June 30, 2010

From the Front: 06/30/2010

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

A Handful of Dust: The Disenchanted Corporal - One of the more overlooked portions of Michael Hasting’s recent Rolling Stone story that resulted in the cashiering of General McCrystal for inappropriate remarks was the fact that soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan have been chafing for some time under the restrictions instituted by McCrystal on the use of force. The perception among many soldiers out on patrol, particularly those in areas that see action on a consistent basis, is that the bureaucratic authorizations now required to use force against certain targets cost soldiers’ lives. As LT Wompum can attest, it is in the DNA of infantrymen to seek out the fight; convincing them that restraint is often the better part of valor – especially in a COIN campaign – is not an easy task. But it begs the question: is the Army, at the tactical level, convinced that COIN is the correct strategy to practice? (READ MORE)

Chuck Z: irresponsible "sources" - "Per Mike Yon on Facebook: If we are going to make a success out of this war, must start squeezing out and choking off the irresponsible "sources." People who care will start writing letters to editors/producers who link to websites such as Blackfive and Mudville Gazette. Must start telling mainstream sources that when they link to milkooks, we stop paying attention. Please leave comments at mainstream message boards encouraging people to ignore milkooks." My "from the hip" response: Eat shit, mike yon. Eat. My. Shit. My well reasoned and thought out response: Mikey, Milbloggers made you as popular as you are. If it weren't for sites like Blackfive and Mudville Gazette, you would be the saddest panda in Iraq right now, living hand to mouth on the mercies of people who had not (yet) had enough of your silly shit and tantrums to stop putting up with you. You may have been taking good pictures, but nobody would have noticed, were it not for us "milkooks." (READ MORE)

CJ: Street Cred - This isn't going to be a critique of Mike Yon. I already screwed up and broke a promise about engaging him in the first place. I have a problem in "picking my fights". I always have. I'm a right/wrong kind of a guy; not a varying degrees guy. Without attacking MY for his ignorant opinions, I'd like stand beside my brethren and sistren (is that a word?) in the milkook community, nearly all of whom have served or ARE serving. As a matter of fact, I know that members of Blackfive are currently deployed in the combat zone. I also that, like MY, the folks at Blackfive and Mudville Gazette get their news and information from the same sources he does – emails and firsthand accounts. As a milkook myself, let me give my "street cred" to those that may feel like answering the war's Messiah and coming after us in forums and chat rooms. I joined the Army in October 1994 at the age of 20. I had long purple hair and spent my time attending heavy metal and rock concerts and working for minimum wage. (READ MORE)

Battle Rattle: Rules of engagement again questioned on Capitol Hill - Rep. Walter Jones is back at it. The Republican congressman with Camp Lejeune, N.C., in his backyard has again picked up the drumbeat calling for a congressional review of the rules of engagement used by the U.S. military in Afghanistan. In a letter released Friday, Jones again asked House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton, D.-Mo., and ranking member Howard “Buck” McKeon, R.-Calif., to hold a “classified hearing” in which military leadership explains the rules under which rank-and-file troops conduct operations outside the wire. The letter is also signed by Reps. Jeff Miller, R.-Fla., and Doug Lamborn, R.-Colo. “As you are fully aware, recent media reports have increasingly raised the issue of the current Rules of Engagement (ROE) and Tactical Directives in Afghanistan,” the letter said. “We feel it is imperative that the Full Committee hold a classified hearing on this issue as soon as possible…” (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Taliban attack NATO base - At 7:30 this morning local time, Taliban fighters attacked a NATO airfield in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, with a car bomb and rocket propelled grenades, injuring two service members. Eight attackers, who did not penetrate the perimeter of the base, were killed in the ensuing gunfight. June is the deadliest month for NATO troops in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban; at least 100 soldiers were killed. Nearly 1,600 Afghan police officers have been killed in the last two years, and the force continues to struggle with attrition, lack of training, and illiteracy. McClatchy reminds of the danger and importance of the highway between Kabul and Kandahar. And Marjah, the town in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province that was the site of a coalition offensive earlier this year, "appears to some to be stagnating". (READ MORE)

