July 26, 2010

From the Front: 07/26/2010

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

Dispatches:
Andrew Lebovich: Daily brief: website leaks thousands of Afghan war docs - The website WikiLeaks.org released roughly 92,000 government documents related to the war in Afghanistan from 2004-2010 yesterday evening, after giving the documents to the New York Times, The Guardian, and Germany's Der Spiegel weeks ago (NYT, Guardian, Guardian, Der Spiegel, NYT). Composed in large measure of "secret" reports and cables from the U.S. military, the initial review of the documents reveals new details about multiple aspects of the war, including civilian casualties caused by international forces, the increased use of sometimes unreliable armed drones, Pakistan's alleged role in supporting various Taliban and militant factions and suspicion of Iranian involvement as well, secret special operations task forces that hunt Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, formerly unrevealed reports that the Taliban may have used heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles against coalition helicopters, and increased evidence that Afghan government corruption is undermining efforts to win over the Afghan population. (READ MORE)

LT Gorman: World Cup At War (Tape-delayed Edition) - Two separate cheers went up. Gooaaaaaaallll!! That the Spanish section of the camp cheered needed no explanation. Why the Bulgarian contingent was just as ecstatic caused some head scratching. Welcome to the World Cup in Afghanistan. No, the tape delay isn’t that bad that we are just now talking about it, rather sometimes the business of running a war takes priority over writing. They say for one month the whole world turns from what its doing to watch a soccer tournament and Afghanistan is no different. While it’s debatable to what extent the more remote parts of the Afghan countryside are able to see, Kabul for certain had World Cup fever as strong as anywhere else. The veritable global village that are the Coalition forces in and around Kabul certainly added to the level of interest among Americans. While most of the time Americans are, at best, indifferent to soccer, the palpable excitement from the British, German, Italian, Spanish and even Mongolian contingents proved infectious to all but the most ardent “futbol” haters. (READ MORE)

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: I've Been Missing - Sorry guys, didn't mean to worry you. The last couple weeks have been supremely busy. I had some 1/6 widsters stay with me last week and the memorial was this weekend. The week before that was probably not "busy" my mind has just been so cluttered. Shit's gotten real. There's no other way I can put it. Hold on, before I go there, let me back track. Widster time was pretty nice. We laughed together, cried together. Shared our notification stories. I got to show my videos of my babe, read my notes... we looked at pictures. We drank some alcohol some nights and didn't other nights and hung out and just enjoyed being in the company of others who "get it." We prepared together for a weekend that would make everything a bit more real, a bit more final. And that is exactly what it did. We had a memorial dinner. The battalion gave us spouses Eagle, Globe and Anchor necklaces. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: WTF is going on in this world? - I am amazed at the mainstream media and the wannabe mainstream media in this world. Last week the Washington Post published a 3 day series of stories that they spent two years researching and investigating to expose many of the locations, agencies and companies who help this country with its intelligence gathering tasks. I am not sure what their purpose was or why they did it? I mean to say “see look what harm we can do to our great country that we all live in”. Did they think that Americans didn’t know we have many, many people and groups dedicated to try and keep this country safe and that they must work in a classified world to do that? Now we have wikileaks at it again exposing some 90,000 US military records that they somehow came in possession of that are all about Afghanistan and our operations there. These guys are despicable and need to quit stealing oxygen from the rest of us. (READ MORE)

Army Blogger Wife: Thank you Army - Every once in a while I am thankful for things that the Army does. Not too often, but they can surprise you. Gunner got his flight delayed three days because of the move. Every little bit counts. The Army is letting them off about thirty minutes early every day to have more family time. Not a whole lot of time, but I'm not going to complain. This past week they had half days, 4 day, then half days this week. Paternity leave. While we are done, done, done, having babies, I like that they give paternity leave to the Soldiers. If you have a child due during the deployment, your Soldier will get paternity leave when they return. Funny thing is that Gunner had a great chain of command when Em and Abs arrived and he got paternity leave. With Junior, not so much, but that's okay. I love, love, love, love that the Army moves you. They are not moving us from where we live now to where we are going, because it is a local move. (READ MORE)

