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July 31, 2010

Afghan National Border Police Improve Marksmen Skills

CAMP MIKE SPANN, Afghanistan -- The Afghan National Border Police recently took the opportunity to train with Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, on Camp Shaheen in Northern Afghanistan.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53751

1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs More Stories from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 02:52

By Airman 1st Class Robert Hicks

During the three-day marksmanship course the ANBP trained on breathing control, trigger squeeze, sight picture as well as moving under fire.

According to Capt. Adam Pray, an instructor and program coordinator, the ANBP arrived at the shooting range excited. “You could see in their faces they were going to have a blast at the range.”

“We put three instructors on the range – they were in charge of making corrections and ensuring everything was flowing properly,” he said. “If we couldn’t get the policemen grouped [three shots in close proximity] we sent them to an instructor where they received extra training on proper firing techniques. After the training they would come back to the range and fire again.”

“They came a long way,” Pray added. “When we first started out, maybe 20 percent of them could get a grouping together within a four centimeter range, and by the time we completed the training it was up around 70 percent if not 80.”

More than half of the ANBP were hitting their targets center mass Pray said.

After the ANBP adjusted their weapon sights and achieved the proper grouping on their targets, they went through two rounds of dry-fire movement under fire exercises.

The purpose of the dry fire is to ensure the proper techniques and procedures are being carried out before they get actual live ammunition.

While other members of the ANBP were waiting to fire, instructors from the 1st BSTB offered a knife defense and personal security detachment training course.

“We always do side training while actually doing the focus training,” Pray explained. “The knife defense is a good class for them to have since their police skilled, and we offered the PSD course especially for this group because they’re the PSD for Gen. Kahlil.”

“This is just another step in our partnering with the ANBP, it allows them to carry on their mission set at a higher level,” he added.

Loved ones, Marines mourn fallen 19-year-old

July 31, 2010 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A funeral was held Saturday for a Marine from the western suburbs. Lance Cpl. Frederik Vazquez was killed in Afghanistan last week.

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id;=7586110

News Video:
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=7586137

John Garcia
WLS-TV news

Vazquez's death comes during a month that has become the deadliest for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

'Freddie' Vazquez planned to return home from Afghanistan in about a week to celebrate his 20th birthday. Instead, his body was returned home, the latest casualty of the increasingly violent fighting in the Afghanistan war.

Family and friends remembered the 2008 West Leyden High School graduate at funeral services Saturday morning.

Once a Marine always a Marine, and a Marines support their own. Dozens of fellow Marines joined family members, friends and Governor Quinn at the funeral services held in Melrose Park.

A somber group of Marines carried the casket into the church, followed by family members who were dressed in white.

"There are no words in the English language or the Spanish language or any language to relieve the pain in losing such a special, special young man," Governor Quinn said.

Relatives traveled to Melrose Park from Mexico and other parts of the United States for the funeral. They recalled how Vazquez fulfilled his lifelong dream when he joined the Marines one year ago.

Vazquez was deployed to Afghanistan in March. He was earning commendations as a rifleman in the second Marine regiment and received a number of awards as he rose up the ranks quickly.

His friends remember a fun-loving guy who made people laugh and was close to his family. They also say he tried to set a good example for them.

"He wanted to be there. He always talked about going away to war and joining the Marines. It's just sad," said friend David Dunne.

It is a difficult time for family, and the Marines who turned out to support them want them to know they are now, unfortunately, part of a larger family, but their son was a hero.

"This young man lost his life, wasn't even old enough to buy a beer," said Allen Bettcher of the Marine Motorcycle Club. "We lost a brother. So, we're here to support the family."

"We come and show support to the family and to honor our brother and sister Marines whenever we can," Marine State Chaplain Troy Walker said.

June and July 2010 have been the deadliest months in the nine years of the Afghanistan war. U.S. military commanders say all signs point to more casualties in the coming months as allied troops challenge insurgent soldiers in some of their strongholds.

Experts say the bloodshed is straining the already tepid international support for the war.

A Time for Sergeants

COIN Success at the Company and Platoon Level in Afghanistan

“How do you eat an elephant?”
The answer: “One bite at a time.”
Afghan Proverb


http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/news/a-time-for-sergeants.html

July 2010
This document was authored by Sean McKenna and Russ Hampsey. Both Sean and Russ are retired officers of the Special Operations Community and are members of the RC East Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team (CAAT).

Introduction

The Afghan environment is like no other. Being able to address problems in multi-dimensional terms has never been more important. Do your homework. The Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) elements vary from location to location, unit to unit, and person to person. Levels of discipline, training, leadership, capacity and capability range the full spectrum. The following information is to provide you and your unit with recommendations that may or may not work in your area of responsibility (AOR). So, use what is appropriate at your location and develop the ANSF to support the success of the mission.

Lines of Operation and

The counterinsurgency (COIN) mission in Afghanistan is challenging. Micro-insurgencies and social dynamics vary in each District, Valley, Village, and Qalat. Years of separation from a centralized government and lack of a unifying culture have made Afghans independent, self-reliant, and resistant to change. Rugged terrain hinders any type of infrastructure development that could unify the country. What we might consider to be corruption is seen as normal business for the Afghan; whether he is a soldier, policeman, tribal elder, or a shepherd. But do not look at this situation arrogantly and remember that we also have corruption in our countries. The difference is that in Afghanistan, survival is the main motivating factor in daily life.

Your unit has the mission of overcoming these and other challenges to the best of your ability. Taken as a whole the task seems impossible; however looking at what you can do to affect your areas of responsibilities as a tactical leader makes the challenges manageable. Execution of COIN falls on you and your soldiers because you are located with the population.

The COIN Strategy for Afghanistan is made up of lines of operation (LOO) or lines of effort (LOE). These are; securing the populace, enabling the ANSF, support to governance, support to development, and information operations. These LOOs are the method the International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) use to accomplish its overall COIN mission. Your team has the organic capability to execute some of these LOOs, but not all. Perfect those you can accomplish and ask for assistance with the rest.

Enabling the ANSF in the execution of the COIN strategy is platoon business. All of the enablers that are deployed to Afghanistan serve to support you and the areas you secure. Without security none of the remaining LOOs will succeed. Enabling the ANSF ensures you won’t have to continue to deploy to maintain the security you establish. Enabling the ANSF allows ISAF and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) the time and space to implement the governance and development strategies. The group of professionals to accomplish this mission is the non-commissioned officer (NCO) corps. ANSF elements include the Afghan National Army (ANA), Afghan National Police (ANP), Afghan Border Police (ABP), and the Afghan Public Protection Force (APPF). Enabling the ANSF in the COIN execution is “a time for sergeants” to do what they do, train and build teams that can fight and survive in any environment. The officers develop the mission and intent and the NCOs are the implementers and executors of the strategy. They must be informed on the importance of their individual actions. How the individual soldier reacts and what they do today and everyday hereafter matters - and they need to know their impact.

Protecting the Populace

Protecting the Populace can be a hard thing for a Combat Arms Soldier to understand. A unit that excels in fire and maneuver may require a translator to explain the subtasks that support this vital LOO. Here are the basics:


Patrolling.

You can’t protect anyone if you aren’t there. Patrolling disrupts the enemy’s planning and operation cycle, prevents them from threatening the people and inhibits their opportunities to mass and attack you at the combat outpost (COP). Use the ANSF to develop relationships with the local populace and take the lead.


Information.

Protecting the populace will open up a wealth of information to your team. The information you gather from interacting with the people will help you focus your efforts. They will tell you what’s going on in their area. They know who belongs and who doesn’t. If your unit has more than one village in your area of responsibility, then task organize and assign a squad or team to be the main collector of information for that town. Make them get smart on it; document the key people, where they live, their family size and story. Know who you are dealing with in the area.

Use biometric collection equipment when visiting businesses and patrolling near bazaars to catalogue and paint the picture of the people with whom you interact.


Interaction.

Afghans, for all of their independence, are also a friendly people. Find common ground, ask the questions you need to ask, but be interested in them too. Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver. You can look into things, but broken promises are hard to overcome and have been a common thread to the Afghan populace. If something is promised and not delivered it becomes the focal point for all future interactions. You don’t have time to waste on that. Bottom line: under promise and over deliver.

Lastly, talk just to talk, in order to build a relationship. You must have patience and be able to listen.


Trust.

Gaining their trust is accomplished through consistency, showing genuine interest in their situation. If you aren’t “that guy” find someone on your team who is and let him do it. Some ANSF elements and individuals are from the area they are operating in and should be utilized to build trust and relations with the local populace.

Enabling the ANSF

This equates to three simple things that are typical in a COIN environment. Initially, you must train the ANSF to a level that they will survive during direct force engagements with the enemy and that they realize that they are the protectors of the Afghan nation and its people. Secondly, you must assist the ANSF with the professionalization of their force in order to bring pride, confidence and loyalty to the uniform and Afghan nation they represent. Finally, you must get out of your comfort zone and advise the ANSF. This will let them take the lead. At the end of day, the ANSF will take over and be out in front. Their success or failure rests on your shoulders. So train, assist, and advise them with that understanding. But more to the point: do not just train the ANSF; train WITH the ANSF. Doing so will be the key to their success.

There are several things to consider while developing a course of action (COA) for enabling the ANSF. First off, you need to understand that they do not have the same level of nutrition. Their diet is definitely different than our western diet. Whereas we eat a lot of protein and generally have a high caloric intake, they do not. Next, they do not drink enough water day-to-day or during the conduct of operations. In view of this, their attention span is diminished. So, just realize that.

Additionally, you must recognize that the ANSF do not get all of the information overload that your soldiers are exposed to or get. What is meant by that is: your soldiers get constant visual and auditory information through television, video games, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies, billboards, signs, music, other technologies, and social events. Due to this abundance of information and interaction, Coalition Force (CF) soldiers tend to understand, pick up things, adapt, and learn faster now than ever before. It is imperative that you understand the cultural differences.

There are many challenges for a war fighting platoon in the COIN environment. Add to that the “population-centric” focus and it gets exponentially more difficult. Changing a mindset that has kept you alive up to this point is not going to be easy. However, with your ability to adapt, it should be much easier now, more so than any other time throughout history.

As stated, in the COIN environment, the responsibility of enabling the ANSF lies on the shoulders of the platoon. You must be able to shift focus and become the advisor. Why you? Because there is no one else coming out to your location to do it. Along the Security or Enabling the ANSF LOO you are the enabler and principle executor. There is no embedded training team (ETT) on the way and the expectation from COMISAF down the chain of command to your battalion commander is that you now fill that role. It is your responsibility to train with, assist, advise, and professionalize your ANSF counterpart. Here is the beauty of this opportunity: it enables you to professionalize your own soldiers, which you will begin to see with the implementation of these recommendations. Again we revisit the CF standard and the Afghan standard. They are not the same and you will probably not get the ANSF to the CF standard at every location - but you can try. There are some additional dynamics that you must understand as you begin the difficult journey of getting outside of your comfort zone and become an advisor.

ANSF dynamics that you must understand:

*

There is no formalized NCO Corps (as we would understand it) in the Afghan Army. However, there are NCO development programs being created and run at several locations.
*

Afghans from the same family, village, or tribe often serve in the same units. What this may cause is the tribal or familial hierarchy interfering with the rank structure as well as the good order and discipline within the unit. There can be positive effects to these ties, however.
*

ANSF leadership at your level appears to have no leverage through an Afghan Uniformed Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that provides discipline in the force.
*

Some ANSF units are comprised of or have personnel from the local area. Use them to build relations.
*

Some ANSF units have both Dari only and Pashtun only speakers. So, when you teach a class you are going to need to have an interpreter that can speak and understand both languages.
*

The ANSF sense of leadership structure is not our model. At your level, analyze the situation and try to get the right structure in place first. This will decrease your level of frustration.
*

A factor to consider is that in some cases, Afghans have purchased their leadership positions, whether qualified or not (as was common in Europe centuries ago). In some cases, it is simply a money making issues through corruption which you will have to manage.

Below are some recommendations you can use to focus your efforts while enabling the ANSF:


Training.

“Training is NCO business.” So, get after it and make it personal. Translate how you yourself, your men, the fire team, the squad and the platoon are expected to perform to your ANSF counterpart.

*

Ensure you train with the ANSF element in order to build the necessary relationshipsand camaraderie. Mistakes made by ISAF in the past have often been related to whether or not Coalition forces trained with their ANSF counterparts
*

Set the ANSF force structure as close as you can to your own; for example: organize them into a platoon with matching squads, teams, and specialty skills (medics and mortarmen). This is the leadership’s responsibility up through the battalion level to influence and persuade the ANSF counterpart of the importance of the war fighting force structure. This directly applies to the ANA.
*

Task organize your platoon to take responsibility of a like-sized element. This pairing of like-sized elements maintains the appropriate levels pertaining to their sphere of influence and span of control. It also breaks down the problem set into manageable pieces.
*

Communicate with your partners. The platoon leader and platoon sergeant must dialogue with the partnered ANSF element to establish a similar task organization and assist in the development of an executable training schedule.

Things to take into consideration in order to build an effective training plan:

*

Prayer times. Training with the ANSF will allow you to better plan for this during the conduct of operations. You will also build a relationship of trust and understanding. Research through an interpreter or ANSF Mullah if praying five times a day applies during military or combat operations. Missing a prayer time may be acceptable on some occasions. Also, understand that there are time windows they can pray within.
*

ANSF working times. Afghans are tied to the sun not the clock. They may start their day at sunrise; and in the late spring and summer that could equate to 0430-ish local. Plan accordingly.
*

ANSF training. Identify what ANSF training they are already required to attend or execute; which includes religious training. Don’t let it come as a surprise.
*

Provide a list of training tasks and events. Do not assume they know what they need to be training on and don’t force training on them. Get their buy-in.
*

Training schedules allow you to be predictable. Stop making the same mistakes and blaming the ANSF. If you haven’t included them in the process then it is your fault.
*

Do what you do with your own unit, with the ANSF, because it works. If your unit links up prior to actual training events then link up with them prior to actual training events. They may not have a solid concept of time.
*

Utilize the normal training techniques that you use to train your own unit. It worked for you and it will definitely work for your ANSF counterpart.

Recommended Steps for building the plan:

*

Validate what the previous Coalition unit achieved by assessing the unit you are partnering with. You need to know at what level they are operating. It doesn’t need to be a formal evaluation, but you should look at their overall level of performance. Run them through some basic battle drills, because the enemy is not going to wait until you are ready. Know and understand your counterpart’s capabilities and limitations before you leave the wire. You do the same thing with your unit. Platoons, squads, and fire teams are evaluated so the leadership knows and understands the capabilities and limitations of his assets.
*

If you need to, show them what right looks like.
*

Once the assessment is complete, identify the performance shortfalls that need to be addressed and prioritize them.
*

Develop a methodical training program of instruction (POI) and, as mentioned before, get your ANSF counterpart involved. Get the necessary buy-in. Make it their plan and be patient, but do your best not to get side tracked.
*

Training starts at the fire team level in order to manage training and expectations up front. This allows you to demonstrate discipline and camaraderie at the lowest level. It also allows the identification of strong and weak performers. In addition, you can build upon training from the individual to collective unit - and training can be customized based on earlier results.
*

A training methodology to use is the CRAWL – WALK – RUN. Again, the Afghan level of “Good Enough” is not the CF level. Get them to their level and realize that you may be executing CRAWL – CRAWL – CRAWL for an extended period of time. If they get to the level that you have established as a goal, then continue to raise the standard. Avoid complacency.
*

Do not over complicate training and do not get into the minute details, because you will lose their attention rapidly. It is the same considerations we take into account when we train. Know your audience and present the material at that level.
*

Afghans like to be challenged. They will perform at a higher level if they are competing against fellow soldiers and units. Breaking the formation into manageable subunits will enable you to create a healthy level of competitiveness between these units. This will increase their level of interest and willingness to train.
*

Afghans like to be recognized in front of their peers – you can probably relate. Present “Certificates of Recognition” or “Commendations” such as ANA soldier, ANP patrolman, or team of the week in front of an organized formation. This will bolster performance.
*

Identify ANSF for a train the trainer course (T3C) or instructor training course. This will further accelerate their professionalization.
*

Select Assistant Instructors. Utilize their personnel as soon as possible to act as assistant instructors (AIs) and build confidence.
*

Give them the responsibility to conduct training when they are ready. Step back and start to advise. You should still maintain a level of interaction, but they should begin to drive the training and operations within the AO. Their ability to successfully conduct unilateral operations equates to mission success. You have just enabled the ANSF.

Developing.

The “so what” regarding enabling the ANSF is that it allows you to develop your soldiers, privates, specialists, and junior NCOs by having them teach classes as primary instructors (PI) on basic infantry tasks while utilizing the team leaders and squad leaders as assistance instructors (AI). This will enable you to professionalize your soldiers and build your own platoon capabilities. Soldiers understand and learn things more rapidly by teaching, coaching, and mentoring. It will bolster their individual confidence and stature having personally taken part in building another nation’s Army. In addition, they will foster relationships, camaraderie, and know the capability of the ANSF elements they will undoubtedly fight alongside in the trenches, orchards, and open fields outside of their COPs.


Partnering.

Combined Action, partnering, and embedded partnering all mean the same thing at the platoon level. You have to live on the same COP, train together, and conduct operations together. As outlined throughout this paper, it involves a little more than that. Which you have already seen, may see, or may not see at all, because this is not a training event or exercise. You are dealing with real people, and real places with real dynamics that change day in and day out from location to location. You are the subject matter expert (SME) in your area and about your area and you “paint the picture” for the higher echelons of command.


Governance and Development


As intimated, your unit may not be well positioned to take the lead in Governance and Development. The key to your success is identifying the help you need and knowing where to find it.


Civil Affairs.

This asset can assist you in conducting village assessments, identifying the actual needs of the populace (versus projects that favor one group over another), and identify and link you up with other development assets that may be working in your AO.


Civilian Team.

The US Government has deployed thousands of civilian experts to Afghanistan; engineers, police experts, agricultural experts, city planners and more. The point is you can ask for their assistance if you plan ahead.


Information Operations

Information Operations can magnify your successes or your failures. You must master this LOO – and know that you are competing with the enemy for dominance of the Information space.


Influence.

Every interaction you have with an Afghan influences them in one way or another. So when you interact be aware that you are leaving an impression. Make the interaction count.


PSYOP.

They show up, walk with you and leave cool products behind. That is not all they can do. Get them to tell you how to engage those you need to influence. They study the populace and the enemy. Get some ideas you can use when you interact with the populace. If your platoon owns a COP ask them to develop a PSYOP program for your AOR and then execute it. And note: sometimes, just listening to the villagers will provide you with techniques to use.


Final Thoughts

The success of the mission here in Afghanistan is based on the actions of the company and platoons operating at the COPs. The development of the ANSF and the results of your hard work will not be seen overnight. ANSF progression will be measured along milestones and be observed over time. Your challenges and levels of frustration are understood at all echelons of command. They are trying to identify the problem sets and provide solutions as quickly as possible, but some bureaucratic issues still weigh in and have a vote. The key to your continued success is your ability to adapt, manage expectations, be a problem solver, and continue to move forward - however long it takes. Nations are not built overnight and you are currently involved in the building of the Afghan Nation. In the COIN environment your greatest weapon isn’t the ordnance you can drop or the tools of warfare, but rather your mind and the relationships you establish.

Best of Luck!

Deployed Marine finds U.S. home for Afghan cat

By Tony Lombardo - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Jul 31, 2010 12:55:44 EDT

A 9-month-old Afghan cat is living it up stateside after a Marine downrange partnered with an animal rescue group to ship it home.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_cat_073110/

Marines get an extra 'thank you' with fishing trip

LOUDON - The striped fishing wasn't great in the waters just below Ft. Loudoun Dam.

http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2010/jul/31/marines-get-extra-thank-you-fishing-trip/

PHOTO:
http://www.knoxnews.com/photos/2010/jul/22/93771/

* By Mike Blackerby
* Knoxville News Sentinel
* Posted July 31, 2010 at 10:13 p.m.

Maybe the weather was just too dang hot or there were a couple of boats too many jockeying for positions as tufts of water churned up from generators below.

"Throw it right there - right there in that seam between the boils of water," implored boat captain Steve Baker.

Shirtless and wearing a battered Tennessee cap, Baker, who has been a professional fishing guide in East Tennessee for 35 years, said bagging a bounty of big stripers is all about timing.

Some days they hit his preferred bait of shad and bluegill like fiends.

Other times, like this blistering afternoon where the temperature climbed above 90 degrees, it's tough to get even a whiff.

"The fishing just fell off because of the hot weather," said Baker, who lives on Watts Bar Lake.

"Up until about a week or two ago, anything over 60 (striped bass) a day was considered a good day. In a 100-mile radius of here, this is the best striped fishing there is in the country."

Ever the conscientious guide, Baker took matters into his own hands.

He grabbed one of several rods on his boat and cast it perfectly - landing the bait smack dab in the middle of one of those seams.

In just a matter of seconds the rod bowed and Baker handed it off to Sgt. Major Eugene Miller.

Miller was one of 13 members of the 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment from Pennsylvania who had some rare down time and were being treated to a day of fishing and relaxation on the lake.

The 42-year old Miller, who has served three tours of duty in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan, wrestled with whatever was on the line for several minutes.

Baker finally leaned over the boat and pulled out a big striper that weighed in at about 25 pounds.

"I wasn't expecting that," said Miller.

Just moments later, Lt. Col. Rob Clark, the leader of the unit and a commissioned officer since 1992, landed a 10-pound-plus striper.

"Yeah! I love it - and I caught it myself," yelled Clark, taking a good-natured shot at Miller, a close confidant.

The mutual respect between the two was obvious.

Although it's not required in such a setting, Miller addressed Clark as "sir" throughout the afternoon on such important matters as hook baiting.

"Would I require it? No," said Clark.

"But he's just a real professional guy. The bottom line is he's my right-hand man and I rarely make a decision without him. If I disagree with him, I make the final decision. That's just the way it is and he understands that."

Clark's striper would be the last catch of the day in Baker's boat, but this outing was really not about fishing.

"This is a great way to help us unwind and for people to let loose and get to know each other better - and that's important," said Clark.

"The last eight to 10 years have been really busy. This ain't like regular work."

Marines day out

Jimmy Johnson said his family owes a lot to the United States Marine Corps.

Johnson and local fisherman Bill Bletz helped organize the day's festivities for the Marines.

The day started off with the first public tour of Ft. Loudoun Dam since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, then the fishing outing and finally a picnic.

Johnson's son, Capt. Sam Johnson of the 3/14th, graduated from Lenoir City High School and has since followed a career path in the military.

"He graduated from VMI in 2005, became an officer in the Marine Corps and it has been a blessing ever since," said Johnson.

"When he went to VMI and then the Marines it really made him a man - and a successful man."

Johnson said he has been working on putting together an outing for his son and his regiment for a year.

But, he said he was apprehensive about asking a group of ultra-competitive striper guides to join forces for a day. He said they routinely charge $200 per person and up for a day of fishing … and they really don't like one another.

Baker, along with guides Bo Rice and John Hughes, jumped at the opportunity.

"Everyone I asked said 'yes' and they didn't charge me a penny. What it was all about was our way to show our appreciation for what our troops do for us."

Grim realities

Sam Johnson, 27, has already lost seven colleagues and friends in his six years of military service. One of Johnson's friends who lost his life in the line of duty was a high school buddy, Marine Lance Cpl. William Koprince of Lenoir City.

"I was pretty torn up about it,'' Johnson said. "Bill and I grew up together. We went from kindergarten to high school together. He comes from a great family."

Johnson said casualties are the stark reality of war.

"It's unfortunately the nature of the business,'' he said. "It's a cliche to say, but freedom is not free."

Oorah

Capt. Colin Ricks' haul included a pair of big catfish and a stringer full of memories.

"It was out of this world to have those tour guides take us out," said Ricks, who had a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq.

"I've only been fishing a couple of times, so this was a different experience. Ever since I've been on active duty post-9/11, people have always been very supportive. At times, it's almost overwhelming."

Baker said he got much more out of the day of fishing than he put into it.

"These guys deserved it," said Baker.

"It wasn't necessarily about how many fish they caught, it was just getting out here and having peace. Part of what they do is so we can fish."

After all, it really wasn't about the fishing.

Mike Blackerby is a freelance contributor

Afghan Community Turning on Taliban, Assisting Afghan and Coalition Forces

ZABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and Coalition officials said citizens and storeowners in Zabul province are tired of the Taliban’s presence and are taking necessary steps to disrupt their activities.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53727

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center More Stories from Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center RSS
Story by Sgt. Benjamin Watson
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 01:16

Zabul residents have reported that Taliban presence in local villages is resulting in the theft of financial and material resources of ordinary citizens.

“Taliban fighters are moving through the area and taking what they want from the bazaars here,” according to an Afghan government official in Naw Bahar district.

Local business owners said Taliban fighters use their shops in Naw Bahar as an intimidation-based logistics hub to extort money and resources. Once a precedent is established in one village, word spreads to other fighters to use similar tactics to intimidate and steal from other shopkeepers in the region.

Store owners in the district have made it clear they are concerned about the long-lasting financial impact the Taliban’s actions have on their businesses.

As a result, both local citizens and business owners began taking action to stand up to Taliban intimidation, according to Afghan and Coalition forces operating in the area. Villagers recently provided combined forces with information on improvised explosive device locations along a roadway in Zabul’s Wulgay Valley.

Upon receiving the tips, sections of the roadway were closed to protect passing motorists while Afghan National Army and Coalition forces went in to investigate. This information resulted in the destruction of three IEDs that could have harmed local Afghan citizens.

A member of the combined force who responded said only minor damage to the roadway occurred during the destruction of the IEDs. Afghan National Police and Afghan Border Police forces repaired and reopened the roadway to civilian traffic.

“It’s a great day for the people of this district, province, and Afghanistan,” said a Coalition official. “Any time you have local citizens stand up and say ‘enough is enough’ to the bully, in this case the Taliban, it says a lot about the toughness of the Afghan people. Not only does it put the Taliban on notice that people in Zabul are tired of the status quo, but it shows increased trust in the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.”

Unfortunately, not every Taliban and insurgent-planted IED can be found and destroyed before it injures or kills innocent civilians or Afghan and Coalition forces.

During an operation to clear the Wulgay Valley of these three IEDs, a Coalition forces spokesperson stated an IED exploded near Zabul’s Shin Kai village killing one woman and injuring two others, one of which was a 4-year-old girl.

“Once again, the Taliban have shown their ruthless disregard for the lives of ordinary Afghan citizens,” said a Coalition forces spokesperson. “They continue to plant IEDs along roadways, district centers, schools, farms, and other locations, which are injuring and killing Afghan citizens.”

Afghan National Security Forces Renew Commitment to Stabilizing Logar Province

KABUL, Afghanistan – Nestled in the mountainous and rough terrain of eastern Afghanistan’s Logar province is the Charkh district. With an elevation of more than 6,900 feet above sea level, the district is known for its severe winters that cause villagers to be isolated for long periods. But according to Afghan officials, it’s quickly becoming a haven for the Taliban and other insurgents.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 07:49

Afghan Brig. Gen. Dadon Lawang, 1st Commando Brigade commander, and U.S. Special Forces representatives recently attempted to reach out to village elders in the form of a shura at the Charkh district center to discuss overall relations and security concerns in the region.

Upon arrival to the area, the Afghan-led engagement team was greeted by district leadership, instead of the elders they were expecting. In fact, the area surrounding the district center was eerily quiet and had it not been for a few children playing and one adult villager, it would have seemed like a ghost town.

Engagement team officials said this was not the scene they expected to find, but one that made sense once the meeting was underway and they learned more about the security situation on the ground.

Despite the lack of elders, the meeting was productive and provided valuable information that could benefit the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s effort to stabilize this troubled district, and freeing local residents from Taliban oppression.

Anything outside of the district center here is not safe, said Gul Rashid, the Charkh Samar District Governor. People here are influenced by Taliban so the villagers don’t dare speak their minds their lives are in danger if they do. So for now, any shuras with villagers would have to take place at a different location.

Rashid explained various incidents that have occurred in the area and said attacks have occurred as close as 100 meters from the district center. He offered numerous examples of Taliban aggression and said the area was rapidly becoming a safe haven for insurgents.

The terrain here is advantageous to the Taliban and the people live in fear, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way, said the district governor. With the right plan, we can drive the Taliban away from here.

The governor said Afghan forces are essential to changing the security conditions in the district.

We need more presence and security, he said. We need the Taliban to know that this is not their breeding ground. If we have shuras at locations where people can feel safe, and if people see an effort to crackdown on enemy activity, then we can help rid this area from Taliban influence.

During the meeting, Lawang also gathered input and recommendations from Afghan National Department of Security officers and the area’s Afghan National Army platoon commander.

This has been an eye-opener and with the information gathered we can now formulate plans to recover the area, said Lawang. No one should live in fear and we want the people to know that their plight is being taken seriously.

In recent years, Logar province has been riddled with insurgent activity. While change isn’t likely to happen overnight; identifying troubled areas is the first step.

In addition to the ANA and other conventional forces, there are now ANA Commandos and ANA Special Forces that are working to bring peace to this troubled province. Responsibility continues to shift from Coalition to Afghan forces and districts such as Charkh are identifying problems in hopes of being part of the solution.

Afghan Civilian Killed During ISAF Operations

KABUL - Coalition forces operating in southern Afghanistan Wednesday were attacked by insurgents with small arms fire. After identifying the source of the attack, they returned fire causing the insurgents to flee from the area.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 04:58

While continuing their clearing operation, the coalition forces encountered a man running toward the compound. Coalition forces attempted to get the man to stop, however the attempts failed and coalition forces engaged him. First aid was rendered immediately, however, unfortunately the individual died of his wounds.

"On behalf of ISAF, I extend my deepest condolences to this man's family," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We take every precaution to eliminate civilian casualties and will continue to focus on this important issue."

Targeted Killing Is New U.S. Focus in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — When President Obama announced his new war plan for Afghanistan last year, the centerpiece of the strategy — and a big part of the rationale for sending 30,000 additional troops — was to safeguard the Afghan people, provide them with a competent government and win their allegiance.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/01/world/asia/01afghan.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2

By HELENE COOPER and MARK LANDLER
Published: July 31, 2010

Eight months later, that counterinsurgency strategy has shown little success, as demonstrated by the flagging military and civilian operations in Marja and Kandahar and the spread of Taliban influence in other areas of the country.

Instead, what has turned out to work well is an approach American officials have talked much less about: counterterrorism, military-speak for the targeted killings of insurgents from Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Faced with that reality, and the pressure of a self-imposed deadline to begin withdrawing troops by July 2011, the Obama administration is starting to count more heavily on the strategy of hunting down insurgents. The shift could change the nature of the war and potentially, in the view of some officials, hasten a political settlement with the Taliban.

Based on the American military experience in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, it is not clear that killing enemy fighters is sufficient by itself to cripple an insurgency. Still, commando raids over the last five months have taken more than 130 significant insurgents out of action, while interrogations of captured fighters have led to a fuller picture of the enemy, according to administration officials and diplomats.

American intelligence reporting has recently revealed growing examples of Taliban fighters who are fearful of moving into higher-level command positions because of these lethal operations, according to a senior American military officer who follows Afghanistan closely.

Judging that they have gained some leverage over the Taliban, American officials are now debating when to try to bring them to the negotiating table to end the fighting. Rattling the Taliban, officials said, may open the door to reconciling with them more quickly, even if the officials caution that the outreach is still deeply uncertain.

American military officials and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan have begun a robust discussion about “to what degree these people are going to be allowed to have a seat at the table,” one military official said. “The only real solution to Afghanistan has got to be political.”

The evolving thinking comes at a time when the lack of apparent progress in the nearly nine-year war is making it harder for Mr. Obama to hold his own party together on the issue. And it raises questions about whether the administration is seeking a rationale for reducing troop levels as scheduled starting next summer even if the counterinsurgency strategy does not show significant progress by then.

A senior White House official said the administration hoped that its targeted killings, along with high-level contacts between Mr. Karzai and Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief and a former head of its intelligence service — which is believed to have close links to the Taliban — would combine to pressure Taliban leaders to come to the negotiating table.

A long-awaited campaign to convert lower-level and midlevel Taliban fighters has finally begun in earnest, with Mr. Karzai signing a decree authorizing the reintegration program. With $200 million from Japan and other allies, and an additional $100 million in Pentagon money, American military officers will soon be handing out money to lure people away from the insurgency.

“We’re not ready to make the qualitative judgment that the cumulative effects of what we are doing are enough to change their calculus yet,” the White House official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. But, reflecting the administration’s hope that the killings are making a difference, he added, “If I were the Taliban, I’d be worried.”

Mr. Obama’s timetable calls for an assessment in December of how his strategy is faring. The administration has not yet begun a formal review of the policy. But while several officials said Mr. Obama remained committed to the strategy he set out at the end of last year, they conceded that the counterinsurgency part of it had lagged while the counterterrorism part had been more successful.

That divergence could lead to a replay of last year’s policy debate, in which Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. pushed for a focus on capturing and killing terrorist leaders, while the Pentagon, including the current commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, pushed for a broader strategy that also included a strong focus on securing Afghan population centers with more troops.

Still, in an interview Thursday with “Today” on NBC, Mr. Biden appeared to reiterate his earlier stance.

“We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: Al Qaeda,” he said. “Al Qaeda exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are not there to nation-build. We’re not out there deciding we’re going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country.”

The administration’s shift in thinking is gradual but has been perceptible in the public remarks of various officials. The incoming commander of the military’s Central Command, Gen. James N. Mattis, was asked last week by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, whether the administration’s July 2011 date for starting to withdraw American troops implied a shift in emphasis from counterinsurgency to a strategy concentrating on killing terrorists.

“I think that is the approach, Senator,” he replied.

The emerging American model can best be described as “counterterrorism, with some counterinsurgency strategy that forces the hands of insurgent leaders,” said a diplomat with knowledge of the planning. It melds elements of both strategies in a policy that continues to evolve, as conditions change.

Some of the feelers to the Taliban are being put out by the Karzai government and some by the Pakistanis. Some, eventually, will be handled by General Petraeus and other military officials. Contacts are being kept under wraps, several officials said, because any evidence that insurgent leaders are talking to American or Afghan officials could be used against them by rival insurgents.

Another factor that has spurred talk of reconciliation is a classified military report, called “State of the Taliban,” prepared by Task Force 373, a Special Operations team composed of the army’s Delta Force and Navy Seals, which has captured insurgents and taken them to Bagram Air Base for interrogation.

While the report does not offer a silver bullet for how to deal with the Taliban, one official said that for the first time, it gives Americans and their allies “a rich vein of understanding of why the Taliban was fighting and what it would take them to stop.” The report depicts the Taliban as spearheading a fractured insurgency, but one in which conservative Pashtun nationalism and respect for Afghan culture are both at play, this official said.

Despite deep American concerns about Pakistan’s trustworthiness as an ally, Pakistan has also emerged in recent months as a potential agent for reconciliation. Mr. Karzai has held at least two meetings with General Kayani of Pakistan. American officials say they believe that their talks have not yet delved into the details of negotiations with insurgent leaders, but Pakistan is eager to play a role in talks with the Haqqani network, a major insurgent group based in the country that has close ties to its intelligence service.

The links between Mr. Karzai and General Kayani, officials said, helped seal a recent trade deal between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which required concessions on the part of the Pakistani military.

“The best hope for resolving Afghanistan lies in Pakistan, and we have made some progress there,” said Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent visitor to the region.


Afghan and Coalition Security Force Captures Another Haqqani Facilitator in Khost

KABUL - An Afghan and coalition security force continued to target Haqqani Network insurgents in Khost province last night, this time focusing on a Haqqani weapons and improvised explosive device material facilitator in the village of Warghah.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 04:54

The facilitator and several additional suspected insurgents were detained during the operation.

This follows several successful operations against the network this week, where at least a dozen insurgents were killed, possibly including the top Haqqani Network commander for the Khost-Gardez Pass, and the capture of several Haqqani leaders. As a result of careful planning and mitigation, no civilians were hurt or wounded in these operations.

The security force targeted a series of compounds to search for the facilitator. Afghan forces, acting on intelligence reports, quickly entered the compounds while coalition forces kept the area secured.

After initial questioning on the scene, the facilitator and suspected insurgents were detained. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"The Haqqani Network is a prevalent insurgent threat in Afghanistan right now and Afghan and coalition forces are focused on smothering their influence and power," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF
Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

Two Suspected Insurgents Detained by Afghan and Coalition Force in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents in Zabul province overnight while in pursuit of the Taliban deputy commander for restive Shah Joy district.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 02:33

Afghan and coalition forces targeted a compound outside the village of Walan Robat in pursuit of the commander, who reportedly leads more than 30 Taliban fighters. A loudspeaker was used by Afghan forces to call out to the residents to exit the targeted compound. The residents peacefully complied and were interviewed by the joint forces and the two suspected insurgents were later detained for further questioning.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

“Our joint security forces will continue to hunt those who threaten the security and stability of the Afghan government. The Afghan people have endured Taliban oppression and intimidation far too long,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

Afghan and Coalition Forces Detain Several Suspected Insurgents in Kandahar

KABUL - An Afghan-led security force detained several suspected insurgents and destroyed an active improvised explosive device and three mortar rounds during a two-day deliberate clearing operation aimed at disrupting the enemy in what was historically a Taliban safe haven used to stage attacks into Kandahar City.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.31.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 02:06

The security forces participating in the operation were Afghan National Security Force soldiers, who led the clearance of several compounds on the outskirts of Molla Dust village in the Panjwa'i district, in partnership with coalition forces.

In June, insurgents engaged the assault force several times during a similar three-day clearing operation in Panjwa'i district. The assault force responded killing more than 30 insurgents and detaining many more suspected insurgents. During that same operation the security force discovered and destroyed a house-borne IED, an IED-making facility with IED materials, including jugs of homemade explosives, 500 pounds of opium, automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade launchers with rounds.

"Afghan and NATO forces will not relent," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Their presence in and around Kandahar will continue to increase and soon there will be no place safe for these criminals to hide and store their IEDs, weapons and drugs in Kandahar-the clock is ticking-their time here is up."

Since June, security forces have conducted several clearing operations within Kandahar province capturing more than 125 suspected insurgents, including numerous Taliban leaders. Coalition Forces have also discovered and destroyed several IED factories, and a large number of IEDs and automatic weapons.

"IED emplacement is the most lethal Taliban tactic employed against the Afghan people, ANSF and coalition forces. As a result of these joint operations, IED attacks have been severely disrupted in this region,"
said Torres.

CLB-6 Marine Awarded for Valor in Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – When duty calls, Cpl. Rory MacEachern fires back with precision, and for his efforts in support of International Security Assistance Force operations he was awarded for valor in a ceremony here, July 30.

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Story by Sgt. Justin Shemanski
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.31.2010 07:06

MacEachern, a military policeman with Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was presented with the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device by his commanding officer, Maj. William Stophel.

During combat logistics patrols ranging from March through May, the North Attleboro, Mass., native, distinguished himself through superior performance of his duties as a machine gunner.

On one occasion while serving as a Mark II .50 caliber machine gun operator, MacEachern’s convoy came under heavy small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire. Due to his vigilance, he was able to identify the enemy fighter and after engaging with his crew served weapon, the threat was eliminated.

On yet another instance, MacEachern proved himself just as effective when equipped with a MK-19 Grenade Launcher.

While providing security during the evacuation of a wounded comrade, the convoy came under indirect fire. Amid the chaos of sustained enemy fire, the calm and collected MacEachern was able to eliminate two enemy grenadiers and a mortar team while displaying expert precision with his designated weapon, actions which allowed the convoy to safely exit the danger area and continue with its mission.

Though he may have been the one pulling the trigger, the humble Marine made it clear that the actions for which he was awarded for were the result of nothing more than team effort.

“At one point, Lance Cpl. [Anthony] Johnson was actually pointing out the threats for me, directing my fire,” said MacEachern. “We worked together to move our truck into position, and once I was able to positively identify the enemy, I engaged.”

MacEachern noted that one of the logistics patrols was moving a bit slower than usual, but enemy threat was low and little more than an improvised explosive devise or two were expected.

Regardless, the gunner and his team remained aware of their surroundings and acted appropriately.

Alpha Company’s First Sgt. James Gillespie would have expected nothing less from a Marine of MacEachern’s stature.

“He’s an outstanding young Marine and was our choice for being combat meritoriously promoted to his current rank,” said Gillespie, a native of Stafford, Va.

“Being able to make those kinds of decisions; the correct decisions, in this environment says a lot about him,” said Gillespie. “Someone else in his position could have hesitated for too long or just opened fire without taking everything into consideration first, but being the experienced gunner he is, he did an outstanding job.”

While MacEachern realizes the meaning behind receiving the small bronze “V” pinned to the orange and green ribbon of his new medal, he said he and his fellow Marines did exactly what others would have done in their shoes.

“It’s just one of those, ‘right place, at the right time’ kind of things,” he said. “For me, today is just another day in Afghanistan.”

July 30, 2010

Military Wives Fear The Dreaded Knock

CBS News' Terry McCarthy on How Military Wives Cope With the Fear of Bad News

(CBS) As part of our continuing coverage of "Afghanistan: the Road Ahead," CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy follows the Third Battalion, First Marines at home, and abroad in Afghanistan.

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif

In war, there are two fronts - one where troops face the enemy in battle. And one where their loved ones wait, and worry that they'll receive the worst kind of news.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/30/eveningnews/main6729756.shtml?tag=mncol;lst;2

News Video:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6729867n&tag;=related;photovideo

By Terry McCarthy
July 30, 2010

On May 11 - a roadside bomb killed Marine Sergeant Kenneth May and Corporal Jeffrey Johnson in Garmsir, southern Afghanistan.

Half a day later and halfway around the world in Southern California, May's wife Krystal got a knock on the door.

"I looked through the peephole and saw the Marine," she said, "and immediately I knew that my husband was dead."

Kenneth May was 26 years old. He and Krystal had been high school sweethearts in Kilgore, Texas. They were married two years to the day when he was killed.

"This is his purple heart," she said, showing the medal off.

May was presented with presented with the Purple Heart, given to anyone wounded or killed in combat.

There are some 200,000 U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq today. Each one has a family waiting back home, anxious for good news - but fearful they too will get that knock on the door.

Nicole Morse is Krystal's best friend. Her husband Jim Morse is a sergeant in the same company as Kenneth May.

"It has been really tough - because while I am going through day-to-day things with her and helping her with what she has been going through - in the back of my mind is that my husband is still over there," Morse said.

We showed Nicole Morse some video we had shot of her husband the previous month in Afghanistan.

In the video, Sgt. Morse said, "they say that the deployment is harder on the spouse than it is on the Marine - and I completely agree. I have to deal with the physical threats here, but that can't be as bad as just not knowing."

"I am not sure what to think about that other than that I am totally flattered that he respects what we do," Nicole said.

What the military spouses do back here is wait, pray - and try to live normal lives amidst other people who have no idea what they are going through.

"There really is no 'Military wife 101,'" Nicole said.

Nicole can't wait for her husband to come home in November at the end of the deployment. For Krystal, there will be no homecoming.

"We talked about this as a very likelihood - as a very likely possibility that it might happen," Krystal said. "Did I want my husband going to war? No. But that was his choice."

Each one of the Marines is a volunteer, and they know what they are getting in to. For the families back home, dealing with what they don't know is often the hardest battle.

U.S. worried more secret documents may be released

WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) - U.S. officials are worried about what other secret U.S. documents the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks may possess and have tried to contact the group without success to avoid their release, the State Department said on Friday.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N30216346.htm

30 Jul 2010 22:02:27 GMT
Source: Reuters
* U.S. has tried to make contact with WikiLeaks

* Detained Army analyst moved from Kuwait to U.S. base

* Officials urge WikiLeaks not to post more U.S. documents

By David Alexander

The shadowy group publicly released more than 90,000 U.S. Afghan war records spanning a six-year period on Sunday. The group also is thought to be in possession of tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables passed to it by an Army intelligence analyst, media reports have said.

"Do we have concerns about what might be out there? Yes, we do," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a briefing, adding that U.S. authorities have not specifically determined which documents may have been leaked to the organization.

He said the State Department could not confirm the longstanding reports that WikiLeaks is in possession of a large set of U.S. diplomatic cables.

But the fact that the documents released on Sunday contained a handful of State Department cables suggests that other secret diplomatic messages may have been included in data transmitted to WikiLeaks, Crowley said.

"When we provide our analysis of situations in key countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan, we distribute these across the other agencies including to military addresses," Crowley said. "So is the potential there that State Department documents have been compromised? Yes."

Both Crowley and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs urged WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, not to release further classified U.S. government documents.

Gibbs, noting WikiLeaks claims to have at least 15,000 more secret Afghan documents, told NBC's "Today" show there was little the government could do halt the release of the papers.

"We can do nothing but implore the person who has those classified top secret documents not to post any more," Gibbs said. "I think it's important that no more damage be done to our national security."

MESSAGES PASSED TO WIKILEAKS

Crowley said the U.S. government had tried to make contact with WikiLeaks but had not been successful in establishing a line of communication.

"We have passed messages to them," he said. "I am not aware of any direct dialogue with WikiLeaks."

Both Crowley and Gibbs expressed concern that the document dump might expose U.S. intelligence gathering methods and place in jeopardy people who had assisted the United States.

"You have Taliban spokesmen in the region today saying they're combing through those documents to find people that are cooperating with American and international forces. They're looking through those for names. They said they know how to punish those people," Gibbs said.

"Intelligence services all over the world will be looking over them and seeing what they can glean in terms of how we gain information," Crowley said.

"Behind these documents is a very important intelligence system that is vital to our national security and we are concerned ... that if WikiLeaks continues on its current path this will do damage to our national security," he said.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both said on Thursday the document leak had undermined trust in the United States.

Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter asking Gates asking for an assessment of how badly the military's sources and methods of gathering intelligence had been hurt.

"I am concerned about the nature and extent of the damage caused by the release of these documents," he wrote in the July 28 letter, which was released by his office on Friday.

The Army investigation into the release of the documents is focusing on Army specialist Bradley Manning, who was already charged earlier this month with leaking information previously published by WikiLeaks, U.S. defense officials say.

Manning, who was moved from a detention facility in Kuwait to one at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia on Thursday ahead of his trial, is charged with leaking a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists.

Manning has not been named as a suspect in the latest leak and investigators are not ruling out the involvement of multiple individuals. (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart, Susan Cornwell and Deborah Charles; editing by Anthony Boadle)

UN sanctions dropped against 5 senior Taliban

UNITED NATIONS, July 30 (Reuters) - Five Taliban have been struck off a U.N. Security Council list of militants subject to sanctions -- a move sought by Kabul to ease reconciliation talks with insurgents, the United Nations said on Friday.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N30175623.htm

30 Jul 2010 18:39:56 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Russia has been reluctant to delist Taliban

* More Taliban could be delisted in future (Adds U.S. reaction, background)

By Louis Charbonneau

Their removal from the U.N. blacklist followed a review of the list of Taliban and al Qaeda members maintained by a Security Council committee. Two of the five were delisted because they were dead, the committee said in a statement issued by the U.N. Department of Public Information.

Afghanistan had pressed the committee to take some names off the list as part of a scheduled update. A "Peace Jirga" in Afghanistan last month recommended negotiations with moderate Taliban leaders and other insurgents to end a worsening nine-year war in the country.

Diplomats said Afghan President Hamid Karzai had sought the delisting of nearly two dozen Taliban, either because they had joined the government side or because they were dead.

But Russia, which sits on the committee along with other Security Council members, had been cautious about deleting names, they said. Russia is concerned about Islamic fundamentalism and Taliban-linked drug-trafficking in its region, they added.

The sanctions committee named the five delisted as Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad Awrang, a former Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Salam Zaeef and Abdul Satar Paktin, as well as Abdul Samad Khaksar and Muhammad Islam Mohammadi, who have both died.

"The assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo ... therefore no longer apply" to the delisted Taliban, the committee said.

U.S. WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT

Russia, diplomats said, has indicated reluctance to remove even the names of dead people from the U.N. blacklist, possibly because it would free up any frozen assets that could somehow be used to help fund the Taliban insurgency.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington welcomed the announcement.

"These are individuals who have cut ties with al Qaeda and accepted the Afghan constitution and given up the fight," he said, adding that the U.S. government would follow suit by dropping U.S. sanctions against the men.

The committee has been reviewing all the more than 500 Taliban and al Qaeda entries on the blacklist. Decisions to remove entries are taken on a case-by-case basis and committee members demand hard proof that individuals have renounced violence and are supporting the government, diplomats say.

"The review of the Taliban and al Qaeda sanctions list will continue," a diplomat told Reuters. "There may be more names coming off the list in the weeks and months ahead."

Five years ago Karzai's office had asked the Security Council committee that oversees implementation of resolution 1267, approved in 1999, to remove some 20 names from the roughly 140 on the list at the time. Of those 20, five were removed in January and another five this week.

The Afghan government wants the remaining 10 names dropped from the blacklist as well, diplomats said.

Resolution 1267 freezes assets and bans travel of senior Taliban and al Qaeda figures and firms associated with them. (Editing by Vicki Allen)

Petraeus COIN guidance put online, taken down

By Kate Brannen - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 30, 2010 17:22:21 EDT

Soon after the new Afghan counterinsurgency guidance issued by Army Gen. David Petraeus went up on two Internet sites, it was pulled off again. But it is not expected to change drastically when it is rereleased publicly.