Gerard Russell: Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History - If time spent studying Afghanistan brings wisdom, then Thomas Barfield must have the judgment of Solomon: He has been traveling there since the early 1970s as an anthropologist. Any book that he -- now a professor at Boston University -- writes on the subject deserves to be taken seriously. His latest book, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, also has the ambitious goal of being a comprehensive but readable short history of Afghanistan, with a heavy focus on the last nine years. It hits the target. Although casual readers may find the early pages hard going, the pace soon picks up; quotations from the poet Sa'di and Ibn Khaldun provide variety. Barfield's vision of the "longue durée" means looking at Afghanistan's development over the course of centuries. Not for him the perpetually renewed mantra that "the next six months are critical";'he can instead bring a vision of Afghanistan over the centuries to cut through knotty debates with easy self-confidence and lapidary sentences. (READ MORE)

Citizen Soldier: FRIENDSHIPS - There are a few good things that came out of this deployment and one of those things are the friendships that I have made. You really don't think about it much but all along you were friends but on a different level. I have posted in an earlier blog about the friends I have made and how people are different when you get to be with them 24/7 and you see there little quirks. Some of the people that I have hung out with, they will just stay acquaintances but some have become good friends. Like my roommate for instance, we were good friends before we were deployed but since we hung out together and shared the same room our friendship has grown. I believe that friendship moved on to a whole new level. I know things will change once we get out of here but our friendship has grown. I am really glad for that because they know how we are and if this ever happens again and we get deployed together, we can request that we room together. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Checkpoint named after Military Policeman who died protecting local police - 33 year-old Sergeant Robert ‘LD’ Loughran-Dickson from Kent who was based in Aldershot, Hampshire, died last November while patrolling with the Afghan National Police near the capital of Helmand Province, Lashkar Gah. He was killed in an exchange of fire by insurgents. Now his Royal Military Police colleagues, who have followed in his footsteps and are advising the Afghan National Police in Helmand, have put up a plaque to commemorate his sacrifice, and renamed the compound where he was working in the Bolan District as Check Point L-D. “He was embedded with the infantry and he set off from here with members of the Afghan National Police on a patrol on the day that he died,” said Staff Sergeant Holly Turner, who worked with Sergeant Loughran -Dickson when she was also based in Aldershot, with 160 Provost Company. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: 9 Regiment RLC honoured after Afghan tour of duty - Soldiers from 9 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps (RLC), marched through Malmesbury yesterday where, in addition to receiving their Afghanistan operational medals, they were awarded the “Freedom” of the historic Wiltshire town. The event organised by the Town Council saw troops, dressed in their desert combat uniforms, forming up at the War Memorial in Malmesbury. From there, they were led by the band of the Royal Logistic Corps to the Town Square, where around 150 personnel from the Regiment were presented with their Operation HERRICK medals by the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire and the Mayor of Malmesbury. The parade then marched to Malmesbury Abbey where a service of thanksgiving was held, followed by a Civic Ceremony at the Town Hall. Throughout family, friends and people from the town showed their appreciation and cheered, applauded and waved flags. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Allawi-Maliki Meet - "Positive" was the word used to describe the meeting yesterday between Allawi and Maliki. According to Allawi's spokeswoman, the discussion, held at Allawi's house, lasted about one and a half hours. She said they talked about a variety of issues, including the government, the electricity issues, and the oil contracts. There were no major announcements, but the spokeswoman made it clear that Allawi's list will work with any of the lawmakers. She said Allawi continues to have good relations with the Shiite alliance, the Kurdish alliance, and the other groups. The heat has lessened recently, but it's only a temporary lull in the weather. July and August are the hottest months in Iraq. Civilians have been patient. They waited seven years for the government to fix the electricity issue, but all they find is disappointment. To outsiders, Iraqis might appear to be whiners. Perhaps many think the civilians here are used to living without electricity. That would be inaccurate. (READ MORE)