Battle Rattle: To beret, or not to beret - Every so often, it seems, the Marines-wear-beret rumor rears its head. Usually it’s when leathernecks get the chance to question or schmooze with senior brass. Back before the Army in 2001 standardized the beret for all soldiers, every so often some bold and usually gung-ho junior Marine would ask or suggest the wear of berets. No commandant or uniform board approved such an idea, however. Battle Rattle recalls a day back in the mid-‘90s, when a young Marine joined others greeting then-commandant Gen. Chuck Krulak on a ship’s mess decks asked the four-star general why Recon Marines couldn’t wear the black beret, so they could stand out as being, well, elite, he argued. The general quickly dismissed the question, although Battle Rattle wonders whether that Marine’s staff NCOs were less forgiving. Even with the Army’s still-controversial adoption of the beret as universal head wear, Marines and the beret remain an ongoing curiosity. (READ MORE)

RAJIV SRINIVASAN: Of Friends and Fighters - West Point isn’t the most natural environment for a kid like me: a chubby, Indian-born, vegetarian Hindu. Sometimes, I join my friends and family in marveling how on earth I ended up there, perhaps more so how I made it through. But when considering the recipe to my success at the academy, my heart finds the key ingredient in people like First Lt. Christopher Geoke. Then Cadet Geoke, Chris was my dear friend, my West Point classmate, and my polar opposite. Whereas I was chubby and out of shape, Chris was a physical beast. I was only an average cadet in terms of military discipline, but Chris’s military rank was among the highest in the class. I did well academically, but always needed to work twice as hard to get half as far as Chris did. I came from a relatively stable and healthy home life; Chris didn’t. And through his life’s challenges, Chris discovered his personal relationship with God and served as one of his finest Christian servants. (READ MORE)

C.J. Chivers: Strategic Plans Spawned Bitter End for a Lonely Outpost - Nothing in the documents made public on Sunday offers as vivid a miniature of the Afghan war so far — from hope to heartbreak — as the field reports from one lonely base: Combat Outpost Keating. The outpost was opened in 2006 in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan Province, an area of mountain escarpments, thick forests and deep canyons with a population suspicious of outsiders. The outpost’s troops were charged with finding allies among local residents and connecting them to the central government in Kabul, stopping illegal cross-border movement and deterring the insurgency. But the outpost’s fate, chronicled in unusually detailed glimpses of a base over nearly three years, illustrates many of the frustrations of the allied effort: low troop levels, unreliable Afghan partners and an insurgency that has grown in skill, determination and its ability to menace. (READ MORE)

Shuja Nawaz: Kayani, a man for many seasons - In a timely though perhaps overly dramatic move, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan announced last night on national television the extension of army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for another three years beyond November this year, when his first term was to end. Timely, since any further delay in announcing it would have led to further speculation and confusion about what was to happen. Dramatic, since the normal manner would have been a press release from the Inter Services Relations Directorate. But then this is Pakistan and anything to do with the army chief makes headlines. And this announcement further strengthens the view that the army continues to be a key player even as democracy struggles to establish itself in a country that has been ruled for more than half its life by the military. This is the first time a civilian government has extended an army chief for a full term. (READ MORE)

