October 26, 2010

From the Front: 10/26/2010

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

Sally Armstrong: To the Women of Afghanistan - Now is the hour to claim your rights. Negotiations are under way in earnest; the Taliban are at the table, so are the warlords and bandits, tribal elders and the president. There’s not a woman in sight. Yet everyone knows you are the ones who can yank Afghanistan into the 21st century. Even ├╝ber-economists like Jeffrey Sachs of millennium-goals fame are saying there is a direct correlation between the status of women and the economy — where one is flourishing, so is the other, where one is in the ditch so is the other. Every indicator says it’s the women who can lead Afghanistan away from the abyss. So go ahead and claim your space. Send in the women members of Parliament, the leaders of nongovernmental organizations like the Afghan Women’s Network. Call on the commissioners at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. Round up the rural women and the women journalists and the students to stand with you and alter the status of women. (READ MORE)

John Ivison: Harper should rethink ending Afghan mission - Stephen Harper may get an uncomfortable reception from other world leaders at the NATO summit in Lisbon next month, unless he arrives armed with the news that the alliance wants to hear – namely that Canada will commit to supplying 450 military trainers to school Afghan forces in Kabul after our combat mission ends next year. Diplomatic sources say the Americans and the British in particular have been increasing the pressure on the Prime Minister to fill the shortfall of trainers needed to ease the transition from NATO troops to Afghan forces in 2014. They are likely to be disappointed, unless the Prime Minister has a major change of heart. When Brig.-General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Land Staff, was asked at a Senate Defence committee Monday whether Canada would offer training capacity after 2011, he was blunt. “No, sir. Nothing.” “We can and will do anything the government asks us to do but at the moment we’ve been told to withdraw. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: bomb kills four Afghan cops - A remote-controlled roadside bomb killed four Afghan police, including a district police chief, earlier today in the western province of Herat. In northern Takhar, a Dutch aid worker and his driver were kidnapped, and coalition forces reportedly killed a leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The Washington Post has previously undisclosed audio files of members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, who are charged with murdering three Afghan civilians in Kandahar earlier this year, discussing one of the alleged attacks with villagers. Army investigators allege that the platoon members randomly shot a local cleric, and the platoon leader insisted in the recordings, made by an embedded photojournalist, that the mullah had attacked them with a Russian hand grenade. (READ MORE)

And You Never Did Think: Stereotypes & Generalizations - I’m from California, but I don’t know how to surf or skateboard. I went to Stanford, but I’m not ugly.* I’m Catholic, but I’m in favor of gay marriage. I’m female, but I’m pro-life. I’m a Republican, but I was vegan for a year. See how much you would be off if you started assuming things about me? Some stereotypes really annoy me. Ok, most stereotypes annoy me. One of the ones that annoys me the most, however, is the idea that being an enlisted Soldier/ Sailor/ Marine/ Airman makes you somehow less worthy than an officer. Another is that being the spouse of an enlisted person somehow makes you less intelligent/ mature/ worthy than an officer’s wife. I’ve read a couple things over the past few days that seem to be promoting this idea and it annoys me. When I first started dating Chris, the husband of a friend commented on the fact that Chris was “just” enlisted and not an officer. Well, guess what? I didn’t check to make sure he had bars when I met him. (READ MORE)

Battle Rattle: Saying goodbye to Cpl. Jorge Villarreal, in pictures - Last week, Getty News Service published a series of photographs of a foot patrol near the Kajaki Dam, a landmark in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, that provides hydroelectric power. Third Battalion, 12th Marines, an artillery unit out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been assigned the area for several months, protecting a potential Taliban target. This series of photographs was uncommon, though, because it includes scenes from the last foot patrol one Marine ever participated in. Cpl. Jorge Villarreal, a motor vehicle operator, died after stepping on an improvised explosive device, becoming one of the 19 casualties sustained by a Marine unit in Afghanistan this month. The powerful photograph above depicts the immediate reaction on the battlefield by Villarreal’s buddies. It was published on the front page of the Los Angeles Times last week, and has been distributed on dozens of Web sites, including some based outside the U.S. (READ MORE)

David Bellavia: Politics Over Patriots - [W]hile the presidential entourage will be relaxing in luxury and insisting that the Indians provide him a teleprompter for his parliamentary address, our fighting men and women will be carrying out their duty at his behest in the frigid mountains of Afghanistan and holding off any Iraqi insurgents, no doubt encouraged by the latest leaks. One would think such an unthankful job like this would at least entitle these brave souls to a vote. But the Democrats obviously believe in politics over patriotism. Many military votes are in jeopardy of not being counted, especially in the liberal bastions of New York and Illinois. This problem was supposed to be fixed by the “Move Act” passed by Congress last October, but repeated requests for votes to be sent in a timely fashion have fallen on deaf ears. To date the Justice Department has only promised, nothing written, nothing enforceable, to make certain the military’s votes will be counted. (READ MORE)