Iraq The Model: Allawi-Maliki Deal Imminent - Nouri Al-Maliki and Ayad Allawi are going to meet tonight at 6pm local time, at Allawi's Iraqiya bloc offices. Word in some local media and speculations by some politicians indicate that a deal between the two leaders is imminent. The deal is expected to give Allawi the Presidency and Maliki the Premiership, while awarding the Parliament Speaker post to the Kurds, who are freaked out by the rumors. (READ MORE)

Kit Up!: SOCOM Developing Caliber Conversion for SCAR - Officials with the Tampa-based USSOCOM followed up on our Mk-16 cancellation story with some clarifications about some of the data presented in the piece posted on Military.com. First off, the command took issue with my calling the program “cancelled.” Technically the SCAR program is still on, of course, but SOCOM has decided not to buy any more of the straight up 5.56 versions. OK…In my book that means the Mk-16 is cancelled, but I can see how they’d get some grief from some quarters about the legalistic terms. Also, to be clear, SOCOM is not buying any additional Mk-17s than it was already planning to buy. If the article gave some folks that impression, that’s an incorrect read of the “buying more” bit. They’re buying more than they have now, and no more of the Mk-16s. Another point. SOCOM said they are definitely having troopers turn in their Mk-16s when they redeploy and will not allow any Mk-16s in the inventory. (READ MORE)

Kit Up!: SCAR Mk-16 Death Aftermath - Our story on the official cacellation of the Mk-16 variant of the Socom Combat Assault Rifle rippled across the internet this past weekend and we’re still peeling the onion on this as we get more information about the program and where it stands. But one thing I’ve been keeping an eye on is the impression of troopers in the war zone who use both the Mk-16 and Mk-17 (as well as the Mk-13 EGLM). On a BTDT board, one trooper who appears to be an Army SOF operator said his Mk-16 is fine, but the Mk-17 and its 7.62×51 ammo is confidence inspiring… I will say that hands down, having 7.62 rounds (LR) flying out towards the enemy at significant range (600-800m) has been a big advantage. Most of our engagements have been at range. The writer says that his team has 6 Mk-16s and 6 Mk-17s and that some of the crusty Green Berets refuse to carry the new toy. He said that on one occasion his team “went black” on ammo during an engagement (he’s in Afghanistan). (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Taking a step back: "Remember The Third Herd" - From Stephen Pointer: “‘I made this as part of a fundraiser for 26 Soldiers from 2/503rd Inf., 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team who were wounded in Afghanistan. These Soldiers wanted to get back to their home stations in time to welcome their comrades home, and to honor the fallen. 43 members of their unit were KIA during this deployment, and all are included in this video.’ 173rd ABN, 2007-2008, Korengal Valley. Thank you.” The fundraiser has continued for those men wounded in the 173rd. Recuperated, and given a doctor's okay, they wish to greet and join their brothers when the 173rd returns to Vincenza. All monies raised go toward air fare to cover those wounded and recuperated enough to fly. To see the blanket throws being sold, please go to 173rd, 2-503 Sky Soldiers fundraiser site. (READ MORE)

Sylvie Stein: "Bad attitudes" land Afghan women in jail - Enter the cells of the Badam Bagh prison in Kabul, Afghanistan, and what culprits will you find locked up inside? A 16-year old recipient of an unplanned marriage proposal, a pregnant wife irrationally accused of adultery, and a veiled old woman who just displayed a "bad attitude." These unlikely suspects were accused of "moral crimes," a new category of infractions for which half the incarcerated females in Afghanistan are held. The "immoral" misdemeanors also include refusing to marry, resisting rape or being raped, and -- especially devastating in light of prevalent and severe domestic violence that compels many women to flee belligerent spouses -- running away from home. Numerous "moral crimes" do not actually violate or even pertain to penal code; but this grouping of offenses requires no codification. Rather, they are loosely described as violations of Sharia law, however the accuser may choose to interpret it. (READ MORE)

