July 28, 2010

From the Front: 07/28/2010

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

Captain Jeremy Hahn:
Driving The Situation Forward in Afghanistan - When away from home, there are certain triggers that induce the longing to be in England in these summer months, and over the last few weeks these have been manifold; catching the sun-soaked snippets of Wimbledon, Not losing money backing French Raiders at Ascot, being sent photographs by friends. Apart from inducing the desire to be away from here, it also creates a fond reminiscence and a supplicant hopefulness that the days will soon pass ‘fore one’s return. It has started to get really quite hot recently, about fifty degrees centigrade. The result of which is that the pounds are starting to slip off like an ill-fitting negligee on a Parisian woman of negotiable virtue when her rent is late. We have had a busy couple of weeks in Kandahar city, both in terms of continuing to provide protection, security and freedom of movement for those members of the international community that need to move around the battle-space... (READ MORE)

Lori J. Danby: A Blue Star Mom Offers Tips for Deployments - My son, Brian C. Danby, decided to join the military after Sept. 11, 2001. My father is a Vietnam veteran who served 20 years in the Army. My husband’s father served in the Marines in Korea. Brian’s family history and the “sword” are the reasons he chose the Marines. Brian joined Sept. 12, 2005, and got out on Sept. 11, 2009 (and, yes, he planned those dates specifically). He made corporal and is still in an inactive status. When I learned of Brian’s first pending deployment to Iraq scheduled for January 2007, I was inspired to start our local chapter of Blue Star Moms, the Tri Counties Blue Star Moms. I knew there had to be other moms facing some of the same anxieties that I had. I searched the Internet looking for a support group. I came upon the Blue Star Mothers of America Inc. What impressed me most is that it is an organization for moms with children who are serving and or have served in all branches of the armed forces. (READ MORE)

Jamie McIntyre: WikiLeaks: Whistleblowers or Info-Terrorists? - I am wrestling with why I feel so unsettled about the massive, unprecedented data dump by the website WikiLeaks, which has posted some 91,000 formerly secret documents about the Afghanistan war. As a professional journalist I have been on the receiving end of hundreds of leaks, and they have been invaluable in helping me sort out unvarnished fact from official fiction, which after all is at the core of my job. As an amateur historian also I know that when it comes to understanding past events, documents are the key. Memories are unreliable, people have agendas, memoirs can be self-serving, but contemporaneous records can offer the clearest picture of what truly transpired. And despite some of the snarky dismissals of the admittedly awkward official explanations offered by everyone from Robert Gibbs to Robert Gates, I also know from experience that what they say it true. (READ MORE)

Kit Up!: WikiLeaks: ESAPIs Work - Found this interesting tidbit in the WikiLeaks docs that will be music to any deployer’s ear. Everyone in the zone worries, even when walking around the FOB or COP to the chow hall, that this kind of thing could happen. It’s good to know that these things work. TIMELINE: AT 041145JUNE08 A US SOLDIER TOWER GUARD FROM THE NY NATIONAL GUARD WAS SHOT IN THE CHEST AT CAMP CLARK; BULLET DID NOT GO THROUGH THE VEST; SM IS OK. FRIENDLY FOLLOW UP: CAMP CLARK SECURITY POSTURE IS CURRENTLY “BLACK” (FULL COMBAT GEAR) UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. It’s about as stark and matter of fact as you can get; and it doesn’t say anything about the caliber of the round, how far away the shot came from or whether it was AP. But the base at Camp Clark is just a few miles south and west of the big Army base at Salerno in Khost and is close to well supplied insurgent lines coming in from Pakistan just a few miles to the east. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: Family Day - For the last week or so, Daddy's Squadron has been out in the field doing training and they will be there for another week or so. Despite the fact that there is a lot of training to be done, they all took time out of their day to host "Family Day"! Soldier's families were invited out to the field for a day of fun! We all loaded into buses and headed out to the field where we were all warmly welcomed by our Solider! There were so many fun things to do like get your face painted (camo style) and call for fire on the radio! There were Bradley's and Humvee's on display for us to climb in and explore. Lunch was served while we were out there and there was even a cake in the shape of a Stetson (the cowboy style hat worn by Calvary Soldiers). The best part (other than seeing Daddy of course) was the Jr. Spur Ride! That's right, we got to earn our spurs just like our Soldier had to do!! There was a whole course set up for us: (READ MORE)