FaST Surgeon (in Aghanistan): 26 OCT 2010 - Homeward Bound - Approximately 13 hours ago, photos of "Main Body One" arriving home were posted on the 173d Facebook page. 10th Mountain has taken over the area of operations. The photo above is of the dynamic duo of CPTs J & L (CPT J in the foreground -- staying in theater for a bit longer). CPT L is the physical therapist of Charlie Med, providing indispensable care to the multitude of soldiers with a smorgasbord of musculoskeletal complaints. The care that these two officers provided couldn't be topped anywhere. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Aziz News Met With Yawn - Today Tareq Aziz, Sadoun Shaker, and Abed Hmoud have been sentenced to death for crimes during the Baathist rule of Saddam Hussein. But that bit of news has not grabbed the attention of Iraqis away from any news of the new government, almost a year overdue. This report [Arabic] says Nouri Al Maliki has won Kurdish support for his second term as prime minister. It might be true, but there are other reports that say Ayad Allawi is meeting with Kurdish leaders in Irbil these days. Maybe the Kurds will decide once they have talked with both Maliki and Allawi. Meanwhile, Moktada Al Sadr told UN Chief special envoy to Iraq Ad Melkert that "he is willing to discuss the international organization proposals to accelerate the government formation and help near views among the different political parties." No word on whether the UN envoy took Mookie's offer seriously. Iraqi officials are now saying they fear AQI more than ever. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: Battle Buddies - Today, I received a cd of photos from a recent Spouses Field Exercise (a chance to visit the field during our husbands 3 month time out there this Summer) that I attended this Summer. As I browsed thru them, it reminded me of a conversation that I had with one of the younger soldiers wives. She had no interest in coming, since she knew nobody and thought it would be boring. I had known that there were a select few that stayed home, didn't make lots of time to go out and explore or attend FRG or battery events. When talking to their husbands, they were miserable, lonely and hadn't met anyone yet. I made it my goal to try and help them on their path to bettering their experience. I was THRILLED to see that as the day went on, I sat back quietly after introductions and watched battle buddies blossom. By then end of the day, there were multiple phone #s exchanged, laughs shared, lunch buddies and even an event set up for a later date. (READ MORE)

Loving A Soldier Blog: His Last Request... - Well it is that time of season, deployment. The deployment date has come and gone this past week and I am glad to say I haven’t totally flipped out. You know, I can not decide if it’s because of denial, awesome preparation, and just the simple fact I trust God with my husband…and one friend mentioned to me today ~ it’s probably all of it combined! What a combination I dare say! Yet, the only thing that is bothering me more than anything is what my husband requested of me while he was to be away… of course, aside from the very important matters like, keep the kids alive, the house standing, and the cars in one piece, was the matter of his plants. UGH! Did he have to go there? My husband has the most green thumb of anyone I know aside from God. LOL!!! He can take my dead tree/plant (or whatever species it is) and turn it from brown to a glorious shade of green. The audacity of him to think I will keep his plants green much less alive for a year!! (READ MORE)

Andi: Milspouses: Homefront by the Numbers - I read a fascinating article titled Marines in Marjah: War by the Numbers. In the first two months of a seven-month tour, U.S. Marine Cpl. Chuck Martin has been in 16 firefights. He's done laundry twice, mailed five letters and received two. He's spent 378 hours on post and 256 hours on patrol. He's crossed 140 miles (230 kilometers) of thorny bomb-laced farmland and waist-high trenches of water on foot. Along the way, he's ripped eight pairs of pants, ruined two pairs of boots, and downed 1,350 half-liter bottles of water. His platoon has killed at least eight militants in battle and nine farm animals in crossfire. The rugged outposts he's lived in have been shot at 46 times. Interesting stuff. So, I started thinking about the homefront. Here's my homefront version of War by the Numbers: In the first two months of her husband's seven-month tour, Andi has spent 80 hours compiling detailed lists of things she plans to accomplish while her husband is away. (READ MORE)

The Life of the Wife: And we're live! - Hello all, I'm sure you've all been fretting about where in the heck I'd wandered off too. Well, we received orders on September 7 to report to our new duty station NLT September 30! We house hunted for 2 days in Germany and settled on this great little town home (with yard!!) in a small village outside the city where hubby works. Aside from constant (small) battles with the landlord, it's great. And we finally got our internet and phone set up today! I'm psyched. I get to spend the next few weeks catching up on 2 months of school work for an online class. AND prepping for a CF orientation I'm going to do with some other L1 trainers here. On the 15th, my parents flew in for a week. It was great to see them--it was the first family hubby has gotten to see since we PCSed to Europe last summer. We made a day trip to Bamberg to try the smoked beer (which I quite enjoyed) before heading off to Munich for some sightseeing for a few days. We hit all the big touristy stuff and had a great time. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan commander killed in Afghan north - Coalition and Afghan forces have killed a senior commander of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who doubled as Taliban shadow district governor in the northern province of Takhar. The combined force killed Qari Mahmad Umar and an associate in "a precision air strike" yesterday after tracking him to a remote region of the Bahawuddin district, according to the International Security Assistance Force. Umar served as the shadow governor of Bahawuddin district. "Umar was an improvised explosive device expert and trainer involved in facilitating supplies as well as constructing and emplacing IED's in northern Takhar and Kunduz provinces," ISAF stated. Umar is the second shadow district governor killed in Takhar this month. On Oct. 4, Maulawi Jawadullah, the district shadow governor for Yangi Qalah in Takhar, was killed in an airstrike. (READ MORE)

Wings Over Iraq: Julian Assange: Hardly Super-Empowered - Wikileaks' founder Julian Assange is on the run. The self-proclaimed journalist sleeps in a different room each night, often paying cash, and swaps out encrypted satellite phones every few days. He enjoyed a brief period of asylum in Sweden before being accused of rape and molestation--charges which are still in judicial limbo. Fleeing Stockholm for Berlin by plane, Assange found that a checked bag mysteriously disappeared. In it were three encrypted laptops. Few countries will harbor him, and his list of allies grows smaller by the day. Wikileaks has experienced massive defections over the past few months, with disgruntled volunteers citing Assange's despotic control over the organization, as well as his increasingly vain and irrational behavior. In response, Assange, in an encrypted internet discussion leaked to the New York Times, is reported to have referred to his colleagues as "a confederacy of fools". (READ MORE)

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