July 29, 2010

From the Front: 07/29/2010

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

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: I Should Be Doing Homework - But I am just not motivated right now! I've been struggling with this week's discussion topic all day - once I realized "CRAP It's Wednesday, my homework is due tonight!" Ha. OOOPS! Some things will never change, namely my procrastination...So instead, I am here blogging about my fun last two days. Once again a complete turn-around from the last post, but I'm pretty sure you guys are used to my roller coaster emotions by now. Monday I took Miss Thang to a doctor's appointment. I had been pretty sick with a nasty cold-like thing in which my chest was rattling and what do ya know this weekend Miss Thang picked it up and as soon as her chest started rattling I knew it was time to get her in ASAP. Luckily the doc appointment worked perfectly with my schedule (how often does that happen?) and I took her in right after saying See ya to grammy and dropping her off at the airport. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: 2nd sailor's body found in Afghanistan - The backlash against Wikileaks continues as its founder Julian Assange defended his decision to publish documents containing identification of Afghans who had provided information to NATO forces, reportedly insisting that "any risk to informants' lives was outweighed by the overall importance of publishing the information". Afghan President Hamid Karzai called the disclosures "shocking" and "irresponsible". Tom Coghlan reports that one pro-government Afghan named in the documents, who had given an account of the Taliban in his area to U.S. forces in 2006, was killed by the militants in 2008 on suspicion of spying for the coalition. The three news organizations that received advance notice of the Wikileaks documents -- the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel -- chose to publish selected excerpts that had been redacted to remove names and other identifying information. (READ MORE)

Our Army Life: Deployment 2010: I Need You - As we agonizingly inch closer to the day we have to leave our friends and family for a distant, hostile war zone, I struggle with the wide range of emotions I experience from day to day, moment to moment. Monday morning I woke up for what I believed to be my last full week of work at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, planning to return home on Friday and then head to our sendoff on Sunday morning. As I ran around the house at the last minute, collecting my things, looking for my phone charger, trying to get out the door, I realized that Carolyn was already sitting in my truck in the driveway. Right away, I knew something was wrong. As I hopped in, and with tears in her eyes, she announced “So, where are we going?” It broke my heart. She knew she couldn’t come to Des Moines with me, but she was just trying to delay the inevitable. So, we sat in the car and talked. And cried. And held hands. Both of us doing our best to make the most of our last days together before I am gone for a full year. (READ MORE)

Madiha Sattar: Pakistan's non-reaction to Wikileaks - On the morning of July 26 I woke up at home in Karachi, nine hours ahead of eastern time, to an e-mail from an American friend who writes for The Atlantic's website. "How is WikiLeaks playing in Pakistan?" he wanted to know. The story had broken overnight, and I had no idea what he was talking about. In turn I picked up Dawn, The News, and The Express Tribune, the three Pakistani newspapers that are delivered to my house every day. Not one of them had anything to say on the issue. It was another matter entirely when I logged onto my computer and the New York Times website. For the next several hours I was transfixed, trying to digest both the firestorm in the international media and the pin-drop silence at home. The most likely explanation of this is that the story broke too late to make it into Pakistani newspapers on Monday morning. (READ MORE)

The Army Doctors Wife: C.W.A. - Hi, I'm Becca. Welcome to the first meeting of Crappy Wives Anonymous. Sometimes I just feel like I totally fail at being an Army wife. Maybe it's the medical community's lack of traditional functions, but I am definitely a fish out of water at the events I've gone to. It's not that I'm shy. I am outgoing and bubbly. It's not that I'm socially retarded. I have manners and know appropriate boundaries. It's not that I'm dumb. I'm pretty well-rounded. It's just that I have no idea what I should be doing, who is watching coupled with this overwhelming fear of saying or doing something that could possibly offend someone that could possibly end my husband's career. OrsomethingelseridiculousbutIcan'tstopworryingaboutnonetheless. So I go to events. I smile. But it's just not fun. Apparently I'm less approachable when I'm the bosses wife. Also, people don't seem to like to interact with their doctor when it's not in the confines of a medical office. (READ MORE)