Married to the Military: Judgement (or: my thoughts on the great OPSEC drama of 2010) - Something was amiss in the blogaverse yesterday that I can't seem to stop thinking about. Many of you in the military community probably saw it too- the big controversy about OPSEC that everyone was up in arms over. It seems a young Marine's wife made several bold statements on a USMC support blog concerning the policy, venting that the restrictions put her in a position where she felt very isolated and unable to draw support from this vast online sisterhood we've established here in cyberspace. Then...things took a turn. Apparently she used some harsh language against the military and professed that she was unwilling to abide by OPSEC guidelines any longer- that it was her blog and she'd share what she wanted to regardless of any security risk to her husband or others. You can all guess how that turned out. Her post went viral and she was attacked with a vengeance. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: I'll admit it, I was wrong - Military service members are subjected to public service announcements about OPSEC, or Operational Security, almost non-stop through the military's television network, AFN. Frequently, the commercials are little more than updated "loose lips sink ships"-style rhetoric that are generally used to frighten those evil milbloggers into submission. I've always treated anecdotes about seemingly innocuous OPSEC violations with a degree of cynicism. One of the more persistent rumors involves the number of pizzas delivered to the Pentagon in August 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. As the story goes, reporters were tipped off to late-night military planning after witnessing dozens of pizzas delivered to the Pentagon in the wee hours of the morning. To me, it sounded like an urban legend, and I asked Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes' Rumor Doctor, to look into it. Much to my surprise, there's a degree of truth to it. According to the Rumor Doctor: (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: My War, WikiLeaked: Why the Public (and the Military) Can’t Count on Those Battle Logs - Echo company got into a gunfight last August 25th in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. You’ll learn that by reading the report found in WikiLeaks’ database. You’ll learn that, after a chase, the marines killed one insurgent. You’ll learn that the insurgents supposedly fled and that the troops – part of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines — decided to stay the night in the area in case the militants returned. What you won’t learn is that a marine sniper team sparked the shoot-out with a surprise assault on the insurgents; that every member of that team was nearly killed in the battle; that the incident would kick off a three-day siege in which the Taliban nearly had the Echo company squad surrounded; that this spot eventually became an Echo company base; or that, while this extended gun fight was going on, British and Afghan troops were nearby, waging a more gentle form of counterinsurgency as they sat cross-legged under shady patches of farmland and talked with village elders. (READ MORE)

Spencer Ackerman: Mattis Backs 2011 Drawdown Date, Kandahar Ops - Wait, wasn’t Marine General James Mattis supposed to be an impolitic and brash officer? That guy didn’t show up to a Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday afternoon to helm U.S. Central Command. Instead, the Mattis that fielded senatorial questions for two hours backed the Obama administration’s plan to begin a “conditions-based withdrawal” in July 2011; supported his pal General Petraeus in an imminent effort to get the Taliban out of Kandahar; and pledged an integrated civil-military and multilateral approach to the Middle East and South Asia. He sounded a lot more like the “warrior-scholar” his supporters portray. Support for July 2011 and its ambiguous meaning — a big troop reduction or a gradual one — turned Petraeus’ hearing to command the Afghanistan war last month into something of a political carnival. Not so for Mattis, who stuck to Petraeus’ script pretty closely. (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Murphy Rides Again - CBS News reports that Times of London reporters “scanning the [Wikileaks] reports for just a couple hours found hundreds of Afghan names mentioned as aiding the U.S.-led war effort.” One specific example cited by the paper is a report on an interview conducted by military officers of a potential Taliban defector. The militant is named, along with his father and the village in which they live. The news came as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange expressed fears he could be arrested. The Telegraph says he “has been warned by ‘inside sources in the White House’ not to return to the US as he could be arrested.” He’s had more warning than the individuals in Afghanistan who will more than likely be identified by al-Qaeda support cells in Western Europe or the Middle East who will pore through the Wikileaks documents. The names of the traitors to radical Islam will be duly transmitted to the avengers who will then go out severally into the night to on their missions of revenge. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
US Congress approves spending measure for Afghanistan - The US Congress Tuesday passed a $58.8-billion spending measure that includes $33 billion for the war and troop buildup in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Semrau to wait until September for sentencing in Afghanistan shooting - A military judge will pass sentence on Capt. Robert Semrau — and decide whether he will be allowed to continue to wear an army uniform — in September. (READ MORE)

Obama aims to limit damage from Afghan war leak - U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday played down the gravity of leaked Afghanistan war documents, while the Afghan government accused the United States of ignoring Pakistan's role in the Taliban insurgency. (READ MORE)

Leaked Documents May Be Opportunity for Intelligence Community - When I opened my news feed Monday morning and saw the reports of the tens of thousands of leaked military documents, my reaction was likely similar to those that played out the world over — shock, curiosity, contempt for the source. (READ MORE)

House Approves Measure to Pay for Combat Operations - The House on Tuesday approved and sent to President Obama an overdue measure to pay for combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, but Democrats splintered badly on the troop money in the aftermath of disclosures of classified information showing the war has not been going as well as portrayed. (READ MORE)

DOD Announces Navy Casualty and Identifies Sailor Listed as Whereabouts Unknown - The Department of Defense announced today the death of a sailor and the identity of another sailor listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN). The announcement resulted from a July 23 incident in Logar province, Afghanistan, while the sailors were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (READ MORE)

U.S. General Wants Afghan Militants Branded Terrorists - President Barack Obama's pick to lead the U.S. military command overseeing operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere said on Tuesday he wanted top leaders of two major insurgent groups designated as terrorists. (READ MORE)