Knights of Afghanistan: What We're Fighting For - On most days, I have trouble seeing the good side to this place. Very occasionally, I find some small bit of encouragement in the people here. And all too often, I'm reminded of what a primitive, atavistic culture this is. Someone remind me again of why we're here. (READ MORE)

Thomas Joscelyn: Karzai denies meeting Haqqani, General Petraeus says - During his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, General David Petraeus told Senator Carl Levin that Afghan President Hamid Karzai denies reports that he recently met with a leader of the Haqqani Network. This past weekend, Al Jazeera reported that Karzai met with Siraj Haqqani, who leads the Taliban- and al Qaeda-affiliated network in Pakistan and Afghanistan, to discuss a power-sharing agreement. The meeting was reportedly orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence and army officials, who have long supported the Haqqani Network. [See LWJ report: "Afghan president meets with Siraj Haqqani: Report."] The Al Jazeera account followed several other press accounts saying that Pakistani officials were indeed trying to broker a deal between the Afghan government and Haqqani. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: al Qaeda commander killed in US strike on safehouse in South Waziristan - The US killed seven terrorists in an airstrike today on a known al Qaeda compound in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of South Waziristan. The Predator strike is the seventh this month. An unmanned Predator or the more deadly Reaper fired two missiles at a compound in the village of Karikot near Wana, the main town in South Waziristan. The compound is known to be used by al Qaeda operatives in the area. An al Qaeda operative from Egypt known as Hawza al Jawfi, two Punjabi fighters, and five local Taliban fighters are said to have been killed in the strike, The New York Times reported. Jawfi is said to have led Jundallah, a Pakistani terror group that is based in Karachi and maintains with close ties with al Qaeda. Dr. Arshad Waheed, an al Qaeda commander who was killed in a US airstrike in South Waziristan in March 2008, had close links to Ata-ur-Rehman, the former leader of Jundallah who was detained by Pakistani security forces. (READ MORE)

One Marine's View: Everything happens for a reason - It’s hard not to wonder why an event happened or why something that you thought was going to happen didn’t. There were many times while deployed I thought…why? Why do these young children have to live like this or why did that Marine walk where he did when he got wounded? We would reassure new Marines in our own Marine fashion by telling them, “focus on your job, don’t become complacent and when it’s your time, it’s your time, you’re not going to stop it so why worry about it?” I’m sure there are many instances and situations that all of us have experienced that we don’t understand why they happened. Many times they are the negative sort but look back and think about the positive or out of the ordinary events that happened that made you ask why? As you look back perhaps if you didn’t ask “why” perhaps now you should. There were many times I have looked back and wondered how I didn’t get a scratch when others near me were wounded or why one day I walked a certain route other than the usual route and didn’t get injured when rounds impacted. (READ MORE)

Lt Col P: "How Much Longer?" - I have to admit that David Ignatius at the WaPo has struck a chord here: "Even as the United States and the Taliban continue to pound each other on the battlefield, the two adversaries appear to be conducting parallel internal debates about what an eventual political reconciliation might involve. "Each side wants to bargain from a position of maximum strength, and for the foreseeable future that means trying to inflict maximum pain. Each seems to be betting that the staying power of the other is limited -- by domestic politics, regional dynamics and the cost of the conflict in money and blood. The main advantage of the Taliban, arguably, is that its fighters are a permanent part of the landscape. "U.S. military commanders here see signs that their aggressive "capture or kill" operations have rocked the Taliban -- and pushed some of the insurgents to consider negotiations with President Hamid Karzai...." (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: Breaking Fast - Sometimes, I skip breakfast chow so that I can lay in my rack and think about my wife. I still get up at 0515 hours, grab a shower, put on the Army pants. But then I re-set my alarm and cast myself adrift in my sleeping bag for a few blissful minutes, while the other guys are still shuffling off to the shower. If I'm lucky, in my post-Revelie reverie, I get a chance to enjoy a few appropriately inappropriate daydreams about my wife. Happy, cuddily, non-Army-type thoughts. It's worth going hungry for. Now, don't get me wrong. I love breakfast. Some of the boldest schemes in which I have ever participated have been hatched over eggs and sausage and biscuits and coffee--lots and lots of coffee. And words. And friends. Back when we were young and planning to rule the world, we used to call them "Big Idea Breakfasts." They were grand. Breakfast, like they say, is the most important part of the day. (READ MORE)