Army Live: Live at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree - Right in front of our eyes, we have witnessed the barren 76,000-acre Army Post, Fort A.P. Hill, turn into the mass-populated, 8th largest, city in all of Virginia. With around 1,900 Department of Defense employees, comprised of active duty, reserve, guard and civilians; 37,000 scouts; 8,000 scout leaders and staff; and an expected 275,000 visitors, we are constantly surrounded by innumerable friendly faces and beaming smiles. No one is more appreciative and excited about our presence than the Boy Scouts of America. Joint Task Force-National Scout Jamboree team is made up of Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard members. Service members have come from far and wide across the United States, in an array of commands and career fields. Our mission here is to provide professional military support and help provide scouts and visitors with a safe and secure environment during the event. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: How Wikileaks Will Get Afghans Killed - On the day the Wikileaks documents were released to the public, I wrote that it was impossible to know what was being put out there for everyone (including the Taliban) to read, and that this had potentially deadly consequences. It's just too much raw information. We already know that much of the information is de-contextualized and outright false--understandable, given that these are frontline reports written in the fog of war. But it's perhaps worse than that. We are going to see more and more stories about the reckless divulging of Afghan names that has come as a consequence of the Wikileaks document dump. The question is: will we find out what happens to those Afghans in the following weeks and months? It is possible that they will be left unharmed. But it is probable that they and their families are in mortal danger. (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Honoring Gold Star Families - Since World War I, families of servicemembers have been hanging flags in their windows with stars on them to show their support. The flags contain a blue star for each family member currently serving in a conflict. If a family member dies as a result of a conflict, the blue star becomes a gold star and the family becomes a “Gold Star Family.” I remember my mother telling me about Gold Star families when I was a child. We were not at war at the time so she was telling me about when her mother had taught her about them during World War II. I remember my mother telling me that just as the flags on veterans’ graves are to be respected and honored, if you ever see a Gold Star in a window, know that family has been asked by our nation to make the greatest sacrifice. When the World War II Memorial was built on the National Mall, a Freedom Wall with 4,000 gold stars was built to represent the more than 400,000 Americans who died during that war. (READ MORE)

Omar at Iraq The Model: False alarm - Yes. That's what the post from July 8 was. It was very disappointing because Maliki did in fact make such statement and it was reported the next day by numerous local and Arab sources. It was probably a statement that he made without enough thinking or without the approval of other powerful members of his coalition. Anyway, it's been 20 weeks since the election and there's still no sign of a solution. The prospects of proposals and potential solutions fluctuated so much that it's even tougher to predict what's going to happen than it was last time in '05-'06. For some reason a number of politicians are expecting the UN Security Council to intervene decisively and even take over government formation process after a meeting scheduled for August 4. I don't know where or why they got this impression! (READ MORE)

Jalalabad Fab Lab blog: Saracha Bridge, flooded again - The Saracha Bridge is flooded again. This picture is from 27 July 2010. The water is pouring over the new bridge. The railroad looking bridge in the background is the “temporary”bridge the US Army built after the bridge washed away the first time in August 2009. The “permanent” replacement was designed and built by Afghans. I drove over it the first time this summer. It’s baffling because it is basically built on the (dry) river bed along the same path through the river that the trucks and cars used when the bridge washed away. I have photos from June 2010, before any real rain had fallen. I wondered then how long this bridge would stand… and I haven’t even gotten around to posting that update. Note the waterfall in the distance. Yeah, that’s the road/bridge. Traffic is going across the Army bridge. This is a placeholder post. I’ll add the photos of the bridge(s) from last month, and more pictures after the rain stops falling. (READ MORE)

