October 6, 2010

From the Front: 10/06/2010

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

A Little Pink in a World of Camo: Food - Ah, food. My love/hate relationship with the stuff. As many of my friends know, I've been dieting. I am trying to get rid of this baby weight and be comfortable in my own skin, if even just a little bit, again. I decided to go ahead and try the nutrisystem plan. Cooking for one is one of the most depressing things ever and no matter how I plan it I end up cooking too much and inevitably eating too much or just wasting food. I also HATE the super market. So, I chose a method that means food comes to me in portions created for one. Now I just have to go grocery shopping for little miss and that's not so bad! So far, I've had pretty good luck with it and have been very satisfied. You do have to buy some foods; produce, proteins, and dairy, just a few things, but not as bad as trying to figure out one-person meals. I've seen results already (I've been on it for a few weeks) and the food is definitely pretty decent. There have been some that I didn't like but the ones I didn't like are much less than the ones I do. (READ MORE)

Bouhammer: Remembering Robbie Miller - The following blog post was written by a friend of mine (MT) who knew Medal of Honor Recipient Robbie Miller well. Tomorrow on October 6th, Robbie’s parents will be presented with his Medal of Honor by President Obama. In light of that fact, MT wanted to write this guest post highlighting how he remembers his friend. A man that the world will now know as a true hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for his brothers and his country. "When I first met Rob Miller he was just a young kid from Cocoa Beach FL who left home to join the Army and become a Green Beret. I first met him in the Q-Course during Robin Sage. We were not on the same team or anything but we had met in passing and that was enough to leave an impression. After Robin Sage we were assigned to Language School and we both wound up in the same French class. We spent the next four months together trying to learn French. I remember he was a lot better than I was and he seemed to pick it up really fast, something he always attributed that to his mother." (READ MORE)

FaST Surgeon (in Afghanistan): Picture Of The Day - 06 OCT 2010 "Whirlwind" - Whirlwind of activity... a flurry of movement..controlled chaos... When wounded arrive, there is a rapid acceleration of movement with a parallel increase of helpful people. What is surprising about the whole process is the lack of noise. The team knows what to do and when to do it. You step in, do your job, and step out. It is a coordinated activity by the team leader who manages the entire process. This patient was triaged, examined, resuscitated and in the operating room within minutes. He recovered very well. (READ MORE)

Free Range International: Meet a Couple of Hero’s - Hero is one of those terms which comes up often in reporting about the military. Not every service member is a hero nor is every hero we encounter in our lives associated with the military. I point this out because the label “hero” is at risk of becoming a meaningless cliche as we approach the first decade of what will be a very long war. But I have a couple of hero’s I’d like to introduce as an innovative way to talk about the fog of war as well as the price being paid by the people fighting this conflict on our behalf. Over a year ago my Dad sent me an email telling me one of my former students from the Infantry Officer Course was at the Tampa VA hospital recovering from a severe gunshot wound. LtCol Ty Edwards was the senior Embedded Training Team leader, mentoring the Afghan Army’s 2/2 Kandak. He and his command group were traveling with an American Army re-supply mission out of FOB Bostick in October 2008 up in the Nuristan Province. (READ MORE)

Home From Iraq: Go? Stay? Retire? - Lately I have been thinking a lot about whether I should stay in the Army National Guard. On one level, I did more than I set out to do. At first, I did not think I would go to Iraq. That turned out different than I planned. I would like to retire, but I have only a small chance of actually meeting the requirement for retirement. In fact, I have a very good chance of ending my Army career just as my father did--months short of a retirement. Dad served almost 19 years and was mustered out due to the Age in Grade act. It was passed in Congress and supported by then representative John F. Kennedy. Dad never voted for a Democrat and hated the Kennedys for that one. To the best of my knowledge, when I turn 60 years of old, the Army National Guard will end my service. At that point I will have 17 years of active, reserve and guard service. I can get a waiver from the Adjutant General of PA if he or she is willing. The waiver is good for one year. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Mookie's Role - The WSJ reports today that the U.S. Ambassador in Baghdad tells the Iraqis that the United States would not be able to maintain good relations if Moktada Al Sadr has a significant role. The paper also says, "Maliki said Mr. Sadr had a right to be in the next government, though he downplayed any significant role for the radical cleric." Well, if Mookie himself doesn't have a role but one of his thugs does, will that help the U.S. keep a strategic relationship with Iraq? The story says, "Mr. Sadr and members of his political movement say they are linked to a militia that the U.S. accuses, among other things, of being behind a recent Iran-backed surge of rocket attacks against American installations in Iraq—including the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad." Mookie's backing is not enough for Maliki to have a second term as prime minister. He still needs four more votes in parliament to secure the job. Maliki knows he needs the Kurds, and at least one story says [Arabic] he has them. (READ MORE)