CAPT Matt Smenos: YA DON'T - Long before my days as an air force officer, my attitude was shaped by a couple of things my dad liked to say. For example, the famous cautionary, "Ya don't tug on Superman's cape, ya don't spit in the wind, ya don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger (who?)..." and so on. Years later, after some real-life experiences of my own, I would like to add the following: "Ya don't engage in a protracted counterinsurgency in Afghanistan." A few years ago, as a deployed operations officer supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, I served in the eastern part of Afghanistan for about a year. It was one of the most difficult experiences in my life. Planning missions with little or no solid intelligence, working every day beside flakey Afghan foot-soldiers, and placating corrupt and greedy Afghan officers, it was hard to quantify progress, or even common purpose, in the day-to-day struggle to be everywhere at once in that desolate, war-torn, corner of nowhere. (READ MORE)

Robert Haddick: Marine Corps Operating Concepts attempts to answer Gates - At a recent meeting with students at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wondered out loud, “And the question is, since the Marines have essentially, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, played the role of second land Army, what differentiates them from the Army? And what is their mission going forward that makes them unique? … We will always have a Marine Corps. But the question is, how do you define the mission post Iraq, post Afghanistan?” The new Marine Corps Operating Concepts attempts to answer those questions. For over two hundred years, the U.S. Marine Corps has fought a two-front war, one against enemies like the Barbary pirates, the Japanese army, and al Qaeda and the second against the real mortal threat, those brigands inside the Washington Beltway who see the Marine Corps as a wasteful appendage ripe for snipping off. (READ MORE)

War, the military, COIN and stuff: "We need to think more about strategy..." - While briefing reporters on issues concerning the FY11 defense budget this morning at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Andrew Krepenevich painted a pretty bleak portrait of what he sees as the dearth of real, hard strategic thinking by the Pentagon and among the civilians in the Executive branch. His comments followed closely the thoughts he put forth in a paper published earlier this month where he complained that the Obama administration’s recently released national security strategy “offers no concrete suggestions on how the administration hopes to achieve [its stated] objectives or how inconsistencies between these objectives might be resolved by establishing strategic priorities.” This morning, he also offered that while the tightening budgets brought about by the current fiscal crisis means that “we need to think about budgets,” it also means that in order to make fully informed budget decisions, “we need to think more about strategy.” (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Ideologues and Counterinsurgency - Colonel Gian Gentile isn’t a proponent of jettisoning counterinsurgency doctrine, despite what Jim Hanson believes. Gentile knows that there are phases to campaigns, and one particular paper that has been influential in my thinking (given to me by Gentile) is from The Journal of Strategic Studies, entitled The Malayan Emergency as Counter-Insurgency Paradigm. One money quote reads as follows: “It is naive to think that the blend of policies found at the optimisation phase of successful insurgencies will work well at the outset of a conflict. Hence, though measures to win ‘hearts and minds’ have their place in all phases, if only to dampen the effects of collateral damage and hatred of the security forces, in Malaya the emphasis in the critical 1950-52 phase was on getting effective command, small unit patrols bolted onto areas, and population control and security.” (READ MORE)

Grim: Roundtable: Corruption and Culture - We spoke with Major General Mike Ward about efforts to develop the Afghan police. (Transcript here.) It was an interesting conversation, because it points at one of the trickiest aspects for Western powers operating in a traditional culture: our tendency to read organic, family- or tribe-based authorities as corruption. An example, to clarify what I mean: Once upon a time in Iraq, we had a microgrant program aimed at a very poor area south of Baghdad. Just as the microgrants were paid out to start up several small businesses, word came that a local chieftain -- not really a blood sheikh, but the ranking member of the tribe in the area -- had simply collected all the money from the people. This was read as corruption, and our rule-of-law people went down there and forced him to return the money for its intended purpose. Yet it proved to be the case that he had collected the money for a good reason. (READ MORE)

