receipt of first lot of F-16 strike fighters: The Pakistan Air Force today received its first three of 18 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16s that the U.S. hopes will give the Afghan neighbor nation a crucial edge against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in its northwest. The aircraft give the Pakistan Air Force a night-attack capability and all-weather precision targeting, “an unprecedented advantage they have not had,” said Vice Admiral Michael Lefever, head of the U.S. military mission in Islamabad. He predicted that the most up-to-date version of the fighter aircraft could be pressed “fairly quickly” into air operations against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other insurgents in the ungoverned northwest provinces. Rubbish. These advanced, night attack F-16 variants have virtually nothing to do with the Taliban and al Qaeda, which has no air force of its own, no rotary wing attack assets, no air lift and virtually no artillery. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: "Milkooks" - None of us has called for any kind of boycott of Michael Yon. No one has suggested his dispatches be banned or suppressed. No one has tried to organize "grassroots" protests of opinions we disagree with. You won't see that kind of nonsense coming from me nor (I suspect) any of my Milkook friends. It seems to me that Yon has just done precisely what he has repeatedly accused the military of - choke off and punish criticism. I've been trying to ignore this since the weekend but when the price of disagreement gets this high, I think we all lose something. As much as I tremble to utter such heresy, Michael Yon is not fighting (much less winning) this war. The actual fighting is being done by men and women like Chuck. Some of them happen to be Milkooks. Amazing how many people find baseless bragging and threats persuasive, but there it is. I expect we'll see nothing like the kind of uproar that usually greets thuggish tactics like this. (READ MORE)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller: Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal Needs to Learn That Women Are Also Deployed - I usually appreciate the opinion pieces of Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal and the one this weekend was no exception -- except for her total non-mention of women serving deployments. Here is the letter to the editor that I emailed The Wall Street Journal and which I hope will be printed: Peggy Noonan's June 26-27 Declarations "McChrystal Forces Us to Focus" was an excellent opinion piece except for her failure to include women in her references to active-duty military personnel repeatedly deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Ms. Noonan wrote "Their sons and nephews have come back from repeat tours ..." while failing to include daughters and nieces. She also wrote "... children reaching 12 and 13 without a father at home" that should have said "without a father or mother at home." Perhaps Ms. Noonan should be briefed on how many women now serve repeated deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how many of these women have also paid the ultimate price, leaving their children without a mother. (READ MORE)



News from the Home Front:
Gen Stanley McChrystal to retire from US Army - The former US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last week by President Barack Obama, is to leave the US Army. (READ MORE)

Cashiered general tells Army he'll retire - Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was fired last week as the top U.S. general in the stalemated Afghanistan war, told the Army on Monday that he will retire. (READ MORE)

With Shift in Afghanistan, Talk Turns to Exit - When he ordered 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan last December, President Obama stressed that they would not stay forever. “After 18 months,” he said, “our troops will begin to come home.” (READ MORE)

DOD Launches Voter Online Registration Assistant During Armed Forces and Overseas Citizens’ Voters’ Week - Department of Defense (DoD) announced today the launch of a new online voter registration assistant. The new assistant was developed to help military voters, their voting-age dependents, and overseas civilians register and request absentee ballots for the 2010 mid-term election. (READ MORE)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Statement on the National Space Policy - “Today, I’m pleased to welcome the release of the President’s National Space Policy. I fully support the vision it lays out…” (READ MORE)




News from the Front:
Iraq:

NATO Deputy Commander Visits Iraqi NCO School - Maj. Gen. Claudio Angelelli, the new NATO Training Mission - Iraq deputy commander, began his tour of duty with a visit to the NCO School at the Regional Training Center, June 22, in Taji, Iraq, as one of several visits to military training institutions around Iraq. (READ MORE)

‘Distro’ Platoon: the Lifeline of Soldiers at Remote Bases in Iraq - The Distribution Platoon, Forward Support Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, provides the logistics lifeline for the Soldiers of Task Force Eagle in Maysan province, Iraq. (READ MORE)

Flat Stanley Visits Dragoon Troop - Sometimes it can be difficult for Soldiers and families to cope with the stress of a deployment. However, with a little creativity, they can accomplish the task of staying connected with one another. (READ MORE)

Iraqi democracy transcends politics - The new government that develops in Iraq must represent more than just an agreement among political entities, said former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. (READ MORE)



Afghanistan:
UN vehicle shot in Afghan capital, driver hurt - A U.N. vehicle was shot up at a busy traffic circle in Afghanistan's capital Tuesday, and at least one person was hurt, witnesses said. (READ MORE)

U.S. dog raid rumour sparks violent Afghan clash - Afghan police clashed Tuesday with dozens of stone-throwing protesters who gathered at a religious school on the outskirts of the capital to complain about arrests by foreign forces. (READ MORE)

Roadside bombs kill five civilians in Afghanistan - Five civilians were killed and five were injured in separate roadside bombs in southern and central Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Revamped US strategy may see special operations troops step up action in Afghanistan - With the appointment of Central Command chief General David Petraeus as the commander of the Afghan war, US special operations troops stationed in that country are likely to step up a campaign to kill or capture Taliban leaders to show progress in the nine year old 'war on terror'. (READ MORE)

Panel to Press Petraeus On Afghan Strategy - Gen. David Petraeus, nominated to serve as the top commander in Afghanistan, appears before the Senate Armed Services committee Tuesday. (READ MORE)