better when we're together: I can do this... right? - So, Scott is applying for a job in Iraq/Afghanistan/Kuwait to work on helicopters as a civilian for a year. It would be very much like a deployment (but would pay a heck of a lot better). He would get a mid-year leave, but other than that, I wouldn't see him for another year. He has been bringing this up ever since he came back. And, every time, I have been incredibly hurt and offended. How could he be wanting to run off for another year so quickly? Why risk his life... again... and this time by choice? Today, things really hit a head. It was ugly. But, I finally caved.... with lots of stipulations. He would move me back to Greenville and I would get started on nursing school while living in an apartment on my own. We would finally get a dream honeymoon... no skimping at all! And, this would be the absolute last time he could just run off. If things got tight financially somewhere in the future, this kind of job would no longer be an option. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: A Slightly Longer Take On Wikileaks - I know a lot of people, fellow students mostly, who are gloating about how awesome this is. The Guardian is gushing over the leaked documents, making constant references to the Pentagon Papers. "A new hero of mine" is how Daniel Ellsberg describes the juvenile self-righteous intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq who leaked all these files. A targeted leak, meant to disseminate information that needs to be brought to public attention, is one thing. Militaries all over the world have a sordid history of covering up scandals. There is certainly a time and a place for whistle-blowing. But this was a senseless leak, an act of pure treason. A democratic country with an all-volunteer military operating in the field has a legitimate reason to keep action reports classified. To dump almost 100,000 reports into the public detailing what your fellow soldiers are doing is not principled, it's dangerous and foolhardy, and I hope that everyone responsible for sending these reports to Wikileaks gets locked up for a long, long time. (READ MORE)

America's 1st Sgt: Corporal Joe Wrightsman, United States Marine - The Department of Defense announced the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Cpl. Joe L. Wrightsman, 23, of Jonesboro, La., died July 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. While all of the above is true it doesn't sit well with me to merely leave you with that sanitized version of events. As someone who knew Cpl Wrightsman's character, I will do my best to paint for you, the citizens he served, a better picture of an American fighting man. To the best of my knowledge, this is what happened: On July 18, Cpl Wrightsman was part of a patrol crossing the Helmand river when an ANP (Afghan National Police) was swept away in the river behind him. Without hesitation, Cpl Wrightsman, in full personal protective gear, dove into the water in an effort to rescue the ANP. (READ MORE)

FaST Surgeon (in Afghanistan): Picture Of The Day - 25 JUL 2010 "Field Chow" - The Army's delivery of meals (AKA Chow) has changed quite a bit since my initial enlistment. No longer do we eat in the "Mess Hall". Now we "dine" at the Dining Facility (DFAC). Also, most often now you don't see Army cooks, but rather contracted cooks from companies like Fluor and KBR. Well, fortunately for the men and women out in the most forward battlespaces, Army cooks continue to provide hot meals. This is probably THE ONLY good thing these soldiers have at their Combat Outposts (COPs). The Army cooks do a fantastic job of making a variety of meals that actually taste good. I was very pleased to find out that Army cooks still exist and they are very much appreciated. This is a big departure from the Army of the past. So, it is possible for our military to actually improve. Finally.. Why "Mess Hall"? "Mess" is derived from old French "Mes" (further derived from the Latin "mittre"), which means "to put" or "to send". (READ MORE)

Heather Forsgren Weaver: The Deployment Comes Before Reintegration - I had the opportunity yesterday to listen to a teleconference sponsored by the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury about life after deployment, reintegrating with your family and life outside a war zone. What I learned is that you can’t talk about life after deployment if you don’t talk about life during deployment. Being deployed in a war zone teaches you to “enjoy the simple things,” said the presenters, each of whom had served in Iraq. Coming home and realizing that people are concerned with things that are really frivolous is a challenge, said Dr. James Bender, who served in Iraq from June 2008 to June 2009 as a brigade psychologist for 1st Cavalry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team. “I was really annoyed at other people’s problems,” Dr. Bender said. Retired Army Lt. Col. Erin C. McLaughlin said that it takes time to readjust to normal life... (READ MORE)