To continue reading:
http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/defense_coin_guidance_073010/

Afghan and Coalition Forces Rescue More Than 2,000 Civilians Affected by Flooding

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition members from the Combined Air Power Transition Force teamed up Wednesday and Thursday to rescue more than 2,000 Afghan citizens from flooding in the Nangahar and Kunar provinces.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 11:38

The mostly Afghan crew, led by Kabul Air Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Barat, utilized just two Afghan Air Force Mi-17 helicopters over a 33 and half hour period.

"The rescue effort started west of Jalalabad, moving 50 people stranded by flooding to high ground. Flying in poor weather, the crews rescued about 300 people by the end of the first day," said Brig. Gen. Michael R. Boera, commander of CAPTF, an organization in the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan charged with developing Afghanistan's air power institutions.

Because of weather, the Kabul-based crews remained at Jalalabad Airfield overnight Wednesday, waking early Thursday to more calls for help. Day two, as it turns out, would be a long day flying in some dangerous areas.

"The crews were called out for rescues in Kunar, five miles south of Asadabad. This is a region of conflict, with a history of surfice-to-air fire, which is particularly dangerous to helicopter operations," said Lt. Col. Paul Birch, a CAPTF spokesman.

"Flight crews were cognizant of Taliban presence throughout the day, with rescued individuals bringing routine reports of fighters' proximity," Birch continued. "The National Military Command Center coordinated for Afghan National Police protection for the pick-up points - and effective use of all parts of the Afghan National Security Forces."

Aircrews airlifted about 1,700 people, flying the two helicopters almost nonstop, only pausing to refuel. Evacuating so many people with just two helicopters was a testament to the teamwork and also the flexibility and quality of the aircraft, according to the U.S.
Air Force general in charge of CAPTF air operations.

"The new Mi-17s were amazing. The passenger loads were phenomenal, with the dual doors and ramp being indispensible. Also, the common cockpit configuration instrumentation was critical in the marginal weather," said Boera.

During the course of the rescue operations, coalition crews displayed many acts of heroism that were awe inspiring, according to Birch.

"Lt. Col. Bernard "Jeep" Willi, a CAPTF advisor pilot, held one wheel on the side of a bridge while hovering to allow stranded Afghans to board. Another pilot performed a rescue with his Mi17 submerged to the fuselage," Birch said.

During the day, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Kevin Fife, CAPTF crew chief advisor, was teamed with Afghan crew chiefs in helping load people on the helicopter. During several rescue missions, Fife saw children in the water who needed assistance, and without hesitation, he went in to get them.

"When you see people in need you have to make a decision, react or do nothing. I choose to do something because that is what we do, we act. I saw someone who needed help and I helped," said Fife. "This is why we are here, to help people who are in need. Anyone would have done the same thing over the two days we were out there," Fife continued.

Once the mission was the complete, the Air Force general had nothing but praise for the Afghan and coalition partners who helped so many people in need.

"I'm proud to be the CAPTF commanding general given the heroic exploits of the Afghans and Americans on this embedded partnership disaster relief mission of mercy," said Boera.

LAR Marine killed in Afghanistan

Staff report
Posted : Friday Jul 30, 2010 18:47:47 EDT

OCEANSIDE, Calif. – Lance Cpl. Shane R. Martin was killed during combat operations Thursday in southern Afghanistan, military officials said Friday.

To read the entire article:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_casualty_073010w/

Panjshir ANP Hosts Local Media Event

The Shutol District Afghan National Police Station in Panjshir hosted their first media event showcasing Afghan police conducting training here July 21.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53718

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 04:14
By Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs

The Shutol ANP, who have worked with the Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team to improve their ability to provide security and respond to emergencies in the district, invited the media to help demonstrate these skills to the people in Panjshir.

The three Afghan media members reported on the police training, which included navigating a practice course by compass and using a GPS device.

A reporter from Radio Khurasan, a reporter from the Panjshir Valley Newspaper and the director of information and culture, arrived at the Shutol station to cover the final day of the navigation training taught to members of Afghan Police by Afghan Police, said Shutol District Capt. Safat Ullah Sangee, Panjshir Operations Coordination Center-Provincial.

“This training is a good example of Afghans taking the lead to teach other Afghans.”

“This media event is important so the people see the good things we are doing,” said Afghan National Army Col. Rajab Khan, commander of the Panjshir OCCP. “Sometimes people only see the bad things going on. When people hear about all of the positive things happening, they feel better and are encouraged to try to do better themselves.”

In addition to covering the training, the media representatives conducted a question and answer interview with ANP Panjshir Provincial Chief Gen. Mullah Saboor.

Saboor made a clear connection between the media covering the improvements in training and the security of the province and country.

“The media is covering some very important training here,” said Saboor. “We do a lot of training, and the media can show the people that we are working hard to keep them all secure.”

Saboor concluded by letting people watching, reading or listening know that he appreciates the American PRT, and he wants the rest of the valley to continue supporting them as well.

“The last thing I want to say is ‘Thank you,’” said Saboor. “Thank you to our American friends of PRT Panjshir. They leave their families at home for a long time to support us. We really do understand and appreciate their sacrifice.”

Official Rejects Claim WikiLeaks Offered Document Review

WASHINGTON - A claim by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that the U.S. government had an opportunity to review stolen military documents published on the group's website is untrue, a Pentagon spokesman said July 30.

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Story by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 03:20

"It's absolutely false that WikiLeaks contacted the White House and offered to have them look through the documents," Marine Corps Col. David Lapan said.

The website recently published tens of thousands of classified documents spanning the timeframe January 2004 through December 2009 that reportedly were given to several U.S. and international media outlets weeks ago. The documents detail field reports from Afghanistan and an alleged Pakistani partnership with the Taliban. The documents also include names of Afghan informants who work or have worked with the U.S. military.

Assange told "ABC Lateline" in Australia last night that WikiLeaks and several media groups contacted the White House prior to releasing the documents for assistance in reviewing them to make sure innocent names were not released. White House officials declined, he said.

He added that White House officials were not given "veto" power, but were given an opportunity help WikiLeaks minimize potential danger to informants and innocent civilians named in the cables. The New York Times acted on behalf of WikiLeaks, he said.

"We never had the opportunity to look at any of the documents in advance to determine anything," Lapan said. "The documents were brought to the attention of the White House, but no copies of documents, or opportunities to review were given."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said July 29 that Defense Department officials have asked the FBI to assist in investigating the leak of the classified material. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said those responsible for the leak may have the blood of U.S. service members and Afghan civilians on their hands.

Afghan police fire shots to quell protest after accident

KABUL, July 30 (Reuters) - Afghan police fired shots on Friday to disperse hundreds of people protesting the deaths of civilians in an accident involving a U.S. embassy vehicle, police said.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66T0Y2.htm

30 Jul 2010 14:57:48 GMT
Source: Reuters
(For more on Afghanistan, click [ID:nAFPAK])

A police official at the scene said four Afghan civilians were killed in the accident in the capital Kabul, while the U.S. embassy said there were fatalities and serious injuries.

"According to our report, six Afghan civilians were involved in this incident and four of them have already died," head of police criminal investigation, Sayed Abdul Ghafar Sayedzada, told reporters at the scene.

"We have also been informed that there were fatalities and serious injuries among the Afghans involved in the accident and we refer you to the Afghan authorities for more details," the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

The accident, near the Masood Circle landmark in the airport/diplomatic area, sparked anger among local residents who torched two embassy cars and pelted police with rocks when they tried to intervene.

Civilian casualties caused by foreign troops in Afghanistan is one of the most sensitive issues between the government of Hamid Karzai and its foreign backers and has sparked violent street protests in Afghanistan in the past.

President Karzai has repeatedly asked international troops to do whatever it can to protect civilians during their military operations against the insurgents (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan) (Reporting by Yousuf Azimy; Editing by David Fox and Sanjeev Miglani) ([email protected]; +93 799 390 693 (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to [email protected])

Citizens Report Weapons Caches in Charikar

Afghan National Police, with assistance from Coalition Forces, recovered two weapons caches in the town of Charikar July 26.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 03:49

Responding from two different calls from the citizens of Parwan, an ANP explosive ordinance disposal team, with assistance from Coalition Forces, planned and organized the operation to recover both caches.

The caches included one anti-tank mine hidden in a wall, and multiple anti-personnel mines, shape charges, time fuses and sticks of dynamite. These munitions are often used in roadside bombs, which have killed Afghan civilians.

“We are very encouraged to hear that citizens of Parwan Province are taking action to make their communities a safer place to live, work and raise their children,” said U.S. Army Col. Will Roy, commander 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), Task Force Wolverine.

If anyone knows the location of any weapons caches or unexploded ordinance they should call the Parwan Community Safety Line at 0796503599.

Soldier accused of leaks would be tried in U.S.

The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 30, 2010 14:47:49 EDT

WASHINGTON — The Army says a soldier charged with leaking U.S. war secrets to the Wikileaks website would be tried at a military installation in the Washington area if a general court-martial is ordered.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_soldier_leaks_073010/

Forces in Afghanistan Capture Suspected Insurgents

WASHINGTON - Afghan and coalition forces captured numerous suspected insurgents in recent operations in Afghanistan, and insurgents have continued killing civilians as they seek to intimidate the population, military officials reported.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 01:19

A combined Afghan and coalition security force detained four suspected insurgents in Paktia province last night, including a Haqqani terrorist network subcommander who facilitates the movement of weapons into the province's Gardez District. The commander was in direct contact with senior Haqqani leadership operating in the Khost-Gardez area and in Pakistan, officials said.

The security force targeted a compound near the village in Gardez district and secured the area. Afghan forces then called for all residents to come out of the compound peacefully. After initial questioning, the insurgent commander and three additional suspected insurgents were detained. Multiple automatic weapons, magazines, grenades and chest racks were found, along with a blasting cap.

An Afghan and coalition security force detained three suspected insurgents in Helmand province's Nad-e Ali district last night while in pursuit of a senior Taliban tactical commander who regularly conducts kidnappings and intimidation campaigns against Afghan civilians. He also is known to direct bombing attacks against Afghan civilians and coalition forces.

When Afghan forces called for all residents to peacefully come out of the targeted compound, two men tried to escape and were detained immediately. A total of three suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

A combined security force detained three suspected insurgents in Khost province's Khost District last night while in pursuit of a Haqqani bombing-attack attack facilitator.

No shots were fired, and the security force protected women and children who were present during the operations.

In other news from Afghanistan, coalition forces took advantage of a brief target of opportunity earlier this week by conducting several precision strikes on a bunker complex in Paktia province where the senior Haqqani network commander for Khost-Gardez Pass was believed to be hiding, officials said. The commander was responsible for command and control of all Haqqani and foreign fighter camps in the area. Afghan and coalition forces still are gathering information to confirm the commander's death, officials said, adding that at least a dozen insurgents reportedly were killed in the strikes.

Meanwhile, officials said, insurgents have continued killing innocent civilians in their efforts to intimidate the Afghan people.

An Afghan civilian woman and girl were killed and another girl was wounded in an explosion in Kandahar City today when a stationary motorcycle rigged with explosives detonated outside the home of a parliamentary candidate. The detonation took place as the candidate was coming out of his house, but he was unharmed in the explosion.

Yesterday, the son of an election campaign chief for a parliamentary candidate and another civilian were killed in an insurgent ambush.

"Insurgents continue to wage war against innocent civilians involved in the election process as they attempt to deny Afghans stability and security," said Army Col. Rafael Torres, director of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command's Combined Joint Operations Center. "The killings appear to be an attempt to target parliamentary candidates as well as members of their campaigning teams. We strongly condemn these killings, and would like to assure the Afghan people that these cowardly acts will not deter our Afghan partners and ISAF from our goal of a stable and secure Afghanistan."

Insurgents killed 13 Afghan civilians and wounded four more in attacks throughout Afghanistan July 29. Six Afghan civilians were killed by insurgent small-arms fire while building and repairing roads in Ghazni province's Ab Band district of Ghazni province, Afghan officials reported.

Three more civilians were killed and two were wounded when a roadside bomb detonated in Kandahar province's Kandahar district. In Ghazni province, three Afghan civilians were killed and one was wounded when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb, and another roadside bomb in Paktia province's Tsamkani District killed a civilian and wounded another.

Afghan Leaders One Step Closer to Peace With 'Voice of East Paktika' Jirga

KABUL, Afghanistan - More than 1,500 Afghan nationals attended the Voice of East Paktika Jirga July 29 to discuss peace and tribal security in the seven northern districts of Paktika province.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 01:10

The regional jirga came just over a week after the International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Kabul, where President Hamid Karzai announced his goal to have Afghan forces lead security operations by 2014.

Security for the event was provided by the Afghan National Army and local Afghan National Police.

Asadollah Khaled, Minister of Border and Tribal Affairs, and Mohibullah Sameen, governor of Paktika province, hosted the regional event. Both Afghan leaders spoke of ways to bring a broader security to the districts neighboring the Pakistan border, and used the momentum of the Kabul talks to suggest what can be done at the local level.

The proposal, suggested and endorsed by both Khaled and Sameen, included a security agreement to be signed by each of the district sub-governors.

In the agreement, tribal leaders would prohibit the movement and harbouring of insurgents in their villages.

As in-depth conversations began about the conditions of the agreement, torrential rain disrupted the outdoor event, forcing portions of the discussions to be postponed until a later date.

Despite the weather delays, coalition officials said they were pleased with the progress made during the jirga.

"The agreement will still have to be signed at the district level, but it's one step closer to peace within Paktika province," said a U.S. Special Forces officer observing the event.

The Voice of East Paktika was the second jirga in the eastern provinces, following the Paktya province jirga held in June. Future jirgas in the surrounding provinces have also been discussed.

"Each of these regional jirgas increases security down to the village level," said Lt. Col. Donald Franklin, Special Operations Task Force-East commander. "When the Afghan government and the local people come together, progress is made. We will continue to support them however we can."

Wikileaks Afghanistan: Taliban 'hunting down informants'

The Taliban has issued a warning to Afghans whose names might appear on the leaked Afghanistan war logs as informers for the Nato-led coalition.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7917955/Wikileaks-Afghanistan-Taliban-hunting-down-informants.html

News Video:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/7918462/Wikileaks-Afghanistan-US-Defence-Secretary-claims-leaks-could-could-endanger-troops.html

By Robert Winnett in Washington
Published: 7:00AM BST 30 Jul 2010

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said they were studying and investigating the report, adding “If they are US spies, then we know how to punish them.”

The warning came as the US military's top officer, Admiral Mike Mullen said that Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, may already have blood on his hands following the leak of 92,000 classified documents relating to the war in Afghanistan by his website.

"Mr Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing, but the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family," he said.

Information from the documents could reveal:

* Names and addresses of Afghans cooperating with Nato forces
* Precise GPS locations of Afghans
* Sources and methods of gathering intelligence

The US government has called in the FBI to help hunt those responsible for leaking tens of thousands of secret documents about the Afghanistan war.

Robert Gates, the US Defense Secretary, warned that sources identified in the documents now risked being "targeted for retribution" by insurgents in Afghanistan.

He pledged a "thorough, aggressive investigation" to identify the leakers and said that steps were being taken to restrict access to classified documents in future.

Bradley Manning, a 22-year old intelligence analyst, is the prime suspect in the leak inquiry. He is currently already in custody in Kuwait after being arrested for allegedly leaking other information earlier this year.

However, he was previously caught boasting that he had leaked tens of thousands of documents on the Afghan war to the Wikileaks website. The Pentagon suspects that Manning may have accomplices within the military.

Earlier this week, Wikileaks published 90,000 documents – mostly reports detailing operations by American and other allied forces in Afghanistan between 2004 and 2009. The website is threatening to publish thousands more documents.

In his first comments on the massive leak, Mr Gates said that "the battlefield consequences of the release of these documents are potentially severe and dangerous for our troops, our allies and Afghan partners, and may well damage our relationships and reputation in that key part of the world." "Intelligence sources and methods, as well as military tactics, techniques and procedures will become known to our adversaries," he added.

The defense secretary promised "a thorough, aggressive investigation to determine how this leak occurred, to identify the person or persons responsible, and to assess the content of the information compromised."

Mr Gates promised to take steps to protect the lives of US service members as well as Afghans possibly exposed by the leaks.

The massive leak jeopardised the trust vital to gathering intelligence in the "field", said Mr Gates, a former CIA director.

"We have considerable repair work to do," he said.



British troops launch biggest offensive of summer in Afghanistan

Hundreds of British troops on Friday launched their biggest offensive of the summer to wrest a Taliban stronghold in Helmand from insurgent control.

Operation Tor Shezada, or Black Prince, began in the early hours of Friday with helicopters carrying soldiers deep into rebel-held territory in the southern tip of Nad-e-Ali district in Helmand.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7918548/British-troops-launch-biggest-offensive-of-summer-in-Afghanistan.html

By Ben Farmer in Nad-e-Ali
Published: 11:51AM BST 30 Jul 2010

Their target is the town of Saidabad, which commanders said was the last part of British-garrisoned Nad-e-Ali which remains beyond the Afghan government’s control.

The operation is intended to build on Operation Moshtarak, which was launched in February and was the largest operation in the nine-year Afghanistan campaign. The push saw a combined force of 15,000 British, American and Afghan troops attempt to bring peace to the district.

However, Saidabad was never cleared and is both a symbolic and tactically significant location.

The town is the site of a critical canal crossing where insurgents can freely cross with weapons and motorbikes, allowing the Taliban to resupply Marjah to the south, where US marines have been locked in battle since Moshtarak began.

It also houses an insurgent “shadow government” and is defended by up to 180 fighters, hidden among the 6,000 residents’ scattered mud-walled compounds.

Major Andy Garner, the officer in charge of Corunna Company, 1st Battalion, the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said: “It is a small safe haven or staging post where they can move forward from and stage attacks. It is an area they can move freely in and out of.”

As the push began, the Daily Telegraph accompanied Corunna Company on foot across farmland towards the area in the dark.

“The plan is to steal the area rather than to fight for it,” Lt Col Frazer Lawrence, commander of forces in Nad-e-Ali, told this newspaper.

Habibullah, the district governor, issued radio appeals for villagers to stay inside as troops advanced.

Commanders believed the Taliban were taken by surprise and the advance faced no resistance as it leapfrogged form compound to compound.

However, as day came and the temperature climbed to a sweltering heat, teenage boys darted in and out of the tree line, watching the troops’ progress. They were believed to be Taliban scouts.

Bomb disposal experts painstakingly started to clear the main route south to the town. The two-mile road will later be reinforced by checkpoints aimed at permanently keeping it clear of home-made bombs.

British commanders have hailed Nad-e-Ali as a beacon of progress since Taliban fighters were cleared from the district in Moshtarak.

Commerce in the town of Nad-e-Ali, which gives its name to the district, sharply increased over the last 12 months and the busy bazaar now has 250 shops and solar powered street lights recently fitted by the British.

Soldiers believe security has improved so much that soon they will be able to stop wearing helmets on patrols through the town.

Afghans visiting bazaars in Nad-e-Ali before the offensive said security had improved in recent months, but added that they still felt caught between rebel and Nato-led forces.

Mullah Reedi Gul, a stallholder, said the Taliban held sway less than two miles into the countryside.

“Inside the bazaar it’s very good and business is very good, but outside it is still insecure,” he said.

“When the Taliban come into our villages, they use our compounds for ambushes and then the Nato soldiers come and blame us.”


Aghan Women Killed Indiscriminately in Explosion

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan civilian woman and girl were killed and another girl wounded in an explosion in Kandahar, July 30.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 10:35

A stationary motorcycle rigged with explosives, detonated outside the home of a parliamentary candidate. The detonation took place as the candidate was exiting his house, but he was unharmed in the explosion.

"It's clear through these attacks that the Taliban want nothing to do with a secure and stable Afghanistan. The targeted killing of innocent civilians and election candidates continue to demonstrate the Taliban are enemies of this country," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

Gates, Mullen: Leakers are endangering troops

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Jul 30, 2010 8:49:47 EDT

The Defense Department’s top civilian and military officials blasted the leak and subsequent publication of 91,000 pages of classified documents this week relating to the war in Afghanistan.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/military_wikileaks_gates_mullen_072910w/

Insurgent Killing of Civilians With Election Ties Continue

KABUL, Afghanistan -- On July 29, the son of an election campaign chief for a parliamentary candidate and another civilian will killed in an insurgent ambush as they travelled between Nazdara District and Koh-e Safi District.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53688

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 09:04

"Insurgents continue to wage war against innocent civilians involved in the election process as they attempt to deny Afghans stability and security," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The killings appear to be an attempt to target parliamentary candidates as well as members of their campaigning teams."

"We strongly condemn these killings and would like to assure the Afghan people that these cowardly acts will not deter our Afghan partners and ISAF from our goal of a stable and secure Afghanistan,"
said Torres.

Afghan and Coalition Security Force Captures Haqqani Commander in Paktiya

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained four suspected insurgents in Paktiya province last night including a Haqqani Network sub-commander who facilitates the movement of weapons into Gardez district.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53689

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 09:09

The commander was in direct contact with senior Haqqani leadership operating in the Khost-Gardez area and in Pakistan.

The security force targeted a compound near the village of Sarkari Kala in Gardez district and secured the area. Afghan forces then called for all residents to peacefully exit the compound. After initial questioning on scene, the commander and three additional suspected insurgents were detained. Multiple automatic weapons, magazines, grenades and chest racks were found along with an improvised explosive device blasting cap.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"The Haqqani Network is notorious for recruiting foreign fighters into Afghanistan, further enabling their violent practices within the Khost-Gardez Pass," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We will relentlessly pursue the leaders of this organization."

Coalition forces took advantage of a brief target of opportunity earlier this week by conducting several precision strikes on a bunker complex in Paktiya province where the senior Haqqani Network commander for K-G pass was believed to be hiding. The commander was responsible for the overall command and control of all Haqqani and foreign fighter camps in the area. Afghan and coalition forces are still gathering information to confirm the commander's death, but at least a dozen insurgents were reportedly killed in the strikes. As a result of careful planning and mitigation, no civilians were hurt or wounded in the operation.

Three Suspected Insurgents Detained by Afghan-led Security Force in Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained three suspected insurgents in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a senior Taliban tactical commander who regularly conducts kidnappings and intimidation campaigns against innocent Afghan civilians.

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ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 08:57

He is also known to direct improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

The security force targeted a compound in rural Nad 'Ali district to search for the commander. Afghan forces called for all residents to peacefully exit the compound, but two men tried to escape the combined force. They were immediately detained by the security force and the area was secured. A total of three suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Taliban commanders enter villages and bully Afghan civilians into submitting to their oppressive rule," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Our joint forces will continue to pursue those who reign by violence and establish opportunity and stability for the Afghan people."

Taliban Helpless Against Floods While Afghan Air Force Saves Thousands

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Crouched low against the beating winds, Afghan civilians trudge quickly through knee deep muddy fields to the relative safety of a waiting Mi-17 transport helicopter, courtesy of the Afghan Air Force. Bringing only what they could carry, villagers from the Laghman, Nangahar and Kunar provinces sought refuge from the severe flooding that had struck the region, almost overnight. The Taliban maintain a strong presence in the Kunar region and routinely use surface-to-air fire against low flying helicopters, yet heedless of this threat Brig. Gen. Muhammad Barat Kabul Air Wing Commander --assisted by NATO allies-- launched two Mi-17 helicopters, solely tasked to help as many as they could.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53686

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Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class David R. Quillen
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 08:53

“The weather was simply terrible. It started to clear a bit the second day but the first was definitely flown under special visual flight rules or even under instrument flight rules, as visibility was exceedingly poor” explains Lt. Col. Greg Roberts, U.S. Air Force 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron, Combined Air Power Transition Force. Roberts helped pilot and assisted in the rescue.

Dealing with haft mile visibility in the rain, 500 ft flight ceilings, and a general haze, all of which contributed to low or no visibility, the crews of the Mi-17’s were able to rescue 50 civilians trapped in the over-swept isles in the middle of the raging Kabul river in the Laghman province. Once these original groups of people were rescued, the Afghan rescue group knowing their help was still needed, re-tasked and began rescuing people just north and east of Jalalabad, in the Nangahar province. Here another 200 people were rescued the first day and another 50 the second day, before the group was tasked to go up the Kunar Valley.

“We’re going to get shot. We’re going to get shot. But it’s OK. We need to do this mission” repeats Roberts remembering Barats’ words. “We were flying into the Kunar province and he kept saying it. Sure Barat was nervous, we all were, but like he said we needed to do the mission. Those people needed help.”

The Kunar Valley is a hot-bed of insurgent activity and consistently has multiple Surface-to-Air Fire events daily, but this is where the largest portion of civilians were being over-swept by flood waters. 1,800 people were rescued from flood waters of the Kunar River, about 5 miles south of the town of Asadabad.

The hope was that should the helicopters make it to the rescue site without being hit by surface-to-air fire then the Taliban and insurgents in the area would let it continue unhindered with the rescue operation. Shooting the helicopter while helping civilians would look bad on the Taliban; though even that little hope would not be helpful during re-fueling operations at Forward Operating Base Wright, near Asadabad.

There the helicopters and rescue crews would be far enough away from the civilian population that it would not be immediately obvious that they were in the middle of rescue operations and the Taliban would be free to attack and achieve their desire to undermine the abilities of the Afghan government. Fortunately, for whatever the reason, the Taliban held off and the weather was the only direct threat faced by the rescue crews.

Difficult landings in rescue locations, one wheel hovers on embankments, bridge abutments, rooftops, and being immediately adjacent to and between swift water, the Afghan pilots and crews along with their allies from CAPTF, demonstrated unwavering skill and heroism. They demonstrated to 2,100 people what the Afghan government and its Air Force is capable of, and what the Taliban is not.

Hearts and mind hard to reach in Afghan valley

SAIDON KALACHEH, Afghanistan, July 30 (Reuters) - Defeating insurgents in Afghanistan's volatile Arghandab Valley would take time, but there were now enough U.S. and Afghan troops to defeat the Taliban, the area's U.S. commander says.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66T04H.htm

30 Jul 2010 05:32:16 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Rob Taylor

A two-day push to widen security to "friendly" villages around a besieged U.S. combat post in Arghandab went awry this week, with American soldiers drawn into an insurgent fight and arguing with local people about their presence.

Soldiers shot and killed two suspected Taliban who had opened fire on them, although local people said the men were farmers. They accused U.S. troops of reacting to a backfiring tractor, underscoring how difficult the American mission to win support in the Taliban's birthplace will be.

Colonel Arthur Kandarian, who commands the 2nd Brigade of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, said he was confident Afghan soldiers now joining U.S. troops would eventually convince local people that the Taliban no longer controlled the fertile farmlands of Afghanistan's bread basket.

"I think we are going to be fine. Across the three districts that I'm in charge of, we're just starting to see additional forces in some of these areas. Security of the population takes time," Kandarian told Reuters.

The Arghandab river valley is an important infiltration route used by the Taliban to attack U.S. forces and smuggle weapons and men a few miles east to Kandahar city.

An operation across Kandahar by U.S and NATO soldiers is being planned, but insurgents in Arghandab are tying up Kandarian's brigade with mines and hit-and-run attacks launched from thick cover in ripening grape and pomegranate plantations.

"NO HEARTS AND MINDS HERE"

U.S. commanders are pursuing a complicated counter-insurgency or COIN strategy, in which "protecting the population" takes priority over military efforts to defeat insurgents, thereby winning local "hearts and minds".

But many frontline soldiers and junior officers believe the strategy will not work in Afghanistan, at least not before the July 2011 date set for the start of an American withdrawal by President Barack Obama.

They point out that, unlike Iraqis, Afghans have never rallied behind a strong central government and have allegiances to their local tribal groups rather than provincial and district leaders friendly to the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

"There are no friendly villages, there are no hearts and minds here," a U.S. soldier muttered as a lieutenant stood outside a mud-walled mosque at dawn in Saidon Kalacheh village this week, trying to convince the village leader or "malik" to let his troops stay a night.

After a threat of a forceful occupation to run security patrols, locals eventually moved the platoon into a difficult-to-defend house compound and complained they would be killed by Taliban if seen lending any support.

Kandarian said Afghan troops would bridge the cultural and trust differences in one of the most violent areas around Combat Outpost Nolen and the wider valley, but had only been conducting patrols for around five to six days.

"I think the people are very resilient, and I think a lot of them that do own lands are probably farming in their lands and then they are temporarily moving to other locations until they figure out what the security is going to be like," he said.

(Editing by David Fox) ([email protected]; +93 705 998 317) (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to [email protected])

Afghan and Coalition Security Force Detains Three Suspected Insurgents in Khost

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force detained three suspected insurgents in Khost province last night while in pursuit of a Haqqani improvised explosive device material and attack facilitator within the province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53684

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 08:31

The security force targeted a series of compounds near the village of Sivakay in Khost district to search for the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all residents to peacefully exit the compounds and then secured the area. After initial questioning on the scene, three suspected insurgents were detained. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

“Insurgents have already caused almost 2,000 civilian causalities this year by dramatically increasing their use of IED's and other indiscriminate tactics. This is a 24 percent increase from the same period last year,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.
Control Panel

Insurgents Kill 13 Civilians, Wound 4 in Attacks Throughout Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgents killed 13 Afghan civilians and wounded four more in attacks throughout Afghanistan yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53680

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.30.2010
Posted: 07.30.2010 04:44

While building and repairing roads in the Ab Band district of Ghazni province, six Afghan civilians were killed by insurgents’ small-arms fire, according to Afghan officials.

Three more civilians were killed and two wounded when an improvised explosive devise IED detonated on the side of a road in the Kandahar district of Kandahar province. Afghan National Police members transported the wounded to Kandahar City Hospital.

In Ghazni province, three Afghan civilians were killed and one wounded when their vehicle struck an IED.

One more Afghan civilian was killed, and another one was injured in an IED explosion in the Tsamkani district of Paktiya province.

"You know, they [insurgents] take no holds barred against killing innocent women, children, Afghans every single day. They're in cahoots with Mullah Omar and the Taliban, have gone out recently and publicly said attack civilians, women and children" said Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commanding general for Regional Command-East.

July 29, 2010

Mystery deepens over why sailors left base

By Amir Shah and Deb Riechmann - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jul 29, 2010 21:49:19 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The discovery of the body of a second sailor who vanished in Afghanistan last week only deepened the mystery of the men's disappearance nearly 60 miles from their base in a dangerous area controlled by the Taliban.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_sailor_body_found_072910/

Witness Says Leaked Reports Don't Tell Full Story

As an embedded reporter, Noah Shachtman witnessed one of the battles described in classified documents released on WikiLeaks. While he was patrol with the Marines of Echo company in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, a firefight broke out.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128849592

July 29, 2010

Shachtman says the report about that conflict doesn't reflect the reality of events on the ground.

For example, he tells NPR's Tony Cox, "the WikiLeaked document mentions a bomb being dropped and that enemy fire was then suppressed." In fact, he says, "the enemy fire was suppressed for all of 17 minutes, and then the fighting started all over again."

But Shachtman doesn't think the omissions are intentional. "I think these are really short, really fast, really compressed reports given from a junior officer to a more senior officer."

Based on the discrepancies between what he experienced and what he found in the report, he explains how he thinks readers should interpret the 92,000 documents.

"You can read them almost like interoffice memos," says Shachtman. "And we all know interoffice memos don't necessarily tell us what happens a the office."

WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands, U.S. says

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks may have blood on its hands, the Pentagon said on Thursday, warning its unprecedented leak of secret U.S. military files could cost lives and damage trust of allies.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N29263582.htm

29 Jul 2010 22:48:57 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Leak may costs lives, damage trust with allies -Pentagon

* Army intelligence officer at center of leak probe

* Doubts growing over war, casualties rising (Adds comments, details)

By Phil Stewart and Adam Entous

An Army intelligence officer, already under arrest, is at the center of an investigation into the leak of more than 90,000 secret records to WikiLeaks, one of the biggest security breaches in U.S. military history, U.S. officials have said.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates declined to comment on the probe but said he could not rule out more leaks of classified information. He also announced plans to tighten access to sensitive intelligence data.

"I don't know whether there is anyone else out there that is a party to this," Gates said at the Pentagon in his first public comments since Sunday's publication of the documents.

Admiral Mike Mullen, who as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the top U.S. military officer, lashed out at WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange, who says he aims to expose corporate and government corruption.

"Mr. Assange can say whatever he likes about the greater good he thinks he and his source are doing," Mullen said. "But the truth is they might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family."

Gates said he did not know whether Assange should face criminal prosecution or whether WikiLeaks should be treated like a media organization protected by free speech rights under the U.S. Constitution. "I think that's a question for people who are more expert in the law than I am," he said.

But asked about a possible broadening of the criminal investigation to include WikiLeaks, Gates said he had asked the FBI to assist the Army's probe to ensure that the investigation "can go wherever it needs to go."

President Barack Obama and military top brass have played down any revelations from the leaked documents, which have fanned doubts in Washington about the unpopular and costly nine-year-old war.

June was the deadliest month for foreign troops since the start of the conflict in 2001 and U.S. officials warn they expect casualties will keep rising over the summer.

U.S. CONTACTS AT RISK

Obama met his national security team at the White House on Thursday and officials said the WikiLeaks case was discussed.

Gates, a former CIA director, told reporters his biggest concern was that Afghans and other allies would no longer trust the United States to keep their secrets safe. The documents include intelligence reports and expose names of contacts.

"I spent most of my life in the intelligence business, where the sacrosanct principle is protecting your sources," Gates said.

"It seems to me that, as a result of this massive breach of security, we have considerable repair work to do in terms of reassuring people and rebuilding trust, because they clearly -- people are going to feel at risk."

He said there were technological solutions to tighten security of classified military networks. One defense official suggested possible measures could include deactivating computer functions used to download data onto portable devices, like CDs or thumb-drives.

Beyond exposing U.S. contacts, the leaked documents also threw an uncomfortable spotlight on links between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and insurgents who oppose U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Mullen acknowledged some ties remained but said Islamabad was "strategically shifting" against insurgents.

"There have been elements of the ISI that have ... a relationship with extremist organizations and that we, you know, we consider that unacceptable. In the long run I think that the ISI has to strategically shift," he said.

"And they are strategically shifting. That doesn't mean that they are through that shift at all."

The Army investigation into the incident has focused on Army specialist Bradley Manning, who was already charged earlier this month with leaking information previously published by WikiLeaks, U.S. defense officials say.

Manning is awaiting trial on charges of leaking a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists.

Neither Manning nor anyone else has been named as a suspect in the latest leak and investigators are not ruling out the involvement of multiple individuals. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Reserve lance cpl. dies in Helmand province

Staff report
Posted : Thursday Jul 29, 2010 14:24:48 EDT

A reserve Marine died Tuesday in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department has announced.

To continue reading about Fallen Hero,Lance Cpl. Abram L. Howard:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_casualty_072910w/

2nd US Navy sailor's body recovered in Afghanistan

KABUL, 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.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hvWEqwq3CrRvaQCmt21MfoYhjZJQD9H8QVF00

By AMIR SHAH and DEB RIECHMANN (AP) – July 29, 2010

The family of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, a 25-year-old from the Seattle area, had been notified of his death, the U.S. military official said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to disclose the information.

Newlove and Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley went missing last Friday in Logar province. NATO recovered the body of McNeley — a 30-year-old father of two from Wheat Ridge, Colorado — in the area Sunday.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press in Kabul on Thursday that two days ago the Taliban left the "body of a dead American soldier for the U.S. forces" to recover. The Taliban said McNeley was killed in a firefight and insurgents had captured Newlove. Mujahid offered no explanation for Newlove's death.

NATO officials have not offered an explanation as to why the two service members were in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where McNeley's body was recovered, officials said.

The chief of police of Logar province, Gen. Mustafa Mosseini, said coalition troops removed Newlove's body about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Newlove was shot once in the head and twice in the torso, according to Logar provincial spokesman Din Mohammad Darwesh. He speculated Newlove may have been wounded in a shootout with the Taliban and died because there was no medical care available in the rugged mountain area.

Mosseini said he believed the body washed downstream after rains Tuesday night.

He noted in the past several days, the Taliban were being pressured by coalition forces in the area.

"The security was being tightened," Mosseini said. "Searches continued from both air and the ground. Militants were moving into Pakistan."

Mohammad Rahim Amin, the local government chief in Baraki Barak district, also said coalition forces recovered a body about 5:30 p.m. and flew it by helicopter to a coalition base in Logar province, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) away.

"The coalition told our criminal police director of the district that the body belonged to the foreign soldier they were looking for," Amin said.

In the capital Kabul, President Hamid Karzai urged his international partners on Thursday to take stronger action against terrorist sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan, telling reporters the international community "is here to fight terrorism, but there is danger elsewhere and they are not acting."

Karzai appeared to be referring to insurgent sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan, although he did not cite that country by name.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit criticized Karzai's comments, saying, "We found these incomprehensible given the fact that we all know well that during the last two years Pakistan and Afghanistan have been cooperating very closely with each other against terrorism."

Pressure is building on Pakistan to escalate the fight against militants on its soil, especially since the release of more than 90,000 leaked U.S. military documents posted Sunday on the Web by WikiLeaks. The trove of U.S. intelligence reports alleged close connections between Pakistan's intelligence agency and Taliban militants fighting Afghan and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Pakistan called the accusations malicious and unsubstantiated, but the push to persuade Pakistan to do more to eliminate Islamic extremists on its soil continues.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Pakistan needs to make progress against terrorist groups on its soil.

"To be fair, the Pakistan government — they have taken action against these groups," he said.

But refusing to back down from comments he made this week in India, Cameron added: "We need them to do more and we will support and help them as they do more."

Karzai also told reporters he ordered his Cabinet to study the war papers, especially those that address Pakistan and civilian casualties in Afghanistan. He also said documents that disclosed the names of Afghans who have worked with the NATO-led force were "shocking" and "irresponsible."

"Their lives will be in danger now," he said. "This is a very serious issue."

Landmark Public Trial Successfully Held in Khost Province; Two Kidnappers Sentenced to 16-years

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- A public trial for two-accused Afghan kidnappers was held in the Khost Provincial Court, marking a significant step forward in Afghanistan’s progression toward implementing the Rule-of-Law and solidifying a legal process for the accused.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53657

Combined Joint Task Force 101 More Stories from Combined Joint Task Force 101 RSS
Story by Sgt. Brent Powell
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 03:28

The trial, which resulted in the conviction and sentencing of two Afghans, Alalqadar and Noorosman, marked only the second time that a public trial has taken place in Khost Province since the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan came to power.

“This was a huge step forward for the Afghan Justice System, the Rule-of-Law and the people of Khost,” said U.S. Army Maj. Anthony C. Adolph, staff judge advocate, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. “Word will spread quickly that the justice system in Khost works swiftly, effectively and fairly.”

The July 24 trial came about after the two Afghans, who worked as Khost security guards at nearby Forward Operating Base Chapman, kidnapped a local business owner, July 18. When cornered by Afghan National Police, the kidnappers engaged the ANP in a firefight, resulting in two bystanders being shot, one fatally.

After the two were taken into custody, the case was handed to Afghan National Army Col. Fazel Habibi, who is the embedded internal and external security prosecutor for Task Force Rakkasan.

Habibi immediately indicted the two on charges of kidnapping and felony murder.

“This trial marked the 12th and 13th indictments that Col. Habibi has brought to trial,” said Adolph. “Embedding a national security prosecutor at FOB Salerno has proven to be a successful concept.”

After careful investigation and review by Habibi, the case was heard by Chief Judge Hanan and Deputy Judge Aref.

Once both sides had presented their cases, the judges took a recess to review the case and make a decision.

Returning to the courtroom a short time later, the judges announced a guilty verdict on both men. Both were then sentenced to 16-years imprisonment.

A standing room only gallery of more than 50 Afghan citizens observed the trial alongside local media from four television stations, several local radio stations and print outlets.

“Increased security for the prosecutor and judges coordinated by the Afghan National Police, Task Force Rakkasan and the Afghan Embassy, along with a dedicated brigade rule-of-law staff judge advocate, is credited with making these trials possible,” said Adolph, a Brooklyn, N,Y. native. “Overall this trial was a huge success and was Afghan led from beginning to end.”

The judges assured coalition forces and Habibi that public trials will continue and they are excited with the progress and the future.

East Texas Marine wounded by IED, family shares story

MOUNT PLEASANT, TX (KLTV) - Marine Lance Corporal Dustin Dryden, 21, of Mount Pleasant was on his second tour in Afghanistan when he was wounded by an IED late Tuesday.

http://www.kltv.com/global/story.asp?s=12895285

By Bob Hallmark
Posted by Ellen Krafve
Posted: Jul 29, 2010 4:41 PM CDT Updated: Jul 30, 2010 11:20 AM CDT

His mother Sherry got the early morning call that every parent fears.

"'It's somebody from the Marine corps and they want to talk to you about Dustin'...and he said, 'Are you alone?'...and he said you might want to sit down, and I said, 'Just tell me.' [Your son is] listed in serious condition and that's all I have for you,'" said Sherry remembering the moment.

For 16 agonizing hours Sherry didn't know Dustin's fate.

"Well, I was kind of in shock for a while," said Sherry."I felt like an outsider looking in."

"[I worried,] 'Was he able to talk? Why is he not calling? Maybe something else happened. Maybe he took a turn for the worse.' That's when the waiting got really hard."

Then, finally, the voice she wanted to hear.

"I was like, 'Dustin, just call me! All I need is to hear your voice!' and the phone rang," said Sherry. "He was in really good spirits. He was like, 'Hey, Mom. How are you?'"

He got some typical Marine words of encouragement from his family.

"He better be tough, that's all I can tell him and I love him to death," said Dustin's sister, Heather Dryden.

"I am so proud of him," said his mom.

Dustin is recovering at a British hospital in Afghanistan. He has told his mother that "he's bored" in the hospital.

For GIs in Afghanistan, success comes slowly

By William M. Welch - USA Today
Posted : Thursday Jul 29, 2010 20:47:27 EDT

KUKARAN, Afghanistan — The soldiers of Bravo Company walk past windowless, mud-walled homes and mosques as children go by carrying cans filled with water.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/gns_army_afghanistan_patrols_072910/

Afghan Man Killed in Crossfire

KABUL, Afghanistan - Coalition forces operating just outside Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan were attacked by insurgents with small arms, July 28. ISAF forces gained positive identification of the enemy and returned small arms fire.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53617

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 10:08

Upon assessment of the site after the attack, it was determined that a local man was killed in the crossfire.

Coalition forces deeply regret this unfortunate loss of life and express our sincerest apologies to the family. ISAF takes civilian casualties very seriously and will continue to take every precaution to prevent them.

Afghan and Combined Force Recover Weapons Cache in Eastern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (July 29) - On Wednesday, July 28, Afghan National Security Forces with International Security Assistance Force partners conducted an operation to recover a suspected weapons cache in Ghazni district, in Ghazni province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53633

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 11:29

The combined force recovered a cache containing twenty-seven 82mm high explosive anti-tank recoilless rifle rounds.

After locating the cache and establishing a safety cordon, the combined force conducted a controlled explosion to destroy the cache.

The aim of this operation was to disrupt insurgents' access to the material required to continue attacks against Afghans and combined force troops.

No civilians were injured during the conduct of this operation.

Biden says no plans to nation-build in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, July 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday the United States was not in Afghanistan to "nation-build" but for the sole purpose of defeating al Qaeda in the border areas with Pakistan.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N29246770.htm

29 Jul 2010 15:48:14 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Focus is on objective of beating al Qaeda

* Will not be there for "10 years"

* Obama meets security team on Afghanistan

By Sue Pleming

Under growing pressure over the unpopular and costly nine-year war, the Obama administration is grappling with how to measure success in Afghanistan for a review due in December of how President Barack Obama's new strategy is working.

Laying out the reasoning behind its Afghanistan policy, Biden said it was not to create a U.S.-style democracy but to eliminate al Qaeda, which is blamed for the 2001 attacks against the United States.

"We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose ... the al Qaeda that exists in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan," he said in an interview with NBC's "Today" show.

"We are not there to nation-build. We are not out there deciding we are going to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy and build that country. We made it clear, we are not there for 10 years," he said.

Obama announced in December an additional 30,000 troops to fight the war and said he also intended to start pulling out U.S. troops from Afghanistan from July 2011 as long as the right conditions existed.

Laying down a specific timeline has irked some allies. Critics say it has emboldened the Taliban to wait out a U.S. departure.

Obama was set to meet his national security team later on Thursday, a regular monthly session to discuss Afghanistan and Pakistan, the White House said.

The meeting comes days after the online whistle-blower web site, WikiLeaks, released more than 75,000 secret military records on the war in Afghanistan.

Biden said the leaked material, which included material dated from 2004 to the end of 2009, pre-dated the announcement of the new Obama strategy in Afghanistan last December.

There is growing impatience among Americans over the war. Lawmakers are questioning whether the conflict is worth the cost, especially during a deep recession.

U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke said on Wednesday he believed the mission would be successful but also sought to lower expectations on what could be achieved.

He said the Bush administration's "mission statement" for Afghanistan had been much more ambitious than the goal set by the Obama White House.

"It was creating a modern state, a modern democracy in Afghanistan with limited resources," Holbrooke said of President George W. Bush's goals.

"(Obama) narrowed the mission to a reasonable, achievable goal and increased the resources," he said. (Additional reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by David Storey)

WikiLeaks may cause tighter access to secrets

By Kimberly Dozier - The Associated Press
Posted : Thursday Jul 29, 2010 9:27:24 EDT

WASHINGTON — Call it the big information chill, looming across the military and intelligence communities. After the massive Afghan war data spill by WikiLeaks, some veteran intelligence officers and experts are calling for a tightening of access to information and more monitoring in the spy community's lower levels.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_wikileaks_fallout_072910/

Allegations of Quran Desecration and Disrespect in Tarin Kot

KABUL, Afghanistan - An ISAF task force looked into allegations of Quran desecration in Tarin Kot, Uruzgan province following allegations in the media.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53622

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 10:37

The task force examined all patrol activities for the past three days to determine whether there could have been any situations when an ISAF service member came across a Quran. The task force found none.

The allegations in the media also state that the Quran was bayoneted. Soldiers performing patrols in that area do not carry bayonets according to the task force.

Members of the ANA and the ANP peacefully dispersed the crowd.

ISAF understands the significance and importance of the Quran to the Muslim religion and the people of Afghanistan and takes allegations of the desecration and disrespect of the Quran or any other religious or cultural items very seriously.

Afghan president asks why allies won't act on Pakistan

KABUL, July 29 (Reuters) - 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.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66S07J.htm

29 Jul 2010 10:04:11 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Allies have the means to get insurgent bases, says Karzai

* WikiLeaks documents being examined

* Informants being named was "very damaging" (Adds fresh quotes, background, details)

By David Fox

"The war against terrorism is not in the villages or houses of Afghanistan ... but in the sanctuaries, sources of funding and training (of terrorism), and they lie outside Afghanistan," he told a news conference in Kabul.

"It is a different question whether Afghanistan has the ability to tackle this," he said in response to a question about Pakistan support for the Taliban and why the conflict was dragging on. "... but our allies have this capability. The question now is 'why they are not taking action'?" Islamabad's covert backing of the Taliban resurfaced this week with the publication by the whistleblower organisation WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of classified U.S. military documents related to the near-nine-year-old war.

The documents show current and former members of Pakistan's spy agency were actively collaborating with the Taliban in plotting attacks in Afghanistan -- including an assassination attempt against Karzai.

PAKISTAN KEY TO ENDING WAR

Those ties have been an open secret for a long time, but relations between Islamabad and Kabul have nevertheless warmed in the past two years. Both neighbours signed a long-awaited but lucrative trucking transit agreement last month, their first significant diplomatic accord in decades.

Karzai held out hope for further improved ties.

"Looking at the future, Afghanistan of course will continue its efforts for establishing friendly, stable and sturdy relations with all of its neighbours," he said in his first solo news conference in months.

Karzai needs the 150,000-strong NATO-led foreign force to make significant advances against the insurgency if his government is to meet a 2014 target of taking responsibility for security operations across the whole country.

Ordinary Afghans are baffled how Washington can wage a costly and punishing war against the Taliban in Afghanistan while at the same time giving billions in aid and military support to Pakistan, which allows sanctuary to militant leaders.

But Islamabad, which sees Afghanistan as "strategic depth" to the west in case of war with India to the east, will be central to any peace talks between the Karzai's government and the Taliban leadership over which it holds sway.

Karzai said he had ordered government agencies to sift through the WikiLeaks documents to see if there was anything new or damaging to nation, adding reports of Afghan confidential informants being identified were "irresponsible and shocking".

Many of the documents reveal names of Afghans giving information to foreign forces or informing on the Taliban and there are fears they could be indentified and targeted by insurgents.

Violence in Afghanistan has soared since a troop surge brought to 150,000 the number of foreign forces confronting the Taliban and two other insurgent groups. (Writing by David Fox; Editing by Miral Fahmy) ([email protected]; +93 799 335 284) (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to [email protected]))

ISAF JOINS PRESIDENT KARZAI, CONDEMNS ROADSIDE BOMB ATTACK

KABUL, Afghanistan – ISAF joined Afghan President Hamid Karzai in condemning a roadside bomb attack which resulted in the deaths of 25 Afghans in Southern Afghanistan yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53603

International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs More Stories from International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 06:12

The incident occurred Wednesday morning when a bus loaded with Afghan civilians struck an insurgent placed IED in Nimroz Province.