U.S. medevac crews treat Afghan civilians, win hearts and minds - Stricken with severe chest pains recently, a village elder named Shabarat Sageed made his way to a U.S. Special Forces base near this remote settlement in southern Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Prince Harry desperate to return to Afghanistan - Prince Harry has confessed that he wants to return to Afghanistan to serve Queen and the country. (READ MORE)

U.S. strategy in Afghanistan may involve greater use of special operations forces - U.S. special operations troops in Afghanistan have stepped up a campaign to kill or capture insurgent leaders, senior U.S. officials say, an effort that began in March and is likely to expand as Army Gen. David H. Petraeus looks for ways to show progress. (READ MORE)

Prince Harry wants to return to Afghanistan - Prince Harry has said he wants to return to Afghanistan to serve on the front line. He told ABC's Good Morning America he would love to be allowed to go back but he understood there could be military and political issues preventing this. (READ MORE)

Saad Mohseni Is Afghanistan's First Media Mogul - Saad Mohseni, the chairman of Moby Group, is one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan. He owns radio and television networks, an advertising agency, and a movie production company, among other businesses. (READ MORE)

Taliban extend sphere of influence, says expert - Afghanistan's Taliban militants are expanding their influence further into regions outside their traditional power base, the Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) said. (READ MORE)

Efforts to neutralise Afghan Taliban showing positive results, says NATO commanders - While the US' Afghan strategy appears to be in complete disarray, particularly after the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, American officials have stressed that the decision to send in more troops in the country has started to bear results. (READ MORE)

UN needs more information from Karzai on Taliban - The Afghan government needs to provide additional information quickly if it wants a U.N. committee to consider taking some members of the Taliban off a blacklist that freezes their assets and bans travel, the committee chairman said Monday. (READ MORE)

U.S., Afghan forces launch assault along Pakistani border - A force of about 700 U.S. and Afghan troops launched a major assault along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan in an attempt to destroy a growing insurgent haven and blunt rising violence in the area, senior Army officials said Monday. (READ MORE)

Up to 150 Taliban killed in Afghanistan - A force of about 700 US and Afghan troops has killed up to 150 Taliban insurgents in a major offensive along eastern Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Afghan military, police won't be ready for U.S. withdrawal, report says - Afghanistan's military and police aren't on track to meet President Barack Obama's 18-month timetable for starting to withdraw U.S. troops, according to a report released Monday by an independent watchdog group. (READ MORE)

McChrystal-Karzai Relationship Steers the News in Afghanistan - The news of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s dismissal is slowly settling here in Kabul. Only in the past few days have the local media gone beyond reporting mere facts as they developed in Washington, and started to include some opinion and analysis. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Christians Detained Amid Execution Threats - Over 20 Afghan Christians have been detained in Afghanistan after high-level leaders called for the arrest and execution of converts to Christianity in the Islamic nation, an advocacy group said Friday, June 25. (READ MORE)

June 30 Marks One Year in Captivity for U.S. Soldier - Tomorrow marks one year in captivity for Spc. Bowe W. Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, who was discovered missing during his unit’s roll-call here one year ago. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, June 29 - An Afghan and international force detained a number of suspected insurgents including a Taliban facilitator in Helmand province last night. (READ MORE)

Small Projects Reap Large Gains in Helmand - Afghans with ISAF forces support are planning small projects that will improve the residents' quality of life in Musa Qal'eh District of Helmand province. (READ MORE)

Afghan Police Gain Leadership Skills, Public Trust - Payoffs to police have contributed to widespread corruption in Afghanistan, but new efforts to engender respect for police and to train police chiefs with leadership skills could pay off in a more stable and just Afghan society, a senior officer involved in NATO's training mission said. (READ MORE)

Karzai denies talks with Haqqani network - Pakistani and Afghan sources deny President Hamid Karzai had one-on-one talks with the leader of the Haqqani militant network. (READ MORE)

NATO "protection" plan means little to Afghan village - In Afghanistan's Taliban heartland, U.S. soldiers walk a short distance from their camp into a village in mourning with a daunting offer: protection from the insurgents that live in the area. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Still Crucial to U.S. Interests, Obama Says - Afghanistan remains crucial to American national interests, and the United States will need to provide assistance to that nation for years, President Barack Obama said in Toronto yesterday. (READ MORE)



Pakistan:
Missiles kill 10 militants in Pakistan near Afghan border - Suspected U.S. missiles hit a house Tuesday in a Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border where the army has been battling Taliban fighters, intelligence officials said. (READ MORE)

US airstrikes kill six militants, say Pakistani officials - At least six militants were killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan's restive north-western tribal areas along the Afghan border, Pakistani security officials said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Pak 'hedging bets' on Haqqanis following US' 'dithering' over Afghanistan - The persisting ambiguity over the US' decision to pull out of Afghanistan has encouraged Pakistan and its all powerful intelligence, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), to continue supporting militant groups like the Haqqani network and "hedge their bets", a senior American intelligence official has said. (READ MORE)

Peshawar bracing for Taliban fight - Provincial leaders near the Afghan border are preparing to drive the Taliban out of the area, the information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said. (READ MORE)

U.S. wary of Pakistan as power broker in Kabul - U.S. officials and a former Afghan foreign minister are expressing skepticism over Pakistan-brokered talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and al Qaeda-affiliated groups, saying Islamabad appears to be trying to install its proxies in a future government in Kabul. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Receives F-16s That May Give `Unprecedented' Boost Over Taliban - The Pakistan Air Force today received its first three of 18 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16s that the U.S. hopes will give the Afghan neighbor nation a crucial edge against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters in its northwest. (READ MORE)


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Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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