Ghosts of Alexander: Withdrawing from Afghanistan - Every once and a while an article appears that discusses the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan – particularly how the Soviet/Russian-supported government actually lasted a couple of years. This article in the World Policy Review is just one example. But I’m only going to work from one article for this post, and for good reason: Lester W. Grau, ‘Breaking Contact Without Leaving Chaos: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan’, Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2007. Grau starts with this introduction: There is a literature and a common perception that the Soviets were defeated and driven from Afghanistan. This is not true. When the Soviets left Afghanistan in 1989, they did so in a coordinated, deliberate, professional manner, leaving behind a functioning government, an improved military and an advisory and economic effort insuring the continued viability of the government. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Restrepo - Last week Kanani Fong at The Kitchen Dispatch arranged an interview for me with Tim Hertherington, who along with Sebastian Junger produced the award winning documentary Restrepo. Kanani signed onto the Restrepo team to spearhead a public relations effort, in conjunction with National Geographic, to get the film released in theaters nationwide. This is no easy task for a documentary but, as many of you know, there is a huge groundswell building in the blog sphere over this movie and it is scheduled for runs in cities around the country. This is great news because the one thing Tim stressed in our interview was this is not a film for the military. In the minds of the men who made it this film is designed to show Americans who have no stake in this fight (which is the vast majority) what is being asked of the men and women who are bearing the brunt of battle. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Sangin – Then and Now in Afghanistan - Captain Marty Adams is serving with 40 Commando Royal Marines in the Sangin District Centre. He was last in the town in 2005 serving with the Mobile Air Operations Team, part of Joint Force Helicopters (Afghanistan). On his return to Sangin five years later, he has noticed how much the centre has changed and developed. As 40 Commando begin working with the United States Marine Corps in the region, the progressed made by British troops in the town has made it a safer place for the locals and ISAF forces. He said: “In 2005 the security outside of the FOB (forward operating base), was practically none. Ourselves as soldiers, we couldn’t go outside the FOB for being attacked and occasionally we were attacked inside the FOB. “But since then, due to the progress that we’ve made, we’ve managed to push the bubble of security out from this location and beyond the centre of Sangin itself.” (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: 70th Armor Reunion Dinner - Today my kids and I left Georgetown, Kentucky, at 11 am and drove south for five 1/2 hours to Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the 1-70th Armor Reunion Dinner. Lauren and Lisa both dressed up for dinner. Nigel wore his best digital camo t-shirt. I was, as it turned out, in the proper uniform--khaki's and a dress shirt--but the really cool guys and all of the organizers were wearing Land's End polo shirts with Strike Swiftly Tankers logos. One of the first people I met on the way in the door was Captain Paul Davis, my company commander from the time I joined the 70th Armor in late 1975 until he was reassigned in Germany in early 1977. Davis was a great commander for a new tanker moving over from the Air Force. My first assignment was as gunner for Sgt. Ralph Plowman, a tough old guy (almost 30 I think!) from Alabama who taught me a lot about gunnery and taught me by example how to lead a crew. I got my own tank several months later. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Art As A Path To Understanding The War Experience - Since the beginning of time when man first went to war, there's an oft-repeated sentiment: "Unless you've been in combat, you can't understand what we've been through." There is truth in this, but the bigger problem is that as a nation, we're very good at speaking about things that don't matter. We know more about misbehaving starlets, than how Joe feels after having come back from a year of taking heavy fire, or how Tom is coping raising three kids while his wife Betty is taking small arms fire in the combat zone. Why? Emotional baggage is heavy, only the hardiest of souls take it on. Still, those cloaks we defensively don come with bluster often confused with conversation. That's how we end up in impenetrable camps. Examining my own life there's the writer's camp, the military supporters camp, milspouse, moms, fashionistas, gardeners, and yoga camps. All with needs and desires, some unique, but upon examination, crooked paths merge. (READ MORE)

Knights of Afghanistan: Personnel Changes - The Rug Merchant has returned to his roots and is now concentrating on.........well, selling rugs. Which seems fitting. He's still the head of the company, but he spends a lot less time hanging around the compound and screwing things up. Which is nice. What's not so nice is that he took the Doctor with him to help develop the nascent carpet business. Which means that I've lost the single best employee the company had, a man whom I have depended on for 18 months to hold this outift together. He sticks his head in from time to time, and helps out when he can, but it's not the same as having him around on a daily basis. Needless to say, things are falling through the cracks and some of our supervisors have reverted to their status as useless mouth-breathers. By way of compensation, I got to pick my new Ops Manager and I think I found a good one. So far, he's professional, focused and competent. (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: More Ball-Peen Hammer Moments - I've been collecting "ball-peen hammer moments"--times when I've suddenly felt like I've been emotionally smacked between the eyes with a ball-peen hammer--in the months leading up to our unit's deployment to Afghanistan. I first wrote about such pre-deployment surprises here and here. Here are a couple more, for the record: I am at my dentist's office, getting a routine check-up and cleaning. I am in uniform, as I have been the last couple of appointments. When Julie asks when she should schedule our next meeting, I tell her that I'm likely not going to be able to make it. I'll probably be out of the country, I say. I try hard not to make it sound like a certainty. She packs me an extra-full goodie bag of dental hygiene supplies: brushes and rinses and floss. After Dr. Deb comes in, I remind them that I got my best check-up ever following my first deployment. "There was nothing else to do over there but floss," I tell them. They laugh. Later, as I am leaving the appointment, I suddenly find myself being hugged. I stand there, holding my toothbrush. (READ MORE)