Kit Up!: Slam Cam: Body Armor Save (Redux) - As usual, the readers of Kit Up! provide awesome insight and added value to one of our posts. On yesterday’s piece about the WikiLeaks citation of a guy getting wacked by a sniper in the chest and the round not penetrating, we got a couple great first-person comments and a link to a really well done History Channel package on that medic who got shot and got back up and treated the Iraq sh&t bag who tried to kill him. Willie writes how he was sold on the heavy, hot body armor (which at the time he was writing about, was still a pretty Gucci item)… I was in Iraq in 2003 with the 173rd Airborne. We all complained about body armor and heat till we saw a squad mate’s SAPI plate stop two consecutive rounds of 7.62×39 at a range of about 4m. And JAV knows what they mean when they say “multi-hit protection”… While I was in Iraq in 2008, a guy from my unit was hit from close range by four 5.56 rounds fired by an Iraqi soldier who went for the AQ bonus money. 3 hit the plate in the back of his vest and did not penetrate. (READ MORE)

Thomas Joscelyn & Bill Roggio: Mullah Omar orders Taliban to attack civilians, Afghan women - The battle for hearts and minds in Afghanistan has taken a new turn in the past two months. The Taliban’s supreme leader, Mullah Omar, has ordered his forces to kill or capture any civilians, including Afghan women, who cooperate with Coalition forces. Omar’s latest directive contradicts his marching orders from just one year ago, when he told his Taliban commanders to refrain from harming civilians working with the Coalition. Omar reportedly issued his latest order in June. NATO announced that it had recovered a copy of the directive in July. Since then, Afghan press outlets have published a translation of Omar’s five-point order. The Long War Journal has received a translation of Omar’s order, as it appeared in the Afghan press, from US intelligence sources. Senior US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal say the order is most likely genuine. (READ MORE)

Red Bull Rising: The Waiting Games - It's hard enough for soldiers to understand the old "hurry up and wait." From Basic Training on, soldiers develop a tolerance for administrative bull-pucky and standing in lines and generally not knowing what's going on. Friends and family, however, grow impatient with a lack of easy and quick answers. Hurry up and wait doesn't translate very well to the civilian world. Here's a little perspective: As late as this week--in some cases, after months or years of preparation--I have friends who still don't know whether or not they're going to deploy. Some of them do know they're going to deploy, they just don't know what day they're supposed to get on the bus. It goes the other way, too: A couple of our soldiers were recently pulled off the deployment list, casualties of last-minute paperwork requirements and medical checks. One of them even found out that, instead of fighting the Taliban for the next year, he's going to be fighting cancer. (READ MORE)

New Girl on Post: Halfway Through - My title refers to the fact we've already been in Italy for a little over a year and a half and if we truly PCS when we are supposed to, then we are already halfway through our time here. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. I love living in Europe most of the time. I love being able to see so many things that I always dreamed about seeing and read about in books. I love expanding my list of countries I've been to. I love the food and the wine. I do not love not speaking the language fluently (which I realize is my own fault, but I'm still working on it) I don't like only having AFN, the crazy Italian drivers, no good Mexican food and no closets. If Sean stays in the Army, we both agreed we wouldn't mind another overseas tour. We'd both love to be staioned in Japan or even in Europe again. I think we'd both like Germany next time instead of Italy. (READ MORE)

SemperFi Wife: I Think the Marine Corps is Trying to Gaslight Me. - I really do believe that the Marine Corps is trying to drive me crazy. I do. And I have to admit that it's not a long trip. Still...It always seems to be feast or famine with the Corps. They are either deployed/traveling all the time or right, directly, no avoiding it...under your feet. And that is my situation right now. Let me start by noting that I do have perspective on this. So many of you are getting ready to deal with or already dealing with deployments. I put up a link to thison Facebook and if that does not smack me back into the reality of how good I have it, nothing will. It does. As God is my witness, it does. Still. The Dark Prince is on week 8 of "living the dream". That means sleeping until whenever, getting up to feed, scratching a few unmentionable body parts, going back upstairs until the next time to feed, monosyllabic conversations with me, and then staying up until all hours playing "Left for Dead" on X-box. (READ MORE)