“The criminals who did this are the enemies of Muslims,” President Karzai said in a statement following the attack.

“We stand resolute with President Karzai in condemning this appalling attack on innocent Afghans,” said ISAF Commander General David Petraeus. “This only serves to highlight the insurgency’s continued disregard for the safety of civilians.”

ISAF, working with its Afghan partners, will pursue those responsible for such acts of terrorism and remains dedicated to minimizing civilian casualties as it conducts security operations throughout Afghanistan.

Insurgents Kill 6 More Civilians, Wound 3 More in IED Strikes

KABUL, Afghanistan – Insurgents killed six more Afghan civilians and wounded three more in improvised explosive device attacks in southern Afghanistan yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53604

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 06:32

Four civilians were killed and three wounded when an IED detonated in the Mizan district of Zabul province. The wounded were airlifted to a military medical facility in Qalat to receive treatment.
In the Khash Rod district of Nimroz province, two Afghan civilians were killed when their vehicle struck an IED.

In an earlier report, numerous civilians were killed when their bus was stuck by an insurgent –placed IED, also in the Khash Rod district yesterday.

The United Nations recently reported that incidents involving IED's increased by 94 percent within the first four months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

“ISAF remains committed to its mission to partner with the Afghan Security Forces to protect the Afghan people,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “Eliminating the indiscriminate IED threat to civilians and military forces is a key focus for our operations.”

Afghan Civilian Killed During ISAF Operations

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition forces operating in southern Afghanistan yesterday were attacked by insurgents with small arms. After indentifying the point of origin, ISAF forces returned fire with small arms and mortar rounds.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53602

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 04:14

After several fire fights from different locations, coalition forces received a report a local civilian girl had been killed in the fight. The ISAF forces were able to locate the compound and confirmed the death from apparent mortar shrapnel wounds.

“We deeply regret this casualty and express our sincerest apologies to her family,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “ISAF takes civilian casualties very seriously and will continue to take every precaution to prevent them in the future.”

Afghan-led Security Forces Roll Up Several Insurgent Leaders in Afghanistan This Week

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition security forces captured several Haqqani Network leaders and numerous Talban leaders in Afghanistan this week including a member of the Kabul Attack Network, and many who were involved in improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53599

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.29.2010
Posted: 07.29.2010 03:07

Clear rules of engagement and extreme measures taken to avoid civilian casualties allowed for 88.1 percent of the 42 operations to be conducted without shots fired. The Afghan-led operations resulted in no civilian casualties and more than 75 suspected insurgents detained.

Afghan and coalition security forces struck at the Taliban leadership again in Kandahar Friday capturing a senior Taliban commander and member of the district Military Commission in Nad „Ali, Helmand province who also managed the movement of fighters and equipment through the Nad „Ali district.

The following day, a Haqqani Network sub-commander linked to attacks against coalition forces and responsible for facilitating the movement of weapons and ammunition into the Terayzai district was captured along with a Haqqani facilitator in the eastern Khost province.

Coalition forces then took advantage of a brief target of opportunity by conducting several precision strikes on a bunker complex in Paktiya province Monday, where the senior Haqqani Network commander for Khost-Gardez pass responsible for the overall command and control of all Haqqani and foreign fighter camps in the area was believed to be hiding. Afghan and coalition forces are still gathering information to confirm the commander‟s death.

That evening Afghan and coalition forces captured a Taliban sub-commander known to conduct IED attacks against coalition force convoys and facilitate explosives for his network. The security force surrounded the targeted compound east of Sharan and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. Three men attempted to disguise themselves by dressing in female attire before exiting the compound; however they were immediately identified and detained for further questioning. In total, the sub-commander and several suspected insurgents were captured.

“We continue to aggressively pursue known enemies of the Afghan people,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “The effective operations, which are carefully planned and executed to mitigate civilian casualties, will continue to create the time and space necessary for enduring governance and development initiatives to take root.”

July 28, 2010

A Day in the Life: Wardak, Afghanistan

As part of our continuing coverage of "Afghanistan: the Road Ahead," CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy follows the Third Battalion, First Marines at home, and abroad in Afghanistan.

Wardak outpost is a small camp for a dozen Marines from Kilo company's 1st Platoon, 3rd Squad. It is built in the corner of a field with an irrigation ditch running along one side, and trees that provide welcome shade in the summer heat.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20011945-503543.html

Posted by Terry McCarthy
July 28, 2010 12:43 PM

Corporal Kyle Heydenberg is in charge, and when he is not taking his Marines out on patrol they either cool off in the irrigation ditch or work out with the makeshift weights they have constructed from iron bars and sand bags.

This area was once fought over bitterly with the Taliban, but now it is largely peaceful, and the war seems far away. So they fight complacency with equal determination. They go out on patrol generally at least twice a day, as much to show the locals that they are watching over them as to deter the Taliban from creeping back. This is the long slow grind of counter-insurgency, the part of the war that happens after the fighting.

One afternoon recently we went out with half a dozen Marines from the outpost to patrol through the nearby village of Wardak. Cpl. Heydenberg is looking for contact, not of the shooting variety, but contact with the locals. He knows most of the people in the village by now, and asks for specific elders by name. One old man asks for some medicine for a headache, then another man emerges from his walled compound and offers us tea.

Tea is always a good sign - locals will not offer tea if there could be Taliban spotters in the area, because that could lead to their being targeted afterwards for "collaborating" with the Americans. But Abdul Halim seemed not a bit concerned about being openly friendly to the Marines, and had a shiny metal tray with cups and teapots brought out and set in the dust of the laneway between his house and an irrigation canal.

Hospitality to strangers is central to the Pashtun culture, and Abdul Halim made sure everyone had tea - heavily sweetened - before he drank himself. There were little dishes of candy, too, and the Marines took off their helmets and settled down for a chat, in no hurry to move on in the afternoon heat. Adbul Halim actually speaks pretty good English, but hid this for many months until he was sure the Taliban were not coming back.

The talk was of a new bridge over some canal, road building, schools. Someone in the village needed medical treatment - where should they go? Abdul Halim thanked the Marines effusively for bringing security back to Wardak, they shrugged in half-embarrassment, and finally we moved on.

Back in the outpost and under shade, the Marines took off their armor and started to play cards. Two local men approached and asked to speak to Heydenberg. The older man, using the Marines' interpreter, complained that his son had been arrested six months ago by the Marines (the previous battalion, 2/2, who had handed over to 3/1 in April). He was accused of having a Taliban radio on his property - the man claimed it had just been dropped there by the Taliban and his son was innocent.

Now the man was in jail in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, and the father was being asked to pay a large bribe to get his son out of jail. Could Cpl. Heydenberg help please?

Heydenberg was in an awkward position. He had no way of ascertaining the facts - the son might or might not have been guilty - and because he had been handed over by the Marines to the Afghan authorities, the Marines had no power over his case. But whatever about the son's culpability, the demand for a bribe seemed to undermine the credibility of the Afghan government in the eyes of the locals - the same Afghan government to which the U.S. will have to, sooner or later, hand over complete power.

"I will keep pressing for more information from my end," said Heydenberg. "But you will have to take up the bribery issue with the Afghan authorities and the local army commander." Everyone knew how much chances of success that would have, but Heydenberg could do little else.

Everyone shook hands, and the two local men left, grateful at least for getting a hearing by the Marines. Heydenberg, the local emperor for this scrap of farmland and small village, sighed, in recognition of the limits of his power. "In the end of the day," he said, "this is their country. Ultimately they will have to work it out themselves." And then he got his men geared up to go out on another patrol.

Tajikistan sees decline in Afghan drug volumes

DUSHANBE, July 28 (Reuters) - Tajikistan expects a decline in the volume of drugs trafficked from neighbouring Afghanistan this year due to more effective policing and the fungus that has attacked the opium poppy crop, an official said on Wednesday.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/LDE66R1QL.htm

28 Jul 2010 14:37:48 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Agency sees volumes down 25 pct in 2010

* Seized a third fewer drugs in first half of year

* Cites opium blight, better Afghan policing

By Roman Kozhevnikov

Khalimdzhon Makhmudov, who heads the operations and search department at Tajikistan's Drug Control Agency, said the Central Asian state had seized 2 tonnes of drugs in the first six months of 2010, nearly a third less than in the same period of 2009.

Heroin accounted for more than a quarter of the drugs seized between January and June, or 540 kg, he told a news conference.

Tajikistan, the poorest of five former Soviet republics in Central Asia, shares a porous, 1,340-km (840-mile) border with Afghanistan and has long been a haven for drug smuggling to Russia and onward to lucrative Western European markets.

Makhmudov said his agency expected a decline of around 25 percent this year in the flow of drugs from Afghanistan -- which produces most of the world's opium, a thick paste processed to make heroin -- through Tajikistan.

"Growing demand for drugs in Afghanistan itself, as well as the reinforcement by Afghan law-enforcement agencies of their battle with drug production and damage to the opium poppy crop caused by fungus are the main reasons for the decline," he said. The United Nations said in June that Afghanistan now rivalled Iran for the highest rates of addiction to opium and derivatives such as heroin. [ID:nSGE65K0F5]

A mysterious blight in the Afghan poppy fields could potentially halve opium output this year, but also runs the risk of pushing up prices and making poppy cultivation more attractive for local farmers. [ID:nSGE64C0KC] [ID:nSGE64F01A]

Tajikistan says it seizes about two thirds of drugs passing through its territory, but some Western diplomats are sceptical, saying the number is closer to as low as 10 percent.

The country's drug control chief said in an interview in January that Afghan drug lords, pushed south by a return to relative stability in northern Afghanistan, were smuggling more heroin through Iran to Europe. [ID:nLDE60L0KP]

Tajikistan, which the International Crisis Group said last year was on the road to "failed-state status", has also come under pressure from Western governments to combat smuggling. (Writing by Robin Paxton)

Long journey back for troops with brain trauma

By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jul 28, 2010 22:14:27 EDT

TAMPA, Fla. — Army Ranger Cory Remsburg was thrown like a rag doll into an Afghanistan canal Oct. 1 by the blast from a 500-pound roadside bomb, the right side of his head caved in by shrapnel.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/gns_military_comas_072810/

Long journey back for troops with brain trauma

By Gregg Zoroya - USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jul 28, 2010 22:14:27 EDT

TAMPA, Fla. — Army Ranger Cory Remsburg was thrown like a rag doll into an Afghanistan canal Oct. 1 by the blast from a 500-pound roadside bomb, the right side of his head caved in by shrapnel.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/gns_military_comas_072810/

Tonga to send 275 troops to Afghanistan

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga — Tonga government has agreed to deploy 275 soldiers to Afghanistan over the next two years at the request of the British government.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gP8d8UpM7SnIi8PQauDg-LT5yKaQD9H8DEJ00

(AP) – July 28, 2010

Prime Minister Feleti Sevele on Wednesday put the motion before the nation's Parliament, which voted 22-0 in favor of the deployment.

An initial contingent of 55 marines will be deployed in November, the first of four six-month rotations of 55 troops who will help guard Britain's Camp Bastion in Helmand Province. The troops will be under British command and Britain will meet the cost of deployment, Sevele said.

He said the deployment would help to ease unemployment in the nation of 104,000 people, as well as foster closer ties between Tonga and Britain.

Brigadier Tauaika 'Uta'atu, commander of the Tongan Defence Service, welcomed Parliament's support for the deployment.

"This is an invitation from the British Army who saw our soldiers work in Iraq and then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote to our prime minister and asked for support," 'Uta'atu told the Matangi Tonga news website. "This is something we think is an honor to be a part of."

'Uta'atu said the British government would pay 2.6 million pounds ($4 million) to cover Tongan costs the first year, including uniforms, ammunition, accommodation, travel expenses and a stipend of 30 pounds a day for each soldier in Afghanistan.

The soldiers will receive six weeks training in Britain before deployment, likely starting in late September or October.

The brigadier said he and three other officers visited Afghanistan in May and reviewed four sites before choosing the location for the Tongan deployment.

"It looks safer than Iraq," he said. "Our soldiers will not be doing street patrols where there have been a lot of deaths. We will be doing force protection, and security on the boundaries of a camp, which is in the desert."

Camp Bastion holds a British garrison of around 12,000 troops.

Oct. 21 is deadline to apply for stop-loss pay

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 28, 2010 17:18:55 EDT

Time is running out for current and former troops involuntarily held on active duty beyond their service commitments to apply for retroactive $500 monthly payments.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/military_stop_loss_special_pay_deadline_072810w/

Holbrooke tries to ease lawmakers' Afghan war fears

WASHINGTON, July 28 (Reuters) - Richard Holbrooke, the top U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, sought on Wednesday to allay growing concerns in Congress over the course of the war, saying the task is difficult but can succeed.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N28210165.htm

28 Jul 2010 20:08:42 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Holbrooke says would not do job if U.S. could not win

* Lawmakers question whether effort will succeed

* Key lawmaker says not satisfied yet over funds

By Sue Pleming

At a hearing on oversight of billions of taxpayer dollars spent in Afghanistan, lawmakers listed concerns from specific cases of corruption to the most basic question of whether the nine-year-old war can be won.

"Do you really believe that we can succeed at this?" Democratic Representative Ben Chandler asked Holbrooke. "I think we really have to ask ourselves serious questions about whether or not this really is doable."

Holbrooke, who helped broker peace in Bosnia, conceded that fighting a resurgent Taliban and helping to rebuild Afghanistan were massive tasks but he repeatedly defended the Obama administration's strategy.

"So yes, of course, I believe we can succeed. But it is difficult. And it is the most difficult job I've had in my career," he said. "Number one, on a personal note, I wouldn't be in this job if I thought it was impossible to succeed."

"We're not delusional," he added, listing problems from high illiteracy to trying to help Afghanistan's government be accountable to its own people.

U.S. lawmakers, many facing re-election in November, are edgy over the unpopular and costly war, particularly within President Barack Obama's own Democratic Party.

After months of wrangling, Congress on Tuesday approved an additional $37 billion to pay for Obama's troop increase, with more Republicans than Democrats supporting the bill.

The $37 billion is above about $130 billion Congress had already approved for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for this year. Congress has appropriated more than $1 trillion for the two wars since 2001.

TOUGH TALK

Democratic Representative Jim Moran voted against the new funds on Tuesday and told Holbrooke: "You've lost me, for whatever it's worth, in terms of the viability of this mission, and I voted accordingly."

Using large charts, USAID director Rajiv Shah and Holbrooke listed safeguards the Obama administration and Afghan government were putting in place to help curb corruption, which Holbrooke said was the "number one" recruiting tool for the Taliban.

The chair of the House of Representatives appropriations subcommittee on aid, Nita Lowey, has cut billions of dollars in aid from spending legislation because of concern over corruption in Afghanistan.

She told Reuters much more needed to be done before she would stop "fencing off money" in the fiscal 2011 foreign aid appropriations bill before her committee.

"With every life that is tragically lost and with the reports that are coming out about corruption and the lack of accountability, it is extremely difficult to get the support of the people which determines the support of the members," Lowey said.

Representative Kay Granger, the top Republican on the subcommittee, said she was concerned by the new approach of funneling more funds directly through the Afghan government.

"The ongoing allegations of corruption and illicit activity do not give me confidence that now is the time to subject U.S. funds to unnecessary risk," Granger said.

The hearing came just days after whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks made public more than 75,000 classified U.S. military reports covering a range of incidents in the Afghan war.

Holbrooke said the leak was "pretty appalling" but did not think there was anything in them that should change people's views of both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A Pentagon investigation is so far focused on an Army intelligence analyst charged earlier this month with leaking information about the Iraq war published by WikiLeaks, U.S. defense officials say.

But neither he nor anyone else has been named as suspects in the Afghanistan leak and investigators are not ruling out the involvement of more people, the officials said on condition of anonymity. (Additional reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Document Leaks Could Endanger Afghan Civilians

WASHINGTON - The classified military documents released by the group WikiLeaks.org could not only threaten the lives of U.S. troops, but the Afghan civilians with whom they work, a top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said July 28.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53563

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.28.2010 03:58

Army Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of U.S. and international forces in Regional Command-East and Combined Joint Task Force 101 as well as the 101st Airborne Division, addressed the issue during a video news conference with Pentagon reporters from his Afghanistan headquarters.

Though Campbell said he himself hasn't studied the contents of the documents, he said the leak of classified material could put lives at risk.

"Anytime there's any sort of leak of classified material, it has the potential to harm the military folks that are working out here every day to preserve that," Campbell said. The documents, reportedly given to several U.S. and international media weeks ago, are said to detail field reports from Afghanistan, as well as alleged Pakistani partnership with the Taliban. The more than 70,000 documents cover the period from January 2004 through December 2009, according to Pentagon officials.

Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said that U.S. troops in Afghanistan are hearing discontent from Afghan partners, whose names were revealed in the documents leak. Some Afghan nationals work with coalition forces to provide information and whereabouts of militants and insurgent activities.

"There's been displeasure from folks whose names appeared there," Lapan said. "Anyone whose name appears in those documents is at risk. It could be a threat to their lives, or to their future conduct" in support of coalition forces.

The Pentagon has launched an investigation to determine the leak's source. The Army's Criminal Investigation Division is the lead organization.

Dad of missing sailor asks for safety of son

The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 28, 2010 13:54:21 EDT

SEATTLE — Every day is a struggle for Joseph Newlove as he waits for news about his son, Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Jerod Newlove.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_missing_sailor_dad_072810/

US general wants Afghan militants branded terrorists

WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) - 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.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N27125292.htm

28 Jul 2010 01:29:15 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Phil Stewart

The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network oppose U.S. forces in Afghanistan and officially blacklisting their leaders could trigger punitive measures, like freezing assets. Advocates say it would also send a strong message to Pakistan, under pressure to go after insurgents inside its borders.

"Both those groups have engaged in terrorism and I believe the leaders of both groups should be placed on the State Department list," General James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mattis is nominated to take over the helm of the U.S. military's Central Command, which oversees operations in a volatile swath of the world that covers 20 countries and stretches from Egypt across the Middle East and into South and Central Asia.

The Quetta Shura, headed by Mullah Omar, is the remains of the Afghan Taliban government which was overthrown and driven into Pakistan by the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

The Haqqani network, headed by a hero of the 1980s guerrilla war against the Soviet Union, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and his son, is based mainly in Pakistan's North Waziristan and adjoining provinces in Afghanistan.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Senator Carl Levin, said "these groups and their senior leaders are involved deeply in supporting the ongoing insurgency in Afghanistan."

Beyond providing tools to limit their financial and logistical support, Levin said, the designation would also send a signal -- including to Pakistan -- "regarding the United States' serious concern with their ongoing activities."

Renewed concerns about Pakistan's commitment to fighting militants who oppose NATO forces in Afghanistan surfaced this week with the leak of tens of thousands secret U.S. military reports. Among them were unverified reports of suspected links between Pakistan's intelligence service and militants.

The U.S. military and intelligence agencies believe some elements within Pakistan's intelligence service maintain contact with and may even in some cases support the Taliban and its allies who are fighting a nine-year-old war in Afghanistan. But they say assistance for insurgents has been curtailed.

Mattis praised a recent offensive by Pakistan's military against militants, saying the bilateral relationship was "trending in the right direction." He said he did not know the motives for remaining ties between some elements of Pakistani intelligence and insurgents.

"Whether or not it's because they're working with them, trying to infiltrate them, there's any number of motives and I'm just not current enough to say why," Mattis said.

"I think though that it's hard to wipe the slate clean and just start over at any one point. And clearly the offensive against many of the people they allegedly used to work with has shown they are no longer friends with most of them." (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

Roadside bomb kills 25 civilians in Afghan west

HERAT, July 28 (Reuters) - At least 25 civilians were killed when their bus was hit by a roadside bomb on Wednesday in western Afghanistan, the provincial governor said

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66R065.htm

28 Jul 2010 04:53:45 GMT
Source: Reuters.

The bus was on its way from Delaram district to Kabul when the bomb exploded, provincial governor Ghulam Dastgir Azaad said.

(Reporting by Sharafuddin Sharafyar; Editing by Paul Tait) ([email protected]; Kabul newsroom: +93 799 335 285) (If you have a query or comment about this story, send an e-mail to [email protected])

Duping the Families of Fallen Soldiers

Life insurers are secretly profiting from death benefits owed to the survivors of service members and other Americans.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-28/duping-the-families-of-fallen-soldiers.html

By David Evans - Jul 28, 2010 4:44 PM CT

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. It was a thick, 9-inch-by-12-inch envelope from Prudential Financial Inc., which handles life insurance for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Inside was a letter from Prudential about Ryan’s $400,000 policy. And there was something else, which looked like a checkbook. The letter told Lohman that the full amount of her payout would be placed in a convenient interest-bearing account, allowing her time to decide how to use the benefit.

“You can hold the money in the account for safekeeping for as long as you like,” the letter said. In tiny print, in a disclaimer that Lohman says she didn’t notice, Prudential disclosed that what it called its Alliance Account was not guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its September issue.

Lohman, 52, left the money untouched for six months after her son’s August 2008 death.

“It’s like you’re paying me off because my child was killed,” she says. “It was a consolation prize that I didn’t want.”

As time went on, she says, she tried to use one of the “checks” to buy a bed, and the salesman rejected it. That happened again this year, she says, when she went to a Target store to purchase a camera on Armed Forces Day, May 15.

‘I’m Shocked’

Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money -- like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers -- wasn’t actually sitting in a bank.

It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer. Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.

“I’m shocked,” says Lohman, breaking into tears as she learns how the Alliance Account works. “It’s a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”

Millions of bereaved Americans have unwittingly been placed in the same position by their insurance companies. The practice of issuing what they call “checkbooks” to survivors, instead of paying them lump sums, extends well beyond the military.

Touching Americans

In the past decade, these so-called retained-asset accounts have become standard operating procedure in an industry that touches virtually every American: There are more than 300 million active life insurance policies in the U.S., and the industry holds $4.6 trillion in assets, according to the American Council of Life Insurers.

Insurance companies tell survivors that their money is put in a secure account. Neither Prudential nor MetLife Inc., the largest life insurer in the U.S., segregates death benefits into a separate fund.

Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential, the second- largest life insurer, holds payouts in its own general account, according to regulatory filings.

New York-based MetLife has told survivors in a standard letter: “To help you through what can be a very difficult, emotional and confusing time, we created a settlement option, the Total Control Account Money Market Option. It is guaranteed by MetLife.”

No FDIC Insurance

The company’s letter omits that the money is in MetLife’s corporate investment account, isn’t in a bank and has no FDIC insurance.

“All guarantees are subject to the financial strength and claims-paying ability of MetLife,” it says.

Both MetLife, which handles insurance for nonmilitary federal employees, and Prudential paid 0.5 percent interest in July to survivors of government workers and soldiers. That’s less than half of the rate available at some banks with accounts insured by the FDIC up to $250,000.

Bank of New York Mellon Corp. handles the paperwork and monthly statements for customers with MetLife “checking accounts.” The insurance company, not the bank, most recently reported holding about $10 billion in death benefits, in 2008.

The “checkbook” system cheats the families of those who die, says Jeffrey Stempel, an insurance law professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who wrote ‘Stempel on Insurance Contracts’ (Aspen Publishers, 2009).

‘Bad Faith’

“It’s institutionalized bad faith,” he says. “In my view, this is a scheme to defraud by inducing the policyholder’s beneficiary to let the life insurance company retain assets they’re not entitled to. It’s turning death claims into a profit center.”

Prudential’s Alliance Account is helpful to families of soldiers, says company spokesman Bob DeFillippo.

“For some families, the account is the difference between earning interest on a large amount of money and letting it sit idle,” he says. Prudential follows the law, he says.

“We fully and regularly disclose the nature and terms of the account to account holders,” DeFillippo says. “We make it clear that the money can be withdrawn at any time by simply writing a draft.”

Metlife spokesman Joseph Madden says his company’s customers are very happy with the Total Control Account.

‘Overwhelmingly Positive’

“The feedback from TCA customers has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “The TCA affords beneficiaries security, peace of mind and time to make an informed decision -- while earning interest in the interim.”

Madden says the company was paying some survivors 0.5 percent in July while some others got 1.5 percent or 3 percent, depending on the age and origin of insurance accounts. The accounts don’t violate any laws, Madden says, and are authorized by New York state insurance law.

Insurers are holding onto at least $28 billion owed to survivors, according to three firms that handle retained- asset accounts for about 130 life insurance companies. There are no public records showing how much companies are holding in these accounts.

The “checks” that Cindy Lohman wrote, the ones rejected by retailers, were actually drafts, or IOUs, issued by Prudential. Even though the “checks” had the name of JPMorgan Chase & Co. on them, Lohman’s funds weren’t in that bank; they were held by Prudential.

Federal Bank Law

Before a check could clear, Prudential would have to send money to JPMorgan, bank spokesman John Murray says.

Insurance companies -- in addition to holding onto the money of survivors, paying them uncompetitive interest rates and giving them misleading guarantees -- may be violating a federal bank law. A 1933 statute makes it a felony for any company to accept deposits without state or federal authorization.

That means only banks or credit unions can accept deposits, says Arthur Wilmarth, a professor at George Washington University Law School in Washington who has testified before Congress about banking regulations.

If a prosecutor pressed an insurance company, retained-asset accounts could be outlawed because insurers say they deposit money into these accounts and don’t have bank charters or banking regulation, Wilmarth says. MetLife also offers its own version of certificates of deposit.

“If it swims, quacks and flies like a duck, the court could decide that it is indeed a duck,” he says. “You then potentially could have a criminal violation.”

Potential Bank Run

This unregulated quasi-banking system operated by insurers has none of the protections of the actual banking system. Lawrence Baxter, a professor at Duke University School of Law in Durham, North Carolina, says the potential exists for a catastrophe.

If one insurer is unable to meet its obligations on retained-asset accounts, people could lose faith in other companies and demand immediate payment, triggering a panic, says Baxter, who has consulted with federal agencies on financial regulation.

The government established the FDIC in 1933 after frantic depositors tried to pull their money from banks. The federal government has no such program for death- benefit accounts.

“There’s more than $25 billion out there in these accounts,” Baxter says. “A run could be triggered immediately by one insurance company not being able to honor its payout. The whole point of creating the FDIC was to put an end to bank runs.”

No Federal Regulation

The sweeping financial regulatory legislation signed by President Barack Obama on July 21 doesn’t address retained-asset accounts. It creates a new federal insurance office, which won’t be a regulator. It will collect information, monitor the industry for systemic risk and consult with state insurance regulators.

An industry with $19.1 trillion in potential liabilities will remain unregulated by the federal government. In 2008, insurers approved claims totaling $60 billion in death benefits, according to the life insurance council.

The federal government doesn’t even regulate the life insurance it supplies, via MetLife, to its own employees in a program called Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance. As the VA does for soldiers, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sends handbook to nonmilitary government workers -- some 4 million active employees and retirees.

The handbook says their life insurance policies automatically pay out death benefits in the form of a “money-market-account checkbook.” The 217-page handbook omits that the money isn’t FDIC insured and will stay with MetLife until someone writes a “check.”

‘Unfair Advantage’

This lack of disclosure is unconscionable, says Harvey Goldschmid, a commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from 2002 to 2005.

“I can’t imagine why bank regulators haven’t been requiring a prominent ‘no FDIC insurance’ disclosure,” says Goldschmid, who’s now a law professor at Columbia University in New York. “This system works very badly for the bereaved. It takes unfair advantage of people at their time of weakness.”

The closest relative to retained-asset accounts may be money-market mutual funds, which are pools of cash invested in short-term debt securities.

Money Market Rules

The SEC requires fund companies to warn investors that money market funds don’t have FDIC insurance. It also mandates that fund managers provide a prospectus, that they invest in specific types of safe debt and that they post a detailed schedule of their investments monthly on their websites.

Insurers’ retained-asset accounts have none of those regulatory protections.

A June 2009 MetLife standard condolence letter to survivors leaves out that accounts aren’t in a bank and aren’t federally insured. In June 2010, 25 years after MetLife invented retained-asset accounts, the company released a customer agreement that does disclose that retained assets aren’t in a money market account nor in a bank and that they have no FDIC insurance.

“The assets backing the Total Control Accounts are maintained in MetLife’s general account and are subject to MetLife’s creditors,” the agreement says. That language contradicts the federal employee handbook, which says survivors get a money market account.

Gerry Goldsholle, the man who invented retained-asset accounts, says MetLife makes $100 million to $300 million a year from investment returns on the death benefits it holds. A former president of MetLife Marketing Corp., Goldsholle, 69, devised the accounts in 1984. He’s now a lawyer in private practice in Sausalito, California.

‘This Is Crazy’

Goldsholle says he pondered the billions of dollars of death-benefit proceeds the company paid out each year.

“I looked at this and said this is crazy,” says Goldsholle, who left the firm in 1991. “What are we doing to retain some of this money? It’s very expensive to bring money in the front door of an insurance company. You’re paying very large commissions and sales expenses.”

So he came up with a way for MetLife to hold onto death benefits.

“The company would win because we would make a nice spread on the money,” Goldsholle says, while customers would earn interest on their accounts. MetLife, he says, can earn 1 to 3 percentage points more from its investment income -- mostly from bonds -- than it pays out to survivors.

Misconceptions

The accounts Goldsholle invented have spread much faster than the ability of state regulators to track them - - or even to understand how they work. Ted Hamby, North Carolina’s deputy insurance commissioner for life and health, says he believes retained-asset accounts have FDIC protection.

“Whatever money is on deposit in that checking account will be insured, up to the limits of the FDIC,” he says. He’s wrong. No retained-asset accounts have FDIC coverage.

In Connecticut, where 106 insurance companies are based, state insurance department manager for market conduct Kurt Swan also says that retained-asset accounts are kept in banks, with FDIC coverage.

“I think they’re just trying to offer some flexibility to the beneficiary,” he says. Swan and his colleague, William Arfanis, the department’s principal financial examiner, both say the insurers don’t profit from the retained-asset accounts. That too is wrong. The companies do earn investment gains on death benefits.

Some Rules

Just six states had any rules for retained-asset accounts as of July 2009, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, North Carolina and North Dakota require insurers to disclose fees and interest rates and to tell survivors they may withdraw all of the money by writing a single check.

Maryland, which isn’t on the NAIC list, also has rules.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario, whose state has no rules for retained-asset accounts, says he has asked his staff to prepare a regulation forbidding insurance companies from using such accounts as the default method of paying a death claim.

“I haven’t heard a plausible argument about why these accounts are better for the consumer,” Ario says.

If state insurance regulators have paid scant attention to retained-asset accounts, state bank regulators have taken an even more hands-off approach.

‘Not Drawn Attention’

“Quite honestly, we deal with issues that our members want us to deal with,” says Michael Stevens, senior vice president for regulatory policy at the Washington-based Conference of State Bank Supervisors. “This is not one that has drawn their attention.”

Three companies have not only noticed but have also profited by handling retained-asset accounts for insurers. Open Solutions Inc., based in Glastonbury, Connecticut, oversees 400,000 accounts for 67 insurance companies.

Open Solutions sends out “checkbooks,” prints periodic statements and computes accrued interest for accounts with total deposits of $10 billion, says Jay Woldar, director of sales and account management at Open Solutions.

One of its competitors, Bank of New York Mellon, administers more than 500,000 retained-asset accounts holding a total of $14 billion, including MetLife’s retained assets. Chicago-based Northern Trust Corp. handles about $4 billion in 125,000 accounts, spokesman John O’Connell says.

Survivors generally don’t touch these accounts immediately.

Accounts Stay Opened

“About 40 percent of the money stays in for more than a year,” Woldar says. Insurers can have use of survivors’ money for years, even decades, says Randi Lichtenstein, a product line manager at Bank of New York.

“They can stick around for quite a while,” she says. “There are accounts that all insurance companies have on these platforms that go back 10, 15, 20 years.”

MetLife’s Madden says most of its customers’ retained- asset accounts are closed within one year. About 28 percent of survivors of soldiers and veterans keep their retained- asset accounts open for more than two years, the VA says.

During a routine audit completed in 2004, the New York State Insurance Department found that 1,476 retained-asset accounts, worth a total of $33.5 million, at Hartford, Connecticut-based Phoenix Life Insurance Co., had been dormant for more than three years.

In New York, funds in an account that remains dormant for more than three years may be turned over to the state. Phoenix spokeswoman Alice Ericson says the company now has a policy of sending letters to people whose accounts have been inactive for two years.

Inactive Accounts

Almost one-third of the 6,890 retained-asset accounts run by Mony Life Insurance Co. were inactive for more than three years, New York auditors found in 2002. Mony is now owned by Axa SA, Europe’s second-largest insurer by market value.

A few people have sued insurers over the use of retained-asset accounts. Prudential won a lawsuit in 2009 in which a survivor complained about the Alliance Account. MetLife has a case pending in which a survivor says that she was cheated by the retained-asset account. In court- filed papers, MetLife denies any wrongdoing.

There has been only one ruling by a federal appellate court on the substance of such accounts -- and it went against an insurance company.

After a federal judge in Boston dismissed a policyholder suit claiming that Chattanooga, Tennessee- based insurer Unum Group was stealing account earnings from survivors, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit overruled the lower court in 2008. It reinstated the case.

‘Euphemistically Named’

“The euphemistically named ‘Security Account,’ accompanied with a checkbook, was no more than an IOU which did not transfer the funds to which the beneficiaries were entitled out of the plan assets,” the three-judge panel wrote.

Unum spokeswoman Mary Clarke Guenther says retained- asset accounts are a commonly accepted practice in the industry. The case is pending.

Absent regulatory or legal intervention, bereaved family members like Cindy Lohman will continue to find death benefits going into retained-asset accounts. Her son, Ryan, posthumously received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal for sacrificing his life to save fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in August 2008.

He had ordered a Humvee to swerve to avoid an explosive device, exposing himself to its deadly blast.

‘Accept the Reality’

Three days after learning of her son’s death, Lohman says, an Army casualty assistance officer came to her home, explaining that Ryan had a life insurance policy and that her signature was needed to release the money.

“By signing that, it forced me to accept the reality that he was dead and not coming back,” she says.

Since 1999, the VA has allowed Prudential to send survivors “checkbooks” tied to its Alliance Account. In 2009 alone, the families of U.S. soldiers and veterans were supposed to be paid death benefits totaling $1 billion immediately, according to their insurance policies. They weren’t.

Prudential’s VA policies promise either a lump sum payout or 36 monthly payments. About 90 percent of survivors, including Lohman, choose to receive the full amount upfront. When they do, they don’t get a check; they get a “checkbook.”

Under a 2008 law, survivors covered by Prudential’s VA policy are allowed one year to put death benefits into a Roth IRA, allowing them to earn investment gains for the rest of their lives tax-free. Prudential never informed Lohman, she says.

‘If They Had Told Me’

“I definitely would have done that if they had told me,” Lohman says.

Even Stephen Wurtz, deputy assistant director for insurance at the VA, who has overseen the insurance program for 25 years, has been kept in the dark by Prudential.

“Prudential runs the program on a cost-reimbursement basis only,” he initially said, referring to the $4.2 million in fees the VA paid Prudential in 2009. “They’re really good guys. They do it patriotically. They don’t make any money from the Alliance Account.”

Wurtz, 62, said he had believed that the Alliance Account money went into a bank. After he learned that the payouts actually stayed in Prudential’s general fund, Wurtz says, he asked Prudential how much money the insurance company made from these accounts and how many dollars it held in retained assets.

Prudential declined to answer, saying that information was proprietary, Wurtz says.

‘Maybe I Didn’t’

Prudential, which has had the insurance contract with the VA since 1965, pitched the checkbook payout to the VA in 1999 as an added benefit to survivors, Wurtz says. The government agency accepted Prudential’s offer, he says.

“Maybe I didn’t ask enough questions,” he says.

Printed on each “check,” next to “Prudential’s Alliance Account” is the name of JPMorgan, the second- biggest U.S. bank by assets. JPMorgan spokesman Murray declined to say how much the bank is paid for its role with Prudential.

The way Prudential has set up the “checks” implies that JPMorgan stands behind the accounts and that they are thus backed by the FDIC, Duke’s Baxter says.

“That’s misleading the beneficiaries,” he says.

“We disclose the roles of all companies involved in administering these accounts,” Prudential’s DeFillippo says. JPMorgan’s Murray declined to comment.

Prudential’s general account earned 4.4 percent in 2009, mostly from bond investments, according to SEC filings. The company has paid survivors 0.5 percent in 2010.

‘It’s Shameful’

“It’s shameful that an insurance company is stealing money from the families of our fallen servicemen,” says Paul Sullivan, who served in the 1991 Gulf War as an Army cavalry scout and is now executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington. “I’m outraged.”

Sullivan, a project manager at the VA’s benefits unit from 2000 to 2006, says he was never told Prudential kept money and earned investment gains from soldiers’ insurance payouts instead of sending it to survivors.

“There shouldn’t be secret profits,” he says. “This should be transparent. The lack of oversight is appalling.”

It’s not much different for the 4 million nonmilitary U.S. government employees and retirees -- including staff of the FDIC -- covered by MetLife policies. That program, begun in 1965, averages more than $2 billion in death benefits claimed every year, the government says.

Payouts are handled by the Office of Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance. That makes it look like the government is taking care of its employees’ insurance coverage. It isn’t. That “office” is a unit of MetLife.

MetLife Holds the Money

Edmund Byrnes, a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees MetLife’s federal employee contract, says MetLife segregates death benefits into beneficiary accounts after it approves death claims.

“Once MetLife transfers the funds to the Total Control Account, the monies are no longer under MetLife’s control,” Byrnes says.

MetLife spokesman Madden says something different.

“The assets that back the liabilities on all the TCAs are placed in MetLife’s general account,” he says.

Back at the Veterans Affairs office, Deputy Assistant Director Wurtz, who’s a civilian employee, says he now understands for the first time that since he’s covered by the federal insurance program, his own wife could receive a MetLife “checkbook” someday.

‘Ripping Off Their Own’

“Uncle Sam is ripping off their own,” Wurtz says. “My wife would get the money, and they would blood-suck some of it out of her.”

It took Wurtz, who’s been working with insurers for most of his career, more than a decade to understand how retained-asset accounts work. Companies like MetLife and Prudential have never told millions of Americans with insurance policies that when they die, the insurer plans to hold their family’s money in its own account to make investment gains from the death benefit.

“It’s outrageous that somebody’s profiting off other people’s grief,” says Mark Umbrell of Doylestown, Pennsylvania. His 26-year-old son, Colby, an Army Airborne Ranger who earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, was killed in Iraq in May 2007. Umbrell was among those who got a “checkbook” account.

“I think we’re being taken,” he says.

The question for Umbrell, Lohman and a million others with these accounts is whether anything will change. State bank regulators say if there are to be any reforms, they should be made by insurance departments. Officials at those state agencies often say they don’t even understand what a retained-asset account is.

“It’s flown under the radar,” professor Stempel says. “Regulators have not done their job.”

Until public officials wake up, the bereaved will remain a secret profit center for the life insurance industry.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Evans in Los Angeles at [email protected]

CLBEX helps prepare logistic Marines and sailors for upcoming deployment

KIN BLUE TRAINING AREA, OKINAWA, Japan (Jan. 28, 2010) — As the logistical element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Combat Logistics Battalion 31 must be ready to support the Asia-Pacific Maritime Contingency Force with many complex requirements including food service, security, medical assistance and transportation, all while deployed in austere environments.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/31stmeu/Pages/CLBEXhelpspreparelogisticMarinesandsailorsforupcomingdeployment.aspx

7/28/2010 By Cpl. Michael A. Bianco , 31st MEU

CLB-31 conducted CLB Exercise July 19-23 in preparation for the 31st MEU’s upcoming fall patrol. CLB-31 has a tall task; it must provide support to the only continually forward-deployed MEU in the Marine Corps, which is regularly deployed up to 8 months out of the year.

In addition, except for the battalion commander, everyone who serves as a part of CLB-31 is an augment. Augments are usually with the unit for one-year-tours. CLBEX is conducted twice a year to ensure service members are proficient within their military occupational specialty and to build camaraderie within the constantly changing battalion.

Fifty percent of the unit’s Marines and sailors return to their parent units every six months. During its most recent rotation of personnel, the majority of the officer staff was exchanged including the battalion commander, executive officer, and operations officer.

Lt. Col. William E. Arick III took charge as the Battalion commander for CLB-31 on June 11, 2010.

“This is our first chance to evaluate how proficient our MOS skills are and to figure out the kinks,” said the Leonardtown, Md. native. “The staff non-commissioned officers have been showing us the ropes and are making the turnover process run a lot smoother.”

More than 200 service members contributed to the exercise with almost all platoons and sections having responsibilities or events to conduct. Marines and sailors participated in day and night convoys, explosive ordnance disposal firing ranges, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission briefs, mass casualty evacuation missions, evacuation control center rehearsals and chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear defense training.

According to Marines who took part in the exercise, it also gave them some refresher training in areas like weapons familiarization. Marines also said the knowledge was a breath of fresh air since they haven’t seen some of the equipment since basic training or Marine Combat Training.

“The Marines want to be here,” said Arick, a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh. “They love the high tempo pace of the MEU. This is a great place for young Marines to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to excel.”

Arick has high expectations of his new unit and believes this is just the beginning of many successful patrols of the Asia-Pacific Region.

Special forces relieve pressure in Afghan valley

OUTPOST NOLEN, Afghanistan, July 28 (Reuters) - Elite U.S. special forces soldiers are relieving insurgent pressure on American outposts in the volatile Arghandab Valley with a series of night attacks on suspected Taliban hideouts.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SGE66Q0LL.htm

28 Jul 2010 01:42:51 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Rob Taylor

The raids, backed by a "Spectre" C-130 gunship and Afghan commandos, began four days ago in the village of Khosrow Sofla, and followed weeks of near-daily attacks by insurgents on American bases near the town of Jelawar.

"We considered it an area of Taliban sanctuary, or at least of tacit or semi-permissive support," said U.S. Army Major Brendan Raymond, of Woodbridge, Virginia.

Last month, the U.S. military said special operations forces in Afghanistan had nearly tripled over the last year and that Afghan authorities were increasingly involved in their missions.

U.S. special forces have also set up local defence forces in Arghandab, where armed villagers are trained and mentored to protect their own villages.

The scheme is controversial, with critics saying it amounts to forming local militias separate to government forces, but U.S. commanders on the ground say it deters the flow of insurgents into their areas.

The Arghandab river valley is an important infiltration route used by the Taliban to attack U.S. forces and smuggle weapons and men a few miles east to Kandahar city.

U.S. troops are launching a series of operations in Arghandab and other districts around Kandahar in a bid to drive the insurgents out of their spiritual heartland.

The militants in Arghandab, however, are tying up a brigade of U.S. troops with mines and hit-and-run attacks launched from thick cover in ripening grape and pomegranate plantations.

BIRTHPLACE OF THE TALIBAN

The area is the birthplace of the Taliban and insurgents have taken a heavy toll on U.S. soldiers in outlying combat bases, with many maimed by buried mines and bombs, and several armoured vehicles destroyed in recent days.

During one night operation, U.S. troops belonging to the 101st Airborne Division observed an insurgent laying a roadside bomb and tracked him to his home. The house was raided and bomb-making materials seized.

Another attack killed and wounded a "large number" of Taliban who fled to a canal and came under C-130 fire while sheltering there, easing pressure on Combat Outpost Nolen, which has experienced frequent mine and rocket grenade attacks.

One assault involved Afghan commandos under the guidance of U.S. special operations soldiers. One Afghan died in the attack and several U.S and Afghan troops were wounded after their helicopter landed in a site daisy-chained by IEDs.

American planners believe 40 to 50 hardcore insurgents are concentrating their efforts on Outpost Nolen, which Raymond said had become a "big shining ball" for the Taliban. They are less clear on the reasons why.

The area around the base has become no-man's-land, with fighters moving into the farming area from nearby towns to engage U.S. and Afghan National Army forces inside, battalion commander Lt.-Col. David Flynn said.

Smaller villages are, or appear, almost deserted by local families fleeing the fighting and leaving cash-producing grape crops to wither on vines. Coalition forces are keen to secure access to the fields for the locals to win their support.

U.S. troops in the valley hope ultimately to encourage between 57,000 and 100,000 villagers to turn against the Taliban and back district and provincial leaders friendly to President Hamid Karzai's government and coalition forces.

But surrounding fields and roads have also been seeded heavily with mines, with several loud blasts heard at night believed to be accidental explosions as insurgents try to lay more IEDs for U.S. patrols.

"They probably just want us to leave," said one junior officer at Nolen who asked not to be identified. "But it has been quieter the last few nights since the special forces started up." (Editing by David Fox and Ron Popeski) ([email protected]; +93 705 998 317) (If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to [email protected])

Judges at Public Trial Give 20 Years for Impersonating ANP, Robbery

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – At a public trial held in the Governor’s Compound in Asadabad here, July 27, Hafizullah Said Wali was convicted of impersonating an Afghan National Police officer, installing a false checkpoint along the main road from Asadabad to the Pech Valley, and robbing travelers.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53533

Combined Joint Task Force 101 More Stories from Combined Joint Task Force 101 RSS
Story by 1st Lt. Amy Abbott
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.28.2010 09:29

More than 200 people watched as Wali received a 20-year sentence with 20 days to appeal the verdict.

One robbery victim testified that Wali was among the men who had stolen 550,000 Afghani, 650,000 Pakistani rupees, $370 U.S. dollars and 50 Euro from him. Police found a briefcase with the money along with police uniforms in the 24-year-old Wali’s room in a house in Watapur district.

Five additional suspects – known insurgents based in Watapur district – will be tried in absentia if they do not surrender to police.

Wali is currently serving a 12-year sentence for the attempted assassination of the Kunar Prisons Director. He was convicted at the first public trial in Kunar in March.

According to Abraham Sutherland, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team Rule of Law representative, the trials highlight the importance of reducing corruption and inspiring the trust of the people.

“Kunar officials are working hard to establish an expectation of justice by holding regular scheduled, publicized and public trials in all criminal cases in Asadabad,” said Sutherland.

The case was brought by the national security prosecutor’s office and presided over by a panel of three judges: Asadabad Primary Court Chief Judge Amin Ashraf, Asadabad Primary Court Public Security Division Chief Judge Saraj u Din and Public Security Division Assistant Judge Khalilullah. Wali and his brother, who was acquitted of all charges, were represented by one of Asadabad’s newly appointed public defenders Mohammad Taheer.

A second trial was held immediately afterward where a man was convicted of purchasing fuel and cell phone credit with counterfeit Pakistani rupees. He was represented by Public Defender Malwai Mohammad Hashem and given one and a half years.

According to some of the spectators, through use of a translator, making the trials public help show that the government will not stand for corruption and will hold people accountable for their actions.

The trials were attended by numerous provincial-level officials from both the justice sector and several line ministries, as well as judges, prosecutors and investigators from Kunar's 14 districts including Kunar Provincial Governor Fazlullah Wahidi, Kunar Province Chief Judge Saed Alam Nikozay, Kunar Province Chief of Police Gen. Khalilullah Ziayee and Afghan National Police Criminal Investigation Division Chief Col. Abdul Ghafar.

Afterward, senior officials gathered to discuss the future of justice in Kunar.

Officials said they hope that courts in the 14 districts will begin holding trials in the near future, and according to Nikozay, the day’s two trials were valuable preparation for this.

“One day of practical training is worth six months of theoretical study,” said Nikozay.

Asadabad will continue to hold weekly public trials.

ISAF Unmanned Air Vehicle Lost

KABUL, Afghanistan - An International Security Assistance Force unmanned aerial vehicle went down in Kunduz province, July 28.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53528

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.28.2010 08:54

The vehicle, a Luna UAV, was remotely piloted from a ground station and contains no weapons or intelligence that could be exploited by enemy forces.

"The Luna is slightly larger than an average toy remote-controlled airplane purchased from a hobby shop. Reports of the Taliban 'capturing a reconnaissance plane' after it made a emergency landing are misleading. Even if the vehicle was intact after it went down, it has absolutely no value to enemy forces." said Col. Hans Bush, ISAF Joint Command spokesperson.

The unmanned system suffered from mechanical problems and went down in the Taliban stronghold area of Qal'ah-ye Zal district.

"Because the aircraft went down in an area known to be littered with IEDS and has absolutely no benefit to the enemy, we decided not to recover it," Bush said.

The Luna is 2.28 meters (approximately 7 feet) long has a take-off weight of 37 kilograms, or about 80 pounds. It is powered by a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine similar to a lawnmower motor.

Insurgents Kill 2 Civilians, Wound 15 in IED Strikes

KABUL - Insurgents killed two Afghan civilians and wounded 15 more in improvised explosive device attacks throughout Afghanistan yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53527

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.28.2010 07:58

An Afghan woman was killed and two others were injured, including a 4-year-old girl, when an IED detonated near Shin Kai village in Zabul province.

The three Afghan females were travelling into Shin Kai village by horse when a pressure-plate IED detonated, killing one of the women, according to coalition officials.

The wounded were picked up by an Afghan civilian and brought to a forward operating base where they received medical treatment from Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition forces. The victims were airlifted to the nearest medical facility in Qalat to receive treatment.