Dispatches from AfPak: Death Isn’t Tragic, It’s Neutral - Naheed Mustafa is a Canadian freelance broadcast and print journalist. She’s currently on a reporting trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan and will be posting dispatches from her trip. “They believe killing ordinary people is mubah.” The statement came from a Kandahari veteran of the 80s Jihad. I was sitting with him in his house in Kabul, politely trying to drink, without heaving, the Red Bull I was served. He counts leaders of the current insurgency among his friends and former comrades. We were talking about the Taliban. I wondered how the leaders who take pride in modeling themselves after the jihadi archetype of warrior by day and scholar by night, justified killing innocents. And there it was: killing the people in the course of war was “mubah“—morally neutral. The declaration made collateral damage, shariah-compliant. “I have never heard this term used before.” When the Kandahari mujahid was a fighter, every death was mourned, he said; dead innocents were seen as heroes deserving of Paradise, he said. (READ MORE)

Sarah: "Time To Move On" - When my husband and I packed up and left for our first duty station, we were leaving the town we'd lived in for six years. The town where we met. The town where we dated. The town where we got our first apartment as a married couple and began our life together. The town that was our home. As we pulled out of town, my husband said he had something for me. He put in a CD and queued up Tom Petty's "Time To Move On." I brushed tears out of my eyes and he smiled at me and said it was time to get going... Now every time we PCS, this CD is one of the things I make sure to take out of the household goods before the packers come. And we play it each time we get going. Each time we have no way of knowing what lies ahead. When I heard the song today, I realized that next year when we PCS, our new daughter will be with us as we play that song leaving town. She will join in on our family PCS tradition. I like that. (READ MORE)

Terry Galvin: "We pray for the Canadians to change their mind and stay." - There is anger and disappointment, mixed with a sense of disbelief, among western supporters in Afghanistan’s second largest city over Canada’s decision to bring its troops home next summer. "People are very upset about this. Why leave us?" said Jalani Hamayoun, the former deputy governor of Kandahar and a candidate in parliamentary elections in September....from an excellent story by Matthew Fisher, confirming what the Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee has found: "Across the spectrum of the many Afghans we have consulted, the anticipated withdrawal of Canadian troops is regarded with a mix of apprehension, resignation, regret, confusion, and gratitude. None were happy with Canada’s decision to withdraw troops. This is consistent with a series of national public opinion polls undertaken in Afghanistan about the presence of foreign troops generally." (READ MORE)

The Two Malcontents: Killed By Rules of Engagement - There are few things in life worth saying if they are not completely truthful. It came to me as a harsh reality when in the past few days I came to grips with this truth and that of our combined efforts to force Congress to pay attention to the strategy/non-strategy in Afghanistan was off the mark. We have been fighting for a simple review of COIN and to question whether or not it is viable in this kind of environment and relaying specific evidence of the effect of it’s ROE on our Warriors. The problem is that the ROE is affecting every Warrior on the plains of Afghanistan and is specifically responsible for EVERY U.S. AND NATO DEATH there. Every Army assembled for combat must do several things if it is going to win: As of June of 2009, at the latest, CentCom and ISAF made a deliberate decision, under the leadership of this sitting President, to not win. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Putting lives in danger - On September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers, trained and financed by Taliban-harbored terrorists in Afghanistan, launched a series of coordinated attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. On October 7, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to topple the Taliban regime and destroy al Qaeda inside the country where the attacks on America were planned. On July 25, 2010, with Taliban remnants still threatening Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden still ordering attacks around the world, American troops are fighting valiantly to accomplish a mission now set by President Barack Obama. On this same date, an organization called WikiLeaks put the lives of our brave men and women in danger, as well as the civilians they are ordered to protect. Even in the aftermath of a recent smear attempt against U.S. troops in Iraq that was quickly exposed as a humiliating failure by various experts... (READ MORE)