MaintToad1: Was it something I said? - It's summer office picnic time and rightfully so, our mil members need some time to look around them, prop their feet up, pitch some 'shoes and eat burned-beyond-recognition hot dogs with their friends. Hey, I love them too. I get to meet all the folks that are in The Boss' office. Those that she works with day in and day out and meet as well their spouses, mostly wives. I just love these adventures ...The joy is sitting down and listening "to the men talk" while us girls do our thing on the perimeter of the discussions. My joy is playing the Spy-vs-Spy gig and actually telling the wives WHAT they're actually saying! It's amazing what doesn't make it through translation when "honey comes home -- he never told me THAT!" Did I already mention how I love these adventures? But I have noticed something over the years ... and for an INTJ like me, sometimes it makes you stop and just say "Hmmm." (READ MORE)

Lauryn Oates: Hollow Commitments. Female Genital Mutilation - There is a stark contrast between the views of western observers who feel themselves gagged and bound by the need to respect cultural tradition and the views of victims, who want justice and accountability. Take just two statements from The Guardian as an example: "We know it happens here although we have no official statistics, but we have seen very successful partnerships and we don't want to alienate communities through heavy-handed tactics." - a detective responsible for investigating cases of female genital mutilation (or FGM) in London. "Culture should not be about torture." - a Somalian victim of FGM now unable to have children, when at age 12, doctors discovered "several years of period blood that had been blocked from leaving her body" By being 'soft-handed' when facing something as inhuman and terrible as forcefully cutting off part of a little girl's vagina... (READ MORE)

Grim: Treason - I understand that Wikileaks probably thinks it is doing the right thing, and that they have an internal ethic that says they are on the side of the angels. We can sort that out in the traditional manner, and may God defend the right. Yet there is someone else whom we need to attend to, and that is the person who passed them this information. A "leak" requires a leaker; and it requires, in this case, a leaker with a SECRET clearance. Many of these things may be -- one might argue, in some quest for ultimate fairness -- of small matter, but not the documents that named those who have worked with us in assembling our intelligence picture in Afghanistan. I hope this will prove to have been done by a civilian, who may merely be without honor. It is far worse if he is a servicemember, and bound by the oaths of honor. Whoever leaked these documents has largely sentenced those men to death, which betrays the duty of a soldier to take risks unto himself in order to protect the civilian population. (READ MORE)

News from the Home Front:
Frisco soldier who lost home to foreclosure while in Iraq gets it back - The Frisco soldier and his family who lost their home to foreclosure while he was serving in Iraq will get the house back. (READ MORE)

Fallen Soldiers' Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit - The package arrived at Cindy Lohman’s home in Great Mills, Maryland, just two weeks after she learned that her son, Ryan, a 24-year-old Army sergeant, had been killed by a bomb in Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

A Fallen Hero: How an Insurance Company Profited - In nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, 5,620 Americans have died. Survivors of these fallen heroes are entitled to a life-insurance payment and the government uses a private company to handle it. (READ MORE)

DOJ Accused of Stalling on MOVE Act for Voters in Military - The Department of Justice is ignoring a new law aimed at protecting the right of American soldiers to vote, according to two former DOJ attorneys who say states are being encouraged to use waivers to bypass the new federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. (READ MORE)

House lawmakers, citing corruption, may block $4 billion in aid to Afghanistan - House lawmakers voiced deep doubts on Wednesday about the Obama administration's efforts to fight corruption in Afghanistan, and warned that they may block $4 billion in U.S. aid unless they are convinced it will not be stolen or wasted. (READ MORE)

Pentagon focusing on 'main suspect' in Afghanistan leak - The Pentagon is focusing on jailed Army Pfc. Bradley Manning as the main suspect in the leak of tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents related to the war in Afghanistan, a senior Pentagon official told CNN Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Analysts Debate Impact of Afghan War Leak on US-Pak Relations - Following the leak of tens of thousands of documents on the war in Afghanistan, analysts in the region are debating whether the U.S.-Pakistani relationship will suffer a setback. (READ MORE)