"Once again the enemies of Afghanistan have shown their ruthless disregard for the lives of ordinary Afghan citizens," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

"Insurgents continue to plant IEDs along roadways, district centers, schools, farms and other locations, which are injuring and killing Afghan citizens."

Another Afghan civilian was killed by an IED blast in the Yosuf Khel District of Paktika province.

Seven civilians were injured in two different IED explosions in the Garm Ser District of Helmand province. The wounded were treated at local hospitals.

Coalition officials said three Afghan civilians, including a 14-year-old boy, were injured when an IED exploded in Darrah-I-Bum village in Badghis province. The IED was planted in a wadi, a dry riverbed at the base of a valley, at a crossing point used by villagers.

Villagers brought the victims by donkey to a forward operating base. ANA soldiers and U.S. Marine Special Operations Team medical personnel provided immediate medical treatment to the injured, and called in a helicopter to transfer the injured to a medical facility in the Murghab River valley for follow-on care.

Two more civilians were wounded by an IED blast in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand province. ISAF forces flew the injured to a military medical facility for treatment.

In the Zharay District of Kandahar province, an Afghan child was wounded in an IED explosion. ISAF forces transported the child to a nearby military medical treatment facility.

According to confirmed coalition reports, insurgent's IEDs have killed more than 50 innocent Afghan civilians and wounded more than 150 in July alone.

Insurgent IEDs Kill and Injure Numerous Civilians in Two Attacks

KABUL, Afghanistan - Numerous Afghan civilians were killed and injured today in two separate improvised explosive device attacks in southern Afghanistan.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53523

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.28.2010 04:16

In the first attack, a chartered-style bus carrying Afghan civilians struck an insurgent-placed IED. Afghan and coalition forces were on patrol on route 606 when they discovered the disabled bus.

In another attack, at least two civilians were killed after their vehicle struck an IED. Afghan and coalition forces were in the area and heard the explosion and attempted to provide medical assistance.

"This morning's tragic murder of Afghan civilians is an example of Mullah Omar's orders to his subordinates to capture or kill innocent civilians who support the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "These cowardly, murderous acts by the insurgents will not prevent us from securing a peaceful Afghanistan. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in a fight against the enemies of this country."

WikiLeaks claims source of leaked data unknown

By Raphael G. Satter - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 28, 2010 22:12:55 EDT

LONDON — WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief claims his organization doesn’t know who sent it some 91,000 secret U.S. military documents, telling journalists that the website was set up to hide the source of its data from those who receive it.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_military_wikileaks_afghanistan_072810/

July 27, 2010

Fundraising concert to help injured Antioch Marine

As Marine Cpl. John Peck fights in his recovery from near-fatal injuries suffered in Afghanistan, the Antioch community is continuing its support by planning a fundraising concert.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=396719&src;=3

By Paul Biasco | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 7/27/2010 12:10 PM | Updated: 7/27/2010 6:28 PM

"We are trying to get this fund focused on building up funds for him now," said village Trustee Dennis Crosby, who has taken a lead role in the effort. "He and his wife are going to need a tremendous amount of help."

Peck, a 2004 graduate of Antioch High School, was moved out of the intensive care unit this week at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland after being wounded by a roadside bomb on May 24.

He has lost all four limbs and has fought through infections, pneumonia and a coma since that day, and just recently regained his ability to speak.

Crosby said Peck and his wife called him Saturday to say thank you.

"He's still weak, but at least he was talking," Crosby said. "He sounded like a young man who has been through a lot."

Mike Babicz, an Antioch resident helping plan the event, said this was the first time Peck has spoken with anyone from their committee.

"It's fantastic," Babicz said.

The committee planning fundraising events has booked four bands to play an all-day concert in Peck's name on Aug. 7, from noon to 10 p.m., at the Antioch band shell. The organizers are asking for a $5 donation to enter, and expect around 1,000 attendees.

"It's going to be quite a big deal," Crosby said.

Crows Feet Unplugged, Big Timber, Tony and the Effects and Larry Wimmer will each play a set for no charge, and groups from across the community are donating items to make the event as successful as possible.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Antioch will sell beer at the event, the local Moose Lodge is going to sell food, the Lions Club will set up tents if needed and the Bob McCarty family will supply water and soda.

"We've got a little bit of everyone involved," said Mike Babicz, who is planning the event along with Crosby. "This was put together in one month. It's really coming together well."

Babicz said new Marine Corps recruits will help to set up the event and clean up after.

Donations for the "CPL John Peck Fund" will also be collected at the Crusin' Antioch event Wednesday evening.

"We've got a lot of people in the area and community who have gotten involved," Babicz said. "We purposely tried to get a weekend where there wasn't a lot going on."

Donations for the fund can be deposited in Peck's name at The State Bank of the Lakes, 440 Lake St., Antioch.

Marines Train On Board Uss Carter Hall During Comptuex

USS CARTER HALL, ATLANTIC OCEAN —
Marines from 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit are training aboard USS Carter Hall during a Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX).

http://www.marines.mil/unit/26thmeu/Pages/MarinesTrainOnBoardUssCarterHallDuringComptuex.aspx

7/27/2010 By PO3 Kristin L. Grover , 26th MEU

There are approximately 420 Marines integrating with the nearly 300 Sailors onboard Carter Hall. The Carter Hall is one of three ships attached to Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (KSG ARG), each of which has Marines onboard.

The Marines are conducting amphibious training exercises focusing on ship-to-shore movement and deck landing qualifications for their aviators. It is necessary for the Marines aboard Carter Hall to practice for the many missions they could be called upon to execute on deployment.

“In general, we’re going to be a reserve for the forces currently deployed right now,” said 1st Lt. Michael Battle, 2nd Platoon commander, Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team 3/8. “In order for that to happen we must integrate with the Navy and as a team be able to move from ship to shore and flex back again.”

The Marines are conducting a beach landing exercise with the entire Battalion Landing Team as a culminating event to their participation in COMPTUEX.

They are using landing craft air cushion and amphibious assault vehicles to leave through the ship’s well deck and launch their beach attack. In addition to the challenges of ship-to-shore transport, the Marines have also had to adapt to shipboard life during COMPTUEX.

“The group of Marines that we have on board has melded very well with the crew,” said Cmdr. George B. Doyon, Carter Hall’s commanding officer. “They came here with the right attitude and the Carter Hall crew has the right attitude. Everybody is working together toward a common goal. If you’re always working together, it becomes a lot easier to achieve whatever mission you may be given.”

For Marines like Lance Cpl. Michael Paugh, a rifleman from 2nd Platoon, 3rd Squad, getting the opportunity to work with the Navy is a great learning experience.

“My father retired from the Navy and I feel more connected to him and his experiences now that I’m on a ship,” Paugh said. “This is a good chance for all of us to learn how the Navy works.”

Sailors and Marines on board Carter Hall are fortunate to be able to witness the unified efforts of their branches.

“The Navy does its job to get us where we need to go,” said Paugh. “Without the Navy, we wouldn’t be able to get around as well and we wouldn’t really be a force of readiness. We need them and they need us.”

The relationships built between Carter Hall Sailors and Marines from 26th MEU will increase the potential for a successful mission once they go to sea.

“When we go on deployment, it’s going to be very easy for us to support one another and be able to achieve anything that is set before us because we’ve built that tight relationship already,” said Doyon.

ANA, Coalition Forces Treat Three IED Victims in Badghis Province

BADGHIS, Afghanistan – Coalition officials said three Afghan civilian, including a 14-year-old boy, were injured when an improvised explosive device exploded in Darrah-I-Bum village in Badghis province today. The IED was emplaced in a wadi, a dry riverbed at the base of a valley, at a crossing point used by local citizens.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53492

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center More Stories from Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 04:05

The victims were brought by local Afghan villagers to a forward operating base in the area by donkey. Afghan Nationall Army soldiers and U.S. Marine Special Operations Team medican personnel provided immediate medical treatment to the injured, and called in a helicopter to transfer the injured to a medical facility in the Murghab River Valey for follow-on care.

“This attack shows the blatant disregard for the Afghan people as the insurgents indiscriminately kill and injure innocent civilians,” said U.S. Marine Sgt. Brian Kester, an ISAF spokesperson. “The combined force operating in the area is committed to assisting the Afghan people in establishing security in the Darrah-I-Bum region.”

Afghan Civilian Killed, Two Injured by IED in Zabul

ZABUL, Afghanistan – One Afghan civilian woman was killed and two others were injured, including a 4-year-old girl, when an improvised explosive device detonated near Shin Kai village, in Zabul province July 27.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53494

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center More Stories from Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 04:11

The three Afghan females were traveling into Shin Kai village by horse when a pressure-plate IED detonated, killing one of the women, according to coalition officials.

The victims were picked up by an Afghan civilian and brought to a forward operating base where they received medical treatment from Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition forces. The victims were airlifted to the nearest medical facility in Qalat to receive treatment.

“Once again the enemies of Afghanistan have shown their ruthless disregard for the lives of ordinary Afghan citizens,” said a coalition forces spokesperson. “Insurgents continue to plant IEDs along roadways, district centers, schools, farms, and other locations, which are injuring and killing Afghan citizens."

West Seattle sailor missing in Afghanistan is identified

A Seattle sailor missing in Afghanistan is the target of a massive search. He is Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove.

The Defense Department on Tuesday identified a missing U.S. serviceman in Afghanistan as Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, a West Seattle sailor who is the target of a massive search by Afghan and international forces.


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2012459380_missingsailor28m.html

By Hal Bernton and Steve Miletich
Seattle Times staff reporters
Originally published Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Taliban claim to be holding a sailor as hostage, but U.S. and NATO officials have not confirmed that the sailor is Newlove.

Newlove, 25, and a second sailor, Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley, left their Kabul base Friday for a trip to the Charkh District of Logar Province, where the Taliban have a strong presence.

Defense Department officials report that McNeley, 30, died of from wounds sustained Friday. International forces recovered his body after an extensive search. Mcneley is from Wheatridge, Colo., and was assigned to the Navy's Assault Craft Unit One in San Diego.

While not confirming that Newlove is being held hostage, NATO officials, in a statement Tuesday, said the international coalition "holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member."

The search by Afghan and international forces has resulted in the detention of six people who either were directly responsible for or accommodated the attack on the sailors, according to Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a NATO spokesman.

Newlove's family declined an interview request from The Seattle Times, channeled their comments through the Navy.

"Speaking on behalf of the Newlove family, they would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers," said a statement released by the Navy. "They want the public to know that all of your support means so much to their family. They also said they appreciate everything the Navy has been doing to help them through this time. On behalf of the Newlove family, please continue to pray for Jarod's safe return."

According to a posting by Newlove on a social media site, he is a reservist who previously served five years on active duty in the Navy.

The plight of the two sailors is more bad news in a difficult summer for international forces in Afghanistan, as the combined June and July casualty rate has reached the highest of any two-month period of the war. Though much of the fighting is concentrated in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban insurgency also has spread to some provinces near Kabul, with the Charkh District of Logar harboring an active Taliban insurgency.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, in a Sunday interview with The Associated Press, said that one American was killed and the second captured during a brief gunfight as the two sailors drove through the village of Dasht in Charkh District. He did not mention any Taliban demands.

"We are going to talk about that later," he said.

The search has been carried out both on the ground and in the air. In fliers distributed in Logar Province, the U.S. military has offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the missing sailor's return.

Navy officials have not given any details about what Newlove's duties were in Afghanistan.

They also have not commented on why the two sailors, Newlove and McNeley, drove some 60 miles from their base in Kabul in an armored white sport-utility vehicle. It is possible to make some trips within Kabul in such a vehicle. But to help protect against insurgent attacks, military security procedures require a convoy of multiple armored vehicles when traveling in Logar province.

"They should not have been in a single-vehicle movement," said Breasseale, the NATO spokesman.

In a news conference Sunday, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the Friday drive south of Kabul an "unusual circumstance," but he declined to offer additional details.

Newlove is one of about 6,500 Navy personnel serving in Afghanistan. Though Afghanistan is a landlocked country, these Navy men and women have medical, administrative, construction, combat or other skills to help support the international military campaign there. Many of these Navy personnel deploy as individuals or in small groups to help the Army, Marines or other international forces that have a larger presence.

"We have been closely following the situation from the outset," said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. "Forces on the ground in Afghanistan are doing everything they can to locate and safely return our missing shipmates."

The Afghanistan war has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 U.S. service personnel. But hostage-taking has been a rare event.

One U.S. service member known to be in Taliban captivity is Spc. Bowe Bergdahl, of Hailey, Idaho, who disappeared June 30, 2009, in Paktika province. He has since appeared on videos posted on Taliban websites confirming his captivity.

Seattle Times reporter Nick Perry and researchers Mikoyo Wolf and David Turim and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or [email protected]

Civilian Casualty Allegations in Logar, False

KABUL, Afghanistan - On July 26, International Security Assistance Force was made aware of allegations in the media regarding a civilian casualty incident in the vicinity of Charkh District, Logar province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53477

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 12:07

After conducting a thorough investigation of the alleged attack on Afghan civilians, Regional Command-East officials have determined the allegation is false.

"None of our operational reporting supports this unfounded claim," said U.S. Army Maj. Patrick R. Seiber, public affairs director of Regional Command-East.

MARSOC Marine Wins Harley Davidson

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – When Sgt. Edmund Hatch snapped a photo of an Afghanistan National Army soldier standing guard in the Morghab Valley, in the Herat Province, Afghanistan, during a patrol last Thanksgiving, he was sure he had captured an image that would at least win him an iPod in the Hesco Bastion Ltd. Photo Competition.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53489

Marines Special Operations Command PAO More Stories from Marines Special Operations Command PAO RSS
Story by Cpl. Richard Blumenstein
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 03:05

Little did he know, his photo would dominate the nearly 1,000 other entries and win the competition’s grand prize, a brand new Harley Davidson FatBoy motorcycle, which he received, July 7, at the New River Harley Davidson.

Hatch, a combat videographer, was on a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan with the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, 2d Marine Special Operations Battalion, when he took the photo. During the deployment he filled the role of a combat videographer, a combat photographer and also carried out public affairs missions. He embedded with the MARSOC Marines at the team level and documented them during patrols.

Hatch said he stumbled on the photo competition while scanning the Internet during some down time in Herat.

“I was bored one day and just looked up random things that we had around the camp,” Hatch said. “It was a completely random thing.”

One of those things happened to be the Hesco Bastion Ltd. Photo Competition. Hesco is a Leeds, United Kingdom, based company that makes barrier type products that are used extensively in the protection of personnel, vehicles, equipment and facilities in military, peacekeeping, humanitarian and civilian operations.

“I saw some of the winners they had in the past and I kind of figured I would have a really good chance of winning an iPod,” Hatch said.

Hatch borrowed a “point and shoot” camera from a hospital corpsman and attached it to a pouch on the front of his flak jacket in case he saw a photo opportunity to submit into the competition.

Sometime later, Hatch embedded with a team to take footage, and pictures of the ANA guard posts in Morghab Valley.

“It was actually the first day I got to the Morghab Valley, in Bala Morghab,” Hatch said. “It was the first patrol I went on with the team that was out there. It was the first time I got outside the wire in Afghanistan.”

There he saw an ANA soldier perched against a Hesco barrier. He removed the camera from his flack, framed up the shot, and took the photo that would land him in the seat of a brand new motorcycle at the conclusion of his deployment.

“I knew I was going to submit it as soon as I took it,” he said. “But I still went around camp and took some more. I submitted about 10 or 11 photos.”

Hatch said he submitted the photos in December and received notification of his victory two months later. However, the e-mail he received did not include the details of his victory.

“At first I thought I had just won an iPod because all the first email said was that I needed to e-mail them back and contact them,” Hatch said. “I responded and then a few days later they e-mailed me back and said, ‘Congratulations you won a Harley.’”

Hatch, who happens to be a motorcycle enthusiast, said he could not imagine a better prize at the end of his deployment.

“I was really fortunate to win the competition and whatever I do decide to do with my bike, it’s going to be the best choice for me and my family,” he said.

Victory in Afghanistan is possible, Mattis says

By Anne Flaherty - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 17:46:44 EDT

WASHINGTON — The general chosen to lead U.S. Central Command said Tuesday that victory in Afghanistan was possible and expressed optimism that troops would start coming home in a year.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_military_centcom_mattis_072710/

Pentagon still seeking ID of document leaker

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 9:19:36 EDT

WASHINGTON — A Pentagon spokesman says the military has launched "a very robust investigation" into the leak of Afghanistan war secrets but doesn't know who's responsible.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_wikileaks_identity_072710/

Hit list draws fire in wake of leaked papers

By Lolita C. Baldor - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 9:20:26 EDT

WASHINGTON — When it comes to war, killing the enemy is an accepted fact. Even amid the sensation of the WikiLeaks.org revelations, that stark reality lies at the core of new charges that some American military commando operations may have amounted to war crimes.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_wikileaks_hitlist_072710/

U.S. braces for fallout from war disclosures

By Kimberly Dozier - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 11:02:00 EDT

WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials, past and present, are raising concerns that the WikiLeaks.org revelations could endanger U.S. counterterror networks in the Afghan region, and damage information sharing with U.S. allies.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_wikileaks_fallout_072710/

LAPD trains Marines, preps them for Taliban

The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 17:11:49 EDT

A tough-talking, muscular Los Angeles police sergeant steadily rattled off tips to a young Marine officer riding shotgun as they raced in a patrol car to a drug bust: Be aware of your surroundings. Watch people’s body language. Build rapport.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_cops_072110w/

Several Suspected Insurgents Detained, One Killed by Afghan-led Forces in Logar

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition security forces detained several suspected insurgents and killed one in Logar province during offensive clearing operations over the last 24 hours.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53470

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 09:57

Afghan and coalition security forces targeted several areas suspected of insurgent activity in the Charkh and Baraki Barak districts of Logar province. In Charkh district several suspected insurgents were detained after the assault force discovered and destroyed a cache of multiple grenades and automatic weapons. At another location in the district, the security force killed one man armed with an AK-47 after he attempted to engage the force.

A separate Afghan-led security force cleared and secured several compounds west of Aladad Kheyl in Baraki Barak and detained several suspected insurgents after questioning all the residents.

The women and children were protected throughout all of the searches.

"These offensive clearing operations remove insurgents from the area and help bring peace," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The ANSF with coalition forces are risking their lives every day combating the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan so that peace and stability can be enjoyed here."

Taliban Expands Intimidation Efforts

KABUL, Afghanistan - According to detailed ISAF records and intelligence reports, Taliban intimidation and brutality towards the Afghan population increased markedly in recent weeks. Partnered Afghan National Security Forces and international forces actions continue to deny the insurgents any significant operational successes.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53463

International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 09:07

"ISAF's information systems and operational reporting allow us to track detailed information regarding insurgent brutality and intimidation," said German Army Brg. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesperson. "Several recent events show that the Taliban have abandoned any pretense of caring for Afghan civilians. Their actions show they are willing to harm anyone to return to power."

On July 23, Taliban insurgents bombed a mosque in Manduzai district of Khowst povince, wounding 19 Afghan civilians and killing a parliamentary candidate about to announce his candidacy for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

In recent days Taliban insurgents also abducted the Ghorand District Attorney General and a parliamentary candidate from Herat province, Arbab Mohammad Zahri. Last week insurgents executed a district leader and member of the Kwajazal Tribal Leader Council in the Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province.

The Taliban have also issued 'night letters' to about 50 tribal leaders around Kandahar telling them to leave their homes and move to Pakistan or face violent consequences from local Taliban fighters.

"As part of the Taliban's continuing campaign of murder and intimidation, ISAF has learned that Taliban senior leadership has ordered the assassination of multiple tribal elders and elected officials in areas across Afghanistan", Blotz said.

"By attacking traditional leadership structures revered by the Afghan people, the Taliban demonstrate not only their brutality, but their malicious contempt for Afghan customs and the will of Afghans."

A recently intercepted message from Mullah Omar provided guidance to Taliban members, ordering them to capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting or working for coalition forces or the Afghan government. He also urged the murder of any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces or the government.

According to ISAF records for July 2010, Taliban insurgents have been responsible for at least 95 civilian deaths and the wounding of more than 235 people.

On July 18 insurgents fired a mortar round at a large group of Afghan men, women and children gathered in northern Zabul province as they waited for regularly-scheduled medical outreach to begin, wounding several people.

"Intimidation from insurgents will not keep us from our efforts to protect and help the people of Afghanistan," said Blotz.

Recently, local officials in Khas Uruzgan unveiled a plan to increase the number of Afghan National Police in their area. Elders have united and called for justice against the insurgents responsible for what they describe as "acts of violence against Muslims."

"Rather than intimidating citizens, the murders and criminal acts of the Taliban are bringing citizens closer together," said Blotz.

"The actions of these local officials suggest that the Afghan people reject this violence and intimidation. Insurgents are not breaking the will of ordinary Afghan citizens to bring peace and security to their villages and towns".

House approves funding for Afghanistan war

By Robert Burns - The Associated Press
Posted : Tuesday Jul 27, 2010 18:50:58 EDT

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday sent President Obama a major war-funding increase of $33 billion to pay for his troop surge in Afghanistan, unmoved by the leaking of classified documents that portray a military effort struggling between 2004 and 2009 against a strengthening insurgency.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_military_afghanistan_war_funding_072710/

New Simulators Give Afghans the Edge

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Combined Air Power Transition Force, a joint force of NATO nations, charged with developing the Afghan Air Force has acquired new flight simulator equipment and software as part of the concentrated effort to develop viable Afghan pilot candidates to be sent overseas, primarily to the United States, for intensive military flight training. The simulator package will add a new level of excitement and proficiency to the preparatory training being conducted by CAPTF at the Afghan Air Force base in Kabul.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53444

NATO Training Mission Afghanistan
Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class David R. Quillen
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:24

“We have purchased Microsoft Flight Simulator 10 with the advanced instrumentation package and professional flight controls [yoke and stick, throttles, and rudder kit]. Those only slightly familiar with this program will think it is just a game, but it is not. It closely matches what is called a basic Air Crew training Device that costs many thousands of dollars” explains Lt. Col. Wayne McCaskill, Director of Operations, 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, CAPTF.

At a cost of just over $5,000 for 13 complete simulator packages, it was a fiscally efficient way to provide more advanced training for the Afghans. The advanced software has full visuals, an interactive cockpit and programmable locations and weather to include 22 locations in Afghanistan as well as a menu of selectable aircraft which will soon include the T-6 Texan II single-engine turboprop aircraft trainer used by the U.S. Air Force during pilot training. This will help to provide the Afghan pilot candidates the edge they will need when they continue their undergraduate pilot training in the U.S. at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi for fixed wing aircraft or at the U.S. Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama for rotary wing craft.

“The purpose of the training program is to introduce them to and build the basic pilot skills they will need in Pilot Training” says McCaskill. “The more comfortable and knowledgeable we can get them now, the more likely they will be able to succeed in their follow on training as they will also have the added stress of trying to learn how to fly in English.”

Which is why the simulator and the flight training conducted in Kabul is done completely in English. It is all part of the “Thunder Lab”, a newly created English language and culture immersion facility designed to better prepare the Afghan candidate for the culture shock of training in the West.

There are four classes per week and each class covers one lesson. Each lesson has an academic portion and a flying portion. The students prepare for the class, go over the material in class and then practice the material on the simulator with a designed flying lesson with measured objectives. The instructor then assesses the student on the lesson and records the results in each students training folder. There is a comprehensive test at the end of each block.

Currently there are three blocks, each with about six lessons. The first block is basic maneuvers, the second is advanced maneuvers, and the third is instrument flying. This will mirror what the Afghan candidates can expect in the undergraduate pilot training.

With this new simulator package, McCaskill could not be more excited for the Afghan trainees.

“If you would have told me we were doing this 5 years ago I would not have supported it, I do not think the software was realistic enough. Now however, I am a true believer. The software very closely matches the real aircraft and the flexibility and realism provides for incredible flexibility and realism in training.”

Afghan-led Force Captures Taliban Commander, Suspected Insurgents Dressed As Women

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban sub-commander and several additional suspected insurgents in Paktika province last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53450

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:49

The commander, who operates mainly in Mota Khan, conducts improvised explosive device attacks against coalition force convoys and facilitates explosives for his network.

The security force surrounded the targeted compound east of Sharan and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. Several men attempted to disguise themselves by dressing in female attire before exiting the compound; however they were immediately identified and detained for further questioning. The sub-commander and several suspected insurgents were detained.

The assault force discovered automatic weapons, ammunition, magazines and a bayonet, along with IED material including 31 IED pressures switches and multiple pressure plates. A bag of Pakistani, Afghani and American cash was also found at the scene.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"This is another successful blow to the Taliban operating in Paktika,"

said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "This commander posed a serious threat to Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces in Mota Khan District. We are happy he is off the streets and now unable to harm the people of Paktika province."

Insurgent’s IEDs Strike Civilians in Badghis Province

KABUL, Afghanistan – Four Afghan civilians were injured by two separate improvised explosive devices in Badghis province Saturday. ISAF medics responded to the incidents.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53456

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 07:52

According to initial reports a civilian was injured by an IED in the Bala Murghab District. He was immediately brought to the Forward Surgical Team at forward operating base Todd-Columbus for emergency care where he was stabilized and airlifted to the military hospital at Camp Zafar for further treatment.

The second IED blast, which injured three more civilians, occurred near Darreh Ye Bum. ISAF forces in Bala Murghab provided medical care and evacuated the injured to an ISAF medical facility.

“These events demonstrate the complete disregard that insurgents have for the lives of Afghan people,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “Insurgents deliberately target civilians with suicide attacks and IEDs, with no regard for Afghan lives.”

“Eliminating militant IED operations is a key focus of ISAF,” said Torres. “The highly indiscriminate nature of IEDs makes them a threat not only to Afghanistan’s Security Forces and ISAF, but also to innocent Afghan civilians.”

ANSF Continues to Secure Barg-e Matal

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security Forces with support from their coalition partners continued to secure Barg-e Matal on Tuesday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53519

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.28.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 11:36

Soldiers from the Afghan National Army had conducted an air assault Sunday in order to reinforce security in the village, located in the Nuristan province.

The combined assault force took deliberate steps to avoid hurting any innocent civilians during the operation.

ISAF provided air support, supplies and a small force in support of the operation. The support helped the ANSF further secure the town, continuing their disruption of insurgent operations throughout the region.

Once operations conclude, follow-on efforts will include projects to reinforce security.

Several Suspected Insurgents Detained in Kandahar by Afghan-led Force

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Kandahar last night while in pursuit of a Taliban military commander who targets Afghan civilians working with coalition forces. He is also linked to suicide attacks against Afghan civilians throughout Kandahar province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53448

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:43

The security force surrounded the targeted compound south of Bala Dehe Sufla in Panjwa'i District. All the occupants complied with the instructions provided by the Afghan forces using a loudspeaker. The suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning after all the residents were interviewed.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Taliban strongholds in and around Kandahar continue to be a focus item for Afghan and coalition forces," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We have captured key leaders involved in recent attacks in Kandahar province."

Afghan and Coalition Security Force Conducts Precision Strikes in Paktiya

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force conducted multiple precision strikes in Paktiya province yesterday targeting the senior Haqqani Network commander for Khost-Gardez pass responsible for the overall command and control of all Haqqani and foreign fighter camps in the area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53447

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:34

Afghan and coalition forces are still gathering information to confirm the commander's death.

The Haqqani commander regularly directs and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and is in regular contact with top Haqqani leadership across the border in Pakistan.

After verifying insurgent activity and conducting an exhaustive review to avoid civilian casualties and mitigate collateral damage, the precision air strike was called to hit a bunker complex in a remote area of Dzadran District of Paktiya province where intelligence sources reported the commander to be hiding.

"These strikes were meticulously conducted against a known and extremely dangerous senior leader within the Haqqani Network," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The insurgents are regularly smuggling foreign fighters across the borders of Afghanistan to bring violence and instability to the Afghan people."

The nearest populated area was more than a kilometer away and there are no reports of civilian casualties as a result of this strike.

Afghan-led Force Detains Several Suspected Insurgents in Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Helmand last night while in pursuit of a senior Taliban commander and member of the Nawa Military Commission. He is responsible for decisions involving military operations and matters of governance within the Taliban-controlled areas of Nawah-ye Barakzai District.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53446

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:33

The joint security force targeted a remote compound south in Nawah-ye Barakzai District and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After questioning all the residents, several suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

Approximately 15 pounds of black tar heroin, illegal in any amount under Afghan law, was found at the scene.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"We're bringing to justice those that have held the law abiding citizens of the Helmand province hostage with brutality," Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operation director said. "The people are moving forward with jirgas, organizing discussions about education, governance, increased security-these are topics that flourish once stability is established."

Insurgents Kill 6 Civilians, Kidnap Government Official

KABUL, Afghanistan - Insurgents killed six Afghan civilians, wounded two more and kidnapped an Afghan government official in the Siahgird District of Parwan province yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53443

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.27.2010
Posted: 07.27.2010 06:00

The insurgents attacked vehicles carrying workers from an Afghan construction company with small-arms fire. Afghan National Police responded to the attack and forced the insurgents to flee. During their retreat, the insurgents kidnapped the attorney general for the district.

"These insurgents have chosen to follow Mullah Omar's recent guidance of attempting to capture or kill innocent civilians who are working for the coalition or government," said Col. Rafael Torrers, ISAF Joint Command's Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Meanwhile, Omar is directing these attacks from the relative safety of his hiding place in Pakistan."

"The insurgents are attempting to deny Afghans of their opportunity to improve government capacity and promote economic development. We will continue to work with our Afghan partners to seek out the insurgents responsible for these heinous acts," Torres said.

July 26, 2010

Afghans and NATO Differ on Civilian Deaths

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan officials said Monday that 52 people were killed in southern Afghanistan on Friday when a rocket fired by coalition forces slammed into a house where women and children had taken shelter from fighting between NATO troops and militants. But American officials disputed the account.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/27/world/asia/27afghan.html?_r=2

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and TAIMOOR SHAH
Published: July 26, 2010

If founded, it would be one of the worst cases of civilian casualties in the nine-year war, coming as a leak of thousands of military documents on Sunday casts new scrutiny on whether American and coalition forces have taken enough care to avoid civilian deaths, and whether all of them have been reported by the military.

The Afghan government said its information about the reported attack, which took place in the Sangin district of Helmand Province came from its own intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.

But late Monday, the American-led military command in Kabul said that an investigation it was conducting with Afghan officials “has thus far revealed no evidence of civilians injured or killed.” But it was not immediately clear whether the NATO investigative team had yet reached the scene.

Interviewed by telephone, witnesses from the area where the attack was supposed to have taken place said that on Friday an American military force engaged Taliban militants in an intense firefight in two remote villages. Taliban fighters warned residents to leave. Many fled to Rigi, a remote village with only a half-dozen homes.

Women and children from about eight families were packed into one home, while many of the men took shelter in the forest around the village, they said. About 4:30 p.m. they heard the first of two powerful explosions that blanketed Rigi in smoke as military aircraft flew overhead, the villagers said.

One resident, Mohammed Usman, 57, said he helped pull the bodies of 17 children and 7 women from the rubble. “They have ruined us, and they have killed small children and innocent women,” he said. “God will never forgive them.”

Another resident, Abdul Samad, said: “They targeted an area which we believed was safer, but in one hit they killed over 50 people. Most of them were children and women, and I have lost my relatives as well.”

He said American forces came to Rigi the next day and said they had fired because they had observed a man carrying a weapon.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as “both morally and humanly unacceptable.”

His government issued a statement saying “success over terrorism does not come with fighting in Afghan villages, but by targeting its sanctuaries and financial and ideological sources across the borders” — a view he said was borne out by the leak of the military documents.

NATO military officials said accounts of an attack were far from proved.

“Any speculation at this point of an alleged civilian casualty in Rigi village is completely unfounded,” said Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, director of communications for the American and NATO military coalition. “We are conducting a thorough joint investigation with our Afghan partners and will report any and all findings when known.”

Another military spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, added, “If the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has something that has been determined by means other than the joint Afghan/NATO investigation, we are unaware of it.”

A senior American military official also said there was frustration over Mr. Karzai’s decision to issue the statement without coordination with NATO officials. “It’s not helpful to the relationship,” the official said.

In another skirmish six miles away, NATO said in a statement, attack helicopters had fired “precision-guided missiles” at insurgents who had attacked troops with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. The missiles “struck the intended target,” NATO said, killing six insurgents, including a Taliban commander.

Initially, Afghan officials in Helmand said they were unaware of any attack. But on Monday, Daoud Ahmadi, the provincial governor’s spokesman, said officials had confirmed that the attack killed women and children, but he said he did not know how many.

If the Afghan government’s account is accurate, it would mean the largest number of civilians killed in any attack since September 2009, when more than 100 people died after a bomb strike called in by the German military in Kunduz Province.

The controversy could pose a challenge to the new American and NATO commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, just three weeks into his job.

Last summer, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the American commander of forces in Afghanistan, tightened the military’s rules for using force, trying to avoid the civilian casualties that have enraged local populations and undercut support for the war effort among Afghans.

The United Nations and other groups have praised the change, which reduced the number of deaths from airstrikes and night raids.

While senior military commanders have said they believe no troops have been denied close air support, General McChrystal’s directive has drawn criticism from many troops and families of service members who believed the restrictions put soldiers and Marines at a disadvantage against Taliban insurgents.

General McChrystal was dismissed from his post for derogatory remarks he and members of his staff made about Obama administration officials and American allies to a magazine reporter.

His successor, General Petraeus, has said he would weigh whether to loosen the rules again. But some military officials say they do not expect substantial changes.


Richard A. Oppel Jr. reported from Kabul, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar, Afghanistan. Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting from Kabul.

Helicopter Lands Hard in Afghanistan; Operations Continue

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON - An International Security Assistance Force helicopter made a hard landing along the perimeter of a coalition force camp in Kabul province, Afghanistan, today.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53410

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 02:26

Four passengers suffered minor injuries. The incident is under investigation.
In yesterday's Afghanistan news:

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents yesterday in Nangarhar province, including a Taliban subcommander operating in Khugyani District who was linked to several attacks against coalition forces, including a rocket attack on Jalalabad Airfield on Christmas day last year. The security force targeted a compound in Behsud District in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound and then secured the area. After questioning the residents, the security force detained the commander and several suspected insurgents for further questioning. An AK-47 rifle and three ammunition magazines were found at the scene.

-- Afghan and coalition security forces detained one suspected insurgent and killed one in Logar province last night during offensive clearing operations. Afghan and coalition security forces targeted several areas suspected of insurgent activity in the Charkh and Baraki Barak Districts of Logar province. Near Qaryeh-ya Gol'alam in Baraki Barak one insurgent was killed after he attempted to attack the security force using a hand grenade. The combined force also detained one suspected insurgent in the same area after an automatic weapon and chest rack were found in his home. The women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force last night detained two suspected Taliban insurgents an operation in Zabul province.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force killed one insurgent and detained several other suspected insurgents in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban bomb maker who profits from the trafficking of improvised explosive device materials, weapons, and ammunition throughout the province. The Taliban bomb maker also commands his own group of fighters and orders improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

-- Afghan and coalition security forces killed several insurgents and wounded two in Ghazni province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander who operates mainly in the Mota Khan District of Paktika province. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents.
In July 24 Afghanistan news:

-- Two International Security Assistance Force members yesterday departed their compound in Kabul City in a vehicle and did not return. The unit dispatched vehicles and rotary-winged assets to search for them and their vehicle, and the search is ongoing. Details will be released as they become available.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents in Khost province including a Haqqani Network sub-commander responsible for coordinating and conducting improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan civilians, and Afghan and coalition forces in the region. Multiple rifles and grenades were found at the scene. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Zabul province while in pursuit of a Taliban commander, who coordinates attacks against Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. He also orchestrated kidnappings of Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and civilians in the Qalat District. The security force discovered and destroyed improvised explosive device materials at the scene. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Kandahar province last night including a Taliban improvised explosive device cell leader operating in the Sanjeray area. The cell leader was also responsible for coordinating supply and logistical issues with Pakistan-based facilitators. The security force detained the IED cell leader and several suspected insurgents for further questioning. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- Afghan and coalition security forces detained two suspected insurgents in Logar province during offensive clearing operations. The first security force targeted a series of compounds in the village of Mollakay in Charkh District and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit each compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained one suspected insurgent for further questioning.

A second security force targeted several tents and buildings in a remote area in Kharwar District. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully identify themselves to the security force. After questioning everyone present, the security force detained one suspected insurgent for further questioning. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban commander for Nad 'Ali District. After questioning the residents, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- The ISAF confirmed the capture of a Haqqani Network subcommander linked to attacks against coalition forces and responsible for facilitating the movement of weapons and ammunition into the Terayzai District of Khost during an Afghan and coalition security operation. The subcommander was captured along with a Haqqani Network facilitator who primarily planned and conducted attacks against coalition forces and Afghan officials throughout Khost province. The security force detained the subcommander and facilitator for further questioning.
In July 23 Afghanistan news:

-- An Afghan and coalition security force killed two armed men and detained several suspected insurgents in Khost province while in pursuit of a Haqqani facilitator for remote controlled improvised explosive devices who also plans and conducts attacks against coalition forces in the area. The combined security force went to a series of compounds north of Khvajeh Mohammad Kala in Terayzai District in pursuit of the Haqqani facilitator. As the security force began entering the buildings, two men armed with AK-47's and chest racks failed to comply with warnings and demonstrated a threat towards the combined security force. The combined force used precision fire, killing two insurgents. Multiple automatic weapons, magazines and grenades were found at the scene. After the compounds were cleared and secured, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The women and children present were protected throughout the search by Afghan forces.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained four suspected insurgents in Paktika province while in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander involved in improvised explosive device attacks against coalition forces. The Taliban subcommander also acts as a Mullah who blesses the actions of foreign-influenced insurgents who intimidate the population in order to disrupt the security efforts of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Mota Khan. No shots were fired during the operation and the women and children were protected throughout the search. About 300,000 Pakistani rupees also were found at the scene.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Baghlan province while in pursuit of a Taliban district commander for Baghlan-e Jadid District and a Taliban military commander in charge of numerous insurgent fighters.

-- An Afghan-coalition security force detained two men and seized a suspected enemy weapons cache in Surobi District in Kabul province. The cache contained four 107 mm rockets and one fuse, two 76 mm recoilless rockets, two .22-caliber pistols and magazines, two improvised explosive devices, one .303-caliber rifle with a loaded magazine and one box of machine gun ammunition. Electrical components and detonation cord were also confiscated.

-- An Afghan National Police Special Response Team killed several insurgents at an illegal checkpoint along Highway 1 in Wardak province. According to ANP officials, illegal checkpoints are common methods of harassment by insurgents, who use these checkpoints to extort money from travelers and to identify individuals they believe favor Afghan and coalition forces. The six ANP officers were traveling together on leave through Shekhabad District when they approached several insurgents in the road. After being forced to stop and exit their vehicle, the ANP officers were guided off the road toward a ditch by two insurgent members. The insurgents, unaware the men they stopped were ANP officers, were caught by surprise as the officers were able to gain the upper-hand, draw their pistols and shoot and kill both insurgents, according to ANP officials. A third gunman fired on the officers, forcing them to take cover and then flee the checkpoint on foot. ANP officials said the officers fled to a nearby Afghan National Army base to gather reinforcements, and returned to the scene to take down the false checkpoint. No ANA or ANP personnel were injured during the engagement.

"This incident shows the capabilities of the ANP," said Lt. Col. Donald Franklin, Special Operations Task Force - East commander. "They've become a highly skilled force, trained and committed to protecting the people of Afghanistan from insurgent intimidation and extortion."

-- Afghan National Army Commandos, assisted by U.S. Special Operations Forces, killed a large group of insurgent fighters while pursuing a known Taliban network in Nuristan province. Afghan soldiers assigned to the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak along with U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted clearing operations near the village of Awlagul in Barg-e Matal District to disrupt the Taliban activity, according to coalition officials. As the partnered force entered the area, coalition officials said their forces were met with heavy resistance from insurgents using small arms and automatic weapons. During the search of the surrounding area, the Afghan-led force found 35 rocket propelled grenades, six propellant charges, 1000 rounds of .50-caliber ammunition, 500 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, numerous mortar rounds, and several hundred pounds of explosives along with a spool of fuse and blasting caps. The cache was destroyed on site. No non-combatants were harmed during the operation and no property damage was reported.

-- ISAF officials are investigating an incident that occurred near the town of Khaki Bandeh in the Watapur District of Kunar province that resulted in the death of an Afghan civilian. Three other civilians were wounded. When ISAF forces received intelligence reports of an imminent attack against a combat outpost they fired two mortar rounds near a historic insurgent firing position. The position had been used several times in the past week to conduct small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the outpost. Following the mortar fire, an Afghan civilian from Khaki Bandeh reported that one civilian was killed and three wounded. The civilian refused coalition assistance and the injured were taken to a local hospital.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Afghan citizens," said Lt. Col. Randall Harris, Task Force Bastogne deputy commanding officer. "We do everything within our power to prevent civilian casualties in the course of operations -- the safety of the Afghan people is very important to the International Security Assistance Forces." The incident is under investigation.

Joint Investigation Underway in Sangin

KABUL, Afghanistan – A joint investigation by NATO International Security Assistance Force and the Afghan government into allegations of civilian casualties near the village of Rigi in Helmand province, July 23, has thus far revealed no evidence of civilians injured or killed.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53401

International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 01:36

“Any speculation at this point of an alleged civilian casualty in Rigi Village is completely unfounded,” said ISAF Communication Director Rear Admiral Greg Smith. “We are conducting a thorough joint investigation with our Afghan partners and will report any and all findings when known.”

The investigation did review a joint operation that occurred 10 kilometres south of the village of Rigi. ISAF and Afghan National Army forces came under attack by machine guns and RPGs. The joint force responded with attack helicopters and precision-guided missiles against the insurgents. All fires were observed and accounted for and struck the intended target. Coalition forces reported six insurgents killed in the strike, including a Taliban commander, a report verified by ground observation and intelligence sources.

The joint investigation is being conducted by ISAF, the Afghan Ministry of Defense, and the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

WikiLeaks: More documents coming on Afghan war

By Deb Riechmann - Associated Press Writer
Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 12:27:47 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Clearly pointing a finger at Pakistan, the Afghan government said Monday that the 91,000 leaked U.S. military documents verify Afghanistan's long-held view that the war won't end until terrorist sanctuaries in neighboring nations are shut down.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_wikileaks_documents_posted_072510/

Mullen Attends Kandahar Meeting, Visits Local Police

CAMP NATHAN SMITH, Afghanistan - "We have left [Afghanistan] before," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said to Kandahar community leaders here today. "It didn't work."

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53397

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
Story by Jim Garamone
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 12:53

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with the four men at the Canadian-American camp in the city. It was the second time the chairman had met with the men. He held a similar shura, or meeting, with them last year.

The meeting gave the chairman an opportunity to hear from Afghans about what they believe are the problems confronting them. Mullen told the Afghans that he was pleased to meet with them again, and urged them to be candid with him.

And they were. "Do you bring security, or do you bring violence?" asked one of the Afghan leaders through a translator. The Afghans told Mullen they are concerned that Kandahar will become a battlefield, and that this should be avoided. All men spoke with the understanding that their identities will be protected, lest the Taliban retaliate against them or their families.

The Afghans told the admiral that not enough development money is reaching average Afghans, and that men are working for the Taliban as a way to feed their families.

And they want concrete steps taken. "The first thing is that nothing has changed," said one of the community leaders via a translator. The men had complaints about security, about the mayor and provincial leaders. The Afghans also told Mullen that they were worried about kidnappings and terrorist attacks from Pakistan.

"We hear that you are leaving," one of the elders said to Mullen. "Who will help us then?"

The chairman assured the men that the United States is not leaving Afghanistan. Mullen was referring to the end of the Soviet era in Afghanistan, when he'd told the Afghan men at the meeting that the United States had left Afghanistan before and the result was 3,000 American dead in the wake of terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and the thwarted attack that ended in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

"The operations piece is to focus on security," Mullen told the Afghan men. This, he explained, will allow civilian agencies – both international and Afghan – to focus on bringing good governance to Kandahar, the second-largest city in Afghanistan. The coalition and Afghan forces, he added, must "reduce the malign presence" the Taliban, crime families and narco-traffickers impose.

The military option in Kandahar City is limited, Mullen said.

"We are not going to be able to kill our way to success," the chairman said.

Creating jobs is a key to ridding Kandahar of the Taliban, Mullen said. He agreed with one of the elders that if they could produce 20 jobs for every 10 jobs lost, the Taliban would be gone.

Mullen also told the Afghan leaders that much progress has been made against the Taliban.

"We have learned and adjusted," the admiral said. "The next seven to nine months will be absolutely critical."

Mullen left the shura and travelled in a mine-resistant, ambush-protected Cougar vehicle to visit an Afghan police station. Some of the streets he travelled through were filled with trash and derelict buildings. Others were clean and the shops filled with produce, electronic gear and storefront car and motorcycle repair shops.

The convoy crossed a canal where some Afghan children were swimming. Some of the children waved to the convoy. Others threw rocks.

At the station, Mullen praised the Afghan police for their dedication and their willingness to step forward to defend their nation and the Afghan people.

Chairman of Joint Chiefs Discusses Afghan Development, Security

KABUL, Afghanistan – U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed the International Security Assistance Force’s mission of developing a secure and stable Afghanistan at a press conference held today at the New Government Media and Information Center.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53375

International Security Assistance Force HQ Public Affairs
Story by Senior Airman Tania Reid
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 01:45

“What we’re after in concert with our Afghan, NATO and regional partners, is a secure and stable Afghanistan that can defend and provide for itself, its citizens and contribute to the economic betterment of the region,” Mullen said. He added that the goal is still to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies … and to prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a safe haven for terrorists again.

The admiral stressed the need to protect the Afghanistan people through the counterinsurgency strategy.

“From the military perspective, we will accomplish this through a broad and balanced counterinsurgency campaign, rooted in the south and east but anchored always in the overarching need to protect the Afghan people,” said Mullen.

Additionally, with the change of leadership at ISAF he stated that the mission to uphold the COIN strategy has not changed with the arrival of U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“Indeed, in my discussions with the general this afternoon, and in my visits with our troops, it was clear to me that we are in fact, making slow but steady progress toward our goals,” said the admiral. “Counterinsurgency fights have ups and downs, setbacks and steps forward. But to be frank, I am more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

With the increase in number and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces he noted that governance is growing more slowly but is improving. In recent reports it was shown that some of the local citizens have resisted the intimidation of the Taliban Forces.

“Certainly the enemy is fighting back; after all, ISAF and Afghan forces took away what may have been their most important base,” said Mullen. “Nonetheless there is continued progress.”

In Kandahar the campaign to drive out Taliban leaders has grown and the operations have been successful.

“The campaign in Kandahar has grown in size and scope as additional Afghan and U.S. forces flow in,” he said. “A high tempo of Afghan and ISAF targeted special operations continues, and those operations have killed, captured, or run off hundreds of Taliban leaders and rank and file.”

Some of the developments the admiral mentioned that have been established are checkpoints manned by U.S. and Afghan police elements around the city. “More police are deploying into the city itself,” said Mullen. “And additional U.S. and Afghan brigades are partnering outside the city in a deliberate operation to expand security in key districts.”

He said that security in Afghanistan is a necessary perquisite but will never be sufficient and praised Afghan President Hamid Karzai on his efforts at the recent Kabul Conference.

“I congratulate President Karzai for his success in hosting the conference, the first major international conference held in Kabul in a generation and for the extraordinary work done by his Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Finance, who led the coordination effort and the Ministries of Interior and Defense, together with the coalition and Afghan forces, who ensured such impressive security,” the admiral added.

Some of the topics from the Kabul Conference were the urgency to improve Afghan partnership with the international community, to increase government transparency and accountability, especially with respect to corruption and developing the country’s rich natural resources and talent. He also welcomed President Karzai’s stated goal of having Afghan Forces assume full responsibility for the country’s security by 2014.

“I want him to know he has our full support,” said Mullen.

But with regards to the current plans for the transition the admiral said America’s military mission in Afghanistan will not end in 2011.

“As we continue to increase our force levels and our operations over the summer, I would note that, while the deployment remains slightly ahead of schedule, not all President Obama’s troop surge are even on the ground yet,” he said. “We will likely see further tough casualties and levels of violence.”

Mullen said that while he is optimistic about the progress everyone should be pragmatic about the real challenge before us. “Because in the end, it isn’t the fighting alone that will carry the day - - it’s the governance,” he said. “It’s the efficient and effective administration of goods and services, of education and development, and of the rule of law and the protection of human rights.”

Consequently, following his recent visit in neighboring Pakistan, the admiral stated that he is pleased with the outcome of not only the efforts put forward from the leaders of the U.S. but the countries and agencies involved as well.

“I am already encouraged by the unity of effort being shown by not only the civilian and military leaders from my country, but indeed by those from all the countries and agencies involved in this effort,” he said. “Though our military presence will one day diminish, the friendship and strategic partnership will endure.”