Chuck Z: In case I have not told Ya'll - I am going back to Iraq in November for 13 months. I will be in Baghdad for that time, on the "turn out the lights and lock up when you leave" tour. Essentially, we will be the last ones in Iraq. Although it pains me to leave Paradise, my family, and my beloved country, (especially for over a year) I see this trip as another step in my recovery... getting back on the horse, as it were. Living in the (still active) war zone that took so much from me last time, but also gave me so much in return. Being wounded has definitely changed my perspective on a lot of things, and shown me in specific relief what is really important in life. It has opened up an entirely different world than the one I was saw before, and this new world is focused on others, instead of centered on myself. Before being wounded, I never really thought about the problems faced by those who were wounded, I never really did much charity work beyond an occasional relay for life or Combined Federal Campaign donation. (READ MORE)

Neptunus Lex: Wikileaks - Julian Assange’s collection of hacktivists have published 92,000 classified documents under the heading of the “Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010.” Their servers are currently swamped, but whether that is due to service volume, including our friends in Moscow and Beijing hoovering up intel about classified sources and methods, or whether it is due to a distributed denial of service attack is unknown. Ninety-two thousand documents is an enormous trove of material – 75 megabytes – and it’s my suspicion that we’ll be hearing a great deal more about this over the course of the next few months, as people with their own agendas and biases comb through the database seeking to find information to buttress their own positions or assault others, including the US armed forces and their allies. There are many squalid little miseries and petty disasters in a war zone. One of the first “revelations” in the New York Times, which like the UK Guardian and the German Der Spiegel have had access to the data for several weeks, is the degree of treacherousness we’ve been treated to by our friends in the Pakistani ISI: (READ MORE)

This Ain't Hell: Supremes to Hear USERRA Case - Military.com reports that the case of a former U.S. Army Reserve Sgt is heading to the Supreme Court. Vincent Staub sued his former employer, Proctor Hospital of Peoria, Ill., in 2004 after being fired from his job. He claims he was let go after fellow employees, bitter or resentful over his taking time off for military service, conspired to damage his job performance. Staub won in district court in Illinois but had the verdict overturned by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2009. I’m hoping that this is a strong case. As others report in the article, if the court rules for the employer, the fallout will cripple USERRA. National Guard and Reserve forces are essential to our national security and must be protected from predatory employment practices. That having been said, most vets I work with don’t want to file USERRA complaints because they believe that they will face discrimination if they do get their jobs back. The Supremes need to make sure USERRA keeps it’s teeth. (READ MORE)

The Burn Pit: Can it Get Any Hotter – Only If We Hold Their Feet to the Fire. - The troops are waiting and we are all watching. Here we are nearly three weeks after the last post at this blog on the supplemental appropriation needed to support our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately while there has been some activity, one really can’t say that there has been all that much forward movement on the appropriation. I know that with the superbly well-informed readership that we enjoy, I really don’t need to spend a lot of time educating you on the need for this money. We all have friends and comrades in Iraq and now especially with the upswing in fighting in Afghanistan, the need for that appropriation grows more dire every day. As you know from the earlier post, Congress began considering this appropriation in mid-April knowing the day was coming when it would be not only needed but absolutely necessary. Army Secretary McHugh said then that: “his service can fund the wars through the end of June or beginning of July, at which point it will need the supplemental funding for the remainder of FY ’10.” (READ MORE)