U.S. Military Scrutinizes Leaks for Risks to Afghans - The Pentagon is reviewing tens of thousands of classified battlefield reports made public this week about the war in Afghanistan to determine whether Afghan informants were identified and could be at risk of reprisals, American officials said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Informants Who Aided U.S. Named in Classified Reports - Some of the tens of thousands of Pentagon documents released this week by WikiLeaks contain identifying information about Afghan informants who aided U.S. and NATO forces, potentially jeopardizing their future cooperation or even putting them at risk of reprisal. (READ MORE)

Public Health a Top Priority of Joint Task Force at Jamboree - Anyone who has ever hiked through the trails of Fort A.P. Hill, Va., may have come across the ominous “Warning: Tick Habitat” signs posted throughout the woods. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Al-Qaida-Linked Group Claims TV Bombing in Baghdad - An al-Qaida-linked group claimed responsibility Thursday for a bombing earlier this week targeting the Baghdad offices of a pan-Arab television station, describing the deadly attack that killed six people as a victory against a ''corrupt channel.'' (READ MORE)

Minibus bomb hits Iraqi base, killing 4 soldiers - Iraqi police say a suicide attacker has driven a bomb-laden minibus into the entrance of an Iraqi army base near Saddam Hussein's hometown, setting off an explosion that killed four soldiers and wounded 10 others. (READ MORE)

Worried About Bombs? Work And Live At Baghdad Airport - Worried about bombs and suicide attacks? Iraq has the solution for businessmen who want to invest but fear venturing into Baghdad's dangerous streets -- work and live in a mini-city right next to the airport. (READ MORE)

2nd US sailor's body recovered in Afghanistan - A second U.S. Navy sailor who went missing in a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan was found dead and his body recovered, a senior U.S. military official and Afghan officials said Thursday. (READ MORE)

Reference to missile-downed helicopter in leaked Afghanistan reports highlights a threat - Wherever there are Western troops in Afghanistan, the clatter-thump of helicopter rotors serves as the soundtrack. Choppers are the workhorses of this war, with hundreds of them moving soldiers and supplies daily across a rugged landscape. (READ MORE)

Men in burqas hide in east Afghanistan - Male insurgents are hiding among villagers in eastern Afghanistan dressed in burqas in an attempt to avoid detection, the US regional military commander said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

1 Soldier or 20 Schools? - A recent report from the Congressional Research Service finds that the war on terror, including Afghanistan and Iraq, has been, by far, the costliest war in American history aside from World War II. (READ MORE)

Cameron remarks on Pak promoting 'export of terror' sparks off diplomatic row - British Prime Minister David Cameron's remarks that Pakistan is promoting the 'export of terror' in Afghanistan and around the world, has resulted in a diplomatic row between London and Islamabad. (READ MORE)

Dutch pull out of Afghanistan at weekend - THE Dutch troop deployment in Afghanistan, often held up as a model for other peace missions, ends after four years on Sunday amid concerns about the void it will leave. (READ MORE)

Albania sends first combat contingent to Afghanistan - Albania has sent its first combat contingent of 44 troops to Afghanistan, a top Albanian army general said on Wednesday, saying the country will send more in the future. (READ MORE)

25 die when bus hits roadside bomb in Afghanistan - A bus hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 25 people aboard, and NATO announced that another U.S. service member died in a rising monthly death toll. (READ MORE)

Tonga to assist in Afghan campaign - Tonga will deploy 275 soldiers to Afghanistan over the next two years at the request of the UK Government. (READ MORE)

Envoy Says Corruption Helps Taliban Win Recruits - Rampant corruption in Afghanistan provides the Taliban with their No. 1 recruiting tool, the Obama administration’s special representative to the region, Richard C. Holbrooke, said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Taliban blamed for roadside bomb which killed 25 Afghan civilians on bus - A crowded bus hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing 25 passengers, in the latest example of Afghan civilians bearing the brunt of the country's war. (READ MORE)