Two Suspected Insurgents Detained in Ongoing Pursuit of Taliban Commander Accused of Atrocities in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force continued their hunt for a Taliban commander who coordinates attacks against Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces in the village of Abdol Qadar Kalay in Qalat. Two suspected insurgents were detained in an operation in Zabul province, July 26.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53387

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 08:56

The Taliban commander orchestrates kidnappings of Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and civilians in the district.

A loudspeaker was used to call out to the residents to exit the targeted compound by the Afghan forces. The residents peacefully complied and were interviewed by the joint forces. The two suspected insurgents were later detained for further questioning.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Our joint security forces are committed. Together we will continue to hunt those who threaten the security and stability of the Afghan government, and the brave Afghan people who have endured the tyranny of the Taliban far too long," Col. Rafael Torres ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director, said. "Everyone should have an opportunity to provide for their families. The people of Afghanistan are trying to move forward with their lives-we're going to assist their ongoing efforts."

Afghan-led Force Kills One, Detains Several Suspected Insurgents in Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force killed one insurgent and detained several other suspected insurgents in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban bomb maker who profits from the trafficking of improvised explosive device materials, weapons and ammunition throughout the province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53388

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 08:57

The Taliban bomb maker also commands his own group of fighters and orders IED attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

The joint security force targeted a series of remote compounds in Nar-e Saraj District searching for this Taliban bomb maker. At each compound, Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound.

At one of the compounds, an individual attempted to hide underneath a foot bridge in the area. The security force verbally called for him to surrender. The security force continued to use escalation of force procedures; however, the man was non-compliant and demonstrated hostile intent toward the combined force. The security force then engaged and killed him. Upon further inspection by the security force, one rocket propelled grenade and two rockets were found near the man.

After securing the area, the security force questioned the residents and detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Recent statistics show that 30 percent of all casualties from IED attacks in Afghanistan are innocent civilians," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We are surgically removing those responsible."

One Suspected Insurgent Captured, One Killed by Afghan-led Forces in Logar

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition security forces detained one suspected insurgent and killed one in Logar province last night during offensive clearing operations.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53389

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 09:01

Afghan and coalition security forces targeted several areas suspected of insurgent activity in the Charkh and Baraki Barak Districts of Logar province. Near Qaryeh-ya Gol'alam in Baraki Barak one insurgent was killed after he attempted to attack the security force using a hand grenade. The combined force also detained one suspected insurgent in the same area after an automatic weapon and chest rack were found in his home.

The women and children were protected throughout the search.

"These offensive clearing operations remove insurgents from the area and help bring peace," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The ANSF with coalition forces are risking their lives every day combating the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan so that peace and stability can be enjoyed here."

Afghan and Coalition Force Captures Taliban Sub-commander in Nangarhar

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Nangarhar province yesterday including a Taliban sub-commander operating in Khugyani District who was linked to several attacks against coalition forces including a rocket attack on Jalalabad Airfield on Christmas day last year.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53391

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 09:11

The security force targeted a compound in Behsud District in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound and then secured the area.

After questioning the residents, the security force detained the commander and several suspected insurgents for further questioning. An AK-47 and three magazines were found at the scene.

"Our operational main effort is to secure Afghanistan, providing time and space for enduring governance and development initiatives to take root," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Afghan and coalition forces will continue to pursue those standing in the way of those goals."

Afghan and Coalition Force Kills Several Insurgents, Wounds Two in Ghazni

KABUL - Afghan and coalition security forces killed several insurgents and wounded two in Ghazni province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban sub-commander who operates mainly in the Mota Khan district of Paktika province. The security force also detained two suspected insurgents.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53380

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 04:13

The commander coordinates attacks against Afghan officials, coalition forces, and facilitates weapons and materials for other insurgent networks in the area.

As the security force approached a targeted area near the village of Ziarat-e Khvajeh Nur in Andar District, they were immediately engaged by several armed men. The security force returned fire from helicopters and ground forces, killing several insurgents. As the security force approached the area on foot to secure the compound, they confirmed two more wounded men, who were treated and evacuated by the combined force for additional medical treatment. Two additional suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

Multiple automatic weapons, an SKS assault rifle, rocket propelled grenades with launchers, improvised explosive device materials and hand grenades were discovered and destroyed at the scene. The women and children were protected throughout the search.

"The insurgents are feeling the pressure and they are getting desperate," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Mullah Mohammad Omar's latest guidance to his fighters directs them to increase indiscriminate terrorist attacks and to kill anyone standing in their way, including tribal elders, officials, and females which proves they don't care for the well-being of the people of this country. Afghan and coalition forces are risking their lives to establish security and stability for the Afghan people."

First Person: Estancia grad, Marine describes life in Afghanistan

Editor's note: Lance Cpl. Christopher Robert Perkins, a 2003 graduate of Estancia High School in Costa Mesa, sent the Daily Pilot a brief account of his duties and experiences as a Marine helicopter maintenance worker currently in Afghanistan with the HMH-363 unit. Perkins says he misses the Orange County Fair and would rather be there now than in the "dirt" in Afghanistan. He joined the Marines in March 2008, and recently ran into a 2004 Estancia High graduate, Cpl. Ian Paul Morton, on base.

http://www.dailypilot.com/news/opinion/tn-dpt-0727-afghanistan-20100726,0,5495817.story

By Christopher Robert Perkins
July 26, 2010 | 8:37 p.m.

So let me start with saying I'm not too good with my words, but what I am good with is helicopters and machine guns.

My experience here has been a bit of a trip. I left Hawaii last February on a plane with my unit. A few days later and a few countries later, I found myself here in Afghanistan.

Since we have gotten here, I have felt a lot of days that feel like I'm living in the movie "Groundhog Day," being that every day here is pretty much a repeat of the day before; minus a few things, well, and the fact that you can't just keep dying every day and coming back.

We live in 20-man tents in Camp Leatherneck. Camp Leatherneck is in southern Afghanistan, in the Helmand province.

Like I said before, the daily routine is pretty much the same over and over. I wake up around 3 a.m. every day to catch the 3:30 a.m. bus. (Yes, I ride a bus to work every day. The base here is so large that I have a 20-minute ride across base to get to the flight line.) I'll get to work and have some maintenance to do on the helicopters.

Now here is the only thing that breaks up the routine: I'll go out for my flight. My unit carries out all sorts of missions such as ground troop insertions, resupplying to Marines out in the field, escorting high-profile people around the country or retrieving the remains of fallen Marines so they can be sent home.

It really has opened my eyes, traveling the country so much and seeing how some people live out here.

Every day is new, in that part, but in the end it is the same area I'm patrolling every day — just a little different mission.

By the time I get back from my flight and clean up my helicopter, I'm usually out of work around 5 p.m. then off to the bus.

We live here along with a bunch of Afghan locals who work on base. Our chow hall is run by the locals along with other random services on base. Connected to Camp Leatherneck is Camp Bastion, the British base.

There is a lot of cultural differences around base. I've got to say that after being here more than six months, running 14-hour days, seven days a week, you start to get pretty tired. It was refreshing seeing a friend (fellow Estancia grad Cpl. Ian Morton) out here.

It was just a little piece of home.

I have missed Costa Mesa a lot since I've been gone. All the little things are what I miss the most right now, i.e. good food, nearby beaches and the fair going on right now. Instead I'm sitting in the dirt out here missing it.

I'm just looking forward to getting home to my friends and family. I only have about one and a half months left before I'm out of here and back to my duty station on Hawaii. I am so excited to leave this place and get back to a green island.

Afghan, Coalition Forces Find Burned-out Village in Nuristan

NURISTAN, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition officials said a partnered force found several buildings in the village of Barg-e Matal, Nuristan province, destroyed in the late evening hours of July 25.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53403

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 01:49

An Afghan National Army-led force, assisted by U.S. Special Operations Forces, was conducting an operation in the Barg-e Matal area to disrupt known insurgent activities after intelligence confirmed militant activity in the area. Upon arrival to the village, the combined force found several buildings destroyed.

Afghan officials in Nuristan district said insurgents are terrorizing the local citizens living Barg-e Matal and are using the area as a staging base to prepare for attacks against Afghan government officials, innocent citizens, and Afghan and coalition forces.

Maj. Brandon Bissell, a coalition spokesperson, said recent operations conducted in Barg-e Matal have come by request of the Afghan government.

“This is another example of the insurgents’ total disregard for human life and personal property,” said Bissell, a coalition spokesperson.

Afghans Take First Step Toward Stabilizing Communities

FARAH, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition officials said villagers in Pusht-e Rod district, Farah province, have taken up arms against insurgent forces in their villages during the past month and forced Taliban fighters out of their areas.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53399

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center
Date: 07.26.2010
Posted: 07.26.2010 01:32

Inspired by the community watch programs in Shewan, Masaw, and the Zer-e Koh Valley, coalition officials said the villagers are working with Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with coalition forces, in an effort to maintain the security gains made in the region.

Historically, successful security efforts in Afghanistan have generally required a combination of efforts from the central government using a top-down approach, and efforts from local communities using a bottom-up approach, said U.S. Marine Sgt. Brian Kester, a coalition spokesperson.

“These connections of various levels of Afghan governance are reminiscent of the most recent stable period in Afghanistan’s history, the Musahiban dynasty, which fell between the years 1929-1978,” said Kester.

Pashtun communities have traditionally used a wide array of policing forces, such as: Arbakai, Chalweshtai, Chagha, and Mahali Satoonkay, to police themselves, according to Afghan government officials.

Coalition officials stressed these community watch programs are not militias; instead, they are defensive, village-level policing forces under the control of local shuras and jirgas, with a connection to the Afghan government.

“This is a great example of the determination of the Afghan people working together to remove insurgent threats from their villages and towns,” said Kester.

Lejeune Marine dies in Afghanistan

Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 17:51:09 EDT

A North Carolina-based Marine died last Saturday in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department.

To continue reading about Fallen Hero,Lance Cpl. Frederik E. Vazquez, of the 1/2:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_afghan_kia_072610w/

3rd MAW helo pilots killed in Helmand province

Staff report
Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 18:58:57 EDT

Two Marine helicopter pilots were killed last Thursday during combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the Defense Department announced Monday.

To continue reading about Fallen Heroes,Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo and Maj. James M. Weis, of the Light-Attack Helicopter Squadron 369:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_casualties_072610w/

Afghan businesses accused of stealing fuel

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two ex-soldiers and two Afghan companies schemed to steal $1.6 million of fuel from a military base, the U.S. military disclosed Monday as an example of its efforts to root out shady dealings in the contracting business in Afghanistan.

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_fuel_theft_072610/

The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 15:29:23 EDT

The two Afghan companies have been suspended from doing business with the U.S. government and the two former American soldiers — allegedly caught with more than $400,000 in cash at the base — have been charged with conspiracy to commit theft of government property, according to Brig. Gen. Camille Nichols, head of the contracting authority for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long criticized the international contracting process. He says the Afghan people don’t always reap the full benefit of the billions pouring into Afghanistan because much of the money goes to high-priced contractors and a series of subcontractors. War-weary Afghans who have not seen improvements in their daily lives during the past eight years have become skeptical of the international community, undermining the U.S. war strategy to win the loyalties of the people away from the Taliban.

Nichols briefed reporters in Kabul about the stolen fuel and outlined how the U.S. government was trying to make the contract process clearer and crack down on abuses and shoddy work. She said numerous contracts were terminated in the last 18 months due to the crackdown.

Still, the transparency campaign might prove difficult in an impoverished country where corruption has become widespread, leaving Afghans disgruntled with their government and the international community.

With little oversight, it’s unclear where most of the contract corruption occurs.

“I have seen different reports,” she said. “Some say it’s only the big guys and the little guys are working for peanuts. And some guys say, ‘It’s everybody running amok.’”

She said a new so-called “contractor’s transparency clause” is being reviewed at the Pentagon and is expected to be finished this week or next. The clause would require lead contractors to list subcontractors on a project to improve oversight.

“We want transparency,” she said. “Then anybody who wants to bid on our contracts will have to tell us all of the subcontractors, give us their licensing, give us their banking information, give us their senior leaders so we know exactly who is going to be inside this project we’re doing.”

Afghans also complain that too many international contracts are awarded to power brokers. Nichols acknowledged the U.S. tends to use the same contractors over and over. She said the U.S. is realizing that it might not be the best practice to further the goals of a counterinsurgency strategy, which is struggling to succeed especially in Taliban strongholds in the south.

“We want to broaden our vendor base and allow more people to become part of this and grow their capability, their competency as well as possibly induce more competition into the process,” she said.

In addition, the U.S. soon will be using intelligence to identify contractors with alleged ties to insurgent or criminal networks, she said.

The fuel theft was uncovered in February when people found boxes of cash in one of the ex-soldier’s offices at Forward Operating Base Shank, a military base near Pul-e-Alam, the capital of Logar province in eastern Afghanistan.

“They opened the boxes and found $168,865,” Nichols said. Another $235,000 in hidden cash was discovered during the investigation, she said.

The two former soldiers, Staff Sgt. Stevan N. Ringo and Sgt. Michael Dugger, received the money from Sulieman & Sons, she said. The two, who have been discharged from the service, were charged last month in a U.S. court in Alexandria, Va. The case is ongoing.

Guzar Mir Bacha Kot Transportation, the lead contractor involved, has been suspended from doing business with the U.S. government, and the company has 30 days from the suspension notification to provide information or proof that they were not involved in any criminal activities, Nichols said.

Sulieman & Sons, a subcontractor for the Afghan transportation company, was convicted in an Afghan court, and the owner and his nephew have served time in connection with the fuel theft case, she said. The U.S. government is moving toward “debarment” — which would prohibit the owner of Sulieman and his nephew from conducting business with the U.S. for up to three years.


Pentagon attempts to assess WikiLeaks damage

By Anne Flaherty - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 16:13:33 EDT

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday it was trying to assess the damage caused by the leak of some 91,000 classified documents on the Afghanistan war.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_pentagon_wikileaks_072610/

Fast food may return to bases in Afghanistan

Petraeus ‘seriously considering’ reversing order

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jul 26, 2010 17:42:55 EDT

Burger King, Pizza Hut and Subway may be coming back to Afghanistan.

To continue reading:
http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/army_fastfood_072410w/

July 25, 2010

Fallen EOD Marine ‘laid Down His Life for Others’

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – A crowd of service members, civilians and friends gathered for a memorial service July 25 to honor the life and ultimate sacrifice of Gunnery Sgt. Christopher L. Eastman, 28, of Moose Pass, Alaska, who died July 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53385

1st Marine Logistics Group Public Affairs
Story by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Brofer
Date: 07.25.2010

Eastman, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was deployed to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.

Eastman enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1999 as a combat engineer, according to his biography. In 2006, he lateral moved into EOD and deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement, "The death of Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Eastman is a devastating loss for our country. He was a brave and selfless Marine who gave his all while serving our great nation in uniform, and we will be forever grateful for his sacrifice. On behalf of all Californians, Maria and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Christopher’s family, friends and fellow Marines."

“He laid down his life for others,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Andrews, chaplain for 9th Engineer Support Battalion, to a somber audience during the memorial service.

At the end of the ceremony, the slow playing of Taps began as Marines stood solemnly at attention in honor of their fallen brother.

Marines began to make their way to the front of the room where a memorial display of combat boots and an upturned rifle was placed, with a set of Eastman’s dog tags dangling from a helmet. Marines took turns placing their hand on his helmet, heads bowing, to quietly give their final words to the Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Eastman is survived by his wife, Rocio, and daughter, Joy.

Mission Unchanged in Afghanistan, Mullen Says

KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. mission in Afghanistan has not changed, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said at a news conference at the Government Media Information Center here.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53365

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
Story by Jim Garamone
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 03:08

"We are still going to dismantle and defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies, and prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a haven for them again," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The goal of international partners is a secure and stable Afghanistan, Mullen said, a country that can defend itself, provide for itself and its citizens, and contribute to the economic betterment of the region.

The strategy calls for a broad and deliberate counterinsurgency campaign to protect the Afghan people. "Again, none of this has changed with the arrival of [Army] Gen. [David] Petraeus," he said.

Mullen is visiting Afghanistan where he met with troopers of the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team at Jalalabad and Forward Operating Base Joyce. He then moved to Kabul where he spoke to Petraeus at the International Security Assistance Force headquarters and with the U.S. embassy staff. "We are in fact making slow, but steady progress toward our goals," the admiral said.

Counterinsurgency is a complicated fight. "There are ups and downs, setbacks and steps forward, but I am ... more optimistic than I've been in the past," he said.

The Helmand campaign is making progress. Afghan national security forces are making contributions and building capabilities in the province, Mullen said. Governance is lagging, but improving, he said, adding that Helmand may have been the most important Taliban base in Afghanistan, and they are fighting back.

The Kandahar campaign is growing in size and scope as additional U.S., coalition and Afghan forces flow in. Special operations forces are conducting missions to kill, capture or drive off Taliban leaders and their al-Qaida allies. Afghan and U.S. military police have established checkpoints through the city, and additional U.S. and Afghan brigades are partnering outside the city to expand security.

"The enemy is clearly feeling the pressure and lashing out," the admiral said.

Recent fighting has caused civilian casualties. "In the last two weeks, the Taliban have murdered 45 people countrywide, and wounded another 100 or so," Mullen said. "In that same period, four innocent civilians were killed in the course of Afghan and ISAF operations, and another four or five wounded."

ISAF and Afghan forces want to reduce civilian casualties to nothing. "The enemy cannot say, and most certainly will not strive for, the same result," he said.

Security is a prerequisite for progress in Afghanistan, Mullen said, enabling the government to put in place programs and to build projects that benefit all Afghans.

Mullen again explained that the July 2011 date for U.S. troops to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan does not mean the United States won't continue to support the region. He repeated the message he delivered in Pakistan the day before: U.S. forces will leave only "as fast and as far as conditions on the ground permit. No one is looking for the door out of Afghanistan or out of the region."

US drones kill 12 militants in NW Pakistan

By Ishtiaq Mahsud - Associated Press Writer
Posted : Sunday Jul 25, 2010 14:10:08 EDT

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Unmanned U.S. aircraft fired missiles at houses in two different parts of northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 12 militants in attacks that occurred hours apart, intelligence officials said.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_missilestrikes_072510/

Humvees to electrify Afghanistan

New power system could turn vehicles into mobile generators

By Amy McCullough - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Jul 25, 2010 11:26:07 EDT

With the ever-present threat of devastating improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, humvees have been all but sidelined outside the wire and replaced by heavier armored vehicles.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_humvee_072510/

26th MEU completes COMPTUEX

Marines with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit ended their Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) today. This was the second of three major exercises in 26th MEU's pre-deployment training period before its scheduled fall deployment. USS KEARSARGE, Off the coast of Camp Lejeune — After loading onto the ships of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group during the first week of July, the Marines and sailors also supported a bilateral exercise with United Kingdom Royal Marines and sailors, AURIGA 2010. Marines and their UK counterparts teamed up for a Supporting Arms Coordination Exercise early in the training evolution to practice and refine indirect fire and combined arms integration at ranges on Camp Lejeune.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/26thmeu/Pages/26thMEUcompletesCOMPTUEX.aspx

7/25/2010 By By Gunnery Sgt. Bryce Piper, 26th MEU

Travelling south to the Florida coastline, Marines and sailors kicked off the scenario-driven COMPTUEX in earnest, conducting a live Maritime Interception Operation exercise at sea. MEU Marines and Kearsarge ARG sailors teamed up to identify, target a non compliant vessel suspected of smuggling arms and supplies to an insurgency, and conduct an aerial insert boarding to enforce its compliance.

Combat Logistics Battalion 26 took the lead on a Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief training mission based at Naval Support Activity Mayport, Fla., beginning July 16. While elements of Battalion Landing Team 3/8 provided security, CLB-26 Marines and sailors managed the distribution of more than 50,000 lbs. of mock relief supplies via aircraft from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 266 (VMM-266) (Rein).

Scenario training stopped temporarily when a MEU AV-8B Harrier crashed in Ocala National Forest, Fla., around 8 p.m. July 18 while conducting close air support training. Captain Jarrod L. Klement, with VMM-266 (Rein) ejected from the plane and was airlifted by local authorities to Shands Cancer Hospital at the University of Florida, Gainesville, where he was treated for minor injuries and released. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The Marines resumed COMPTUEX training July 19, as the ships of Kearsarge ARG moved north to continue the exercise off the shores of Camp Lejeune, where their UK counterparts had been conducting counterinsurgency fighting ashore. BLT 3/8 conducted an amphibious assault July 23, executing a relief in place with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, who returned to UK ships offshore.

Another key element of COMPTUEX was reconnaissance, communication, and close air support provided by Joint Tactical Air Controllers on the ground, and aircraft assets such as Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System and Airborne Warning And Control System. Throughout the exercise, 26th MEU tactical air controllers teamed with sailors, airmen, soldiers as well as Air Force JSTARS and NATO AWACS crews who provided intelligence that affected the exercise.

"This is the first time that Strike Force Training Atlantic invited JSTARS to participate in an ARG/MEU COMPTUEX as a fully integrated resource," said David J. Gellene, N57 plans director for Commander, Strike Force Training, Atlantic. JSTARS participated in another MEU's COMPTUEX in Feb. 2009, but only as a proof of concept event, Gellene said. The Kearsarge ARG/26th MEU's exercise marks the first time JSTARS was integrated into COMPTUEX scenario-driven exercises.

Familiarization with these systems' functions and capabilities was key for the Marines' proper utilization should they benefit from any of their availability during the MEU's upcoming deployment.

COMPTUEX was an extremely successful evolution for 26th MEU, according to Executive Officer Lt. Col. Mike Starling. Communications, Navy and Marine staff planning, integration with higher level assets and standardization of operating procedures between the Marines and Navy staffs exceeded expectations.

"The Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU have a firm grasp on our communications and mission procedures, which was a major objective for this exercise," Starling said. "COMPTUEX was extremely productive and has set us up well for the certification exercise ahead."

26th MEU's certification exercise begins mid-August. The MEU is scheduled to deploy in the fall.

New Command Headquarters Opened for Afghan Commandos

KABUL, Afghanistan - Leadership from both Afghan and U.S. forces celebrated the opening of the 1st Commando Brigade building annex with a ribbon cutting ceremony at Camp Morehead recently.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53359

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 10:13

The annex will house the Afghan commando commanding general's staff in charge of operations and training until a new facility is built to accommodate the entire commando brigade staff, according to Afghan National Army officials. Plans for an expanded facility are in the initial stages with construction scheduled to begin next year.

Afghan Col. Mohammad Nader, the operations officer in charge, said the annex is a step in the right direction and said he is happy with the progress.

"The new facility is more operational and user-friendly," said Nader. "We now have a place to plan our future operations, and as the various annexes open we are becoming more organized and proficient. This is an important step as we expand and as we prepare to go from a brigade to a special operations command."

Afghan officials said an operations annex is the first of four complexes used to support operations and command and control activities. The other annexes will support other portions of the command staff.

"This is a milestone," said Sgt. Maj. Robert Latham, C Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group. "The location where the annex now stands used to be nothing but rubble and concrete."

Prior to the construction of the facilities, the staff shared an office in the brigade building that had one desk and one computer, ANA officials said. Personnel had to either take turns using their limited facility, or have everyone crowd into the office to get work done.

The new annex is equipped with eight computer work stations, a conference room, two offices for senior leadership, and a chai tea room.

"Something as simple as opening this new annex shows the commandos are moving forward," said Latham. "Imagining end results is not something everyone can do, but you have to keep going until you see the vision."

ISAF Investigates Civilian Death in Kunar

KABUL, Afghanistan - International Security Assistance Force officials are investigating an incident that occurred July 23 near the town of Khaki Bandeh in the Watapur District of Kunar province that resulted in the death of an Afghan civilian. Three other civilians were wounded.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53357

ISAF Joint Command
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 10:06

When ISAF forces received intelligence reports of an imminent attack against a combat outpost they fired two mortar rounds near a historic insurgent firing position. The position had been used several times in the past week to conduct small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the outpost.

Following the mortar fire, an Afghan civilian from Khaki Bandeh reported that one civilian was killed and three wounded. The civilian refused coalition assistance and the injured were taken to a local hospital.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Afghan citizens," said Lt. Col. Randall Harris, Task Force Bastogne deputy commanding officer. "We do everything within our power to prevent civilian casualties in the course of operations -- the safety of the Afghan people is very important to the International Security Assistance Forces."

The incident is currently under investigation.

Pittston native works magic in Afghanistan

Philip Russo is a civilian employee of the Marine Corps at Camp Leatherneck

For his next trick Philip Russo will turn 1,200 acres of Afghan desert into a city for 14,000 residents. Oh wait, he’s already done that one.

http://www.timesleader.com/pittstondispatch/news/Pittston_native_works_magic_in_Afghanistan_07-24-2010.html

Posted: July 25, 2010
By Jack Smiles [email protected]
Times Leader Staff Writer

Russo – an erstwhile magician who developed a magic act in high school – grew up in Pittston, went to Pittston Area High School and graduated from Wilkes-Barre Vo-Tech in 1982. Today he is a civilian employee of the Marine Corps as the Base Architect and Master Planner at Camp Leatherneck, a Marine base in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

It was a neat trick getting from here to there and magic set him on the road to his career.

Since he was old enough to remember Russo was always interested in magic. In putting together his magic act he had ideas for illusions, but didn’t know how to design them. “I couldn’t afford to buy my own illusions,” he said. “I needed to build the tricks I saw in my head so I took some drafting classes in high school. I took architectural drafting and my Voc-Tech teacher Mr. Ed Shedlock entered me in a drafting competitions and I was the Voc-Tech Pennsylvania state champion for architectural drafting.”

In addition to Shedlock, Bill Gladish, an architect for Geisinger Health Systems and chairman of the Pittston Planning Commission, was also a mentor. Gladish was the president of Pittston Junior Football in the 1980s and hired Russo to perform magic at the football banquets and he encouraged Russo to pursue architecture as a career. “I used to tell him magic is what you need to be an architect,” he said, “you need to pull rabbits out of hats.”

Russo had one more rabbit to pull before he could be an architect: He had to get in a school with a good program.

“I took a Martz bus from Wilkes-Barre to Philadelphia along with several rolls of my drawings, walked from Center City up North Broad Street to Temple University, spoke with the Dean of the Architecture/Engineering program and started the architecture program in the spring of 1984,” he said.

Russo worked two jobs through college, graduating from Temple University in 1989 with a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree. He stayed in Philly for several years, working for engineering companies and becoming a licensed architect.

In 1994 he got married and he his wife Victoria moved to Chicago where both were accepted to Loyola University Chicago, he for an MBA and she for a PhD. They had two kids, son Philip in 1998, and daughter Renee in 2000.

Armed with an MBA in Operations, International Business and Business Ethics, he rose to vice-president and Director of China Operations for a global engineering company based in Chicago. In 2005 he and his family moved to China where he managed his firm’s architecture/engineering operations for a year.

Russo gained architectural experience in a list of disciplines including commercial, research and development, education, justice, residential, telecom, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, hospitality, medical, automotive, mining and metals and historic preservation; a resume which made him very marketable to Marine Corps for the Camp Leatherneck project.

Developing the master plan for expanding the camp – it grew from 400 acres in January of 2009 to 1,200 today – was one of his prime responsibilities.

Russo said growing Camp Leatherneck is like building a town from scratch. “Camp Leatherneck has every issue any major US City is faced with and we need to design, import and build every stick of wood, every inch of steel and every yard of concrete,” he said.

Russo said the economy, which has depressed large-scale designing and building projects, was one reason he took the job with the Marines. A sense of adventure and patriotism were two others.

In an email from Afghanistan Russo wrote, “Working in a combat zone was not an easy decision. Working in a private company for the military as an embedded licensed professional, I eat and sleep in the same quarters as the Marines. I spent the past year living in a tent and enduring the same harsh sun, heat and sand storms as the Marines and other service members endure in southern Afghanistan. Loving what you do is critical. I am honored to serve here and be with other civilian experts and military members of my country. I have not seen actual combat and have yet to be shot at (my family likes it this way) but I do feel a special kinship with the soldiers who are assigned to protect me when I do go outside the wire. I am truly honored to be here with my US military and grateful I have the proper skill sets to support the mission and still provide for my family.

“The work here is exciting and interesting, although, right now, I only see my family once every six months, just like the Marines, we all make sacrifices.”

Russo’s varied architectural background was put to the test by the Marines. At Camp Leatherneck he helps design and build air traffic control towers, office buildings, command operations centers, dog kennels for bomb-sniffing dogs, a veterinary clinic, multi-denominational chapels, medical centers, housing, and a power grid and secure in-ground fiber optic network through out the camp.

Lately Russo has been going “outside the wire,” as leaving Leatherneck is called, to help develop schools, markets, police stations, etc. for the Afghans. “This is right down my strike zone,” he wrote. “It does come with more risk. Every time we go outside the wire more risks are introduced but the rewards, if the community accepts what we are doing, will mean a major shift for the Afghan people for generations to come.”

While Camp Leatherneck is constantly being improved, the living is far from home-living. “I normally work from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days per week. There’s really not much else to do but work, but the war fighters outside are doing the real heavy lifting and we need to do everything we can here to support them and improve the base camp when they return. I’ve been living in a tent for the past year. We do have power via stand-alone generators and a 10-mega watt electrical plant developed over the past several months. We do technically have running water in the shower tent and LSS (Latrine, Shower & Shave) container, which are served via pumps and a bag of water. Many of the troops down range use bottled water to wash, brush their teeth and cook. We are improving our living conditions daily and trust our efforts on Leatherneck will translate to improved conditions for our war fighters as well as improve the lives of the Afghan people.”

Russo won an award from the Commanding General of the Expeditionary Brigade. It reads in part: “For outstanding achievement in the performance of his duties as architect and base camp planner G-7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan from June 2007 to April 2010 in support for Operation Enduring Freedom. Mr. Russo quickly adapted to the high demands of working in a combat environment.”

Nothing tricky about that.

Little Outpost, Big Mission: Camp Bala Hissar Keeps Eyes on Kabul

BALA HISSAR, Afghanistan – What was once the site of a fifth century Afghan citadel overlooking Kabul, is now home to a small contingent of Afghan and U.S. military personnel who keep a modern-day eye on the capital.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53371

196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
Story by Capt. Anthony Deiss
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 11:34

Camp Bala Hissar, named after the ancient fortress it’s located near, is home to a Persistent Surveillance System – a floating aerostat (or blimp) with high-tech camera equipment – designed to better protect the people of Kabul and Afghan National Security Forces security operations.

Although the base is small, it has an important role in providing security for the city, says 2nd Lt. Lucas Scheibe, Camp Bala Hissar officer in charge.

“The aerostat provides surveillance for security forces operating throughout the city,” said Scheibe, member of the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard.

The system, suspended by a helium-filled balloon, tethered hundreds of feet in the air, provides high-resolution imagery and video, and when used with surveillance data from other security systems, helps security officials better anticipate threats around the city.

“The aerostat is able to rotate 360-degees and provide immediate coverage,” said Scheibe of Brookings, S.D. “If there is ever an incident, we can help to identify the location and report it to the local Afghan security forces so they can directly respond.”

The PSS has the capability to survey and closely monitor activity throughout the city and detect any possible enemy activities using high-definition, infrared and thermal imaging technology.

According to an ISAF press release, surveillance systems such as this have an impressive safety record and successful history of integrating with security systems to combat threats in eastern Afghanistan since early 2004. The Bala Hissar system has been in use in Kabul since 2009, and plans are underway to launch a new aerostat in the coming months.

Bala Hissar has a number of civilian and military personnel who keep the aerostat operating. With nearly a 100 security, operations and transportation personnel supporting the mission, Scheibe says improving Soldier quality-of-life is a base priority.

“Improving the base water infrastructure, dining facility, internet connectivity and fitness center are all important to long-term stability for the base,” he said. “Keeping everyone happy keeps them focused on the mission.”

Scheibe added fostering relationships with Afghan National Army personnel, who provide an additional layer of security for the camp, is also important for future stability.

“Meeting with the commander of the 6th Kandak Battalion and his company commanders to have dinner and talk security is important in building relationships and improving camp security,” said Scheibe. “This site has a long, military history of protecting the city, and together with the ANA, we are continuing that history.”

Afghan Commandos Clear Village, Kill Large Group of Insurgents in Nuristan

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Commandos, assisted by U.S. Special Operations Forces, killed a large group of insurgent fighters while pursuing a known Taliban network in Nuristan province July 23.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53354

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center More Stories from Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center RSS
Story by Sgt. Katryn McCalment
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 07:04

Afghan soldiers assigned to the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak along with U.S. Special Operations Forces conducted clearing operations near the village of Awlagul in Barg-e Matal district to disrupt the Taliban activity, according to Coalition officials.

As the partnered force entered the area, Coalition officials said their forces were met with heavy resistance from insurgents using small arms and automatic weapons.

“This was an isolated area being used as a safe haven by insurgents to conduct attacks on the Afghan citizens in and around the district center of Barg-e Matal,” said Col. Donald C. Bolduc, the Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan. “The Commandos, with support from the Coalition forces, conducted the mission by request of the Ministries of Interior and Defense to support continued Afghanistan National Police and Afghanistan National Army security operations.”

During the search of the surrounding area, the Afghan-led force found 35 rocket propelled grenades, six propellant charges, 1000 rounds of .50 caliber ammunition, 500 rounds of 7.62 caliber ammunition, numerous mortar rounds, and several hundred pounds of explosives along with a spool of fuse and blasting caps. The cache was destroyed on site.

No non-combatants were harmed during the operation and no property damage was reported, ANA commando officials said.

Statements from Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan officials confirmed the Awlagul village had become a hub for insurgent activity throughout the Nuristan province after local Taliban were pushed out of Barg-e Matal village by Commando and Coalition forces last May.

“We are not going to let insurgents flee one village only to inhabit another,” said Lt. Col. Donald Franklin, the Special Operations Task Force – East commander. “U.S. Special Forces will aid the Afghan government and Afghan forces in pursuing insurgents wherever they choose to run. Now, the people in Awlagul can return to their homes without the fear of insurgent violence.”

After Gains in Gizab, Afghan Villagers Seek Local Defense in Uruzgan

KABUL- Coalition officials in Uruzgan province said a group of local men visited a forward operating base Wednesday to discuss the need for better security in area villages.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53346

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 03:02

After observing the establishment of village stability operations in Gizab, coalition officials said two men from the villages of Shorak and Kakrak came to the base asking for assistance in ridding their areas of Taliban and insurgent presence.

"They sounded ready to stand up for their villages," said a U.S. Special Forces officer from the base. "These men heard about what happened in Gizab and wanted the same success in their villages."

Recent stability operations in the village of Gizab, in Tamazan, Day Kundi province, led to the detention of a Taliban leader and several of his subordinates, according to local officials. The villagers said they set up road blocks in the city to prevent insurgent reinforcements from entering their village, and have partnered with coalition forces to maintain security in their area.

According to the two men, their villages have been subject to abuse by insurgents, causing local citizens to request assistance from the Afghan government and coalition forces.

"The success with village stability in Gizab is a great example for the surrounding villages," said a coalition spokesman. "That message is spreading to other villages who want to protect themselves from the violence caused by insurgents."

Haqqani Sub-commander Captured by Afghan and Coalition Force in Khost

KABUL- An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents in Khost province last night including a Haqqani Network sub-commander responsible for coordinating and conducting improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan civilians, and Afghan and coalition forces in the region.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53349

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 03:48

The security force targeted a compound in the village of Towr Owbeh in Terayzai District in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound.

After questioning the residents, the security force detained the commander and another suspected insurgent for further questioning.

Multiple rifles and grenades were found at the scene.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Coalition forces are significantly reducing civilian casualties while the insurgents are going in the opposite direction," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

"The insurgents are turning back the clock several centuries with their indiscriminate IED attacks which kill and wound Afghan civilians on a regular basis."

Two Suspected Insurgents Captured by Afghan and Coalition Forces in Logar

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and coalition security forces detained two suspected insurgents in Logar province last night during offensive clearing operations.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53351

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 04:03

The first security force targeted a series of compounds in the village of Mollakay in Charkh district and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit each compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained one suspected insurgent for further questioning.

A second security force targeted several tents and buildings in a remote area in Kharwar district. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully identify themselves to the security force. After questioning everyone present, the security force detained one suspected insurgent for further questioning.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

“These clearing operations are bearing fruit and will continue,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. “The ANSF with coalition forces are risking their lives combating the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, so that peace and stability can be enjoyed here. The insurgents bring only death and destruction.”

Taliban IED Cell Leader, Several Suspected Insurgents Captured in Kandahar

KABUL- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Kandahar province last night including a Taliban improvised explosive device cell leader operating in the Sanjeray area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53352

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 04:23

The cell leader was also responsible for coordinating supply and logistical issues with Pakistan-based facilitators.

The security force targeted a compound in the village of Senjaray in Zharay district in pursuit of the cell leader. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound.
After questioning the residents, the security force detained the IED cell leader and several suspected insurgents for further questioning.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.
"The Taliban's weapon of choice continues to be IEDs which directly kill and wound innocent Afghan civilians," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The Taliban are desperate and have been instructed by their leaders hiding in Pakistan to increase these terrorist attacks. Afghan and coalition forces will continue to prosecute those who harm the Afghan people and stand in the way of peace and security in Afghanistan."

Several Suspected Insurgents Captured by Afghan and Coalition Force in Helmand

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban commander for Nad 'Ali district.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53356

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 07:54

The security force targeted a remote compound in Nad 'Ali district in pursuit of the commander. As the combined force approached the compound two men ran from the compound. Coalition forces used aircraft to fire containment shots to stop the fleeing men and then detained them unharmed.

Afghan forces then used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The women and children were protected throughout the search.

“Afghan and coalition forces have focused their efforts on the traditional strongholds in southern Afghanistan over the last several months. With each capture the insurgents have less and less safe-havens as each day goes by,” said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations director.

Several Suspected Insurgents Detained by Afghan and Coalition Force in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Zabul province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban commander, who coordinates attacks against Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. He also orchestrated kidnappings of Afghan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and civilians in the Qalat district.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53348

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 03:39

The security force targeted a compound outside Mollayan in Qalat district in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The security force discovered and destroyed improvised explosive device materials at the scene.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"We are actively pursuing the criminals who are deliberately targeting and killing innocent civilians, which is what the Taliban are doing as confirmed in Mullah Omar’s most recent guidance to his fighters. The coalition’s number one priority is protecting innocent lives," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Our message to the good people of Afghanistan is quite clear — the Afghan and Coalition Forces are fighting for your safety."

ANP Officers Attacked at Illegal Checkpoint

KABUL - An Afghan National Police Special Response Team killed several insurgents at an illegal checkpoint along Highway 1 in Wardak province Friday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53345

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.25.2010
Posted: 07.25.2010 03:00

According to ANP officials, illegal checkpoints are common methods of harassment by insurgents, who use these checkpoints to extort money from travellers and to identify individuals they believe favor Afghan and coalition forces.

The six ANP officers were traveling together on leave through Shekhabad District when they approached several insurgents in the road. After being forced to stop and exit their vehicle, the ANP officers were

guided off the road toward a ditch by two insurgent members.

The insurgents, unaware the men they stopped were ANP officers, were caught by surprise as the officers were able to gain the upper-hand, draw their pistols and shoot and kill both insurgents, according to ANP officials. A third gunman fired on the officers, forcing them to take cover and then flee the checkpoint on foot.

ANP officials said the officers fled to a nearby Afghan National Army base to gather reinforcement personnel, and returned to the scene to take down the false checkpoint. No ANA or ANP personnel were injured during the engagement.

"This incident shows the capabilities of the ANP," said Lt. Col. Donald Franklin, Special Operations Task Force - East commander. "They've become a highly skilled force, trained and committed to protecting the people of Afghanistan from insurgent intimidation and extortion."

July 24, 2010

ANA, Coalition Forces Establish GIRoA Presence in Herat Province

HERAT PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Improving Afghan governance, infrastructure and economy require a concerted effort and the Afghan and Coalition forces operating in Herat province are focused and determined to improve the quality of life for the people there.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53308

Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Media Operations Center
Story by Sgt. Brian Kester
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 12:12

Many parts of the country have never known centralized governance, lack basic social services and infrastructure, and require expanded capacity to meet the needs of the people. The Afghan National Army soldiers of the 207th Corps partnered with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan Special Operations Forces recently set out to do just that in Darrah-I-Bum district – make a difference.

There will be no Hollywood ‘red-carpet’ treatment laid out for these brave warriors whose goal is to make the region safer and secure as they lay the foundation for the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Since arriving to the area, the Taliban and other insurgents living in the area have made the combined force feel at home by welcoming them with rocket-propelled grenade, small-arms and machine gun fire attacks. As they continue to set up checkpoints and a forward operating base in the area, a key element to achieving their goals will be in establishing a long-term presence the local people can rely upon for support.

“Showing Afghan people who live in remote areas of the country about the benefits of a centralized government, such as commerce and infrastructure, are essential to our mission,” said a Marine SOF team commander. “The team’s existence in Darrah-I-Bum is consistent with the Regional Command-West Campaign Plan, part of which, is to build overarching support in key locations along Highway 1.”

The value of the mission is in establishing not just a presence, but a lasting impression on the local populace. And with the Taliban living in and around the areas the partnered force are operating in, a lot has to be taken into consideration.

“Right now it doesn’t matter too much to the locals that we are setting up a forward operating base in their district,” said the SOF team commander. “The importance of earning their trust is essential in securing the southern end of the Murghab River Valley.

“Success in this district could affect the drug passages and safe havens that pass though the region,” he said. “Until they realize we are here to stay as long as we’re needed, we won’t be able to make as big of an impact on the local villagers as we’re capable of making.”

The presence of the partnered force in the area is a sensitive issue.

Darrah-I-Bum district has a history of corruption, drug trafficking and is a known safe haven for the Taliban and insurgents.

“No matter what side of the line a person stands, the lives and livelihood of the people are on the line here,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael O’Connor, a CJSOTF-A spokesman. “Curving corruption and decreasing narcotics trafficking isn’t going to be easy; however, the toughness of the mission will not deter the ANA or SOF team members in their endeavor to create a lasting presence for GIRoA.”

Often times, in order for success to come, sacrifices, both small and large, have to be made. For the 28-million-plus people living in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, it’s no different.

“By building the FOB in Darrah-I-Bum, we can set the conditions for follow on forces to take over and hopefully see future success in the region,” said the SOF team commander.

“With security, sustained economic development and effective governance for the Afghan citizens weighing in the balance, we believe those sacrifices are a price worth paying.”

Marines learn special skills from Coroner's Office

Battle zone Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES - War is hell and death always comes along for the ride.

http://www.whittierdailynews.com/news/ci_15593690

By Brandon Ferguson Correspondent
Posted: 07/24/2010 07:12:29 AM PDT

As a former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Pico Rivera native Fred Corral knows both well.

During his tour of Southeast Asia, he was charged with accompanying the body of a friend killed in combat to Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, where it was processed before being returned to the family.

Wanting to give back to his beloved corps and prepare young warriors for the unglamorous task of retrieving the remains of fallen comrades from the battlefield, Corral enlisted the support of his employer.

He knew, with the grim realities of combat in Afghanistan on their horizon, few classrooms would offer better opportunities for young Marines than the cold corridors of the Department of Coroner.

As an investigator with the department for the past 26 years, Lt. Corral oversees a two-week program which immerses Marines attached to Personnel Retrieval and Recovery Units in the disturbing and unpleasant world of death investigation.

"What they're going to be doing is going out and working with our decedent services units," Corral said. "The whole thing is to expose them to the kind of death they will experience while in theater."

For the past four years, the coroner's office has offered the program at no cost to the Marines. The last group, which numbered 19, completed its training on Friday.

"Everything that's happened over the past two weeks ... trauma victims, gunshot victims. We've had plane crashes ...," Corral said.

During this time, each Marine gained exposure to the same procedures department employees experience on a daily basis, from evidence collection and fingerprinting to observing autopsies and learning how notifications are done. They also rode along with forensic attendants and visited the scenes of homicides, suicides and overdoses.

Speaking from an air-conditioned office in the complex's investigative services wing on North Mission Road, four young Marines from Georgia soon to be deployed in Afghanistan spoke about what it was like experiencing the daily grind of arguably the world's largest coroner's office. They were Lance Cpl. Huy Tran, 21, Lance Cpl. Michael Downs, 23, Lance Cpl. Sean Janda, 21, and the group's only veteran, Staff Sgt. Patrick Kelly, 42. Though none was younger than 20, most could have easily passed for teenagers.

"I didn't know how I would handle it at first. But as soon as I went into the crypts and didn't overreact, I felt more at ease," Janda said. "There's been a lot of suicides and accidental overdoses. It's rough to see people doing that to themselves. And there's quite a few of them."

Kelly, who is about to embark on his second deployment with the recovery unit, said, "I wouldn't choose this as a full-time profession, but it's different when you do it for your fellow Marines and service members."

Just before the shift change at 3 p.m., the group was led by Corral to the main building which houses the department's main crypt - a large refrigerated room packed with corpses. As the elevator descended into the bowels of the structure, the unmistakable stench of death crept through its doors.

Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Spearman quipped, "Drives the ladies wild."

The reception area where bodies are weighed and measured resembles a doctor's waiting room. Covered in tile and bathed in fluorescent light the Marines and employees mingled behind a desk near a large aquarium. Nearby, a bug zapper occasionally emitted the tell-tale buzz indicating a fly's demise.

The Marines donned latex gloves as Corral read off the day's gruesome client list with matter-of fact indifference.

"Four accidents, three homicides, one natural."

Nearby, forensic attendant Aisha Scott told the young warriors what she wanted them to do.

"We need to take the clothes off that John Doe we have and put the body in the crypt."

Scott, who has been with the department five years, described what it was like training her young charges. "I like working with them. They're a lot of help, and we need it."

In the garage, which receives a continuous procession of ubiquitous blue and white vans bearing expired human cargo, the trainees gathered around a gurney carrying a half-naked John Doe - a badly decomposed white homeless man.

Bloated and pale green, layers of skin around his arms were sluffing off. The body emitted a foul stench. Following Scott's instructions, a Marine on each side of the body used a pair of scissors to snip away the man's pants.

Their demeanor was stoic, and they maintained laser-like focus on the task at hand. Once the man's pants were removed, the Marines wheeled the body into the crypt behind the main building which houses the department's "stinkers."

Corral explained that fortunately the trainees wouldn't frequently be exposed to this level of decomposition due to the fact that fallen service members are typically retrieved quickly from the battlfield. Though he added the Marines would be facing their fair share of charred improvised explosive device and helicopter crash victims.

Nearby was a stack of felt-covered caskets bought with money from the Veterans Administration for indigent vets. According to Corral, the coroner's office buries the forgotten service members at no charge. On Wednesday, the Marines and Corral accompanied the remains of four deceased veterans to Riverside National Cemetery for burial.

Describing the Marines' advancement through the program, Corral said, "When they first got here, you could see the (shock) in their face. But after awhile, they get over their anxiety and they realize they have a job and a mission."

Added Spearman, "A lot of these guys take it as an honor to bring home their brothers-in-arms. They're proud of what they do, and Marines don't leave Marines behind."

A Marine Comes Home From War

Marines who fought in the battle at Marjah in Afghanistan are returning home and parents who nervously watched the war from afar are anxious to see their children. Catherine Welch of member station WHQR in Wilmington, N.C., was with one family to witness a homecoming.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128738150
Click above link to audio.

July 24, 2010

Afghan and Combined Force Recover Weapons Cache in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - On July 23, Afghan National Security Forces with International Security Assistance Force partners conducted an operation to recover a suspected weapons cache in Surobi District in Kabul province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53321

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 12:07

The Ministry of Interior and ISAF combined force recovered a cache containing four 107 mm rockets and one fuse, two 76 mm recoilless rockets, two .22 calibre pistols and magazines, two improvised explosive devices, one .303 calibre rifle with a loaded magazine and one box of machine gun ammunition. Electrical components and detonation cord were also seized.

Two men assessed to be associated with the weapons cache were arrested by Afghan authorities.

The aim of this operation was to disrupt insurgents' access to the material required to continue attacks against Afghans and combined force troops.

No civilians were injured during the conduct of this operation.

Marines focusing on progress

Three from Camp Pendleton report from front lines

Much is lost in war even when you think you are winning it, the Marines serving duty in southwestern Afghanistan have found.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jul/24/marines-focusing-progress/

By Gretel C. Kovach, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 8:22 p.m.

The almost 10,000 Camp Pendleton troops who flooded the cradle of the Taliban this spring as part of President Barack Obama’s surge have seen heavy combat. At least 14 from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, headquartered at the base near Oceanside, have been killed in the past two months, among 172 service members killed in all of Afghanistan.

Amid the casualties, senior NATO commanders try to emphasize steady progress in training Afghan security forces, ousting insurgents and reopening schools and bazaars.

Three Camp Pendleton Marines have been caught in those crosscurrents since they deployed to Helmand province in the spring. The San Diego Union-Tribune has been profiling them as part of an ongoing series.

THE INFANTRYMAN

First Lt. Michael Chand, executive officer of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, was prepared for the contradictions heading into his first combat assignment.

Gen. Charles C. Krulak, the former Marine commandant, described the concept as the “three block war,” Chand explained recently at the end of another long day in the war zone. On the modern battlefield, the infantry must be prepared for all-out warfare on one block, peacekeeping operations on another and infrastructure or humanitarian projects on the third, Krulak said. In the Helmand river valley seeded with poppy fields and Taliban militants, the Marines’ counterinsurgency campaign has been a textbook case in complexity.

