November 12, 2010

From the Front: 11/12/2010

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


Brian Liebman: Soldier Suicides: Are They Really Combat Related? Part 2 - In the 1st part I talked about the influences being instilled in our children in school. The suppression of competition, the elimination of standards of right and wrong, and killing the idea of winners and losers. I attempted to explain how I thought these influences were creating an unreal reality that was harming young people when they actually had to enter the real world. In this part I want to touch on how sports and social activities are also contributing to creating this alternate reality that isn’t true to human nature. Games are one of the first things that children are taught. Every parent knows the game of “Peekaboo”, or I’ve got your nose. They promote the learning experience by motivating the child to interact and respond. Now on the other hand the games that are promoted are more geared to self esteem, reduced aggressiveness to win, and again suppression of competition. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: Taliban Prisoner and Flag Captured by Police in Groundbreaking Joint Operation - Operation ZMARAY SARAK 5, a joint effort by the Afghan National Police, Afghan Border Police and troops from the National Directorate of Security, has begun clearing a large area to the east of provincial capital Lashkar Gah of Taliban aggression, with a key local member detained and their symbolic white flag confiscated. The assault – completed in just a few hours – also saw the capture of three drug runners, 250 kilogrammes of heroin and a stash of weaponry, as well as important engagement and relationship-building with local residents. Operation ZMARAY SARAK 5 (“Lion Road 5” in English) was conceived, planned and executed by the Afghan National Police under the leadership of Colonel Kamalludin Sherzai, the district chief of police for Lashkar Gah. Support was provided by the Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, led by commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Dougie Graham, and the two commanders worked together closely throughout. (READ MORE)

Home from Iraq: Iraq Bike Stolen on Veterans Day - Today I went to lunch with a friend in Center City Philadelphia. I rode my bike to lunch. Chained it to a u-shaped metal pipe for locking bikes and went to lunch. When I came out from lunch the bike, my helmet and the lock were gone. Which bike? The one I bought for Iraq and rode for almost my whole tour--a red Trek T-1 single speed. If you ride in Philly, bike theft is going to happen. I'll miss that particular bike like an old friend because I rode it in Oklahoma for the train up and for almost the whole deployment--I broke the crank with a month to go on my tour, but Bike Line of Lancaster fixed it when I got back. I don't suppose I'll ever see it again, and I do have other bikes. But I really liked that bike and will always remember the looks I got from turret gunners in MRAPS and Humvees when the say me riding with my rifle on my back. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: U.S., Iran Agree on Iraq - The Middle East has always been a strange place of odd decisions and mysterious happenings. Present day Iraq fits right into that picture. Iraq's current situation brings the U.S., aka the "Great Satan," with the terror-supporting, troublemaker Iran. The two countries, who hate each other, are in the same place on Iraq. The good news first: the parliament met, chose a prime minister, a president, a speaker and two deputies. The bad news is that Ayad Allawi and some followers walked out of the session. And the ugly is if this doesn't work, Iraq really will slide into civil war. Calling the good news a milestone, President Obama said the new government is "inclusive" and "reflects the will of the Iraqi people." Iran said it was "Under God's will that the Iraqi people showed wisdom and vigilance." The new setup definitely groups some of the most disagreeable politicians around. Few in the leadership like each other. For instance the Mosul-based speaker of the parliament is hated by the Kurds for his Arab nationalist position. (READ MORE)

Letters to You: Veterans Day - This was probably the most powerful one I have ever had. The speech turned out amazing and I couldn't be happier. I was so nervous that I was going to screw it up and I felt like it was my one shot. I got such an overwhelming response though and it was amazing. After giving my speech I returned to my seat and sat down. As I turned around I noticed every single person in that auditorium stood up and clapped. In that moment, I knew I did it. You were there and it was perfect. As I sat in my chair, tears in my eyes watching all of these people my heart swelled with that pride again. I am so incredibly proud of you. At the same time, I'm left completely heartbroken and it was another day without you. A state senator was set to speak after me. He walked over to my chair on stage, grabbed my hand, and told me how much of a brave and amazing young woman I was and he didn't know how he was going to follow that. In that moment, I finally felt like people truly understand. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Karachi police attacked - Yesterday evening, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed credit for a coordinated gun, grenade, and truck bomb attack on the headquarters of Karachi's counterterrorism police, which earlier this week had arrested six members of the Sunni sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is believed to have links to the TTP and al-Qaeda, and a TTP militant from Bajaur. The blast, which police officials say used 1,100 pounds of explosives, left as many as 20 dead and more than 180 injured, and created a crater some 40 feet across and 10 to 15 feet deep. Pakistan's Dawn notes that the area where the blast occurred, within walking distance of the provincial chief minister's house, two five-star hotels, and the U.S. consulate, is "supposed to be a most secure area of the city". TTP spokesman Azam Tariq said the attack was in retaliation for, variously, drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, the arrests and alleged torture of TTP fighters by intelligence agencies, and anti-militant military operations. (READ MORE)

To Afghanistan and Back: Adventures in Nahri-e-Shahri - Last week the Recon Company of the Battalion of ANA soldiers that we mentor was tasked to pull security and have a presence in the Nahri-e-Shahri distict, during the Afghan Regional Development Conference. I am not really sure what was discussed or happened during the conference meetings, just that Nahri-e-Shahri district is just north of Mazar-e-Sharif and we went to the field to help support a company of our soldiers. Because of force protection requirements whenever we (the US Army) go outside the wire of our base we have to go with a minimum of three trucks. Which translates to a minimum of at least nine soldiers; each vehicle will have a driver, truck commander (TC), and a gunner. Additionally we will also have at least one interpreter, often two; as well as other US soldier from our team to fill up available seats in our trucks. The Recon company is mentored by our Croatian partners, so they also brought three fully staffed trucks. (READ MORE)

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