Crush: Emasculated ROE will likely continue under Petraeus - While some here maintain that McChrystal's emasculated ROE are the "right rules," I would like to hear how the Karzai 12 have made any positive contribution to the war. If I was in command, and my subordinates translated my directives in such a way that promised artillery and air support was not delivered - even though a unit was taking casualties; or when illumination rounds are denied; or when smoke rounds are eventually approved, only to have the rounds purposely land thousands of feet away; or when our air support is so useless that our enemies no longer run; I could go on and on... I would correct any misconceptions IMMEDIATELY. Petraeus was McChrystal's boss, and he could have changed the ROE if he wanted. But he didn't. How many Americans have died due to these Mickey Mouse rules? If our troops weren't muzzled, I guaran-damn-tee that they would be far more furious than they already are, and rightfully so. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Enter Petraeus - In many ways Gen. David H. Petraeus has a luxury that his predecessor didn’t: he gets the benefit of the doubt. Since he is starting, if not fresh, then at least with a grace period, he has a few weeks in which he can look again at many policies and decide how he wants to conduct his relationships... (READ MORE)

Petraeus Testifies and Hastings Addresses Fallout From Rolling Stone Article - Gen. David H. Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that a July 2011 deadline for the start of withdrawals of American troops from Afghanistan was only “the beginning of a process” and that the United States commitment to the country was an “enduring one.” (READ MORE)

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

News from the Front:

Baghdad Traffic Lights: Green, Amber and Go. - The first time I sat in the passenger seat, I unconsciously reached out to fasten my seat belt. In an anxious tone the driver said: “What are you doing? They will know that you are a foreigner.” (READ MORE)

Logistics Team Breaks Through Issues - Among the many buildings on Forward Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq, there is one that Soldiers may never enter. (READ MORE)

Baghdad diary: Searching for power - Most evenings in Baghdad, after the day's work is done and the scorching summer temperature falls a little, I will sit down to enjoy a few moments of quiet outside on the terrace at the back of the BBC's bureau. (READ MORE)

The two main blocs' merger sidelines Kurds - A member of Kurdish Factions Alliance (KFA) declared today that in case al-Iraqiya merges with the State of Law, Kurds will be marginalized as the heads of the two blocs will assume the two senior positions in the Iraqi government. (READ MORE)

Iraq focused on Maliki-Allawi meeting - All attention is shifted on the meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki and Al Iraqiya leader Iyad Allawi. Speculations say that the meeting will result of a positive income that will push government talks into a new perspective. (READ MORE)

Clearing Jalula one neighborhood at a time - “We have had strangers come into Jalula,” said Iraqi Police Maj. Mahmood Mahdi Yahia, commander of the 8th ERF. “They have been chased out of other cities by our forces and now they are here.” (READ MORE)

In Rewriting Its History, Iraq Treads Cautiously - During the sectarian violence here, she saw with her own eyes bodies scattered around the yard of the school where she is now principal. But May Abul Wahab is not allowed to teach her students anything about the American invasion of Iraq or the government of Saddam Hussein that it overthrew. (READ MORE)

More Assassinations Across Iraq - A burst of violence across Iraq on Tuesday claimed the lives of 14 people, most related to what appears to be a campaign of assassinations aimed at officials amid the country’s extended political crisis. (READ MORE)

8 militants killed in gunbattle at Afghan airport - Militants set off a car bomb and stormed the entrance to a major NATO air base in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday, authorities said. Eight insurgents died in the failed assault. (READ MORE)

Petraeus rules out any 'swift turnaround' in Afghan war - While admitting that the progress on the nine year old 'war on terror' in Afghanistan has been slower than expected, General David Petraeus, the newly appointed US commander in Afghanistan, has ruled out any 'swift turnaround' in the struggle. (READ MORE)