“There’s definitely the full spectrum, but I think we’re making major strides here,” Chand said. “The people are glad we are here and to work with us.”

Much has been made of the poor performance and rampant illiteracy among Afghan security forces, particularly the police, but Chand said his Marines have cultivated early success in training Afghan soldiers.

The American and Afghan forces live in the same combat outpost. Chand’s counterpart, an Afghan lieutenant, was shy at first. Now they eat together daily.

The Afghan troops were battle-tested from the start. They lacked tactical training but not motivation, Chand said. After drilling on marksmanship, maneuvers and combat medical care, the Afghans began planning and operating their own patrols.

“You can definitely see the progression,” Chand said. “I am not going to expect individuals from another country to act like all my Marines. We have a different type of training and we have a different culture. But if you show them respect, they work very hard to improve themselves.”

Sometimes the Afghan way is more effective, Chand said, because the native troops know the culture and environment better.

Chand, who has been selected for promotion to captain, deployed to Afghanistan “excited to be pushed to the limit during tactical operations.” One of his most rewarding experiences, though, has been Operation Swing Set.

During weekly shura meetings with tribal elders, Chand and the Marines noticed that crowds of children gathered as the adults talked about security, farming and economic development. They passed out candy, but wanted to give something more lasting to those youngsters.

The Marines coordinated with U.S. government aid workers to order 10 swing sets from an unemployed local welder.

When they installed one in Haji Sher Mohammad Khan village recently, it made everyone happy — the village children, who tested the swings, and the Marines, who took turns pushing them toward the sky.

Maybe Operation Swing Set is winning hearts and minds. Or maybe it simply provides a little fun for Afghan children who often don’t have that luxury.

“It’s an outlet for them where they can just act like kids, when they don’t have to worry about any security issues like their parents and most of the adults in the area have to worry about,” Chand said.

THE TRUCK DRIVER

Lance Cpl. Jesse Nielsen, recently promoted from private, volunteers for every mission she can. As a truck driver for the 1st Marine Logistics Group, she spends days at a time on the road driving Logistics Vehicle System Replacements.

The truck is an ungainly heavy-hauler of supplies. When it bogs down in the sand, Nielsen channels her childhood of four-wheeling to get herself unstuck. Whatever challenge her fellow Marines throw at her, no matter how crazy, Nielsen responds, “I can do it.”

Once, her gung-ho spirit landed her nearly vertical, with a heavy compactor loaded on the back of her rig.

Nielsen likes to show off her “amazing driving talents,” she said. “It’s my comfort zone in a way, to think I’m off-roading in an armored vehicle.”

Time moves both slow and fast when you’re far from home at war, she said. Nielsen tries to stay busy. “The road helps me feel free,” she said.

But the shower after a long convoy run is a welcome treat. “Baby wipes can only do so much,” Nielsen said.

After so many days on the road, “I have seen quite a bit of Afghanistan. The open desert is boring. Nothing but moon dust for miles on end.”

There is the random camel. In the little towns, Nielsen said, you never would imagine it could be so green in the desert.

Amid the shops and fields, Marines watch for children who steal things off their trucks. The sight of Afghan women is rare in this male-dominated society, Nielsen found. They stare back in amazement at the equally rare sight of a female Marine at the wheel.

The U.S. troops purchased a goat once and Afghan soldiers cooked it. They ate together, listening to Afghan music, sipping tea. Nielsen thought it delicious.

“It was an experience I could never forget,” she said. “Not all the people are bad. They just hide within the good people. So, of course, we always have to keep an eye out for something out of the ordinary.”

The hardest part? “Trying not to count the months down until I’m home. But there’s always that one (Marine who) likes to blurt it out.”

THE FATHER FIGURE

Sgt. Maj. Neil O’Connell, a Marine with more than 30 years of experience in uniform, has had to say a lot of goodbyes during what probably will be his last deployment. He took emergency leave recently when his mother in-law began to lose her battle with cancer. He made it home to Tierrasanta in time to say goodbye to her before she died, “leaving us all for a restful place in heaven,” he told family and friends.

Back at Camp Leatherneck, the main base of operations for the 20,000 Marines serving in Afghanistan, O’Connell presides over ceremonies for the fallen.

U.S. Navy doctors and their foreign counterparts work at the hospital at Bastion, the adjoining British base. “They are the most gifted people I have ever met. They perform some of the most complex surgeries and save lives every week,” O’Connell said.

But sometimes nothing can be done. In his first week at Camp Leatherneck this spring, O’Connell conducted seven Dignified Transfer Ceremonies in four days. “This is a very respectful and solemn service for our fallen,” he said. “These are our angels who have died fighting the enemy here in Helmand Province.”

On some occasions, upward of 700 Marines, sailors and British troops attend. The pallbearers bring the flag-draped transfer case to a C-130 plane parked at the airfield. The Marines salute and bow on one knee to join the chaplain’s prayer. Then the deceased Marine is sent home.

“I hate to see these casualties. It reminds me of the summer of 2006 in Iraq,” said O’Connell, who spent 25 months serving in Iraq. “We had a very high casualty count, but we persevered and made a difference. Here we knew we would be picking it up in the summer months once the poppy harvest was over. We have made a lot of progress across the board.

“But it has not come cheap.”

NATO: 2 American troops missing in Afghanistan

By Robert H. Reid - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jul 24, 2010 11:30:56 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Two U.S. troops are missing in eastern Afghanistan, a military official said Saturday. An Afghan official said one may have been killed and the other taken hostage by the Taliban.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_missing_072410/

Afghan and Coalition Force Detains Several Suspected Insurgents, Kills Two in Khost

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force killed two armed men and detained several suspected insurgents in Khost province last night while in pursuit of a Haqqani facilitator for remote controlled improvised explosive devices who also plans and conducts attacks against coalition forces in the area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53319

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 11:43

The combined security force went to a series of compounds north of Khvajeh Mohammad Kala in Terayzai District in pursuit of the Haqqani facilitator. As the security force began entering the buildings, two men armed with AK-47's and chest racks failed to comply with warnings and demonstrated a threat towards the combined security force. The combined force used precision fire, killing two insurgents. Multiple automatic weapons, magazines and grenades were found at the scene.

After the compounds were cleared and secured, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. The women and children present were protected throughout the search by Afghan forces.

"IEDs not only harm Afghan and coalition forces, but approximately a third of the IED attacks wound and kill innocent civilians," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Catching ranking insurgent leaders like the one we were after last night helps us gather information on current tactics and make the area safer for its residents."

Afghan and Coalition Force Detains Several Suspected Insurgents in Paktika

KABUL, Afghanistan- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Paktika province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban sub-commander involved in improvised explosive device attacks against coalition forces.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53318

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 11:38

The Taliban sub commander also acts as a Mullah who blesses the actions of foreign-influenced insurgents who intimidate the population in order to disrupt the security efforts of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Mota Khan.

The security force targeted a compound west of Zardad in Mota Khan District in pursuit of the commander. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for the occupants to peacefully exit the buildings and then cleared the compound.

After the compound was secure, the security force detained four suspected insurgents for further questioning. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search. About 300,000 Pakistani rupees were also found at the scene.

"We suspect this operation will significantly cripple insurgent morale and propaganda within the Mota Khan district," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director.

"Afghan and coalition forces will continue to pursue and capture those standing in the way of peace and stability in Afghanistan."

On July 20 an Afghan and coalition force targeted another commander within the same insurgent network, which resulted in three insurgents killed and three suspected insurgents detained. At the scene the security force found and confiscated a motorcycle with seven IED pressure plate switches and other IED-making materials. Additionally, multiple automatic weapons, grenades, chest racks and five blasting caps were also found and destroyed on scene.

Afghan and Coalition Force Detains Several Suspected Insurgents in Baghlan

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Baghlan province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban district commander for Baghlan-e Jadid District and a Taliban military commander in charge of numerous insurgent fighters.

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 10:56

The security force targeted a series of compounds south of Arabha in Baghlan-e Jadid District in pursuit of the commanders. At the first compound the security force was immediately engaged with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire from a tree line outside the compound. An air weapons team engaged the area to suppress the fire. Afghan forces then proceeded to use a loudspeaker to call for the occupants to peacefully exit the buildings and cleared the compound.

Two suspected insurgents were detained after the residents were questioned at the scene.

A separate combined force went to a second compound in the area and Afghan forces called the occupants to peacefully exit the buildings.

After questioning on the scene two additional suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

"Focused efforts by Afghan and coalition forces in northern Afghanistan have left the insurgent groups scrambling to replace their leadership," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "These operations will continue until the insurgent groups are eradicated from the area."

Earlier this year, Afghan and coalition forces removed three successive Taliban shadow governors in Baghlan province.

Civilian Casualty Allegations

KABUL - ISAF is aware of allegations in the media regarding a civilian casualty incident in the vicinity of Sangin, Helmand province.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53313

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 05:12

We have no operational reporting that correlates to this alleged incident.

First Afghan Air Traffic Controllers on Duty at Kabul International Airport

KABUL - Sitting at their stations inside the control tower, Gh Masoom Masoomi and Milad Hazrati wait for an inbound flight to touchdown at Kabul International Airport. In nearly any other country this would not be significant -- but in Afghanistan it's a sign of progress. Masoomi and Hazrati are the first fully-qualified Afghan air traffic controllers in the country.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53305

Navy Visual News Service More Stories from Navy Visual News Service RSS
Story by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffrey Richardson
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 12:06

"It's very important for us because we are the first in Afghanistan," said Masoomi. "We are the first ones to get a license. It took me almost five years from the time I started school."

Masoomi and Hazrati were able to learn the "in's and out's" of their profession, but not without some difficulty.

The Afghan government, in cooperation with the International Civil Aviation Organization and International Security Assistance Forces developed an advanced program that allowed on-the-job training to further their skills. When they completed their advanced training, ISAF offered both controllers jobs at the KAIA control tower.

The two are responsible for controlling aircraft in the air and on the ground.

"ISAF is here to help the government and help Afghans to take over the responsibility to stand on their own feet, and now we are part of that mission -- we are very proud," said Hazrati.

The two controllers coordinate an average of 10,200 flights, both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, each month.

"I like the job, it's really fun," said Hazrati. "Working as an air traffic controller is unique in Afghanistan."

Following in their footsteps, more Afghans have shown an interest and have begun training as well.

"Because we are proud to be the first air traffic controllers we want to pave the way for others," said Masoomi. "It will be very good for us as a country and we would really like to do that."
"The more you work the better experience you get and we can share our experience with other Afghans," said Hazrati.

Currently, five other Afghans are in training. If the current level of interest continues, Afghanistan will soon have a surplus of fully-qualified Afghan air traffic controllers working in their towers
-- and following in the footsteps of Masoomi and Hazrati.

Kandahar Regional Military Hospital Provides First Class Care

Kandahar province, Afghanistan – With highly trained medical personnel operating a 60-bed facility and intensive care unit, Kandahar Regional Military Hospital has set the standard for hospital care throughout Afghanistan.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53311

NATO Training Mission Afghanistan More Stories from NATO Training Mission Afghanistan RSS
Story by Chief Petty Officer Brian Brannon
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 03:35

Staffed with Afghan doctors and nurses working shoulder-to-shoulder with coalition advisors, the medical center is the first choice not only for Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan National Police personnel and their families, but also for civilians throughout Kandahar province.

ANA Col. Abdul Baseer Elaj, an internal medicine physician, has worked in Kandahar for more than two years and is now the director of the medical center.

“The success that we have is tremendous, compared to what we had before,” he said.

Col. Baseer attributes much of the hospital’s success to the knowledge and professionalism of the Coalition doctors, nurses and technicians working as advisors to the Afghan personnel.

“They’re great teams; they work close with us and they work hard with us,” he said. “One of the reasons we have such a high standard is because of these advisor teams.”

When a suicide bomber attacked a wedding ceremony in Arghandab last month, 26 critically injured civilians received the best treatment the facility had to offer.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Matthew Escher, senior medical advisor for the facility, said that the local elders were so thankful for the attention the people received that they mentioned it to President Hamid Karzai when he visited Kandahar province. The president then made a point to make sure that hospital personnel received certificates of appreciation for their work.

Although the hospital has made great strides, Col. Baseer said it still faces challenges as plans for expansion demand more beds, supplies, medicine, and personnel. U.S. Army Col. Greg Baine, Commander, Regional Support Command-South, pledged to help provide the hospital the assistance it needs.

But one area where the hospital has no problems is in keeping its blood bank supplied. About every eight weeks, a new group of 350 ANA recruits come through the nearby Regional Military Training Center and donate blood because they know the hospital is there to provide them with any future treatment that they might need.

“Without those donations, we’d have a serious problem here,” Lt. Col. Escher said. “It’s very fortunate that Col. Basheer has good relations with the army and the police.”

In addition to blood draws from ANA recruits, the hospital receives donations from soldiers of the ANA 205th Corps and ANP personnel.

Whether military, police, or civilian, the hospital makes a point to never turn anyone away. Each Tuesday, a clinic allows local women to seek medical help without an appointment.

“It’s not just for military and police wives and daughters, this is for any of the civilian women that need assistance,” Col. Baseer said.

Afghan, U.S. Forces Locate, Destroy 14 IEDs in Badghis

KABUL- Afghan National Army soldiers, assisted by members of a Marine Corps Special Operations Team, found and destroyed 14 improvised explosive devices in Badghis province July 18.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53307

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.24.2010
Posted: 07.24.2010 12:10

The Afghan-led force was operating near Murghab District to improve safety and security for people living in the village of Darrah-I-Bum when they received an anonymous tip from local residents about the presence of IEDs in the area.

Based on the tip, the combined force went to the area of interest and found IEDs planted in various locations throughout the village. The team established a cordon around the IED sites to ensure the safety of local residents. Once the area was secure, an ANA explosive ordnance disposal team disarmed and destroyed the IEDs.

According to U.S. military officials working in the Badghis area, the IED discovery is an encouraging step forward in the growing cooperation and partnerships between U.S. forces, the ANA and local citizens.

"This is yet another example for of the Afghanistan National Army and Coalition forces working together to defeat insurgent activity," said Marine Sgt. Brian Kester, a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan spokesperson.

"Our combined team performed their mission masterfully and the destruction of these IEDs greatly diminished insurgent threats in the region."

July 23, 2010

McChrystal retires in military ceremony

By Anne Flaherty - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 23, 2010 21:38:49 EDT

WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley McChrystal ended his 34-year career as an Army officer Friday in an emotional retirement ceremony at his military headquarters here, marking the last chapter of his swift and stunning fall from grace.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_mcchrystal_retires_072310/

Commander Praises Afghan Forces' Efforts During Kabul Meetings

WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. military commander in Afghanistan praised the work performed by Afghan security forces during the international meetings held in Kabul July 20.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53292

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 05:02

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, the NATO International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Commander, in a statement issued today commended the Afghan forces "for their successful planning and execution of security measures for the Kabul International Donor Conference."

"In spite of their best but futile efforts, insurgents failed to disrupt the conference," Rodriguez's statement continued. "That achievement is a direct result of Afghans leading Afghans, protecting Afghans. The security forces demonstrated a tireless commitment to the welfare of their nation and its people."

And, due to the work of Afghan soldiers, police, and agents of the National Directorate of Security, the general added, Afghanistan "will continue to benefit from the strengthened partnerships and enduring commitments of the international community."

The Afghan National Security Forces and the National Directorate of Security, Rodriguez stated, have "set a new standard in inter-agency communication, cooperation, and operations."


Some people, the general wrote, have questioned Afghanistan's potential to succeed, while others may believe that Afghanistan might fall back under the insurgents' control.

"Those people fail to take into account the courage, commitment, and resilience of the Afghan people who are ready to chart their own future and reject the pain and suffering that the insurgents represent," Rodriguez stated.

Those doubters, he added, also "fail to take into account the international community's commitment to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan, a partnership that goes well-beyond security and promotes economic development and improves government capacity."

Rodriguez, who also is the deputy commander of U.S. Forces, Afghanistan, ended his statement by noting that all are honored to serve alongside Afghanistan's "courageous and professional" security forces.

Making Marines Part V: USMC Drill Instructors

(SAN DIEGO, CA) The top 10% of Marines leave their assigned military occupational speciality and go through nearly 12 weeks of intense training to become a drill instructor for three years. Erika Thomas introduces us to the men making Marines in this KMEG 14 exclusive series.

http://www.kmeg.com/Global/story.asp?S=12861127

NEWS VIDEO:
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Posted: July 23, 2010 02:30 PM

There are more than 500 drill instructors at MCRD San Diego training recruits. It's a 24-hour-a-day job and beneath their tough exteriors, every DI wants to see their platoon succeed. It takes a big heart - and a big voice - to mold young men into Marines.

"You are now part of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California 622 receiving company."

From their first introduction to their last order, drill instructors guide recruits through every step of training.

"If a drill instructor can look back and say that he put everything he had into that platoon, then it was definitely worth it for the drill instructor," says SSgt. Jonas Johnson, USMC drill instructor.

For 13 weeks, they yell and scream...

"No, do you understand me?? Yes sir!"

"Come on! Aye, aye sir! Aye, aye sir!"

"No, get louder. Do you understand? Yes sir!"

"You know that when you put on the campaign cover and your duty belt, there's a certain character and a certain role that is expected of you and so you have to fulfill that role," says SSgt. Daniel Sallese, USMC drill instructor.

"Casualty! Reassure the victim! Which one, I get three of them? Fred!" yells SSgt. Sallese.

And there are only a few things that will keep DI's quiet.

Drill instructors call it the depot pause. With the depot so close to the San Diego Airport, drill instructors have to stop talking when planes take off, otherwise recruits won't hear a word they're saying.

"[DI's] are impressive. They're disciplined in their sternness and just knowing where they're going with the whole procedure was very eye-opening," says Justin Grey, Norfolk High School wrestling coach.

What recruits don't see is that these men are doing a job the Marine Corps couldn't exist without.

"They break you down and they build you back up," says Grey.

"The tough training that we put recruits through now ultimately is going to save their life in the future, you know," says SSgt. Sallese.

And while the drive of a DI never fades, the intensity stays on base at the end of the day.

"They're able to turn it on, turn it off, because when they take it home, they can't take it with them," says Dave Fravel, North High School activities director.

"Not everybody's this crazy every day of their life," says SSgt. Sallese.

"Ahhhh!!! Guide, guide!!" yells SSgt. Sallese.

The campaign cover may come off but the core values of the Corps never leave the hearts of these Marines.

"Living by all three of those - honor, courage and commitment - that's the right type of code that I want to live by as a man," says SSgt. Sallese.

"As much as it may appear that drill instructors don't care, it's something we think about every day," says SSgt. Johnson.

"You start to learn that you want to teach the Marine Corps. You love the Marine Corps and you want to teach it and you get the opportunity as a drill instructor," says SSgt. Sallese.

"Being a drill instructor is just a way to carry on the tradition and make sure that the Marine Corps survives for as long as possible," says SSgt. Johnson.

The 500+ DI's in San Diego are training anywhere from 4,000 to 7,000 recruits at any given time.

REPORTER'S NOTE:

I got a chance to try shooting a weapon at Camp Pendleton. Before recruits ever fire loaded weapons, they go through Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Training. It's like a huge video game with laser-loaded M-16's and pistols. We got a chance to shoot them which is much harder than it looks because the guns are the same weight as the real weapons, just without ammo. It takes a lot of physical strength and mental concentration and good aim. Recruits learn to hit targets 500 yards away in just a few weeks.

If you missed any of this week's stories or you'd just like to watch them again, you can go to our website http://www.kmeg.com/global/Category.asp?C=192331. Just click on the Making Marines icon on the homepage. There you can watch some exclusive content you'll only see online. You can also watch them at www.facebook.com/ErikaThomasTV.

Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at [email protected]

‘War Dog’ Marine awarded Silver Star

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — In the chaos and danger of battle, Marines are trained to look out for each other, take control and bring chaos to their enemy.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/29palms/Pages/%E2%80%98WarDog%E2%80%99MarineawardedSilverStar.aspx

7/23/2010 By Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Thorburn , Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Lance Cpl. Daniel Hickey, a machine gunner with 1st platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, did all these things and helped save lives in Afghanistan in 2008.For his actions, he was awarded a Silver Star during a ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey Gray Field, July 16. Hickey demonstrated great heroism during combat when his patrol came under attack by medium machine gun fire and rocket propelled grenades during an ambush.

“We were doing a routine patrol in an area not normally patrolled,” said now Cpl. Hickey, a team leader with 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “We started taking contact from our right flank. After we started taking contact, my vehicle commander told my driver to stop.”

Hickey said, the commander dismounted the vehicle and fired on the enemy. In a fierce exchange, the vehicle commander was struck in the upper right thigh and went down. Hickey exited the vehicle and pulled the commander into the cab while returning fire with his squad automatic weapon.

“My squad leader came back around with his truck, blocked in front of me because there was another position that was engaging us,” said Hickey a North Bend, Ore., native. “I ran over to his door and told him what had happened.” He told Hickey to get back in the vehicle and move out of the area. “We went back eight, nine hundred meters away. Set up a casualty collection point and called in the bird, triaging him the whole time.”

When news of the engagement and the actions of Hickey reached the forward operation base, his friends were not surprised of his actions.

“It seemed just like something he would do,” said Lance Cpl. Nick Wang, a mortarman with 2nd Bn., 7th Marines. “He is all about his friends, family and his guys. He did his job well and knew what he needed to do at all times.”

Looking back, Hickey credits the extensive live fire training he received for getting him through that day.

“All the ranges we did, the training, basically all the live fire we did, helped out a lot cause once [the ambush] happened the training kicked right in and I knew what I had to do,” Hickey said.

Two years after the firefight Hickey stood tall with a newly pinned Silver Star on his chest as Lt. Col. John M. Reed, the 2nd Bn., 7th Marines, battalion commander, took to the mic at Lance Cpl. Torrey Gray Field to commend Hickey and Marines like him for their devotion to duty.

“Cpl. Hickey is a hero. There is no doubt that his actions as courageous as they were on the battlefield saved many lives, the citation that described Cpl. Hickey’s selfless valor is inspiration to say the least,” said Reed, addressing the audience. Turning to Hickey he continued, “You are part of the reason that together as 2/7 we are ready for all and yielding to none.”

Mass. governor in Afghanistan amid war-zone trip

BOSTON—Gov. Deval Patrick and four of his fellow state leaders received a briefing Friday from Gen. David Petraeus as they stopped in Afghanistan amid a tour of the Middle East war zone.

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/23/mass_gov_patrick_in_afghanistan_as_trip_continues/

By Glen Johnson
AP Political Writer / July 23, 2010

Patrick said Petraeus "feels very good" about efforts -- largely through Special Forces -- to target Taliban leadership. But he said the new leader of U.S. and NATO forces also said he faced "an even bigger commitment over time" to win over Afghan civilians who support the Taliban not for ideological reasons, but because they have controlled the nation's economy.

During a conference call with reporters, the governor avoided two questions about whether he felt the U.S. should still be at battle in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he visited earlier this week, and whether his trip had changed his view of the conflicts.

"I don't think it's really even appropriate for me to offer that opinion while I'm here," said Patrick, a Democrat. "My point was to come here and express my support for the soldiers and the airmen and the Marines."

He also said: "The opinion that matters is my high regard for the troops, and that was high before I came and it's even higher now. I see what kind of conditions they're working under."

The closest the governor has come to taking a position on the wars recently was his retort to Republican critics of deficit spending to finance unemployment benefits. Patrick complained the GOP had no problem with deficit spending to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Patrick is making the goodwill trip with Republican Govs. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Jim Douglas of Vermont, and fellow Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri.

He said the group departed from Kuwait at dawn Friday and flew to Kabul before moving quickly to Camp Phoenix. He said the governors met troops from their respective states, which for Patrick included units from western Massachusetts that have been engaged in minesweeping and civilian reconstruction efforts. All told, there are about 1,100 from Massachusetts in the region.

He said he also met with members of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment, the unit in which Sgt. Robert Barrett of Fall River served before being killed in April. The 21-year-old was mortally wounded, and eight others in his battalion injured, by a suicide bomber as they trained Afghan police.

The governor attended his funeral.

Patrick said the governors also met with three wounded soldiers who had gotten their Purple Heart medals on Thursday, and that they watched a re-enlistment ceremony. The briefing with Petraeus also included U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

"It's just a incredibly full time at every level, in terms of the information, in terms of the emotions, having the chance to visit with some of the wounded warriors who were waiting in the hospital," he said.

He would not disclose the remainder of his itinerary, citing security concerns, except to say he did not expect the group to visit the most active combat areas south of Kabul in Helmand Province.

While Patrick has insisted the trip was not politically motivated amid his re-election campaign, he did confess to feeling the political bug during his travels.

He recalled numerous signs throughout U.S. bases, encouraging troops to vote and saying it was a reason they were battling to establish democracy.

"It's been very tempting to have the many pictures that we've taken, taken in front of that sign -- it being the season," he said with a laugh.

The governor also described meeting a soldier who had attended his "youth inaugural" after he took office in 2007.

"He's among a few who have said that he knows what he's supposed to do in November," Patrick said.

Afghan Police Learn to Protect and Serve

WASHINGTON - Afghan Ministry of Interior officials recognize that their nation needs a professional, values-based police force, so they are working with NATO's training mission in Afghanistan to embed a code of ethics into the foundation of the country's police education system.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53280

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Story by Judith Snyderman
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 01:05

Dr. Jack Kem, deputy to the commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, said during a "DoDLive" Bloggers Roundtable on July 22 that the creation of the Afghan National Police Professional Education system will instill high ethical values in recruits and ensure that experienced officers adhere to them. He said introductory through continuing education courses will reinforce those lessons.

"There are certain components that turn a job into a profession and then into a lifetime of service," Kem said. He described the police code of ethics as including three basic precepts; service to nation, respect for citizens and the performance of police duties with integrity.

Beyond the code of ethics, Kem said other measures are reducing corruption and having a positive impact on how policing is perceived. For instance, he said, the government is aggressively pursuing officers who are corrupt and police now earn sufficient wages on which to live.

"That is one thing that takes away one of the incentives for perhaps taking a bribe or using your position for personal gain," Kem explained.

In response to a blogger's question about a reported pay glitch for police in southern Afghanistan, Kem said NTM-A has sent pay teams to the region to fix the problem. He said most police wages are now paid by electronic funds transfers into bank accounts. In Helmand and Kandahar provinces, he said, that requires opening more ATM's and bank branches, an effort that is underway.

Another goal, Kem said, is building a sustainable Afghan police force that reflects the society that it serves. He added this is happening now in Afghanistan.

"I think there is a growing realization of the importance of using all of their society, particularly of using women in the police and in the army as well," he said.

Kem explained that the need to have female screeners available at borders and in airports has contributed to the goal of recruiting 5,000 women police officers over the next two years. As they go through training and prove themselves to be capable, he said, Afghan women police officers are changing Afghan society. People are seeing that, "they can be professional, they can be proficient, they can qualify on their weapons and they are absolutely an essential part of the police force," he noted.

Overall, Kem said, there are currently 106,000 Afghan National Police, and on any given day 9,000 of them are in training. To ensure that the commitment to professionalism endures, Afghanistan is seeking international partners who will remain after NTM-A's mission ends, he said.

"The European police have been very active in looking to take that role," Kem said. He added that while it will take time, he is confident Afghanistan is on track to build a strong and capable police force that will protect and serve the people of Afghanistan.

Marines Help Afghan Locals Build Better Life

Blackanthem Military News
COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Afghanistan - In a small village in southern Afghanistan, locals are trying to find a better way of life. With help from Marines of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Afghans are improving their area.

http://www.blackanthem.com/News/Military_News_1/Marines-Help-Afghan-Locals-Build-Better-Life22449.shtml

By Cpl. Eugenio Montanez, 1st Marine Division
Jul 23, 2010 - 10:46:23 AM

Marines with 3rd Civil Affairs Group attached to 1st LAR Bn. here three months ago and wasted no time getting to work.

One of the projects the Marines have in development is a health clinic to provide the villagers with better medical treatment. The old clinic was little more than a room with scant medical supplies and no services for women.

"We want to be able to provide these people with the medical supplies they need," said Lance Cpl. Jose Campos, a civil affairs Marine with 3rd CAG, 1st LAR Bn. "To receive treatment is one of the biggest worries of the villagers. With this facility they won't have to worry about that anymore."

The clinic is a big step for the local villagers, but this isn't the only problem the civil affairs' Marines are helping them with.

"The children around here love going to school," said Lance Cpl. Oscar Roman, a civil affairs Marine with 3rd CAG, 1st LAR Bn. "They always ask me for pens, pencils and paper. They'd rather have school supplies instead of candy."

The current facility is too small for all the area's children to attend, and is only open four hours a day. With the new classroom, a greater number of students will have longer schools days and more teachers.

There will be many discussions as locals plan for the future of their children and the security of their area. The Marines plan to help build a Shura Hall to help resolve the farmers' needs, and a new district center to have more space for the district governor and the mayor to have meetings with villagers.

As these projects are completed the Marines are already looking for new ways to help the locals create a better quality of life.

Wounded Warriors dive into Ocean Therapy Program

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Marines with Wounded Warrior Battalion West did not let their injuries slow them down as they took part in the Ocean Therapy Program hosted by a local foundation at Camp Del Mar’s beach, Camp Pendleton, July 20.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/basecamppendleton/Pages/News/2010/WoundedwarriorsdiveintoOceanTherapyProgram.aspx

7/23/2010 By Lance Cpl. Damien A. Gutierrez , Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Ocean Therapy sessions are held on base each year, and provide the Marines with an opportunity to learn to surf in an encouraging atmosphere, while focusing on the therapeutic benefits of the ocean.

“This type of physical therapy is exactly what we need,” said Lance Cpl. James Grove, a participant of the therapy session. “I would have never thought that having so much fun could be considered therapy.”

Before the Marines took to the waves, a team of volunteers ranging from mental health professionals to professional surfers held a group discussion to get familiar with the Marines.

During the discussions, Marines, instructors and volunteers explained their particular situation and expressed what they are hoping to accomplish from the program.

“It’s very important that we talk with the Marines, get to know them and figure out what areas they need assistance in,” said Carly Rogers, creator of the Ocean Therapy Program. “Each year I am so impressed with the progress these Marines achieve; it’s almost as if they’ve been surfing their whole lives.”

In order to better prepare the Marines for cutting up the waves, they are first taught the basics of surfing on shore. Then, they applied the fundamentals in the water with a personalized surf instructor.

“There is just something about being out there in water that makes all my troubles go away,” said Groves. “When I’m on my board nothing else matters except how much fun I’m having.”

To conclude the affair, everyone gathered around for another group discussion and spoke about what they have learned and where they can improve.

“I believe we are healing others and ourselves, one wave at a time,” said Nancy Miller, program coordinator.

Ex-Taliban spokesman captured in Afghanistan

By Amir Shah - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Jul 23, 2010 8:42:25 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — Several Taliban figures, including a former spokesman for the insurgents, have been captured in raids by coalition and Afghan forces across the country, military and government officials said Friday.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_taliban_spokesman_072310/

Davison Marine receives PETA award for bringing pet cat home from Afghanistan

DAVISON, Michigan —Marine Cpl. Chris Berry didn’t set out to rescue animals in between countering the insurgency in Afghanistan.

http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2010/07/davison_marine_receives_peta_a.html

Published: Friday, July 23, 2010, 9:00 AM
Beata Mostafavi | Flint Journal Beata Mostafavi | Flint Journal

He just wanted to bring KeyKey home.

The orange and white stray cat who wandered out of a war-torn village into a Marine base last year didn’t know it would lead him to a new best friend — and new home in America.

And now Berry, a Davison native, is being honored by the nation’s biggest animal-rights group for saving his favorite overseas companion.

“After seven months of being with him every single day, he just became a pet,” said Berry, 23. “I didn’t want to leave him there.”

The squad leader will receive the Compassionate Action Award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for the arrangements he made to bring KeyKey to Davison and get him sterilized and neutered.

“These Marines have set a tremendous example for others to follow by coming to the aid of animals in distress and taking them out of a bad situation,” PETA campaigner Marcia Masulla said of Berry and two other Marines receiving the award. “Not only are they saving human lives but they’re also saving animal lives.

“These guys didn’t hesitate to help even though it probably wasn’t the most convenient thing to do. We’re just letting the general public know that anyone can be a hero to animals in their community, wherever they are.”

Masulla said between 7 and 10 million cats and dogs reside in U.S. shelters and half are euthanized because they can’t find homes. PETA commends efforts to neuter or spray animals by preventing more unwanted animals from ending up in the same position, she said.

It was a chance meeting in November, 2009 when Berry noticed the striped and spotted cat with the distinct foot-long tail lying on the ground looking hurt.

One of his legs was bleeding, likely cut from debris or barb-wire surrounding the base’s wall.

“As soon as I saw him I knew something was wrong. He wasn’t moving,” Berry remembered. “I took him inside and petted him and the coreman wrapped his leg up.”

After a swift recovery, the once timid kitten became a favorite base mascot — most popular for his mad mice-catching skills that eliminated one of the military group’s peskiest problems.

KeyKey also claimed his regular spot to curl up on Berry’s bed every night.

And when Berry’s tour was close to ending, the pair wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

Berry, a 2005 Davison High School graduate who also served a tour in Iraq, admitted that animal rescue wasn’t a cause he had taken up.

But overseas group Nowzad Dogs —which aims to save abandoned and stray animals in Iraq and Afghanistan — was the ticket to getting KeyKey home.

Still, it was no easy task.

There was just one flight available to take a bundle of kittens — including KeyKey’s friend Kiki who belonged to Marine Cpl. Brian Chambers, of Texas —to the U.S.

“I was in the middle of nowhere with no phone and no Internet and we were on the other side of the country from where the (group was),” Berry said. “He almost didn’t make it.”

But KeyKey finally got to join fellow feline friends on the nearly 10-hour long journey to New York and eventually to Bishop Airport in Flint.

“He made it to America before I did,” Berry said with a laugh.

The trek left the now 11-pound cat a couple of pounds lighter and needing a bath but it didn’t take long for him to become a fixture in the Berry’s Davison home that he shares with the family’s other cat, 7-month-old Baxter.

Afghan native KeyKey, who appears to be an Egyptian Mao, and his gray, domestic short-haired American buddy spend their days wrestling, cuddling and playfully antagonizing each other.

“They are best friends,” Berry said.

Berry, who recently returned to work at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii, said he was surprised when he got the e-mai from PETA telling him about the award.

“I didn’t know it would be such a big deal,” he said. “He had just become a friend to me. I don’t know if I rescued this cat or saved his life. I just brought him home because I liked him.”

Afghan Forces Discover Large Quantity of IED-making Material

KABUL - An Afghan National Directorate of Security force discovered a large quantity of improvised explosive device making material in a rock quarry in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53258

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 04:08
Courtesy ISAF

The cache consisted of 1,900 kilograms of ammonium nitrate, more than 5,400 electronic fuses, 3,200 meters of detonation cord and 275 kilograms of black powder.

The ammonium nitrate and black powder alone could be used to make more than 100 IEDs.

NDS has requested ISAF assistance in destroying the cache.

"This find demonstrates the ever-increasing capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to operate independently, "said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "It also takes a large number of potential IEDs out of the hands of the insurgents whose indiscriminate use of IEDs endangers innocent Afghan civilians as well as Afghan and coalition forces.

Taliban Facilitator Captured by Afghan and Coalition Force in Nangarhar

KABUL - Afghan and coalition forces captured a Taliban improvised explosive device facilitator in the Behsud district of Nangarhar province last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53255

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 02:27

The security force targeted a compound outside Jalalabad in pursuit of the facilitator and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the occupants were interviewed, one of them led the security force to a different compound where he thought the targeted individual was residing.

Once the second compound was secure, the combined security force detained the facilitator who peacefully surrendered and identified himself to the security force.

No shots were fired and the women and children present were protected by the security force.

On Monday Afghan and coalition forces killed five insurgents and detained five more near Tatang in Nangarhar province. The combined force found multiple automatic weapons along with dozens of rocket propelled grenades, RPG boosters, hand grenades and 2,000 rounds of
ammunition which were found and destroyed at the scene.

Afghan and Coalition Force Detains Two Suspected Insurgents in Ghazni

KABUL- An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents in Ghazni province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban sub-commander who facilitates weapons and provides operations support for the Taliban in the area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53254

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 02:25
Courtesy ISAF

The security force went to a remote compound in Gelan district to search the area. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for the occupants to exit the buildings and then cleared the compound.

After the compound was secure, the security force detained two suspected insurgents for further questioning. No shots were fired and the women and children present were protected throughout the search.

"The Afghan civilian populace deserves a stable community where they are able to live and prosper in a safe environment," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "Afghan and coalition forces are getting closer and closer to making this a reality with each operation.

Senior Taliban Commander Captured in Kandahar by Afghan and Coalition Force

KABUL - Afghan and coalition security forces struck at the Taliban leadership again in Kandahar overnight capturing a senior Taliban commander and member of the district Military Commission in Nad 'Ali, Helmand province who commands the movement of fighters and equipment through the Nad 'Ali District.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.23.2010
Posted: 07.23.2010 02:10
Courtesy ISAF Joint Command

The joint security force also detained another suspected insurgent in the same operation.

The joint security force targeted a compound in Daman district on the outskirts of Kandahar City. All the residents complied with the instructions of the joint security force and peacefully exited the compound. After interviewing the residents, two suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning including a senior Taliban leader and one additional suspected insurgent.

This operation followed yesterday's capture of a Taliban logistics officer for Taliban networks operating within Kandahar City.

Two other suspected insurgents were also detained in that operation which resulted in the discovery of a weapons cache buried in the courtyard of the targeted compound.

No shots were fired in both operations and the women and children were protected throughout the searches.

"Kandahar belongs to its people," Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director said. "Afghan and coalition forces are committed to the people of Kandahar province.

We will continue to remove the Taliban threat within the city and throughout the province so that the peaceful people of Kandahar can continue their brave efforts to establish security and stability for
their families here."

McChrystal Ends Service With Regret and a Laugh

WASHINGTON — Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal retired on Friday with the full pageantry of a 17-gun salute, an Army marching band and an emotional send-off from the secretary of defense, but with his own acknowledgment that he was not leaving the military on his own terms.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/us/24mcchrystal.html?_r=1

By ELISABETH BUMILLER
Published: July 23, 2010

“Look, this has the potential to be an awkward or even a sad occasion,” he told 500 guests on the historic parade ground of Fort McNair, in his first public comments since he was fired by President Obama. He added, “My service did not end as I would have wished.”

But General McChrystal, who was relieved of his command of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan last month after he and his aides were quoted in a Rolling Stone article making disparaging remarks about Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and other top civilian leaders, also took the occasion to joke about his circumstances.

“I have stories on all of you, photos on many,” he told his old friends in the crowd. Then he suggested that he had just the method for making those stories public, adding, “And I know a Rolling Stone reporter.” The crowd broke into laughter, then applause.

Originally planned as a much smaller gathering, the ceremony expanded as many in the military asked to attend.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who had landed in Washington only three hours before from a 19-hour flight from Jakarta, Indonesia, made no mention in his send-off of the reasons for General McChrystal’s retirement.

“We bid farewell to Stan McChrystal today with pride and sadness,” he said. “Pride for the remarkable roster of achievement that he has compiled as a man and a soldier, sadness that our comrade and his prodigious talents are leaving us.”

But by the time Mr. Gates finished, his voice seemed to catch as he concluded that General McChrystal was retiring “with the gratitude of the nation he did so much to protect, with the reverence of the troops he led at every level, with his place secure as one of America’s great warriors.”

The ceremony, on the parade ground where the accomplices to Abraham Lincoln’s assassination were hanged, occurred in sweltering Washington heat — it was still 97 degrees at its start at 6 p.m. — and within steps of General McChrystal’s 200-year-old house on what is called General’s Row. Afterward he invited guests to a reception in his home, which looks out on one of the prime bass fishing spots on the Potomac.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has described General McChrystal and his wife, Annie, as “crushed” by the events of the past month, but the general was stalwart in his remarks.

“Service in this business is tough and often dangerous,” he said. “It extracts a price for participants, and that price can be high. It is tempting to protect yourself from the personal and professional cost of loss by limiting how much you commit, how much you believe and trust in people, and how deeply you care.”

In conclusion, he said: “If I had it to do over again, I’d do some things in my career differently, but not many. I believed in people and I still believe in them. I trusted and I still trust. I cared and I still care. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Then he added, “To the young leaders of today and tomorrow, it’s a great life.”

July 22, 2010

Friction among Afghans looms as challenge in south

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Lt. Col. Abdul Hadi, a police commander in Kandahar city, is a burly, bearded man who speaks quickly and bluntly. And he didn't mince words during a meeting with a young U.S. Army officer overseeing an infusion of elite Afghan security forces in his district.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g4pIWBfRZw-BKCT32sS7rzKcgEFwD9H47GC80

By RICHARD LARDNER (AP) – July 22, 2010

"Most of the people here, they wear turbans, but they are not Talib," Hadi said, using the singular for Taliban. "But they're being searched like they are Talibs."

Hadi's remarks point to a dilemma for U.S. forces. Ordinary Afghan police are widely seen as corrupt and ineffective. But a U.S. plan to have the better trained Afghan National Civil Order Police, or ANCOP, take the lead in curbing violence in this Taliban stronghold of half a million people could risk alienating the ultimate prize — the residents.

Local police chiefs like Hadi resent the reinforcements, saying they're outsiders who don't know the people or the neighborhoods. And the residents are angry over searches and checkpoints that make them feel as though they're the enemy.

Determined not to repeat the missteps of the operation in Marjah six months ago, when ANCOP units were thrown together and rushed into the fight with little experience working with their colleagues, U.S. commanders in Afghanistan are moving more deliberately in Kandahar, the biggest southern city and the Taliban's former headquarters. They're resolved to defeat the militants with minimal use of force.

But the ANCOP, which struggled in Marjah, may still not be ready for prime time.

The ANCOP unit in Hadi's area is from Kabul, about 300 miles to the northeast. So they're unfamiliar with the territory and the language spoken in Kandahar.

That showed during a recent patrol through Hadi's district. The ANCOP troops, accompanied by members of a U.S. Army platoon stationed with them, didn't interact with the Afghans — except to chase away the droves of children who tailed after the officers and troops.

Razaq Khan Ghilji, a 29-year-old Kandahar teacher, said he didn't think the new police would make any difference in a security situation that has deteriorated steadily in recent years.

"Robbery, murder, their rates are still the same and people are still insecure," Ghilji said. "If they hired people from same area and trained them, then I think the problem can be solved."

Army Capt. Tadd Lyman, the platoon commander and the officer who met with Hadi, described the ANCOP officers as a well-trained and skilled group. But he acknowledged the regional differences pose obstacles because in Afghanistan people are defined by their tribe and ethnicity.

"They have a more difficult time relating to one another," said Lyman, a lanky West Point graduate who's been in Afghanistan for nearly a year. "They don't have the level of interest in a region they're not from, which I think can be a problem."

After the assault on Marjah in February, ANCOP officers were brought in to help secure the area. Modeled on European police services such as the French gendarmes, the ANCOP were described as a well-trained and educated outfit that would help clean up and secure the town.

But U.S. Marines often found them lacking.

In central Marjah, Marines had trouble getting ANCOP troops to man checkpoints — they'd send them out only to find later that there was no one there. The excuse: an unwillingness to stay out all night without night vision goggles.

"The Taliban don't have night vision do they?" one Marine derisively joked.

The Marines also complained that their ANCOP counterparts wouldn't patrol on their own, instead heading out to a targeted area and then just dispersing into town for a few hours before returning to base. Some Marines complained they would have been better off with more Afghan army soldiers, who are more heavily armed.

Skepticism that the ANCOP will display more skill and professionalism than regular police runs deep among many people in Kandahar.

"For us new ones or old ones are all the same," said shopkeeper Khaliq Pashtoon, 27. "You know that many people in the police are taking drugs and also involved with criminal activities so how they can bring any change?"

A few weeks ago, Lyman, 25, moved his platoon along with the ANCOP detachment into a former bath house built by the United Nations in the southern part of Kandahar. U.S. military engineers have fortified the compound with guard towers, high concrete walls, and concertina wire. The local police station is adjacent.

Eventually, Lyman's platoon and the ANCOP will be relocating a few miles south when construction on a new control station is complete.

The changes are part of an unfolding plan to ring Kandahar city and outlying districts with heavier layers of U.S., NATO and Afghan security forces to block the insurgents from moving freely.

Ultimately, U.S. and NATO officials envision a stable area in which local governance can take hold and deliver security and other critical services to the people.

The operation will test the abilities of ANCOP, who number 5,200 nationwide with 1,200 in training.

Just after midnight last Friday, Sgt. Jorge Gonzalez, who was on guard duty, rousted the sleeping platoon to full alert. A brief shootout had been reported across town between another U.S. military unit and insurgents.

Three nights earlier, the ANCOP headquarters in Kandahar city was attacked by suicide bombers, killing three American soldiers, an Afghan policeman and five civilians.

So Lyman's superiors weren't taking any chances.

"100 percent security," called Gonzalez. Soldiers tumbled out of their cots, pulling on their uniforms and grabbing their weapons.

But the ANCOP, who occupy a different wing of the compound, didn't rush. They don't have the equipment to operate in the dark.

"It's easier for us to use our night vision and look out to see what's happening, rather than the ANCOP see something that they think might be dangerous and have an incident because they chose to use their weapons when they shouldn't of," Lyman explained.

During the meeting with Hadi, the police commander, Lyman defended the searches and checkpoints, saying his men need to check out anything that looks suspicious. Much of the scrutiny took place in early July as the unit was moving into to the new compound and needed to maintain tight security during that vulnerable stage, he said.

But Lyman also promised to work closely with the local police and use a lighter touch. He invited Hadi's officers to join the foot patrols. And both sides agreed to share information that would help make the neighborhood safer.

"You've been here three or four years," Lyman said. "I've been here two weeks."

No members of the ANCOP attended the meeting.

Afterward, Lyman attributed the animosity from the local police to jealousy.

"The ANCOP is a slightly higher level," he said. "They're more professional."

Associated Press Writers Heidi Vogt in Kabul and Mirwais Khan in Kandahar contributed to this report.

Afghan and Combined Force Reopens School in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - On July 23 Afghan National Security Forces with International Security Assistance Force partners officially reopened a school that had been closed for 12 months due to facilities falling into disrepair.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53245

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 06:22

Over the last two months, the combined force engaged local tradesmen to build a new wall and metal gates, a school yard, plant trees and bushes, repair the existing water pump, install new windows and build new chairs and benches for the students. The reconstruction work now allows students to attend classes four days a week.

Prior to the official opening, Afghan officials and local elders distributed school supplies to the approximately 200 students who attend the school each day. Extra school supplies have been given to the school for the expected 500 students who will attend the school in the future.

A local leader said, "It is magnificent that we are here today at the reopened school. Much has improved with the security situation to allow the school to reopen and we are thankful of the Zabul Provincial Reconstruction Team and Lithuanians for rebuilding the school."

Combined forces are committed to assisting the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in rebuilding and repairing education infrastructure to educate Afghanistan's children.

Making Marines Part IV: Becoming Marines

(SAN DIEGO, CA) Every week, day, minute of training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego is spent perfecting recruits physically and mentally to handle the stresses of combat. In this KMEG 14 exclusive series Making Marines, Erika Thomas takes us inside the most exhausting and emotional week.

http://www.kmeg.com/Global/story.asp?S=12854367

NEWS VIDEO:
http://www.kmeg14.com/global/video/flash/popupplayer.asp?clipId1=4967448&flvUri;=&partnerclipid;=&at1;=News&vt1;=v&h1;=Making%20Marines%20Part%20IV%3A%20Becoming%20Marines&d1;=265067&redirUrl;=&activePane;=info&LaunchPageAdTag;=homepage&clipFormat;=flv&rnd;=10052062

Posted: July 22, 2010 01:28 PM

When recruits show up for training, they are individuals. Their identities are stripped away and they become a team, one unit. It is this bond that makes or breaks a platoon in their final days of becoming Marines.

After 12 long weeks of training at MCRD San Diego and Camp Pendleton, recruits head back up the coast for their last three days.

Recruit training culminates with the ultimate test - the Crucible. A 54-hour mission that transforms young men into Marines.

"It's just how much you want it, really, how hungry you are for it," says LCpl. Jonathan Bellocalles, United States Marine Corps from Hampton, IA.

Started in 1997, platoons complete 34 events on as little as 6 hours of sleep, ending with a 9-mile hike.

"It's the hardest physical part, definitely. I don't I've ever been this tired in my life," says PFC. Kyle Hardiman, United States Marine Corps.

"I'll never forget it. I'll never forget the Crucible. I thought that was the most fun part of the whole three months we've been here," says PFC. Brandon Lynch, United States Marine Corps from Council Bluffs, IA.

After the most exhausting three days of their lives, recruits become Marines in a private emblem ceremony, a week before graduation.

"For you've accomplished what few dare try. You've earned the title Marine."

Each one is handed the eagle, globe and anchor emblem of the Marine Corps from the drill instructors who guided them through this journey.

"We are proud to claim the title of United States Marine!"

The warrior's breakfast is the first meal these privates eat as Marines.