House approves $37 billion war-funding bill - The House on Tuesday approved spending an additional $37 billion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, overcoming the opposition of some Democrats who have concluded that the Afghan conflict is unwinnable. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

‘Golden Lions’ Deliver Supplies, Build a Better Iraq - The Kirkuk Combined Security Forces also known as the “Golden Lions,” made up of Iraqi army, police, Peshmurga and “Battle Boar” soldiers of 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Stewart, Ga., along with the famous Kirkuk lion mascot “Kirkuki,” made a visit to a school in Chemen, near Kirkuk, Iraq, July 24. (READ MORE)

Bomb Kills Five In Baghdad, Helicopter Crashes - A bomb planted in the middle of a Baghdad road exploded on Wednesday, killing five Iraqis standing in a line to collect their pensions and wounding 12 others, a police source said. (READ MORE)

11 Killed in Iraq Helicopter Crash, Bombings - A sandstorm downed an Iraqi military helicopter Wednesday, killing its five-man crew, while midmorning Baghdad bombings claimed the lives of six people, officials said. (READ MORE)

Iraq Arms Inspector Blix Warned Of Weak War Evidence - Former U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix warned Washington and London in the weeks before the 2003 invasion of Iraq that he was growing less confident in evidence Iraq had banned weapons, he said Tuesday. (READ MORE)

U.S. Military Chief Presses Iraqis to End Deadlock, Citing Risks to Security Gains - As the top American military officer arrived here to press Iraq’s leaders for a resolution to their political impasse, the country’s new Parliament canceled an already postponed session on Tuesday and announced that it would not even try to meet again until further notice. (READ MORE)

Mullen Calls for Long-Term Partnership with Iraqi Military - The United States military is committed over the long-term to a positive, productive partnership with Iraqi security forces, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. (READ MORE)

No news is still bad news in leaks of Afghan reports - One of the most shocking things about the publication of a huge database of secret field reports from the U.S. military in Afghanistan is how few surprises it contains. (READ MORE)

NATO confirms death of U.S. sailor; 1 sailor still missing - One of two U.S. sailors missing in Afghanistan since last week -- a 30-year-old father of two -- has been confirmed dead and his body recovered, a NATO spokesman said. (READ MORE)

Afghan civilian deaths mystery deepens as Nato denies claims - AFGHAN government and Nato officials yesterday disputed each others' accounts of reports that more than 50 civilians were killed after being caught up in fighting between foreign forces and Taliban insurgents. (READ MORE)

Taliban torch NATO oil tanker - A passenger who reached Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar, today told Afghan Islamic Press when they reached Warihman Tangi area on Kabul-Jalalabad highway, they saw towering flames rising from the NATO oil tanker. (READ MORE)

NATO detains headmaster, teacher - NATO-led forces have detained a headmaster and a teacher during an operation in the southern province of Ghazni, officials said. (READ MORE)

Kandahar blast injures 5 - Five persons, including two national security officials, sustained injuries in an explosion in Kanahar City last night. (READ MORE)

Roadside Afghan bomb kills dozens of civilians - At least 25 civilians were killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb in western Afghanistan, the provincial governor said. (READ MORE)

Afghan bus hits roadside bomb, 25 dead - A roadside bomb ripped through a crowded Afghan bus on Wednesday, killing up to 25 civilians in a southwestern province on the Iranian border in one of the deadliest such attacks in months. (READ MORE)

ANSF Continues to Secure Barg-e Matal - Afghan National Security Forces with support from their coalition partners continued to secure Barg-e Matal on Tuesday. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan Needs Local Politics, not Local Militias - As Gen. David Petraeus takes over the U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan, he is right to continue a strategy of counterinsurgency and to strengthen it with a plan that seeks to give local Afghan communities the means to defend themselves. (READ MORE)

Ex ISI chief says Afghan war document leak originated from India - Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Gul has alleged that India is where the leak of classified U.S. military reports implicating Pakistani aid to the Taliban originated. (READ MORE)

Document leak part of U.S. plot, says Pakistani ex-general with ties to Taliban - From the deluge of leaked military documents published Sunday, a former Pakistani spy chief emerged as a chilling personification of his nation's alleged duplicity in the Afghan war -- an erstwhile U.S. ally turned Taliban tutor. (READ MORE)

WikiLeaks expose: Pakistan in damage control mode - The stunning WikiLeaks expose that showed the involvement of Pakistan's ISI in carrying out terror attacks against Indians in Afghanistan has received a mixed reaction here, with an analyst saying that the explosive documents present a 'dismal picture of the background war strategies that led to Afghanistan offensive'. (READ MORE)

Pakistan Media Say Reports on Leaked Documents Unfairly Malign Spy Agency - Almost all of the political and current affairs talk shows on Pakistani television news networks took a uniformly defensive stance on the release of military documents that suggested ties between Pakistan’s spy agency and Afghan insurgents. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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