News from the Home Front:
The War Logs: Reaction to Disclosure of Military Documents on Afghan War - Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who ran Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI, from 1987 to 1989, a time when Pakistani spies and the C.I.A. joined forces to run guns and money to Afghan militias who were battling Soviet troops in Afghanistan, denied allegations in The Times’s report on documents that appeared to show ties between the ISI and insurgents. (READ MORE)

U.S. Condemns Release of Documents on Afghan War - Pakistan said the disclosure of about 92,000 classified documents on the war in Afghanistan wouldn’t affect its relations with the U.S. or its role in the conflict after the White House condemned the leak. (READ MORE)

US says Wikileaks could 'threaten national security' - The United States has condemned as "irresponsible" the leak of 90,000 military records, saying publication could threaten national security. (READ MORE)

House-Senate dispute threatens war funding - House and Senate Democrats are at odds over how to approve additional funding for U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and will not be able resolve wide differences at least until next week. (READ MORE)

Piecing Together the Reports, and Deciding What to Publish - The articles published today are based on thousands of United States military incident and intelligence reports — records of engagements, mishaps, intelligence on enemy activity and other events from the war in Afghanistan — that were made public on Sunday on the Internet. (READ MORE)

20 years of problems at Arlington Cemetery - From the graves of Supreme Court justices to a section for freed slaves, Arlington National Cemetery seems to have been egalitarian in its mistakes. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:

My Baghdad field trip - “Fifteen kidnapped people released, 238 raids, 14,008 searches, 227 arrests (including 126 without warrants), 18 mortars found, 213 weapons found, eight explosive belts found, four terrorists killed, 167 IEDs dismantled, 18 sticky IEDs dismantled and one car bomb dismantled.” (READ MORE)

Bomb Kills 6 at Baghdad Office of Arabic Channel - A suicide bomber driving a minibus blew himself up in front of the Baghdad office of a popular Arabic news station early Monday, killing six people, and burying a lawmaker alive under the rubble of his collapsed home, police and hospital officials said. (READ MORE)

Four Killed In Bomb Attack on Arabiya TV In Baghdad - A suicide bomber killed four people on Monday in an attack targeting the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news channel in Baghdad, Iraqi security officials said. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Forces Still Frail as US Troops Head Home - When the U.S. ends its combat mission in Iraq five weeks from now, the nation's safety will be in the hands of its homegrown, American-trained security forces. (READ MORE)

Safety burden shifts to State Department after Iraq war - The Obama administration has not settled on a plan to protect and supply thousands of State Department diplomats and employees left behind in Iraq once all but a relatively few U.S. troops leave the county in a little more than a year. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan - A six-year archive of classified military documents made public on Sunday offers an unvarnished, ground-level picture of the war in Afghanistan that is in many respects more grim than the official portrayal. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan war logs: Massive leak of secret files exposes truth of occupation - A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency. (READ MORE)

Tens of thousands of alleged Afghan war documents go online - A whistle-blower website has published what it says are more than 90,000 United States military and diplomatic reports about Afghanistan filed between 2004 and January of this year. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan war logs: Secret CIA paramilitaries' role in civilian deaths - Shum Khan, a man both deaf and unable to speak, lived in the remote border hamlet of Malekshay, 7,000ft up in the mountains. When a heavily armed squad from the CIA barrelled into his village in March 2007, the war logs record that he "ran at the sight of the approaching coalition forces … out of fear and confusion". (READ MORE)

Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert - Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants... (READ MORE)

Top U.S. officer warns Afghan war will get worse - More NATO troops will die in Afghanistan as violence mounts over the summer, but Washington's goal of turning the tide against the insurgency by year's end is within reach, the top U.S. military officer said on Sunday. (READ MORE)

Taliban: 1 missing US trooper dead, other captured - The Taliban have offered to exchange the body of a U.S. Navy member they said was killed in an ambush two days ago in exchange for insurgent prisoners, an Afghan official said Sunday. (READ MORE)

Taliban kills one U.S. sailor, one held, says Afghan gov't - The Taliban have offered to exchange the body of a U.S. Navy member they said was killed in an ambush two days ago in exchange for insurgent prisoners, an Afghan official said yesterday. (READ MORE)