"My brother was in the Marines so I just wanted to experience what it was like for him and now that I have that brotherhood like he has, it feels even more better now that I've become a Marine," says PFC. Lynch.

"It's unspeakable. It's the greatest feeling I've ever felt, probably the greatest feeling I ever will feel. Feels good to know that you're making a difference. And you're a part of something bigger than words," says PFC. Hardiman.

Their last week of training - Marine Week - culminates with graduation.

"That is our job to defend our nation when it needs defended. But they also teach us a lot about becoming a better person," says Christopher Austin, USMC recruit from Des Moines, IA.

After graduation, the new Marines head home for 10 days of R&R; before coming back to San Diego for more training at Camp Pendleton.

And the men in green are leading the nation in going green with alternative energy. 80% of the San Diego fleet currently runs on compressed natural gas. The Corps started the transition back in the mid-90's. Now most vehicles have been converted with two sets of tanks and fuel lines. CNG emits 80% less pollutants than gas and is produced domestically in California. It is also much cheaper than regular unleaded.

"It's definitely a win-win for the Marine Corps for using alternative fuels, especially CNG. It's just one way of helping the United States help keep its air clean," says Vince Sablan, MCRD San Diego fleet manager.

MCRD San Diego also uses about 80 electric carts, in place of gas-burning trucks and sedans. Sablan hopes to have 100% of his fleet running on CNG by the middle of next year.

Don't forget to tune in Friday night to meet the drill instructors making Marines.

Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at [email protected]

Education Makes a Comeback in Helmand Province

As part of our continuing coverage of "Afghanistan: the Road Ahead," - CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy follows the Third Battalion, First Marines at home, and abroad in Afghanistan.

HELMAND, AFGHANISTAN

"I used to regard kids as pests, when we were in Iraq," says Corporal Andrew Egan of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marines.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20011426-503543.html

Posted by Terry McCarthy
July 22, 2010 7:55 PM

"They would come crowding around, and you would be trying to wave them away."

Egan, from St Paul Minnesota, was single then when he was deployed to Iraq. Now he is married, has one son, his wife Misha is expecting a second baby, and the world of sub-adults looks very different. It is, he says, "remarkable" how things change. Indeed.

In a sweet twist of fate, Egan, along with Sergeant Matthew Carter from Toledo, Ohio, now finds himself in charge of several hundred kids at the Kadola Drab school in Garmsir district of Helmand in southern Afghanistan. He lives in a small Marine outpost which is built up against the wall of the school. Shortly after dawn every morning except Friday, he has a constant stream of kids passing by his front door (a long coil of concertina wire) on their way into the school.

The day we visited Kadola Drab, Egan was happily playing soccer with a crowd of kids before classes began. They chased around in mad packs with no definite goal nor rules in mind, running after the ball as it bounced erratically off the uneven ground. It could be any school anywhere in the world, except it is not. It is the first functioning school in the area since 1979, when the Soviet invasion started a cycle of violence that denied an entire generation access to education. The Taliban opposed all but the religious schools - and have tried to intimidate locals throughout Garmsir district from opening their own schools. Another school at Amir Agah just a few miles north of Kadola Drab was set fire to by the Taliban last year before it could open. It has since been rebuilt, but has yet to start classes.

The Taliban haven't given up. The main teacher at Kadola Drab, who pressed most aggressively to have it opened up for summer school this month, Haji Hashem, says the Taliban have threatened him - along with several of the other teachers. "We know we are on a hit list, but it is our job to teach the children," he says. "It is no good being scared and doing nothing." For many years the people in Garmsir have been scared, and it is only in the past year that the Marines have managed to push the Taliban back and give the locals some confidence to think about opening schools, markets, and trying to live a normal life.

On the first day of enrollment, Kadola Drab had 120 children, mostly aged between 5 and 13. After two weeks it had 300, and then the Marines started to get inquiries from other villages and townships about opening schools - after 30 years of neglect education, it seems, is now fashionable in southern Helmand. Sadly that only means education for boys - so far nobody dares send girls to school. Some of the better educated elders - which mostly means those that can read, in a country where three quarters of the population cannot - have said privately that some time in the future they would like to have girls' schools too.

Egan shrugs his shoulders when asked about this - it is a deeply conservative society that is very repressive to women and there is little he can do to change that in the short term - except helping to get the boys an education. This is a country where the Taliban throw acid in the faces of girls who try to go to school.

When Egan found out his wife was pregnant with their second child, he had the option to have his deployment to Afghanistan deferred so he could be at home for the birth. His wife told him she could handle it and he should deploy anyway - "she is a real tough girl", he says. Little did he know that from a household of soon to be two kids, he travelled half-way around the world to supervise 300. When he returns home will be very peaceful, by comparison.

2 corporals die in Helmand province

Posted : Thursday Jul 22, 2010 12:37:49 EDT

Two 23-year-old Marines died this week in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department announced Thursday.

To continue reading about Fallen Heroes,Cpl. Joe L. Wrightsman of the 3/3 and Cpl. Julio Vargas of the 3rd AAB:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_casualties_07210w/

Village Stability Leads to Security Gains and Development in Adirah

KABUL, Afghanistan - Coalition and Afghan forces operating in the Adirah region of Kandahar province are receiving broad levels of support from local citizens this month as a result of village stability operations and the associated new development projects in the region.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53222

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 11:52

Working alongside coalition and Afghan security forces, the local community has come together to enhance their own security in the villages and push out insurgent elements operating in the area.

Increased security in the region has opened the door to development projects, coordinated with the assistance of a U.S. sponsored program known as the Commanders' Emergency Response Program.

Through this program, coalition forces and Afghan provincial officials have funded numerous construction projects and injected millions of dollars into the local economy.

Coalition officials said the improvements with security and development in Adirah are notable; just five months ago, there was little support for the Afghan government and their coalition partners.

"Today, we see a different Adirah region," said a coalition official.

"People have rejected the insurgents and have made a decision to support their government."

Villagers Lead Commando and Coalition Troops to Weapons Cache

KABUL, Afghanistan - The 4th Kandak of Afghan commando troops, working with coalition special operations forces, acted on information from local villagers in Assis Abad village in the Shindand district of Herat province and discovered a large cache of insurgent weapons in the area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53221

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 11:14

The commandos followed the tip and uncovered weapons, ammunition and several improvised explosive devices already constructed and stored near where the cache was hidden.

Uncovered were more than 4,000 pounds of ordnance, including approximately 100 grenades and 100 mortar rounds. Also in the cache were

25 artillery rounds of various sizes, five mines, three rocket-propelled grenades, and 10 RPG boosters. The weapons, ammunition and IEDs were destroyed in place.

The tip on the weapons location is considered by the commando and coalition forces to be a significant step in the growing trust between the people of the Shindand district and the Afghan and coalition troops. The population increasingly views the security provided by their local defense forces, part of the local village stability operations in the area, to be part of the positive changes taking place in the village, according to the coalition forces on the scene.

Discovery and destruction of the weapons cache will likely further disrupt insurgent activities along Highway 1, and around the Shindand airbase, according to commando and coalition troops.

ISAF Provides Medical Assistance to Civilians Injured by IED

KABUL, Afghanistan - ISAF forces provided medical treatment to four injured Afghan civilians after their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Gardez District, Paktiya province, yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53198

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 12:29

Afghan National Police and ISAF forces responded to the scene of the incident. ISAF forces transported the wounded to a nearby ISAF facility for treatment.

According to confirmed reports, insurgent IED attacks have killed more than 360 innocent Afghan civilians and wounded more than 750 since the beginning of 2010.

"These are staggering numbers. Innocent Afghan civilians who are doing nothing more than going about their daily lives continue to become victims of these heinous acts," said Col. James Dawkins, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We will continue to work with our Afghan partners to seek out the insurgents responsible for these cowardly acts."

In June, the United Nations reported a 94 per cent increase in the number of incidents involving IEDs within the first four months of 2010 compared to the same period in 2009.

Marine With Kitsap Ties Dies While Serving in Afghanistan

POULSBO — A Marine who grew up in Kitsap County and whose family still lives in the area died in Afghanistan on Sunday.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2010/jul/22/marine-kitsap-ties-dies-while-serving-afghanistan/

By Ed Friedrich
Kitsap Sun
Posted July 22, 2010 at 11:26 a.m., updated July 22, 2010 at 8:09 p.m.

Cpl. Joe L. Wrightsman, 23, of Jonesboro, La., was supporting combat operations in the Nawa District of Helmand province.

Wrightsman joined the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, based out of Marine Corp Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay in October 2005, and served as a rifleman and team leader with Kilo Company. His unit deployed to Afghanistan in May to conduct counterinsurgency operations with Afghan forces.

An official report on the circumstances surrounding Wrightsman’s death was not available Thursday. But his grandmother, Buffy Langford of Poulsbo, said that while Wrightsman and his unit were patrolling with Afghan trainees, they attempted to wade across the chest-deep, fast-flowing Helmand River. Wrightsman made it, but his Afghan partner had trouble.

Wrightsman jumped in to help him and they were both swept away. Wrightsman's body was found later, about a mile away. The Afghani soldier also died.

Wrightsman leaves behind a large number of surviving family members in the local area. Wrightsman moved with his mother, Connie, to Louisiana when he was a teenager.

Wrightsman was infatuated with the Marines as a teenager, and couldn’t wait to enlist, his grandmother said.

He enlisted in May 2005 and attended infantry school in August 2005. He had completed two previous deployments to Iraq with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. When volunteers were sought for Afghanistan, the family asked him not to go, she said.

“He said he wanted to be there for his country, and he was a Marine to his heart,” Langford said. “He’s one young man who got to live his dreams.”

Wrightsman’s personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal and the NATO-International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan Medal.

Wrightsman is the 10th man with Kitsap County ties to die in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sylmar Marine had plans for home, family

WAR: Cpl. Julio Vargas, 23, is second Afghanistan death from Camp Pendleton this week.

Just 23, Marine Cpl. Julio Vargas had a lot to look forward to.

http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_15581719

By C.J. Lin, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/22/2010 08:09:52 PM PDT
Updated: 07/22/2010 08:14:27 PM PDT

He had gotten married in December, and he and wife Rosita had purchased a home near Camp Pendleton. His first combat deployment to Afghanistan was coming to an end in September. And Rosita was waiting for him to come home so they could start a family.

Before he went overseas, Vargas had asked his dad: "Are you ready to be a grandpa?"

But Vargas was killed Tuesday by a roadside bomb in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.

It was just his second day on patrol, according to Adalberto Cruz, a neighbor of 11 years, who joined with other mourners on Thursday outside the Vargas family's townhome in Sylmar.

"He enjoyed doing what he wanted to do," Cruz said. "He was a good kid. He was always smiling and you'd never see him mad or anything. He was always real polite, really outgoing."

Upon receiving news of Vargas' death, his parents and brothers - including his identical twin who serves in the Army Reserves - flew to Portland, Ore., to receive his remains, Cruz said.

"It's a tragedy for us all," Cruz said. "This was a shock to us."

After graduating from Sylmar High School, Vargas went to Texas on a mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was through his church that he met his future wife.

"He was so young," said neighbor Jessica Salgado, who recalled playing with Vargas when they were children. "He had so much ahead of him."

In February 2008, he enlisted in the Marines. He was a vehicle gunner assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.

Vargas' personal service awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

"The Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Division mourn the loss of Corporal Vargas," said 1st Lt. Ken Kunze in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family."

Vargas stationed at Camp Pendleton and was the second Marine from the base to be killed in Afghanistan this week.

Flags at the state Capitol were flown at half-staff in Vargas' honor.

"Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cpl. Julio Vargas," said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in a statement. "He was a real-life hero, one of our nation's bravest individuals, and his service and sacrifice in the name of freedom will not be forgotten."

Western Afghanistan Sees Reduction in Civilian Casualties

KABUL, Afghanistan - In western Afghanistan the incidence of civilian casualties due to combat operations is at an all time low. In every instance where a civilian casualty was caused by combat operations, it can be attributed to the violence of insurgents, according to statistics gathered by the U.S. Marine Special Operations Forces assigned to Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan. The numbers show fewer than 10 incidents of ISAF caused civilian casualties occurred in western Afghanistan since January 2010.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53201

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 02:06

By Sgt. Brian Kester

"This low number of civilian casualties is a direct result of Afghan and international forces conducting aggressive and safe operations in the area," said Maj. Paul Oliver, a CJSOTF-A spokesperson.

"Their actions show the concern they have for the safety of innocent civilians, as well as their strength as a fighting force out west."

In a recently intercepted message from Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement, several themes emerged involving civilian casualties.

Omar provided guidance to Taliban members urging them to capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He also urged the murder of any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces.

"We believe this guidance provides important insight into recent events," said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesperson. "The Taliban are causing an alarmingly high number of civilian casualties, and they have also begun attacking those who have chosen to serve the people of Afghanistan as public servants."

The decrease in civilian casualties caused by Afghan and coalition forces in western Afghanistan does not indicate a reduction in the number of missions conducted throughout the West.

Afghan National Army soldiers and coalition forces are conducting missions and security patrols with an intense focus on engaging the people and securing their future, according to Oliver.

"Unlike the Taliban whose senseless violence deliberately causes civilian casualties," Oliver said, "we do our best to avoid non-combatant casualties. Ultimately it's the insurgents whose intent it is to drag Afghanistan back several centuries into chaos."

Coalition officials emphasize the genuine desire by ISAF service members to work alongside Afghan forces and assist Afghans.

"In our area of responsibility, all of our operations are population centric," said a Special Operations Task Force commander.

"It is our goal to provide stability and security that will ultimately lead to development and greater governance."

Taliban Facilitator Detained by Afghan and Coalition Force in Kandahar

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents in Kandahar province last night including a Taliban logistics officer for the Taliban networks operating in Kandahar City last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53215

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 07:29

The facilitator is also responsible for moving weapons and insurgent fighters into the city.

The security force targeted a compound in the village of Lay Bala Karz in northern Kandahar district in pursuit of the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained the facilitator and one additional suspected insurgent for further questioning. The security force also found a cache of AK-47 parts and dozens of magazines buried in the courtyard of the targeted compound.

No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

"Taliban maltreatment of civilians and their disregard of local customs and traditions will ultimately affect national support for the Taliban," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "The Taliban's reliance on foreign fighters further alienates them from the Afghan people."

Kabul Attack Network-associated Attack Planner Captured in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces peacefully captured another Kabul Attack Network-associated facilitator in an overnight operation here last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53205

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.22.2010
Posted: 07.22.2010 05:51

The Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin/Taliban-associated attack planner is known to lead attacks against Afghan civilians, and Afghan and coalition forces in Kabul and was reportedly participating in attack planning against the Kabul International Conference. Tight security and offensive operations leading up to the conference foiled any significant insurgent attacks.

The security force went to the targeted compound in Kabul and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the compound was cleared and secured, the combined security force detained the attack planner and one additional suspected insurgent.

No shots were fired and the woman and children present were protected throughout the operation.

Afghan and coalition forces captured a Taliban sub-commander and several additional facilitators this week. Through these operations, ISAF forces were able to locate and destroy a large cache of dozens of mortars, rocket boosters, rocket propelled grenades and two remote-controlled improvised explosive devices located within the city of Kabul.

"Over the past week, we were very successful in removing insurgent threats to the Kabul Conference. The conference allowed world leaders an opportunity to assemble and work with the Afghan government to further establish a peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We're happy we were able to prevent the insurgents from spoiling that goal. However, even though the conference is complete we will continue to aggressively prosecute the Kabul Attack Network."

One Homecoming

In late April the family readiness officer, Tina Morgan, began calling and e-mailing each of 48 anxious First Anglico families with news about the company’s return to Camp Pendleton. (Anglico units — the name stands for Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company — are part of the Marine Corps.) And even though a lot of private, superstitious things had been put off by many who were waiting for the good news, I elected to wait a little longer, until I was sure my Marine had both feet on friendly soil. I’d seen enough just-about-to-retire cop movies to know that having the end in sight slows the clock and multiplies the already too plentiful ways that things can go wrong before the actual, final, blessed end of the deployment.

http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/22/one-homecoming/

By TOM CASSONE
July 22, 2010, 1:41 pm

I even resisted the temptation to reminisce. I wouldn’t dare think about Sgt. Richard Cassone as the little boy who wanted to come along to Mario the Baker’s to pick up takeout because he loved to ride home with the steaming pizza boxes on his lap. Or as the kid who spent hours playing paintball with his friends in the backyard woods, because now he carried an M-4, and worse, since now his opponents wielded Dragunovs and R.P.G.’s. Dipping into those memories during a combat tour seemed too treacherous — as though that one indulgence could conjure the unthinkable, as if I’d prematurely surrendered to grief and mourning. You implausibly suppose that your thoughts can affect the outcome, just because you have them.

On a much more practical level I’d also delayed booking the trip to San Diego, as did my extended family, until we knew what day he’d get off the bus from March Air Force Base. So when the Marines called and gave us a date and a time, I asked, well, will it be then, or about then? And I was assured by Ms. Morgan, who I’m sure was assured by the command, that the day was the day and the time was the time. And of course I believed that, because the Marines are the Marines.

And so we hastily and happily booked our trips, and began arriving on Saturday for the scheduled Monday return. But on Sunday during my layover in Denver I received another call from a weary Ms. Morgan, who was making one of at least 48 calls, explaining that the company had been delayed in Germany. The pilot’s seat broke in their chartered aircraft, and we would probably wait just 24 or 48 hours more. Having such an ordinary reason for the delay was at once an irritation and a relief. And then the wait for Monday turned into Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. San Diego was in full “June gloom” because of the cold coastal currents, and so the days passed darkly, coolly, and slowly. As each E.T.A. was adjusted dozens of families’ flights were delayed and then canceled and rebooked, and hotel and car reservations and dog sitters extended. The scheduled long sunny weekend turned into an unplanned and cloudy week away from home and work, and even though you knew the danger was past, the waiting grew old.

But that Thursday night when dozens of friends and family began to crowd the First Anglico parking lot the annoyance quickly turned to anticipation. Most people in this eclectic group with just that one enormous thing in common met one another for the first time and, as they waited in the cold, chatted nervously among the cars and welcome home signs.

Greetings and small talk were interrupted by every set of approaching headlights, and then as they would pass by, the disappointment was soothed with more chatter. But then when the two brightly lit buses finally did arrive, carrying healthy smiling and strapping Marines, none of it, not the war nor the waiting nor the cold nor the anything, mattered one bit.

I think I’ve witnessed pure joy just a few times in my life: after the births of children and a clean diagnosis. It’s always been associated with new life or a new chance, but it has to be enjoyed immediately, before any new doubts can take root. And as evanescent but rarer still is authentic pride. It tightly follows a great accomplishment, though it, too, has to be celebrated quickly, before it becomes a given, like a newly minted Marine at Parris Island. But I’d never seen pride and joy collide at their zenith until Thursday, June 10, at Camp Pendleton, when 48 Marines bounded off those buses to reunite with their families and friends, just days after being under fire in southern Afghanistan. In that moment our collective joy, the Marines and all of us waiting lit up Southern California.

In just over a month since, American casualties have mounted. June and July have been two of the deadliest months since the war in Afghanistan began, and for many First Anglico families it’s all happened in the place where our children, brothers, fathers and best friends stood and fought just a month earlier. Many other military families would have sold their souls for the opportunity to be irritated by just a delayed return, but instead their worlds have collapsed. For the lucky ones like us, still experiencing the war every day since, but only through newspapers and the nightly news like the rest of the civilian population, our pride and gratitude have grown. But with each casualty our joy diminishes.

After I’d come home to Connecticut I freely indulged my memories again, one night inspired by a text message from Rick: “Just picked up pizzas with my buddy and they’re sitting in my lap . . . . reminds me of the good days.”

I wrote back: “They’re all good.”

July 21, 2010

ANA 5th Kandak Graduation

Afghan National Army graduated an entire kandak of new soldiers from an intense 10-week training course conducted by the Consolidated Fielding Center during a ceremony at Pole-E Charki parade field July 21.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53196

Combined Joint Task Force 101 More Stories from Combined Joint Task Force 101 RSS
Story by Staff Sgt. Donald Reeves
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 08:54

Recruits come from all over Afghanistan to attend the rugged secondary course. This training is designed to reinforce skills learned in initial entry training at the Kabul Military Training Center, which is the ANA equivalent of the U.S. Army’s basic training.

ANA soldier, Allah Mohammed, said the CFC course was intense, but well worth it.
“There was no part of the training that wasn’t hard,” Mohammed said through an interpreter. “But now, I am ready to go to the front lines and defend my country.”

Lt. Col. Mohammed Sami, CFC training officer, explained that the 10-week course was designed to increase proficiency and confidence. French, U.S. and Afghan military worked together training the Soldiers on infantry tactics, maintenance and other skills

“These soldiers have increased their confidence on their rifles,” said Sami. “If they are on the frontlines, they are able to fix their trucks and rifles.”

The 5th kandak, which is the Afghan equivalent of a battalion, is now a part of 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps. They will serve in one of the 11 northeastern provinces that make up the 201st Corps’ area of operations.

The soldiers of 5th kandak come from various geographic and ethnic backgrounds. ANA Brig. Gen. Ghulam Sakhi, deputy of the training department, Ministry of Defense, took the opportunity to remind the soldiers that they are all fighting for a common cause.

“The ANA consist of members of different tribes from different people group all working together, so you should have unity,” said Sahki.

“Do not listen to the propaganda of the enemy; officers prevent discrimination in your units,” Sahki urged.

ANA Maj. Gen. Ghulam Heidar, executive officer, 201st Corps, also spoke at the graduation. In his remarks, he noted the challenges that face this generation of Afghan soldiers.

“Our young men have grown up in over 30 years of revolution. The people of Afghanistan are still suffering from the ravages of war,” said Heidar.

Heidar implored the graduates to use their training to work for a peaceful Afghanistan.

“Hopefully, you brave soldiers, with the training you have received, can bring about the deepest will of the people,” Heidar said, “which, after these 30 years of war, is a deep longing for peace and security.”

Allah Mohammad called his graduation a “proud day,” saying, “My family is happy that I am in the army serving the country.”

Allah Mohammed also challenged others to follow him on his graduation day.

“It is my message to civilians to serve the land,” said Allah Mohammad through an interpreter. “I ask each of my brothers to come here and serve our country."

Making Marines Part III: Meet Iowa Recruits

(SAN DIEGO, CA) It's something most recruits never get to do - talk about training during their time at MCRD San Diego. In this KMEG 14 exclusive series Making Marines, Erika Thomas shares the personal stories of two Iowa recruits a long way from home.

http://www.kmeg.com/Global/story.asp?S=12847050

Posted: July 21, 2010 01:05 PM

Except for one phone call home and letters back and forth, Chris Austin and Aaron Luehring haven't seen or heard from their families back in Iowa for weeks. Talking with both of them, the sacrifices of training are obvious but the support of loved ones makes it all worth it.

For five long weeks, 24-year-old Chris Austin has set aside his job as a parent to take on the role of recruit.

"Being away for this long, it's hard. At home, I didn't enjoy changing the diapers, but it was part of the job. Now that I'm here, I miss changing the diapers," says Chris Austin, USMC recruit from Des Moines, IA.

With his wife and two young boys back home in Des Moines, Chris is finally living out his dream.

"When I got married and had children, my wife told me that in order for the family to be happy, I myself needed to be happy and needed to accomplish the goals and dreams that I had set forth. So she pushed me to join the Marine Corps, finish, be a role model for her and my children," says Austin.

Each day he demands more of himself and during Phase I, the physical challenges have already cut 20 pounds from his frame.

"With the Marine Corps, they demand 100-110% at all times - intensity and volume," says Austin.

Serving his country and his family by striving to earn the title of Marine.

Here at MCRD San Diego, you won't see any female recruits. They're all sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, along with the other half of male recruits.

But even recruits on the West Coast don't spend all 13 weeks at the depot. Phase II is three weeks of weapons field training at Camp Pendleton.

20-year-old Aaron Luehring is nine weeks in and sees himself changing every day.

"Here they really push you to succeed and be confident in yourself. And they make you do things you wouldn't even think possible," says Aaron Luehring, USMC recruit from Terril, IA.

And words of encouragement from home in Terril, Iowa, keep him going.

"Being away from his family. It's been tough on me being so far. I find it, if it wasn't for the letters, I'd probably broke down sooner," says Luehring.

Without regret, he left home to protect what he loves so much.

"I want to be a Marine so I can protect my country," says Luehring.

"I feel that every man and woman should serve their country in some way or another and this was my way to do it, sir," says Austin.

Training to defend a nation they love and the loved ones who support their sacrifices.

"I hope that [my children] understand that in order to be happy they really need to follow their dreams," says Austin.

"Love you Mom and Dad, little sister, be seeing you soon," says Luehring.

I spoke with Chris and Aaron six weeks ago in San Diego. Aaron has since graduated and Chris is just a week away from completing the ultimate test of recruit training - a 54-hour mission called the Crucible. Thursday night you'll hear from recruits moments after finishing and get an inside look at the ceremony where they become Marines.

Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at [email protected]

Twentynine Palms Marine Dies in Afghanistan

A Twentynine Palms Marine has died while in the line of combat in Afghanistan, it was announced Wednesday.

http://www.kpsplocal2.com/Content/Headlines/story/Twentynine-Palms-Marine-Dies-in-Afghanistan/Q_dFgdMebEqz74J51seq_g.cspx

Reported by: KPSP Local 2 News
Email: [email protected]
Created: 5:40 pm, July 21, 2010

Cpl. Paul J. Miller of Traverse City, Michigan died July 19 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, U.S. Marine Corps, Twentynine Palms.

He was 22 years old. In honor of Cpl. Miller, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued the following statement regarding Miller's death:

"The passing of Corporal Miller is a devastating loss to this country and serves as a grave reminder of the dangers our men and women in the military face while defending our freedoms. He was a courageous Marine whose legacy of honorable service to this country will live on forever. On behalf of all Californians, Maria and I send our condolences to Corporal Miller's family, friends and fellow Marines during this difficult time."

DoD officials explain new spouse tuition rules

By Karen Jowers - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Jul 21, 2010 11:58:03 EDT

The My Career Advancement Accounts tuition program for military spouses will reopen to new enrollees Oct. 25, with some major restrictions on eligibility and funding, defense officials announced Tuesday.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/military_mycaa_spousetuition_072010w/

Local Marine killed in Afghanistan

Traverse City — A Benzie County Marine died in Afghanistan.

http://record-eagle.com/latest/x876811782/Local-Marine-killed-in-Afghanistan

BY SHERI McWHIRTER [email protected]
July 21, 2010

Cpl. Paul James Miller, 22, died in a bomb explosion on Monday. The U.S. Department of Defense has yet to release more details about his death.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Cherryland Post in Traverse City confirmed the family contacted them and they will hold a memorial service.

"It's another comrade who died and it's too bad," said Doug Jordan, post Quarter Master and a retired Marine. "We're a small branch of the services and when you lose one, it affects all Marines."

No funeral arrangements have yet been set.

Numerous Insurgents Killed, Captured in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - Numerous insurgents were killed or captured during recent Afghan-coalition operations conducted across Afghanistan, military officials reported.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53180

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 02:21

In operations, July 20:

An Afghan-international security force detained a suspected insurgent in Helmand province while in pursuit of a senior Taliban tactical commander who is known to direct Taliban fighters in improvised explosive device attacks. He also coordinates kidnappings and intimidation campaigns against Afghan civilians. The security force went to a compound in rural Nad 'Ali district to search the area. After securing the area, the suspected insurgent was detained for further questioning by the security force after interviewing the residents of the compound. Afghan and coalition forces have focused their attention on Helmand province over the last couple of months. Since May 1, more than a dozen Taliban leaders have been captured along with numerous suspected insurgents in operations there.

-- An Afghan-international security force killed several insurgents and detained several more in Kunduz province last night. The security force was in pursuit of a Taliban subcommander who facilitates weapons and orders improvised explosive device and rocket attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces. The subcommander is in regular contact with Taliban and Haqqani Network senior leaders located in Pakistan. The security force went to the first of a series of compounds in the village of Qareh Khani in Chahar Darah district and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compounds. One heavily armed individual ran outside the compound and engaged the security force. The combined force returned fire killing the insurgent.

The combined force moved to clear and secure the building. While clearing the area, the security force was engaged by an insurgent barricaded within one of the buildings and another insurgent in the courtyard. Returning fire, the assault force killed the insurgents. After the compound was cleared and secured, the assault force detained two suspected insurgents for further questioning.
At the second compound two armed males ran from the buildings into some thick vegetation. Afghan forces called for the individuals to peacefully surrender, however they engaged the combined force and were subsequently killed. After the second compound was cleared and secured, the security force questioned the remaining residents. One suspected insurgent was detained by the security force for further questioning. Weapons and IED materials including blasting caps and wire were found at the compounds. The women and children present were protected throughout the searches.

-- Afghan and coalition forces in the Kabul area detained a Taliban facilitator last night believed to be in final preparation stages for attacks against the international conference. He is assessed to facilitate suicide bombers and weapons for the Kabul attack network. The security force went to the compound near Ahangaran in Musahi district and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the compound was cleared and secured, the combined security force detained the facilitator. No shots were fired and women and children present were protected throughout the operation.

-- Afghan and coalition forces detained several suspected insurgents in Khost province July 20, including a Haqqani Network commander responsible for planning and facilitating attacks against coalition forces in the province. The captured commander also is the head mullah of a madrassa in the village of Laken where he had planned attacks and recruited Haqqani operatives and suicide bombers. A security force went to a series of compounds near the village of Kamar Kala in Khost district and searched the area. After the security force cleared and secured the buildings, they detained the commander who identified himself as the targeted individual in the operation. Several additional suspected insurgents were also detained for further questioning. One AK-47 rifle was found at the scene.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force detained several suspected insurgents in Kandahar province July 20, including a Taliban weapons facilitator operating in Kandahar. The weapons dealer also assists with the movement of foreign fighters into the area and coordinates assassinations within Kandahar. The security force targeted a compound in the Zharay district in pursuit of the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compound. After questioning the residents, the security force detained the facilitator and several additional suspected insurgents for further questioning. No shots were fired and the women and children were protected throughout the search.

-- An Afghan civilian was wounded in an improvised explosive device explosion in Charkh district, Logar province, July 20. Afghan National Police transported the wounded civilian to a local hospital for treatment. According to confirmed reports, insurgents have killed 87 civilians and wounded 193 in the past three weeks.

-- Six Afghan National Police were beheaded by insurgents in Dahanah-ye Ghori district, Baghlan province, July 20. ANP forces successfully repelled an insurgent attack on a school, clinic and the district governors' building in Dahanah-ye Ghori city, killing several insurgents. During the attack, insurgents overran a police checkpoint and killed the police officers by cutting off their heads.
"This incident once again demonstrates the brutal, barbaric and senseless acts committed by the Taliban," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We remain committed to serving alongside our Afghan partners to improve security and development for all Afghans."

In July 19 operations:

-- An Afghan civilian was killed and eight civilians were wounded by insurgents' small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire during an attack on an ISAF patrol in the Dand district of Kandahar province. The wounded were taken to Mirwais hospital in Kandahar. Afghan government and security forces officials are investigating the incident.

-- An Afghan civilian was wounded in an improvised explosive device explosion in Charkh district, Logar province. Afghan National Police transported the wounded civilian to a local hospital for treatment.

In July 18 operations:

-- Insurgents fired a mortar round at a large group of Afghan men, women and children gathered in northern Zabul province as they waited for regularly-scheduled medical outreach to begin. "Although no one was injured, this incident demonstrated to Zabul citizens the insurgents' use of indiscriminate weapons fired against the local population," said a coalition medical officer who was assisting with the outreach when the mortar landed nearby.

-- Afghan government officials and district elders held a community outreach shura in Marjah and came away more water for the district. Afghan army and ISAF forces from the local village stability operation provided security to support the meeting between district elders and regional water and government officials to discuss the lack of water in southern Marjah, Helmand province. Yar Mohammad, the governor's representative, said that improvement in the water supply available for local agricultural and civic requirements was possible -- but would depend in part on assistance from elders in the region. The elders said they were willing to work together with others in the region to keep the canals clean and secure if district officials could make water available on a more consistent basis for residents of southern Marjah. Director Khan Agha of the Helmund Arghandab Valley Authority said he would take personal control of the Nad Ali district water supply and close the locks to the northeast for 10 days and open the feeder canals to southern Marjah to increase the available water for irrigation and other uses in the south.

Better NCO Training Boosts Afghan Army's Capabilities

WASHINGTON - The influence of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps in the development of Afghanistan's military forces is possibly most apparent in its training regimen.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53179

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Story by Ian Graham
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 01:55

Decades ago, a very top-rank-heavy Soviet-style system dominated the Afghan military, Army Sgt. Maj. Michael Logan, with NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, said. But now, he said, thousands of new Afghan troops are being trained by a strong corps of non-commissioned officers, a signature of the American military.

Logan discussed how U.S.-style training has played a central role in the Afghan army's growth and development over the past year during a July 20 DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable.

When Logan arrived in Afghanistan last year, there were about 1,950 NCOs in the Afghan National Army; the goal now is to reach 15,450 NCOs by November 2010. The objective, he said, is professionalization of the Afghan army. Leader development, or "growing" NCOs, he explained, is a key aim of this mission.

Logan said it's indicative of a movement by NTM-A to "train the trainers," and create a corps of on-the-ground leaders that'll form the backbone of the Afghan army, the way the U.S. Army relies on its own NCO corps.

"It's important that we continue to support and develop the NCOs because they're going to make differences that we can't from the outside, looking in," Logan said.

Logan said the mission has been so successful in the past year because of this shift in focus. Some 20,000 Afghan soldiers are in training right now, about 3,300 of them to be NCOs, with one instructor for every 29 trainees – primarily Afghans. Last year, Logan said, there were far fewer instructors in general and nearly no Afghan trainers.

Better-training of Afghan NCOs and other enlisted members contributes to a higher level of trust among Afghan soldiers for their lower-level leadership, he said, and produces a more respectful, professional environment across the force.

"Within the training realm, when it comes to professionalizing the [Afghan] army ... that's affecting them on the outside," Logan said. "So that's making a difference."

NTM-A isn't without problems, though. Logan said that increased Afghan army recruiting efforts have created a need for more NCOs that can't be instantly satisfied. Another issue, he said, involves the need to have troops in the field, leaving them unavailable to take the necessary time to train.

"We do face certain challenges, mainly that leader development is outpaced by accelerated force generation, and operational concerns and training environments present us with difficult choices," Logan said.

One method of producing more Afghan army NCOs, Logan said, involves a program that allows in-the-field promotions for soldiers who demonstrate leadership ability. In some cases, as with literacy training, instructors are able to join with deployed units to teach soldiers when they have down time.

Logan said the plan is to allow Afghan NCOs to continue to take over training missions, until NATO's involvement is unnecessary. The success NTM-A is having with NCO training, he added, can be seen in the quality of enlisted soldiers now finishing basic training.

For example, Logan said, in the past year marksmanship qualification levels have jumped from about 35 percent to 95 percent. Creating standards-based training, with clear goals soldiers have to reach, he explained, provides metrics to measure their abilities. And, increasing the abilities of NCOs and lower-enlisted soldiers, he added, contributes to increased capability across the force.

"As the army continues to build, they gain the benefit of the time and experience that comes with seasoned and effective leaders," Logan said. "You see changes where they start to embrace some of the practices they've learned, and it has been time that has made the difference. Over time, they're gaining confidence in what we're teaching them."

Suspected Insurgent Detained in Helmand Overnight

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and international security force detained a suspected insurgent in Helmand province last night while in pursuit of a senior Taliban tactical commander who is known to direct Taliban fighters in improvised explosive device attacks. He also coordinates kidnappings and intimidation campaigns against Afghan civilians.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53176

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 01:44

The security force went to a compound in rural Nad 'Ali District to search the area. After securing the area, the suspected insurgent was detained for further questioning by the security force after interviewing the residents of the compound.

Afghan and coalition forces have focused their attention on Helmand province over the last couple of months. Since May 1, more than a dozen Taliban leaders have been captured along with numerous suspected insurgents in operations there.

Face of Defense: Big Marine Unfazed by Enemy Bomb Blast

SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan - Marine Corps Cpl. Matt Garst continues to do his job here, thanks to an enemy-emplaced roadside bomb that malfunctioned.

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Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division Public Affairs More Stories from Regimental Combat Team-7, 1st Marine Division Public Affairs RSS
Story by Sgt. Mark Fayloga
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 01:38

Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but on June 23, Garst did just that.

A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his troops that day on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn.

The group was four miles from Lima Company's newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. The compound would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured.

As they swept the area with a metal detector, the buried IED registered no metallic signature – it was too deep under the soil. Two men walked over it without it detonating.

At 6 feet 2 inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil.

Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer and he stepped on the bomb.

"I can just barely remember the boom," Garst recalled. "I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out."

Since Garst's encounter with the IED, his tale has spread through the rest of the battalion, and as often happens in combat units, the story mutates and becomes more and more extraordinary.

What really happened even eludes Garst. When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they'd seen a ghost.

Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it actually was the enemy's shoddy work that left Garst alive and relatively uninjured. The three-liters of homemade explosive had only partially detonated.

Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst's feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building's eight-foot-high walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away, where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up.

Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun.

Garst said he'd immediately realized that he'd encountered an IED.

"Then I thought, 'Well I'm standing. That's good,'" he recalled.

Garst then directed his troops to establish a security perimeter while letting them know that he was OK. Garst also radioed back to base, calling for an explosive ordnance disposal team and a quick-reaction force.

"I called them and said, 'Hey, I just got blown up. Get ready,'" Garst recalled. "The guy thought I was joking at first. 'You got blown up? You're not calling me. Get out of here!'"

Once the area was cleared, Garst led his squad the four miles back to their observation post — just hours after he'd been buffeted by the IED blast.

"I wasn't going to let anybody else take my squad back after they'd been there for me," he said. "That's my job."

Garst awakened the next day with a pounding headache, he recalled, and felt as sore as he'd ever been in his life.

"Just getting up from trying to sleep was painful," he said.

But he saw no reason being sore should slow him down. After a day of rest, Garst was back out on patrol, showing his Marines and the enemy that just like his resolve, he is unbreakable.

Afghan, International Force Kills Several Insurgents, Detain Several More in Kunduz

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and international security force killed several insurgents and detained several more in Kunduz province, July 20. The security force was in pursuit of a Taliban sub-commander who facilitates weapons and orders improvised explosive device and rocket attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53170

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 11:15

The commander is in regular contact with Taliban and Haqqani Network senior leaders located in Pakistan.

The security force went to the first of a series of compounds in the village of Qareh Khani in Chahar Darah district and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the compounds. One heavily armed individual ran outside the compound and engaged the security force. The combined force returned fire killing the insurgent.

The combined force moved to clear and secure the building.

While clearing the area, the security force was engaged by an insurgent barricaded within one of the buildings and another insurgent in the courtyard. Returning fire, the assault force killed the insurgents.
After the compound was cleared and secured, the assault force detained two suspected insurgents for further questioning.

At the second compound two armed males ran from the buildings into some thick vegetation. Afghan forces called for the individuals to peacefully surrender, however they engaged the combined force and were subsequently killed.

After the second compound was cleared and secured, the security force questioned the remaining residents. One suspected insurgent was detained by the security force for further questioning.

Weapons and IED materials including blasting caps and wire were found at the compounds. The women and children present were protected throughout the searches.

Since April numerous insurgent commanders and facilitators have been killed or captured during these operations.

Afghan and Coalition Force Captures Taliban Facilitator in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces continue to round up Taliban leaders who were considered a direct threat to the International Kabul Conference currently ongoing in the capital city.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53166

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 10:45

Afghan and coalition forces detained a Taliban facilitator, July 20, believed to be in final preparation stages for attacks against the conference. He is assessed to facilitate suicide bombers and weapons for the Kabul Attack Network.

The security force went to the compound near Ahangaran in Musahi district and Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the compound was cleared and secured, the combined security force detained the facilitator.

No shots were fired and women and children present were protected throughout the operation.

Afghan and coalition forces captured a Taliban sub-commander and two additional facilitators this week. Through these operations, ISAF forces were able to locate and destroy a large cache of dozens of mortars, rocket boosters, rocket propelled grenades and two remote-controlled improvised explosive devices located within the city of Kabul.

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Demonstrates Humanitarian Aid, Disaster Relief in Sri Lanka

TRINCOMALEE, Sri Lanka – The sun beamed down on the Marines as they stood in full riot gear, facing sailors from the Sri Lankan navy Special Boat Squadron.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53194

15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs More Stories from 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit Public Affairs RSS
Story by Cpl. Gabriel Velasquez
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 07:40

During a Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief demonstration the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit held for the Sri Lankan navy, Marines from Battery C, 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment taught riot control and searching techniques to sailors of the SBS.

“We started by teaching them different formations when in a situation where riot control is needed,” said Staff Sgt. Osman Lima, platoon sergeant, Battery C, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. “We also taught them snatching procedures for an injured person or a high value target,” added the Los Angeles native.

The sailors from the SBS listened intently to the Marines, absorbing all the Marines had to teach about riot control. The Marines explained in cases of disaster relief or humanitarian aid, chaos may ensue and safe control of the crowds would be needed.

Eventually, Marines turned over their gear and gave the sailors of the SBS an opportunity to apply their newly learned techniques.

“We gave them our helmets, the shin guards, and batons for some practical application,” said Cpl. Daniel Middlebos, artilleryman, Battery C, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. “They nailed all the techniques we taught very quickly and accurately,” added the 24-year-old artilleryman.

The Marines explained to them the different uses for the gear and the various parts of the weapons system used during riot control situations.

“We showed them our different non-lethal rounds used from the M203 grenade launcher,” said Lima. “We then instructed them on how and when we would use them,” he added.

Another topic of discussion was proper search techniques for any detained persons during a humanitarian operation.

“I gave a class on how to search detainees properly and safely,” said Sgt. Derek Stegall, artillery section chief, Battery C, 1st Bn, 4th Marines. “They were very eager to learn and performed the techniques well during the practical application,” explained the 28-year-old Festus, Miss., native.

With both the SBS and the Marines having an amphibious doctrine, the similarities between the two services were apparent.

“They’re incredibly intelligent and disciplined,” explained Stegall. “They picked up everything we taught and didn’t make any mistakes,” he added.

Overall, the Marines of Battery C agreed that the training was a success.

“I think the training went really well,” said Middlebos. “They were really hospitable, friendly, and the beach environment we trained on was great,” he added.

For one Marine, the experience was one that he will remember for his entire career.

“The camaraderie between the Marines and the Sri Lankan navy will probably be one of the best memories I ever have in the Marines,” said Lima. “I really hope I get the opportunity to do something like this again,” he added.

Casper soldier wounded in Afghanistan

Local effort started to help family

Lance Cpl. Jake Henry received a Purple Heart July 15 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The 21-year-old Casper Marine is recovering from injuries received in Taliban stronghold Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 1.

http://www.casperjournal.com/articles/2010/07/22/news/news50.casper%20soldier%20injured%20in%20afghanistan.txt

Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:15 PM MDT
by Carol Crum

“The 4th of July was very emotional, thinking about what could have been and what is,” said Jake’s mother, Tonya Harley. “Patriotism has a much greater and deeper meaning.” Harley has been in Bethesda to be with Jake since he arrived at the Naval Hospital. A fellow Marine who also was wounded in the sniper attack dialed her on his cell phone so that Jake could tell her himself that he was injured, she told the Casper Journal. “The first thing he said was ‘I’m OK, but really messed up,’” she said. “It gave me strength to hear his voice.”

Jake’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton was sent to Afghanistan about six months ago. When a 17-member combined patrol of Marines and members of the Afghanistan National Army was ambushed in an open field, Jake was shot in the leg. While his close friend and squad leader, 24-year-old Cpl. Larry Harris Jr. was supporting Jake to get to cover, he stepped on a pressure plate-initiated IED that was hidden underground. Harris, from Boulder, Colo., was killed. Jake’s knee and two fingers were severely mangled and he was lacerated, burned and took shrapnel from the back of his leg up to his lower back.

“We didn’t see it,” Jake said from his hospital bed in Bethesda. “The gunshot wound was pretty superficial. Ninety-nine percent of my injuries are from the IED.”

“The young man that lost his life is a hero,” Jake’s stepfather, Jim Harley said, “but every person involved in the ambush is a hero. Not one left him to run for cover. They all stayed to help their fallen comrades.”

Jake will hit his three-year mark as a Marine Aug. 5. He doesn’t remember the details right after the blast. He does recall being in a lot of pain and the other guys showing up to start taking care of him, Harris and the other two soldiers who were injured. “Those guys are the most important people in the world to me, my best friends, brothers, I’d do anything for them. There’s a different kind of bond than you get in any other kind of situation in combat,” he said.

The young soldier is a member of Jim Harley and Tonya Henry’s merged families; his father, Brian Henry, lives in Colorado. Jake’s six siblings -- Marcus, Christopher and Robert Harley and Lacie, Jake, Luke and Hanna Henry -- range in age from 15 to 27. Jim retired from the National Guard after 23 years and stepdaughter Lacie, whose husband, David Poley, is in Afghanistan, is also in the Guard. Jake and his brother, Luke, are both Marines. “His spirits are incredible,” Jim said of his stepson. “He’s a Marine. His idea is that he’ll make a complete recovery.”

Jake’s injuries will keep him from going back to Afghanistan during the current deployment, but if he stays in the military, he’s ready to go again. “I’m not the person who makes the decision of why we’re there,” he said. “We keep other people safe by going over there. We’re trained and ready to keep everybody safe.”

Jake’s recovery process will take more surgeries and more months of treatment for his physical injuries and some short-term memory loss. His plan is to be home in time for the birth of Lacie’s son Aug. 21, but he could be in Maryland for several more months. “Jake is one of many soldiers that live in our backyard that have been injured or suffer mentally,” Jim said. “He wants them to know that our thoughts and prayers are with them too.”

His mother is taking an extended leave of absence to care for him when he comes home and his stepfather is planning what needs to be done to make the family home fit Jake’s needs during recuperation. Electrician Neal Hibschweiler is a Harley family friend who wants to help.

“My thought was, ‘Extreme Makeover’ comes to Casper. We support the troops; here’s a local kid who needs it,” Hibschweiler said.

His plan includes rewiring the family’s large, 1950s-era home through his company, No Static Electric, with donated help from other licensed electrical journeymen and apprentices. He’s also soliciting materials to go with his donated labor. On the carpentry end, he’s hoping local contractors and material suppliers will step up to do whatever remodeling is necessary to retrofit the older home with a ramp, wider doorways or bathroom changes to accommodate Jake’s wheelchair until he’s fully recovered.

The Casper electrician estimates the electrical upgrade to be in the neighborhood of $10,000-$12,000 for materials and labor, and the remodeling to add an additional $10,000-$15,000. “We need to get going as soon as possible,” Hibschweiler said.

Those who would like to help can contact Hibschweiler at 251-4872 or by e-mail at [email protected]

Taliban say Kabul conference was a failure

By Robert H. Reid - The Associated Press
Posted : Wednesday Jul 21, 2010 20:04:05 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban denounced this week’s international conference on Afghanistan’s future, saying the “vague and terrible agenda” shows that the U.S. and its allies intend to abandon the country and blame their ultimate defeat on the Afghan government.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_072110/

Can Afghanistan be saved?

By William M. Welch and Jim Michaels - USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jul 21, 2010 8:13:46 EDT

KALAKAN, Afghanistan — It was nearly nine years ago that Taliban fighters burned everything standing in this dusty village on the Shomali Plain as they fled for the mountains ahead of invading U.S. and allied troops.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/gns_afghanistan_072110/

ISAF Condemns Beheading of Afghan Police by Insurgents

KABUL, Afghanistan - Six Afghan National Police were beheaded by insurgents in Dahanah-ye Ghori District, Baghlan province, yesterday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53140

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 02:57

ANP forces successfully repelled an insurgent attack on a school, clinic and the district governors' building in Dahanah-ye Ghori city, killing several insurgents.

During the attack, insurgents overran a police checkpoint and killed the police officers by cutting off their heads.

"This incident once again demonstrates the brutal, barbaric and senseless acts committed by the Taliban," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center director. "We remain committed to serving alongside our Afghan partners to improve security and development for all Afghans," Torres added.

Marjah Shura Leads to Better Water Distribution

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan government officials and district elders held a community outreach shura Sunday in Marjah and came away more water for the district.

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ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 01:33

Afghan army and ISAF forces from the local village stability operation provided security to support the meeting between district elders and regional water and government officials to discuss the lack of water in southern Marjah, Helmand province.

Yar Mohammad, the governor's representative, said that improvement in the water supply available for local agricultural and civic requirements was possible -- but would depend in part on assistance from elders in the region.

The elders said they were willing to work together with others in the region to keep the canals clean and secure if district officials could make water available on a more consistent basis for residents of southern Marjah.

Director Khan Agha of the Helmund Arghandab Valley Authority said he would take personal control of the Nad Ali District water supply and close the locks to the northeast for 10 days and open the feeder canals to southern Marjah to increase the available water for irrigation and other uses in the south.

The elders agreed to work closely with government officials to continue the collaborative approach to solving complex issues confronting the region. The elders also agreed it was important to include all parties from the area in future discussions of regional issues.