Holder in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is in Kabul for talks with Afghan officials, the Justice Department says. Holder's agenda during his brief visit includes discussions on ways to build relationships between law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in the two countries, the department said in a statement. (READ MORE)

Afghan Taliban raid foreign base in Jalalabad - Afghan Taliban insurgents raided a base for foreign troops in Jalalabad on Wednesday, officials said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. (READ MORE)

Fighting erupts at airport in eastern Afghan city - Fighting has erupted in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad where police say they heard explosions at the airport. Ghafor Khan, a spokesman for the provincial police chief in Nangarhar province, said Wednesday that police heard blasts and gunshots from inside the airport. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Tests Petraeus' Counterinsurgency Mettle - Gen. David Petraeus' nomination as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan comes at a critical time. June has been the deadliest month for the U.S.-led coalition in the nearly nine-year-old war: More than 90 foreign troops have been killed. (READ MORE)

Petraeus pledges to revamp US strategy in Afghanistan to protect troops - US commander in-charge of NATO operations in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has said that he would closely review restrictions on airstrikes and artillery in Afghanistan to protect his troops. (READ MORE)

Suicide squad attacks airport in eastern Afghanistan - A group of suicide bombers attacked a NATO-operated airport Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan, sparking a gunfight with Afghan and foreign troops, officials said. (READ MORE)

Taliban attack major NATO base in Afghanistan - Afghan Taliban insurgents raided one of the biggest NATO bases in Afghanistan on Wednesday. Insurgents set off a car bomb and fired rocket propelled grenades at the base in a brazen daylight attack. (READ MORE)

Insurgent Attack Against Jalalabad Airport Repelled - Afghan and ISAF forces repelled a number of insurgents when they attacked Jalalabad airfield this morning using a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, rocket-propelled grenades, and small arms fire. (READ MORE)

IJC Operational Update, June 30 - An Afghan-international force captured a Haqqani network improvised explosive device and weapons facilitator and another individual in Khost province last night. (READ MORE)

Kunar Province Sees Second Full Day of Successful Combined Operations - Operations involving units from the Afghan National Security Forces and International Security Assistance Force continued June 29 in Kunar province. (READ MORE)

The Afghan women jailed for 'bad character' - Meet Sorarya and you meet "attitude". It has something to do with the way she wears her red tunic and trousers, her short cropped black leather jacket, and the way she chews gum and rolls her eyes. (READ MORE)

Kabul jockeying for Baradar extradition - Pakistan may extradite detained Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Afghan president said. (READ MORE)

Afghan Attorney General Says U.S. Ambassador Pushed for Corruption Prosecutions - Afghanistan’s attorney general disputed published allegations Tuesday that he had been pressured by the Afghan political leadership to sideline corruption investigations into some of the country’s elite, and he turned on the American ambassador... (READ MORE)

Deadliest month yet for NATO in Afghanistan - More than 100 foreign troops fighting in Afghanistan have already died in June, making it the deadliest month to date in the nine-year war, according to independent monitor icasualties.org. (READ MORE)

Reconciliation efforts with Afghan militants face major obstacle - Prospects for an effort by Pakistan to broker a reconciliation between the government of neighboring Afghanistan and a violent wing of the Afghan Taliban depend on overcoming a major obstacle: severing long-standing relations between the militant group and Al Qaeda. (READ MORE)

Suspected US Missile Strike Kills 10 in Pakistan - Pakistani security officials say a suspected U.S. missile strike has killed at least 10 militants, including a suspected al-Qaida operative, in the country's northwest. (READ MORE)

Qaeda Figure Is Reported Killed in Pakistan - Eight militants, including an Egyptian allied with Al Qaeda, were killed Tuesday in what residents and a Pakistani security official said was a United States drone strike in the South Waziristan tribal area near this country’s Afghan border. (READ MORE)

Failing U.S.-Pakistan relations hamper Afghan war - A deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan could precipitate a loss in the war in Afghanistan, according to a new think tank report. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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