Taliban Violence Creating Social Revolution Among Pashtuns - Fifty-three-year-old Abdul Ahad Helmandwal is accustomed to being the go-to guy in one of southern Afghanistan's most violent areas. (READ MORE)

Holbrooke Supports Karzai Talks With Pakistan and Taliban - The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan offered encouragement today for negotiations Afghan President Hamid Karzai has held with Pakistani officials and Taliban leaders. (READ MORE)

Taliban seize key district in Afghan east - Taliban guerrillas have captured a strategic district from the Afghan government after days of clashes in eastern Nuristan province, officials said on Sunday. (READ MORE)

Ban on tobacco ads in UK could fund Al Qaeda, Taliban - Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorists will profit from the growth in cigarette smuggling into the UK if a ban on tobacco advertising is implemented, senior defence sources fear. (READ MORE)

Local officials: 1 of 2 abducted U.S. service members killed - One of two American service members who were abducted in Afghanistan on Friday has been killed, provincial government officials said Sunday. (READ MORE)

Dozens of Afghan civilians "killed in NATO raid" - Afghan government on Sunday said locals said, some 40 Afghan civilians were killed in a raid by NATO forces in Sangin district of southern Helmand province on Friday. (READ MORE)

Afghan police secure safe release of 3 Bangladeshi nationals - Afghan police secured the safe release of three Bangladeshi nationals following an operation against abductors in northern Samangan province, spokesman for provincial administration Mohammad Sedeq Azizi said Sunday. (READ MORE)

Two Suspected Insurgents Detained in Ongoing Pursuit of Taliban Commander - An Afghan and coalition security force continued their hunt for a Taliban commander who coordinates attacks against Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces in the village of Abdol Qadar Kalay in Qalat. (READ MORE)

ISAF Investigates Civilian Death in Kunar - ISAF officials are investigating an incident that occurred Friday near the town of Khaki Bandeh in the Watapur district of Kunar province that resulted in the death of an Afghan civilian. Three other civilians were wounded. (READ MORE)


Pakistan:
US missiles kill 16 militants in NW Pakistan - U.S. missiles hit a suspected militant hide-out, killing 16 insurgents in a troubled Pakistani tribal region along the Afghan border before dawn Saturday, intelligence officials said. (READ MORE)

Pakistan drone attack 'kills 16 militants' - Pakistan's border area has seen frequent drone attacks Missiles fired by a US drone aircraft have killed at least 16 militants in north-west Pakistan, officials say. (READ MORE)

Drone strike in Pakistan kills 16 - A suspected U.S. drone strike in Pakistan's tribal region killed 16 alleged militants Saturday morning, Pakistani officials told CNN. (READ MORE)

U.S. Missiles Kill Five in Pakistan - Unmanned U.S. aircraft fired four missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing five suspected militants in the second drone strike in as many days, intelligence officials said. (READ MORE)

Weekend of Pakistan drone attacks leaves 35 dead - Pakistan's border area has seen frequent drone attacks Nineteen people died in three US drone strikes in north-west Pakistan on Sunday, a day after a similar raid killed 16 others, say local officials. (READ MORE)

Neighboring countries wary of thaw in Afghan-Pakistan relations - Recent moves by Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve their once-frosty relationship have prompted deep concern in other countries in the region and led some to consider strengthening ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's political rivals. (READ MORE)

Pakistan's Woes Compounded by Severe Water Crisis - Besides grappling with insurgents, suicide bombers and deep poverty, Pakistan is facing a severe crisis as a ballooning population and inefficient farming combine to reduce the availability of water. (READ MORE)

Pakistan denies Wikileaks reports it 'aided Taliban' - The White House says the records refer to a period before the current US strategy came into effect Pakistan has strongly denied claims in leaked US military records that its intelligence agency, the ISI, backed the Taliban in the war in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It - The Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan's secret service, originally helped to build up and deploy the Taliban after Afghanistan descended into a bitter and fratricidal civil war between the mujahedeen who had prevailed over the Soviets and forced their withdrawal. (READ MORE)

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Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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