UN for civilian protection after latest incident - The United Nations has underscored the need for all parties to the conflict in Afghanistan to ensure the protection of civilians, following reports of a large number of civilian deaths and injuries during a recent incident in the southern province of Helmand. (READ MORE)

In Herat, most poll runners are young & educated - A number of young candidates are running for the September 18 parliamentary vote in western Herat province, giving a special colour to the ongoing election campaign. (READ MORE)

Gunmen set free abducted candidate - Gunmen freed abducted candidate in the parliamentary elections from western Herat province, and seized an engineer and his driver yesterday, an official said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

Bacha Khan escapes bomb attack, guards injured - A roadside bomb wounded two bodyguards of a well-known tribal elder and former of Afghan parliament, Bacha Khan Zadaran, last night in Paktia province, his son said Wednesday. (READ MORE)

In spite of war log leak, US will need to depend on Pak in Afghanistan - The massive disclosure of war-related documents this week by Wikileaks may have raised a number of questions, even as the Obama administration plays down its impact, but the fact remains that the Taliban continues to operate effectively from bases inside Pakistan, and therefore, Islamabad's will continue to be depended upon to deliver on the war on terror. (READ MORE)

Flash floods leave over 20 dead - Flash floods killed over 20 people and destroyed dozens of houses in different parts of Afghanistan on 26-27 July, according to the Afghanistan National Disasters Management Authority (ANDMA). (READ MORE)

Afghan Soldiers Rescue Villagers From Flash Flood - Afghan National Army Soldiers rescued over 200 people from flash flooding here July 28. The Nangarhar Operational Coordination Center (Provincial) received reports that torrential rains had caused flash flooding in several villages, stranding hundreds of people. (READ MORE)

Release of secret docs endangers Afghans - Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the release of secret documents have endangered the lives of Afghan citizens who have cooperated with the international forces. (READ MORE)

Insurgents Kill 6 More Civilians, Wound 3 More in IED Strikes - Insurgents killed six more Afghan civilians and wounded three more in improvised explosive device attacks in southern Afghanistan yesterday. (READ MORE)

Taliban talks shoot allies in the foot - Amid the controversy stemming from the WikiLeaks fiasco, it is critical that civilian and military decision-makers remain focused on developing sound strategies rather than being caught up in conspiracy and recrimination. (READ MORE)

Afghan President Asks Why Allies Won't Act on Pakistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai questioned on Thursday the willingness of his Western allies to strike insurgent bases in Pakistan given the strong evidence of Islamabad's support for the Taliban. (READ MORE)

India reminds Britain about ISI's Afghan role, air Taliban concerns - India Wednesday conveyed its concerns over Pakistani spy agency ISI's role in Afghanistan and the proposed reintegration of the Taliban when the foreign ministers of India and Britain met here, a day ahead of the talks between their prime ministers. (READ MORE)

Why David Cameron's words disappoint Pakistan - These remarks are completely contrary to the realities on the ground, and are intended to embroil Pakistan in issues for which it cannot alone be held responsible. (READ MORE)

David Cameron defends 'frank' comments about Pakistan - UK Prime Minister David Cameron has defended his comments about Pakistan's record on tackling terrorism as he continued his trip to India. (READ MORE)

Indian Kashmir orders probe into protest deaths - The state government in Indian Kashmir said Wednesday it had ordered a judicial probe into the deaths of 17 people in clashes between anti-India protesters and security forces. (READ MORE)

Kashmir inquiry to investigate civilian deaths - There was a wave of protests across Indian-administered Kashmir last month The government of Indian-administered Kashmir has set up a commission of inquiry into the killings of civilians during recent anti-India protests. (READ MORE)

British PM warns Pakistan about 'promoting terror' - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday warned Pakistan against promoting the export of terror, saying the international community will not tolerate it. (READ MORE)

Cross posted at Castle Argghhh!

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