Lauryn Oates: "The future will be even worse than the past." - This week, the now well-known ousted Afghan MP Malalai Joya will kick off her latest speaking tour of Canada. Joya's message is that Canada is part of a hostile occupying force in her country. As Joya and her antiwar sponsors disseminate that message, it will be important to seek out the views of other Afghan women, who live in Afghanistan and fight for reforms there. As the "troops out" organization, Code Pink, learned last year when it met with women leaders in Kabul, most have no interest in seeing NATO's departure any time soon. These women want peace and they know a premature exit by international forces will not lead to the end of violence, but will swiftly usher in more repression, particularly for women. Similarly, ordinary citizens generally do not support a withdrawal of foreign troops at present. In a 2010 ABC News poll, only four per cent of Afghans said they would prefer a Taliban government. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: nine dead in Kandahar blasts - For the second consecutive evening, a series of bombs shook Kandahar City last night, killing at least nine people including five Afghan children in five attacks that apparently targeted a police checkpoint. Three civilians were killed in a roadside bombing in Zabul province en route to a fruit market. In northern Afghanistan, coalition forces have captured the Taliban district commander who was said to be involved in the kidnapping of a New York Times journalist and his translator last fall, and in ongoing intimidation of the local population. In the western Afghan province of Faryab, coalition forces say they have killed a Taliban shadow governor in an overnight airstrike. And in the east over the last several weeks, the Pentagon claims NATO forces have killed more than 100 Haqqani network fighters in stepped up operations along the border. (READ MORE)

The Unknown Soldiers: Beyond baseball - When 21-year-old Pvt. Branden Haunert was killed by an improvised explosive device in Tikrit, Iraq on May 18, 2008, one of his Sycamore High School friends was on the fence about joining the military. As the solemn news reached Cincinnati a few days later, the answer to an important decision facing Spc. Scott Morrison became a little bit clearer. While mourning the loss of a former classmate, he decided to spend the next few years giving something back to his country. I learned about this connection through a story in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Carrie Whitaker's article also mentions Morrison's love for sports, which earned him a reputation as one of the most fanatical supporters of his high school's athletic programs. A 2008 WKRC-TV article said Haunert played third base for the Sycamore baseball team, meaning that Morrison was often in the stands cheering on a friend he once played alongside in youth leagues. (READ MORE)

Unambiguously Ambidextrous: What’s gone wrong in Afstan? - Good analysis by E.R. Campbell, at the second part of this comment of his at Milnet.ca: "Hindsight is 20/20, but THE ”critical juncture in the mission” probably occurred about four years ago when we, literally, had the Taliban on the ropes in Kandahar, where it really mattered, when Canadian and, indeed, Western public opinion was behind the mission, when hope existed … but in 2006/07 we, the Canadians, were almost alone in Kandahar; we were stretched too thin; NATO, including the USA, left us dangling in the wind – to, inevitably, suffer a resurgence of the Taliban and a loss of public and government support. The Americans came, eventually, but with too little, too late – too many words, too much hectoring, too little of the whatever we had in 2007 when we made a substantial, measurable, almost victorious difference. It’s not Col Bellon’s ‘fault,’ it’s not the US military’s ‘fault,’ it’s not even George W Bush’s ‘fault.’ The fault lies in us all:" (READ MORE)

Spencer Ackerman: Can Cellphones Bring Justice in Afghanistan? - Give the brutal Taliban its due. They’re brutal — but they run a more efficient justice system than the government. Afghanistan researcher Antonio Giustozzi recently found that the insurgents run an entire “separate judiciary,” outpacing the corrupt Karzai administration at resolving Afghans’ legal disputes. But a group of American lawyers thinks it’s possible to roll back the Taliban’s legal advances — all from Afghan cell phones. Those lawyers have launched something called the Internet Silk Road Initiative, an effort to use urban Afghans’ heavy cell phone usage to bolster the country’s shaky rule of law. The big idea: a conference call. But if a bland virtual-office tool doesn’t sound like it can turn around a deteriorating war, consider that much of Afghanistan is beyond the reach of any court, whether due to incompetence, corruption or sheer remoteness. That’s a vacuum insurgents exploit. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: US Predators kill 4 in al Qaeda safe haven in North Waziristan - US Predators struck again in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan, killing four "militants." Unmanned US Predator strike aircraft, or the more deadly Reapers, fired two missiles at a compound in Mir Ali, the second largest town in North Waziristan. Pakistani intelligence officials said that four "militants" were killed, according to The Nation. The strike is the second in Mir Ali in three days. On Oct. 4, Predators hit a mosque in the town, killing between five and eight German nationals belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Germans are thought to be of Turkish origin. Some reports indicated Arabs may have been killed in the Oct. 4 strike. The town of Mir Ali is a known stronghold of al Qaeda leader Abu Kasha al Iraqi, an Iraqi national who is also known as Abu Akash. He has close links to the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, the Islamic Jihad Group, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: Moving on... - Our family has spent 13 years in the military. We've been to four installations. I can say that each installation has had it's own unique challenges and it's own unique celebrations. We've had experiences (and yes, I do say WE) in FORSCOM and TRADOC sides of the Army. Recently we moved from the TRADOC side to the FORSCOM side. My husband had been an instructor for the Captain's Career Course here at Fort Sill, OK. We moved over to a "regular unit" on the FORSCOM side and he was given a new job. I found myself in an odd emotional place. First of all, who gets emotional about the Army? Ok, I'm guilty. It was a hard transition. Leaving the TRADOC side meant so many things had changed - two of our best friends (also instructors) had moved on to other installations. I had lost one of my "battle buddys" here at Fort Sill in this transition as oddly enough she chose to move with her husband (joking!). (READ MORE)

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