Afghan and ISAF forces agreed to help government and elder representatives to support an expanded shura.

Shura Reveals Insurgent Abuse

KABUL, Afghanistan - A recent shura organized by Zabul provincial leadership and Shin Kay tribal elders revealed allegations of abuse and intimidation of local citizens by insurgent groups operating in the region.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53151

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 07:42

The shura brought together more than 100 elders representing Surri tribal areas across the Shin Kay District of Zabul province, and numerous provincial, district and police officials from the area. Five senior Hotek tribal leaders also attended.

During the gathering, Surri elders brought forward a local school teacher who had his ear cut off by insurgents for educating children.

"The Taliban's own code of conduct released last year says 'cutting noses, lips and ears of people is completely prohibited,' clearly they are not following their own supposed rules," said ISAF Joint Command spokesperson Col Hans Bush. "Recent Shuras are showing growing dissatisfaction with insurgent abuses and a rejection of this kind of inhumane behavior," Bush added.

Insurgents Fire Mortar Rounds at Afghan Civilians in Zabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - Insurgents fired a mortar round at a large group of Afghan men, women and children gathered in northern Zabul province, July 18, as they waited for regularly-scheduled medical outreach to begin.

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ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 05:37

"Although no one was injured, this incident demonstrated to Zabul citizens the insurgents' use of indiscriminate weapons fired against the local population," said a coalition medical officer who was assisting with the outreach when the mortar landed nearby.

"This attack also reflects Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar's recent decree to his fighters," said Spc. Jeremy L. Wood, chief mass communications, a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan spokesperson.

In a recent letter to his subordinate commanders in June, Omar instructed his commanders to capture and kill any Afghan supporting or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

"Intimidation from insurgents will not keep us from our efforts to protect and help the people of Afghanistan," said Wood.

MWHS-3 Marines Train to Be the Best So They Can Respond to the Worst

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan - A thin screen of dust settles over a Marine as he stands like a statue in the road. A quick flick of the wrist directs an approaching vehicle into a mobile vehicle check point where five more Marines wait. The next thirty seconds are critical; will the driver and passengers follow the Marines' orders? Is there a switch wired into the dash that could trigger an improvised explosive device? Will the passengers be cooperative or will they resist?

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3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) Public Affairs More Stories from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd) Public Affairs RSS
Story by Cpl. Ryan Rholes
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 04:26

Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3’s Sector Response Team, comprised of administrative Marines deployed with the unit, repeated this process several times over the course of a few hours during one of the team’s training missions here July 15.

The SRT is responsible for guarding a specific sector of Camp Leatherneck during emergency situations. To prepare for that responsibility, the team learned the basics of operating a vehicle check point and conducting personnel searches. The Marines learned how to find hidden compartments or vehicle alterations. They also learned to search for unauthorized items, such as: cell phones, SIM cards, weapons, cameras, scopes and radios.

"These Marines may have to shut down intersections and run their own vehicle check points from time-to-time for base defense," said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Denson, who organized the team and is responsible for focusing and planning the team's training. "They need to know how to find and confiscate contraband and how to identify possible security threats."

The Marines received classroom instruction from military policemen attached to Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, practiced what they learned amongst themselves, then accompanied the MPs to the flight line where they set up a mobile vehicle check point and conducted actual searches.

The Marines broke into two groups and took turns performing practice searches on a vehicle laden with hidden paraphernalia ranging from SIM cards and fake identification cards to weapons and drugs. Instructors taught the Marines to be thorough and creative with the places they checked.

"You have guys sitting idle, as we speak, trying to devise ways to defeat vehicle searches, and it is going to be your job to make sure they fail," said Gunnery Sgt. Shawn Murchison, an MP from MWSS-274 who oversaw the training for the SRT team.

Some Marines searched the vehicle, while others searched drivers and passengers, or provided overwatch from a distance. The Marines rotated responsibilities to make sure they could perform each task competently.

"Everyone needs to know how to do every part of this job, and how to do it with less people," said Murchison, who served as a civilian police officer for about nine years before joining the Marine Corps. “Even if you have a plan, things can change.”

After practicing, the Marines drove to the flight line here where they established a vehicle check point and began searching vehicles. Although it was the first time most of these Marines had searched vehicles, they exuded self-confidence and professionalism. The searches were intended to reinforce their training, but the Marines found and confiscated several pieces of contraband.

"It is nice to be behind my desk and do my job because I know it is essential for supporting the Marines, but it is nice to get out and see what [the MPs] do and be a part of the action they see on a day-to-day basis," said Sgt. Daniel Carrigan, the MWHS-3 supply chief.

In unconventional warfare where the enemy can blend easily into the population, internal security is paramount. Although MWHS-3's SRT may rarely respond to an internal security threat, complacency is never the answer. If these warriors are called to leave their desks, don their gear and secure their sections, there will be no time for uncertainty. Their VCP training was a step toward success should they be needed to keep their fellow Marines safe.

Afghan and International Forces Detain Insurgents and Recover a Weapons Cache in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security Forces with ISAF partners completed operations to disrupt insurgent activity in Kabul recently.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53136

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.21.2010
Posted: 07.21.2010 12:49

A National Directorate of Security and ISAF combined force conducted an operation in Kabul City, July 16, to detain a senior Taliban commander. The insurgent has been linked to attacks against the United Nations in Panjshayr and was assessed to be planning attacks in Kabul.

NDS officials arrested the insurgent as he was walking in the city.

That same day on the western outskirts of Kabul City, a Ministry of Interior and ISAF combined force successfully located and rendered safe an improvised explosive device that had been placed on the edge of a major public road. This operation prevented the IED from harming Afghans and combined forces.

Also on July 16, an MOI and ISAF combined force conducted an operation south of Kabul in Mohammad Agah district in Logar province to detain a low-level Taliban commander and facilitator of weapons, explosives and IEDs. The individual was involved in several attacks against government infrastructure. After surrounding a compound of interest, Afghan officials entered and arrested the individual and two associates.

On July 15 in Surobi District in Kabul province, an Afghan National Police and ISAF combined force recovered a weapons cache. The cache, containing 38 anti-personal mines, 10 anti-tank mines, 30 recoilless rifle rounds, 38 61mm mortar rounds and small arms ammunition, was destroyed on site. The aim of this operation was to disrupt insurgents' access to material required to continue attacks against Afghans, ANSF and ISAF troops.

No civilians were injured in the operations.

July 20, 2010

Making Marines Part II: Training Teachers

(SAN DIEGO, CA) Imagine getting a crash course in Marine Corps recruit training - 13 weeks crammed into one. 35 educators from Iowa and Nebraska got to do just that at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. Erika Thomas introduces us to them in this KMEG 14 exclusive series: Making Marines.

http://www.kmeg.com/Global/story.asp?S=12839959

NEWS VIDEO:
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Posted: July 20, 2010 01:19 PM

As educators in Sioux City and Norfolk, the three men you are about to meet help shape young lives just like the drill instructors training recruits at MCRD San Diego. A week in their shoes taught these teachers what it takes to make a Marine.

Against the stunning backdrop of downtown San Diego, two worlds collide at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot - training for the front lines to protect the American dream.

"I think this is as close as you can get without having the real deal," says Justin Grey, Norfolk High School wrestling coach.

Wrestling coaches Anthony Brown and Justin Grey from Norfolk High School and Sioux City North High School activities director Dave Fravel are taking it all in to help their students back home figure out their futures.

"That's what I want to do is be able to help them decide if this is something for them or not for them. Not everybody is built for this life," says Dave Fravel, North High School activities director.

"You got to see it to believe it really. And some of the stuff you can't explain by words. It's - you have to endure it to really understand it and appreciate it," says Grey.

It didn't take these educators long to realize - recruit training looks hard and is even more challenging to do themselves.

"Get off the bus!!"

"In front, front, front!! Aye, aye sir! Aye, aye sir!"

"The G-rated version, that's what it was. But I'm telling you, it was still intense. You could feel what they were trying to do," says Fravel.

From the yellow footprints to mixed martial arts.

"Ahhhh!!! Guide, guide!! Hit the bag, guide!!"

And getting down and dirty on the bayonet combat training course.

"Trying to take it as serious as any recruit would going through this training," says Grey.

"Fire team, prepare to rush. Ready to rush!"

"I am just awestruck at all the things that these guys have to do over that three months that they're here," says Grey.

Even maneuvering through one of the Crucible obstacle courses.

"It's going to fall. Don't touch the fence, guide!! I'm gone!"

"They break you down and they build you back up," says Grey. "I am more knowledgeable now to kind of prepare the students to what they're in for."

"It's just scratched the surface. I can just envision all the different opportunities that the armed services offer us whether it be Marines or anybody else and until this time, I guess I never really thought about that," says Anthony Brown, Norfolk High School wrestling coach.

Teaching teachers by training them as recruits to better serve their students in Siouxland.

"What we have to do is to have open minds, to be able to find out other options for our kids to better serve them and to better serve society because that's what our goal is, to make our students better people, better citizens, and a better America," says Fravel.

You may have heard the drill instructors calling Dave Fravel guide. That's because he was chosen to lead his platoon of educators. Guides are selected the first night to lead their platoon of recruits through training. Tune in Wednesday night to meet two Iowa recruits fighting for what they left behind.

Reported by Erika Thomas. You can contact her at [email protected]

Bomb kills Alaska Marine in Afghanistan

The body of an Alaska Marine killed in Afghanistan was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware this morning.

http://www.adn.com/2010/07/20/1374465/alaska-marines-body-returned-from.html

By JAMES HALPIN
[email protected]
Published: July 20th, 2010 01:40 PM
Last Modified: July 20th, 2010 01:41 PM

Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Eastman, 28, was killed in a bomb explosion on Sunday, according to the U.S. Marine Corps.

Eastman, of Seward, was based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and was with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, said Maj. Lee Johnson, a Marine spokesman. It wasn't immediately known how long he had been in Afghanistan.

Eastman was an explosives disposal expert and was killed while working at a bomb site in Now Zad, Afghanistan, in the northern Helmand province, Johnson said. It appeared the bomb may have been detonated by insurgents while Eastman was working at the site, he said.

It wasn't immediately known if others were killed or injured in the blast.

Find James Halpin online at adn.com/contact/jhalpin or call him at 257-4589.


Afghan and Coalition Security Force Kill and Detain Insurgents in Nangarhar

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces killed several insurgents and detained several more in Nangarhar province last night while in pursuit of the primary Taliban facilitator for foreign fighters and attacks against high interest targets within eastern Afghanistan.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53110

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 09:26

The security force targeted a compound near Tatang in Sherzad District in pursuit of the facilitator. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings.

As the security force was clearing the compound they were engaged by several insurgents barricading themselves inside several buildings. The combined force returned fire and killed several insurgents. Multiple automatic weapons along with dozens of rocket propelled grenades, RPG boosters, hand grenades and 2,000 rounds of ammunition were found and destroyed at the scene.

Once the compound was secure, the combined security force detained several suspected insurgents. The women and children present were protected by the security force.

Wounded Adams County marine fights back

He nearly lost his life to an improvised explosive device just last month in Afghanistan. Despite that, Lieutenant Nathan Jeffcoats is fighting to go back to war.

http://www.whptv.com/news/local/story/Wounded-Adams-County-marine-fights-back/5OJHy8MGo02INAHAEQUu0w.cspx
Click above link for news video.

Reported by: Samica Knight
Email: [email protected]
Last Update: July 20, 2010

Lt. Jeffcoats leads a large group of marines in Afghanistan. They were all trained to protect each other. Though he was seriously injured, he says he's got to go back.

Lt. Nathan Jeffcoats is now back in his Gettysubrg neighborhood for now. It's a long way from Afghanistan, a place where this marine called home just 20 days ago. The place where routine foot patrol nearly cost him his life.

"I was in an ID explosoin, DFC specifically, directional fragmentation charge. Its not like a normal DFC where they blow vehicles up, its more like a shotgun," said Jeffcoats.

The explosion of sharp scrap metal pierced him in the neck and upper legs. "The one just missed my cararteral(?) artery and actually stopped right next to my windpipe. So I was pretty lucky on that side."

The platoon commander was immediately rushed to surgery. While doctors in Afghanistan were working to repair him, he was begging to stay with his 45 men in his platoon.

Doctors said his wounds were just too serious to stay, so he was sent back to the states to recover.

"That's why I joined the Marine Corps. I didn't join it to sit on the desk or do anything like that. I joined it to be with my marines."

Though nervous about his injuries, his parents and other family members understand Jeffcoats' wishes.

Bonnie Green, his aunt, said "That's where he needs to be. That's his job and that's where he needs to be - with his men."

Jeffcoats says until he gets back, his mind won't be in Gettysburg, it'll be with his men.

"It's nice being home to see family and friends, but my heart is still in Afghanistan with my men."

Lt. Jeffcoats' men will be back home in the U.S. later this month. He says when they are deployed again, he hopes to go back with them.

Karzai reaffirms 2014 goal for Afghan security

At donor conference, Clinton seeks to allay fears over U.S. drawdown

KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. and its international partners agreed Tuesday on a roadmap for Afghan forces to take the lead in securing the nation by 2014 amid doubts that that they would meet the first goal — for the Afghans to assume control in certain areas by the end of the year.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38319949/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia

Associated Press
July 20, 2010

At a one-day conference in a locked-down Afghan capital, President Hamid Karzai said he was determined that his soldiers and police will be responsible for all military and law enforcement operations by 2014.

"This is a national objective that we have to fulfill, and we must," Karzai told reporters after the conference, attended by more than 40 foreign ministers and other dignitaries including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Talk of a 2014 date — which corresponds with the end of Karzai's term — enables politicians to tell their war-weary publics that the war will not drag on indefinitely, draining resources at a time of economic hardship and rising death tolls.

It also sends a signal to the Afghans that the Western commitment to the country will extend beyond July 2011, when President Barack Obama says he will begin withdrawing U.S. troops. Nonetheless, it leaves open the question of whether the Afghans will be ready to manage their affairs, even four years down the road.

The international community supported Karzai's 2014 goal and endorsed a phased-in transition for Afghan policemen and soldiers to take the lead in the country's 34 provinces.

"I can't give you names of provinces, but our goal is to hand over lead responsibility to the Afghans when conditions permit," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
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At a NATO meeting in Tallinn, Estonia in April, Fogh Rasmussen was more specific, saying transition was likely to start before the end of the year.

"Our aims in 2010 are clear: to take the initiative against the insurgents, to help the Afghan government exercise its sovereignty, and to start handing over responsibility for Afghanistan to the Afghans this year," Fogh Rasmussen said at the time.

While officials at the conference insisted that transition was on track, there is internal discussion from Kabul to Washington to NATO headquarters in Brussels that the beginning could slip until least mid-2011, and perhaps later, according to a coalition official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official said the Afghan security forces are not ready and that details of the plan for handing over control of certain areas is still undecided. There also is political pressure from countries that would like to see Afghan security forces take charge in the areas where their national troops are based so they can withdraw from the increasingly unpopular war, the official said.

Part of the delay could also be to allow the new NATO commander, Gen. David Petraeus, time to study the tactical situation and weigh in with his own ideas.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denied that the start of transition was slipping, telling reporters traveling with her that the "transition process may be able to begin by the end of this year."

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague echoed Clinton's comments, saying that transition to full Afghan security responsibility should be gradual and determined by the Afghan security force's capability "but it should be able to start soon."

The conference discussed how Afghan security forces are on track to reach a goal of 171,600 police and 134,000 soldiers by October 2011, but worries persist about their professionalism.

NATO reported Tuesday that two American civilians and two Afghan soldiers were killed in a shooting on a northern Afghan military base. An Afghan soldier who trained others at the base outside Mazar-e-Sharif started shooting during a weapons exercise, the international military coalition said in a statement.

Earlier this month, an Afghan soldier killed three British service members with gunfire and a rocket-propelled grenade in the dead of night, a betrayal that highlights the difficulties in rapidly building up Afghan security forces so that foreign troops can go home.

The conference comes at a critical juncture in the nearly 9-year-old war. NATO and Afghan forces are engaged in operations to drive the Taliban out of their strongholds in the south. Insurgents are pushing back, making June the deadliest month for U.S. and coalition forces with 103 killed, including 60 Americans.

Worried about insurgent attacks, Afghan security forces virtually shut down Kabul for the conference, closing roads, setting up checkpoints and shuttering restaurants, grocery stores and government offices. Militants still worked to disrupt the event. Rockets fired at the Kabul airport Tuesday forced the diversion of a plane carrying the U.N. secretary-general and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.
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"Rockets hit the airport just as we were on our way to land," Bildt wrote on his blog. The plane was diverted to Bagram Air Field, outside Kabul, then the diplomats traveled aboard Blackhawk helicopters to the capital, Bildt said.

On Monday, Afghan and international forces raided a compound on the outskirts of Kabul, killing several insurgents suspected of planning an attack on the conference, NATO said in a statement.

The prolonged conflict has hobbled development in the impoverished country, and Karzai said Tuesday his government wants to take charge of more of its affairs.

The conference ended with the approval of a 10-page communique that restated strong support for channeling at least 50 percent of development aid through the Afghan government within two years while the government reforms, reduces corruption and strengthens its public financial management systems.

Taliban Sub-commander, Two Suspected Insurgents Captured Outside Kandahar

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban sub-commander and detained two suspected insurgents outside Kandahar City in Daman district last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53090

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 06:30

The sub-commander orders the emplacement of improvised explosive devices and moves weapons in southern Arghandab District to be used in attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

The security force targeted a series of compounds in pursuit of the commander. Through questioning of the residents at the scene, the assault force was able to identify and detain the commander along with two suspected insurgents.

No shots were fired and women and children were protected throughout the engagement.
IEDs remain a threat for both Afghan civilians and Afghan and coalition forces.

Taliban Commander, Suspected Insurgents Detained Within Kandahar City

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan and international security force detained detained suspected insurgents including a Taliban commander inside Kandahar City last night.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53091

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 06:32

The security force captured a Taliban commander who plans and orders the emplacement of improvised explosive devices used in attacks targeting Afghan civilians, Afghan and coalition forces. He is also known to profit from the trafficking of both weapons and fighters into the area.

The security force secured a block within the city and swiftly moved through the compounds within the targeted area. No shots were fired and no civilians were injured. After interviewing the residents of the compounds searched, the security force continued to a compound on the outskirts of the city where after interviewing the residents, the commander and several suspected insurgents were detained for further questioning.

Women and children were protected throughout the search.

CL Marine
laid to rest

CRYSTAL LAKE – John Antonik said his son was supposed to come home next month.

http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2010/07/19/r_addjbpuysnozpjisarugnw/index.xml

By SARAH SUTSCHEK - [email protected]
Created: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 5:30 a.m. CDT

Instead of waiting for that day, he took the podium Monday at Evangelical Free Church to speak at his son’s funeral.

“This has been a very hard week,” Antonik said. “We have said, ‘Why Chris, why Chris?’ We may never know the answers.”

Staff Sgt. Christopher J. Antonik, a 29-year-old U.S. Marine from Crystal Lake, died July 11 supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was part of Operation Enduring Freedom and died after an insurgent attack.

Christopher Antonik, a Prairie Ridge High School graduate, was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He joined the Marine Corps on May 23, 2001, and was trained as a reconnaissance man.

Antonik was promoted to staff sergeant Feb. 1, 2009, joining the special ops Sept. 24, 2009. He previously served two tours in Iraq.

John Antonik spoke of his son’s loyalty and strong faith in God. Chris declared his faith when he was about 5, and said he wanted to be a Marine when he was about 9.

When his father suggested the Army or Navy, Chris told him: “Dad, you don’t get it. I want to be a Navy SEAL, and the Marines will prepare me mentally and physically.”

Growing up, his reward for playing a good soccer game was a G.I. Joe figurine, and he had a container full of them, John Antonik said.

He also loved Halloween and Christmas, once asking for “cold cash” as a gift. His mother, Cindy, taking his request literally, playfully stuck the money in the freezer.

Christopher Antonik told his father that he would get married only if he found the right woman, and he did – marrying Erin Gilbert in December.

“Erin, you are a wonderful Marine wife because you let Chris do what he wanted to do,” John Antonik said. “Thank you.”

Staff Sgt. Robert Hilton, who served with Antonik in Afghanistan, also spoke during the service. He said Antonik was a “utility guy,” meaning that he could do any and all aspects of their job.

“Our team motto is ‘All it takes is all you got,’ and that’s how Chris lived his life,” he said.

Hilton spoke of Antonik’s love of Coors Light and sense of humor. Hilton also recounted a moment when a woman asked whether Hilton and Antonik were brothers, and Hilton said it was the nicest thing anyone had asked him. He said he wished he was so lucky that Antonik was his brother.

“Rest easy, Chris,” he said. “We’ll take it from here. You’ll always be with us, and we’ll never forget you.”

Before the start of the service, more than 200 people lined the street. They silently held flags, military veterans saluting and civilians with their hands over their hearts, as the hearse carrying Christopher Antonik’s body drove past them.

Laura Bauman of Crystal Lake stood alongside the Patriot Guard Riders. Her nephew, a helicopter pilot, served three tours of duty in Iraq and came home safely.

“You’ve got to show your respect,” she said. “For me it’s personal, that he was spared and how so many other people are not.”

Friends and family have established a memorial to honor Christopher Antonik through the Force Recon Association. Donations can be made online at www.forcerecon.com, or by mail to FRA, P.O. Box 425, Rowe, MA 01367. Designate Staff Sgt. Christopher Antonik on the memo line for donations. The Force Recon Association is a nonprofit organization for Marines, according to its website.

Antonik is survived by his wife, Erin; his parents, John and Cindy Antonik; his sister, Jen Bond; his grandmother, Florence Antonik; and several nieces and nephews.

Taliban Commander, Two Suspected Insurgents Detained in Zabul

The security force targeted a compound near Daman in Shah Joy District in pursuit of the commander. After the combined security force cleared and secured the compound, they detained the commander and two suspected insurgents after questioning the residents. No shots were fired and women and children were protected throughout the search.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53089

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 06:28

The Taliban regularly target Afghan officials chosen by the people to serve them as public servants. "This proves the Taliban are willing to ignore their own Code of Conduct when they sense that they are losing influence and control. And make no mistake, that is what's happening as more Afghan National Security Forces take to the streets, and more ISAF forces arrive to assist them," said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesman during his press conference Sunday.

Blotz was referring to guidance to Taliban members released by Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban movement who is hiding in Pakistan. The recent guidance directly contradicts his instructions last year urging his followers to minimize civilian casualties in an attempt to compete with the ISAF population-centric tactical directives.

Obama nominates Amos for commandant post

By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday Jul 20, 2010 15:00:12 EDT

President Obama has nominated Gen. Jim Amos to be the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Please go to the following link to read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_amos_commandant_072010w/

Author submits idea to Pepsi Refresh Project to send children’s book across the Corps

ARLINGTON, Va. — The author of a children’s book about Marines is competing for funding to send his book to thousands of children who have deployed parents.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/hqmc/Pages/AuthorsubmitsideatoPepsiRefreshProjecttosendchildren%E2%80%99sbookacrosstheCorps.aspx

7/20/2010 By Lance Cpl. Jacob D. Osborne , Headquarters Marine Corps

Capt. Brandon W. Barnett, author of “A Salute to Our Heroes: The U.S. Marines,” submitted his idea to the Pepsi Refresh Project to help pay for 5,000 copies, which will be sent to installations across the Corps.

“While nothing can completely heal the pain that separation brings, it is my sincere hope that this book will bring a sense of comfort to the children who read it,” said Barnett, who works as a judge advocate for the commandant of the Marine Corps.

Barnett added he hopes people will vote for his idea once a day until the competition ends on July 31.

Capt. Jahn Olson, an Officer Candidate School academics instructor at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., said this book helped him explain what he does on a daily basis to his son.

“My 4-year-old often has questions about what I do as a Marine,” Olson said. “This book tied it all together in a fun way that he understands.”

Throughout the book readers receive a glimpse of Marine life, starting with boot camp, courtesy of the main character Chesty the bulldog

“My daughter Jillian loves the book,” said Retired Maj. Jason Pelt of Stafford, Va. “Her favorite part is finding Chesty on all the pages.”

Barnett wrote the children’s book to provide families with an entertaining story that explains several aspects of the military.

“The rhyming language makes it a fun read, like a Marine Corps Dr. Seuss book,” Olson said. “The artwork is excellent, and is much cooler than Dr. Seuss books in my opinion.”

Pelt said he reads it to his daughter at least once a day.

“The book is a wonderful introduction and overview of our Corps, especially for young children of Marines,” he said.

To vote for this Pepsi Refresh Project idea, visit http://www.refresheverything.com/marinekidsbook

Arctic Construction: Marines build road for new village over Alaskan tundra

NELSON ISLAND, Alaska — Marines with 6th Engineer Support Battalion, Battle Creek, Mich., are spending their summer building a future for the isolated villagers of Newtok, Alaska.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/marforres/Pages/ArcticConstructionMarinesbuildroadfornewvillageoverAlaskantundra.aspx

7/20/2010 By Cpl. Michael Laycock , Marine Forces Reserve

The Alaskan natives that live in the village of Newtok are watching their village slowly disappear into the Bering Sea.

The village, which is built close to a large river near the Bering Sea, is only accessible by small plane or boat. The flow of the tides and current of the river have begun to eat away at the foundation beneath the village and are covering the wooden walkways used by the elders of the village to walk around.

Nine miles away, Marines are constructing a road across the spongy summer tundra of Nelson Island, the villagers’ future, more geologically stable home.

“It's not just training to keep our skills sharp, but training with a purpose of helping others,” said Sgt. Ty Paff, the basic utilities operations chief for 6th ESB.

The citizens of Newtok plan to move their village to the new site upon completion of the road.

“Instead of building this road in the middle of the city where it won’t be needed, we are building something they will probably use for the next 20 years,” said Gunnery Sgt. Arthur Harris, the constructions chief for 6th ESB.

The project is being funded by the Innovative Readiness Training department, who funds military units to work on civilian projects and acts as a liaison between the military and the civilians who need assistance.

Navy Capt. Karen Trueblood, the director for IRT, explained the program’s involvement in the road project.

“IRT supports many projects at more than 30 locations in the United States,” she said. “We provide funding to units which can be used to cover the costs to transport equipment or supplement annual training funds.”

Although the engineer Marines are used to getting their hands dirty and working with heavy equipment during their annual training, the low temperatures, isolated location and unique ground conditions provided a challenge for the Marines.

“The tundra and the permafrost (a layer of frozen ground that never thaws) underneath have provided one of the biggest challenges,” said Harris. “We are used to being able to cut as deep as we need when building a road. We can only go a few feet before hitting the permafrost, which is hard as a rock while frozen and becomes unstable when exposed.”

Despite these challenges the Marines have laid out three quarters of the road that is schedule to be finished by Aug. 18, 2010.

Some Marines said they found the strength to face the harsh conditions knowing that they aren’t just training, but building something for their fellow Americans.

“It’s cold,” said Lance Cpl. Euiseok Kim, a member of the road construction team, 6th ESB. “But I wake up feeling motivated because I am doing something good for the locals.”

The project to move the village began in 2009 and is expected to be completed in approximately five years. This is 6th ESB’s second year participating in this training.

2/9 replaces 3/6 in Afghanistan

“Hell in a helmet” is en route to Afghanistan.

http://www.jdnews.com/news/class-80653-span-infocomponenttextprimitive.html
Click above link to find a news video.

July 20, 2010 12:00 PM
HOPE HODGE

Elements of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, left Camp Lejeune Monday afternoon, bound for Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. The unit will replace 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, which deployed in January, formed the front lines of the February offensive on the town of Marjah and will return to the states in coming weeks.

An infantry unit that was reactivated in 2007 as part of 6th Marine Division to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2/9 returned from its last deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, in April 2009.

According to officials with the 2nd Marine Division, the battalion will work with Afghan National Security Forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations, and troops will train and mentor security forces and area leaders to improve local governance and increase security.

In their last moments aboard Lejeune on Monday, Marines and sailors with 2/9 spent time with their families or took naps under shade trees, out of the sweltering summer sun.

For some, there were no words to explain how hard it was to say goodbye.

Eileen Beysel, of Warwick, N.Y., mother of rifleman Lance Cpl. Billy Beysel, just shook her head, tears in her eyes.

“I’ll make sure he comes back,” she said. “I’m content he’s well-trained and confident.”

Lance Cpl. Beysel, who is deploying for the first time, said he is ready for his mission.

“I’m with the best; I’m with really good guys,” he said. “From what we’ve heard (3/6 has) done a hell of a job over there. We’re looking forward to giving them a break and sending them home.”

Rebecca Monahan, of Sneads Ferry, who sat on the bed of a pickup truck with her children, ages 3, 1, and 5 months, said that although this is the sixth deployment for her husband, Staff Sgt. John Monahan, the wait doesn’t get any easier.

“I’ll try not to lose my mind,” she said. “It’s hard. It’s definitely hard.”

Monahan said that during deployments, she doesn’t open the newspaper and keeps her television off the news stations.

“Out of sight, out of mind,” she said. “If I don’t see it, I can assume he’s safe.”

For Samantha Hicks, of Knoxville, Tenn., another distraction will help pass the time during the sevenmonth deployment: planning a wedding. Hicks and her fiancé, mortarman Lance Cpl. Matthew Elliott, got engaged on July 8, barely two weeks before he deployed. They haven’t set a date for the wedding, since they’re not sure when Elliott will be home, but they are considering next June.

Hicks said planning a Tennessee wedding would be “something that’s going to keep my mind busy when he’s gone. Just making sure he comes back: that’s the important thing.”

Father claims son was killed by another Marine

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno - Guam Pacific Daily News via Gannett
Posted : Tuesday Jul 20, 2010 14:56:54 EDT

ROTA, Northern Mariana Islands — As the father of a Marine in a war zone, David Mundo Santos’ heart sank when he saw a pair of unexpected visitors walk up to his front door.

To continue reading:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/gns_marine_death_investigation_071910/

Afghan and Coalition Security Force Kill and Detain Insurgents in Paktika

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan and international forces killed several insurgents and detained several more in Paktika province last night while in pursuit of a Taliban commander responsible for ordering attacks against Afghan civilians and Afghan and international forces n the Maka Khan and Sharana area.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53088

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 06:22

The security force went to two separate compounds near Zardad in Sharan district in pursuit of the commander. At the first compound, the security force was immediately engaged by insurgents armed with automatic weapons and grenades. The security force returned fire killing the insurgents.

Once the compound was secure, the security force detained several suspected insurgents for further questioning. A motorcycle with seven improvised explosive device pressure plate switches and other IED-making materials was found at the scene and confiscated by coalition forces. Multiple automatic weapons, grenades, chest racks and five blasting caps were also found and destroyed at the scene.

At the second compound the security force was again engaged by armed insurgents. The security force returned fire killing one insurgent and wounding another. The security force evacuated the wounded insurgent for medical treatment. Automatic weapons and magazines were found at the scene.

No damage was done to the compounds and the women and children present were protected by the security force.

Insurgents Killed, Captured in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan-international force killed several insurgents and detained two suspected insurgents near Kabul last night while pursuing a Taliban facilitator believed to be in final stages of preparation for attacks against the Kabul Conference.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53080

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.20.2010
Posted: 07.20.2010 02:53

As the combined security force went to the targeted compound near Suryawun in Musahi district they were immediately engaged by several individuals armed with automatic weapons, and barricaded inside of buildings. The combined force returned fire killing several insurgents.

After the fighting ceased, Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the compound was cleared and secured, the combined security force detained the two suspected insurgents.

Several automatic weapons and ammunition were found at the scene.

Women and children present were protected by the combined security force.

Earlier this week Afghan and international forces captured a Taliban sub-commander and two additional facilitators this week.

Through these operations, combined forces were able to locate and destroy a large cache of dozens of mortars, rocket boosters, rocket propelled grenades and two remote-controlled improvised explosive devices located within the city of Kabul.

July 19, 2010

Making Marines Part I: Yellow Footprints

(SAN DIEGO, CA) It's something most people never get to experience - how young recruits become Marines. Erika Thomas takes us inside the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, for this KMEG 14 exclusive series: Making Marines.

I followed a group of Iowa and Nebraska educators to MCRD San Diego for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. All this week I'll show you what it takes to make it through 13 weeks of intensive recruit training. We begin with something rarely seen on camera - a recruit's first night on the yellow footprints.

http://www.kmeg.com/Global/story.asp?s=12832932

Video link included with article

Posted: July 19, 2010 12:09 PM CDT
Reported by Erika Thomas

42 weeks every year, hundreds of recruits are picked up at the San Diego Airport to begin - what for most will be - the most intense 13 weeks of their young lives.

"Kind of excited, a little nervous," says Alexander Pascoe, USMC recruit from Marshalltown, IA.

Iowa natives Alex Pascoe and Aaron Zuck are a long way from home but - like many other recruits here - what they left behind will help get them through.

"My grandfather was a Marine. He was a big inspiration on me throughout my life," says Aaron Zuck, USMC recruit from Urbana, IA.

"My personal opinion is it should be every American's duty to serve their country in some way," says Pascoe.

"Yes sir!"

Little do they know, this is just the calm before the storm.

"You are now part of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California 622 receiving company!"

"Get off the bus!"

"They're just shocked. It's a culture shock to them," says SSgt. Jonas Johnson, USMC drill instructor.

"We're going to be up for a long time, we're going to get yelled at a lot," says Zuck.

"No, do you understand me?? Yes sir!"

Every recruit that comes through MCRD San Diego steps on these yellow footprints.

"No, get louder. Do you understand? Yes sir!"

But the moment of tradition is over in an instant as drill instructors hustle them inside.

"The job of training recruits takes more than an 8-hour or 10-hour day," says SSgt. Daniel Sallese, USMC drill instructor.

"And it's just a complete lifestyle overhaul," says SSgt. Johnson.

All individual identity is stripped away, creating a blank canvas for drill instructors to mold into a team, into Marines.

"To have a lot more respect and honor and teamwork," says Zuck.

One final phone call home and a quick hair cut transforms these boys into Marine Corps recruits.

One hour down, 13 hard weeks to go...

You won't see any female recruits at MCRD San Diego. They're all sent to Parris Island, South Carolina, along with male recruits from the eastern half of the United States. And make sure to tune in Tuesday night for Part II: recruit training through the eyes of an educator.

Language Lab Helps Afghan Air Force Take Off

WASHINGTON - The global air community relies on English as the standard language in the cockpit, which poses a big challenge for getting the Afghan air force off the ground quickly.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53056

Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs More Stories from Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs RSS
Story by Judith Snyderman
Date: 07.19.2010
Posted: 07.19.2010 10:01

A live-in English language lab in Kabul, which started as a stop-gap measure for new pilot recruits, has proven to be a tremendous success, Air Force Brig. Gen. Michael R. Boera, commander of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan's Combined Air Power Transition Force, said during a July 16 "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable.

"Probably the single greatest thing we have done for the advancement of English language skills, motivation and building a professional air force for tomorrow, is the stand-up of an aviation English language immersion lab," Boera explained.

The training program, called Thunder Lab, pairs recruits with NATO air advisors. It began two months ago while waiting for slots to open up in overseas pilot schools. Based on early test results that Boera called "phenomenal," the program is likely to be expanded from its current 36 students and it could trim a year from the overall time it takes to train pilots.

Boera pointed out that it takes far longer to turn out a qualified pilot than it does a foot soldier. Depending on individual learning styles, acquiring language proficiency and technical flying skills can take up to five years, he said.

That's a long time, considering the goal of the Combined Air Power Transition Force. "Our mission is to set the conditions for a professional fully independent and operationally capable Afghan air force ready to meet the needs of Afghanistan today and tomorrow," Boera said.

NTM-A stood up in November 2009. Boera reports that great strides have been made. He said the size of the Afghan air fleet already has grown from 40 to 50 aircraft and that number is projected to exceed 70 aircraft by next July. The manpower also has increased from 2,800 to more than 3,400, and is expected to reach 5,700 airmen next year.

However, those airmen are not all pilots, Boera said. "We teach it all," he explained, including disciplines related to aircraft operations, maintenance, mission support and medical skills related to medical evacuations.

Boera said he has witnessed the growth of capabilities among Afghan airmen in the field and cited an example from a recent MEDEVAC mission.

"I was on a mission about a month ago and we went up to Mazar-e Sharif and I was immensely impressed with a 'med tech' who had a take-charge attitude on that aircraft; [he was] handling the IVs [and] sucking chest wounds," Boera recalled. "There were three patients on board and he was bouncing back and forth between the three."

Boera also cited challenges to meeting the overall mission. For example, he said, the Combined Air Power Transition Force team includes some 450 soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, civilians and contractors -- but they are mostly from the United States and Afghanistan. NATO partners from Canada, the U.K., and from the Czech Republic and Hungary currently comprise only about 20 members of the team.

"I'd like to have about 203 [of them] right now," Boera said, adding that, "We just have not had enough of NATO ponying up forces to help with the training mission."

Yet, Boera said he is optimistic that more help is on the way.

In addition to looking for more trainers, Boera is engaged in recruiting more Afghan air force officers. He said current plans extend to 2016, when projections call for the Afghan air force to include some 8,000 members.

New gear could lighten your load downrange

By Amy McCullough - Staff wruter
Posted : Monday Jul 19, 2010 13:57:45 EDT

An unmanned, tactical golf cart is among gear undergoing tests this month that could reduce the load Marines have to carry while downrange.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_gear_071810w/

Study finds toxic metals in dust in Afghanistan

By Andrew Tilghman - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jul 19, 2010 15:34:05 EDT

Here’s another thing to worry about when you deploy: toxic dust.

To read the entire article:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_toxic_dust_071910w/

Afghan, ISAF Forces Battle Insurgents in Nimroz

KABUL - An Afghan-international security force killed and wounded several insurgents in Nimroz province yesterday while pursuing a Taliban sub-commander who is also a senior facilitator known to arrange safe havens for insurgent leaders.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53018

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.19.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 11:25
ISAF Courtesy Release

The insurgent group is also involved in weapons facilitation and has ordered the execution of kidnapped Afghan civilians the Taliban accused of spying for Afghan and ISAF forces.

The combined security force found a vehicle suspected of insurgent activity travelling in Nimroz province. As the security force approached the vehicle, they were engaged by two insurgents. The security force waited until the two individuals were a safe distance from a nearby village and then returned fire, killing them both. The force found several automatic weapons with rounds and rocket-propelled grenades in the vehicle.

Based on information gathered from the vehicle, the Afghan partner unit identified a second vehicle attempting to hide in empty compounds within the village. When the security force tried to stop the vehicle, the occupants exited the vehicle and attempted to engage the force with multiple weapons. Several insurgents were killed and wounded in the engagement.

No civilians were injured during this operation.

Marine Corps jump jet crashes in Ocala National Forest; pilot ejects with minor injuries

A U.S. Marine Corps pilot wasn't seriously injured late Sunday when his AV8B Harrier jet crashed in the Pine Castle area of Ocala National Forest.

http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2010-07-19/story/marine-corps-jump-jet-crashes-ocala-national-forest-pilot-ejects-minor

Posted: July 19, 2010 - 1:52pm
By Dan Scanlan

Capt. Jarrod L. Klement, part of a Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit participating in a training exercise over the forest, ejected from the single-seat aircraft before it crashed about 8 p.m, according to Marine Sgt. Bryce Piper, who was at the crash scene Sunday.

"He walked away from the crash," Piper said. "He is our most precious asset, and the fact that he was able to walk away is really incredibly relieving to everyone here in the unit."

Klement was in stable condition at Shands at the University of Florida hospital in Gainesville with minor injuries. The remains of his jet remain in the heavily wooded crash site as the investigation into the accident continues, Piper said. The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.

Marine Harrier jet crashes in northern Fla.

Staff report
Posted : Monday Jul 19, 2010 13:59:30 EDT

A Marine AV-8B Harrier jet crashed Sunday night in northern Florida, according to local media.

To continue reading:

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2010/07/marine_harrier_crash_071910w/

Signs (and banners) point to happy homecoming for CLB-6

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — There are many customary ways of counting down special occasions in American culture. Christmas is preceded by advent calendars. Jailbirds make tic marks on cell walls. Dick Clark still oversees a glittering ball-drop at Times Square each New Year's Eve. Family members at Camp Lejeune marking their final days of separation from their deployed Marines and sailors have a more artistic tradition - they paint.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndmlg/Pages/CLB6bannermakingevent.aspx

7/19/2010 By Sgt. Jeremy Ross , 2nd Marine Logistics Group

About 20 families of servicemembers currently deployed with Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), gathered at the base stables for a banner making party July 17. The unit is slated to return in early August from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.

For a few evening hours wives, mothers, in-laws and children of all ages chatted, snacked and painted sheet and shower curtain messages to adorn the fence leading up to the base's main gate.

"Twenty days left - there's a lot of emotion," said 14-year-old Kenneth Berregard as he helped his brother Kevin paint the words 'welcome home daddy' on a white sheet.

The boys' father, Gunnery Sgt. Kenneth Berregard, is a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear specialist on his fifth deployment.

"He's a fun dad," the younger Kenneth continued. "When he gets back we've got a lot of stuff to do, a lot of catching up."

Just as students know the beginning of finals week means summer break is right around the corner, these families know the banner event signals a long-awaited reunion.

"It's a time when all the family and kids can get together and share in the excitement," said Mary Mathews, CLB-6 family readiness officer. "More than that it's also a time for making new friends. These are the people you'll be waiting with."

This is a subtler point to the event; bringing families together a little less than a month before a unit returns helps make waiting on the big day itself a little easier.

Throughout the deployment families who elected to stay in the base area gathered more than 20 times for spa days, pool parties, barbeques and conversation.

Mathews, herself a former Marine, knows a thing or two about waiting for CLB-6 to get back. She made a welcome home banner for her husband two years ago when he returned from a deployment with the unit.

Other banner-makers at this year’s event were less experienced, but no less excited.

“We got his footlocker in the mail the other day,” said Traci Rees, citing another sure-fire sign her husband, Sgt. Jeremiah Rees, a CLB-6 supply clerk, is about to return. “There’s not much time left now.”

This marked the first deployment of their marriage, and although this was the first unit-sponsored family function Rees attended, she still found comfort in the support network offered by fellow spouses.

“Neighbors and friends helped me stay busy,” she said. “The days when there was nothing going on were the days that lasted forever.”

Now that the end of the deployment is approaching, Rees is ready to share exactly how she feels about it; her banner read: ‘Welcome home Sgt. Rees, let’s make a baby’.

“I personally thought we were done having kids,” she laughed. “But he really wants to have a girl.”

Read the writing on the wall (or sheet) – for these family members, the wait is nearly over.

2/7 returns home

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — There was joy etched on the faces of wives, children and family members of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, as the busses pulled up carrying men returning from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

http://www.marines.mil/unit/29palms/Pages/27returnshome.aspx

7/19/2010 By Pfc. Sarah Anderson , Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

People cheered and waved ‘Welcome Home’ signs, as the Marines exited the busses and ran to their loved ones waiting for them on the Del Valle softball field.

The battalion returned after six months, during which they served as the battalion landing team for the 31st MEU, training with forces in Japan, Philippines and Thailand.

“Marines and sailors conducted mission rehearsals to ready themselves to fight from the sea to objectives ashore,” stated Lt. Col. John M. Reed in a newsletter sent to the families of the battalion. “Not only did each of the companies conduct successful raids by helicopters, small boats, and amphibious assault vehicles, but the battalion also conducted an amphibious landing for the Cobra Gold Combined Exercise [in Thailand].”

While the Marines were busy with training overseas, family members back home found ways to stay involved with their Marines from afar.

“We gave him a build-a-bear named Snicker-Doodle and he took it with him everywhere,” said Lora Turek, wife of Gunner Brett Turek. “We have pictures of it by Mount Fuji, in Humvees, everywhere. It was really cool.”

Some Marines left for deployment as newlyweds.

“We got married a week and a half before he left for deployment,” said Eryn Vargas, wife of Lance Cpl. Michael Vargas. “You just have to push through it together, it’s part of our life.”

More deployment-experienced families are used to the flow of military life and have learned how to cope with deployments. “This is my seventh deployment in nine years. It was one of the easy ones because you didn’t have to worry about him in a combat zone,” said Bobbie Dospital, wife of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dospital.

“You find friends you can count on when you meet during deployments,” she added. “I am so excited for him to come home, my stomach is in knots!”

The Marines and sailors are relieved to be stateside after the MEU and can’t wait to take their leave to spend some time at home, said Lance Cpl. Del Gilbert, a Marine with Company F.

“It was a good training experience. We are glad it’s finally over and happy to be back,” said Lance Cpl. Bryce Ritter, a Marine with Co. F.

Kabul meeting to lay ground for 2014 transition

By Robert H. Reid - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jul 19, 2010 18:46:06 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The strategy sits for now on a table in a locked-down Afghan capital: Hand over security in all 34 provinces to the government by the end of 2014 — more than three years after President Obama’s date for the start of an American troop drawdown.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_conference_071910/

Most Afghans still lack power

By Brett J. Blackledge, Deb Riechmann and Richard Lardner - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Jul 19, 2010 9:08:25 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — The goal is to transform Afghanistan into a modern nation, fueled by a U.S.-led effort pouring $60 billion into bringing electricity, clean water, jobs, roads and education to this crippled country. But the results so far — or lack of them — threaten to do more harm than good.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_power_071910/

2 NC-based Marine killed in southern Afghanistan

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. —
Department of Defense officials say two North Carolina-based Marines have been killed in Afghanistan

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-nc-afghanistan-marin,0,4534851.story

Associated Press
5:45 p.m. CDT, July 19, 2010.

The Department of Defense said Monday that 21-year-old Cpl. Dave M. Santos of Rota, Marianas Islands of the Pacific, and 27-year-old Staff Sgt. Justus S. Bartelt of Polo, Ill., died on July 16 in Helmand province.

Santos and Bartelt were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune.

Marines from Camp Lejeune started deploying last year to Afghanistan as part of a surge of forces to the central Asian country. In the last few months, the Taliban has ramped up attacks against troops. June was one of the deadliest months for international forces in Afghanistan.

Passing the Torch: Task Force Phoenix Gives Way to New Kabul Base Cluster Command

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan – For years, Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix has helped to provide operational and basic life-support services for servicemembers serving in the Regional Command – Capital area of responsibility. In April, CJTF-P was officially disbanded and has passed this torch onto the new Kabul Base Cluster Installation Command.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53019

196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade More Stories from 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade RSS
Story by Capt. Anthony Deiss
Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.19.2010 12:00

At the helm of the KBC is Task Force Rushmore, lead by the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard. The 196th assumed command on June 26 and has begun to provide policy, guidance and sustainment support for 11 military bases throughout Kabul.

These areas of support pertain to garrison command functions, force protection and security, information management systems, logistics sustainment, resource management and public works projects.

The 196th's goal is to provide the best and most efficient services needed for base life-support for the nearly 9,000 U.S. and coalition forces stationed across the capital.

“Right now the best thing we can do to help win this war is to support those fighting it,” said Brig. Gen. Theodore Johnson, Task Force Rushmore commander. “If our soldiers, airmen, Marines and sailors don’t have the proper security, training, equipment and facilities, they can’t be successful.”

For the better part of the Afghanistan war, CJTF-P has had the mission to help train and mentor Afghan National Army and Police throughout RC-C. Based at Camp Phoenix, the CJTF-P command sustained this mission with a number of U.S. and coalition forces stationed at a variety of based throughout the city. With great success, the CJTF-P trained thousands of ANA and ANP forces.

In recent years, CJTF-P has seen their mission change with commands such as NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan assuming more of the mentoring and training of ANA and ANP forces. CJTF-P began overseeing more of the daily, life-support services for bases that were quickly growing throughout Kabul.

With these bases having varying levels of support, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan leaders quickly realized the need for a single command to provide oversight and sustainment support for the growing number of military installations.

“Many of the bases within the Kabul Base Cluster were operating independently and had varying levels of support,” said Johnson. “To set the conditions for future success, these bases needed a single command to be responsible for security, logistical and administrative requirements.”

The new KBC command will have oversight on procedures to cover master expansion plans, billeting plans, tracking plans for contracted services, force protection improvement plans and improved supply procedures and efficiencies for the entire KBC.

Much like its name, the cluster of bases brings its own unique set of challenges and requirements: varying in size, number of forces, infrastructure development and operational control. What makes the National Guard well suited for such an undertaking is the number of civilian skill sets it brings to the KBC mission.

With civilian employment in city administration, civil engineering and government, the 196th brings practical experience in operating cities or government agencies back home – which is an advantage in operating bases that function much in the same way.

“The base camps need services that you find in cities; emergency services for firefighting; public works for adequate living and working spaces; resource management for new construction and maintenance projects,” said Maj. Jason Kettwig, a city administrator in Milbank, S.D. “We have a lot of people in the unit with the kind of experience needed for this mission.”

Kettwig, a logistics officer for the 196th, says planning is critical to ensuring synergy amongst the different bases.

“The bases, as with many municipalities, rely on detailed master plans that provide a road map for ensuring essential services are well thought out, and can handle any expansion or growth improvements,” said Kettwig. “Directorates need coordination and prioritization so they do not hinder the objectives of other departments.”

“We have a tremendous responsibility with this mission,” said Johnson. “We are supporting servicemembers that our leadership is relying on to execute the counterinsurgency strategy. It is imperative we help build the foundation for the KBC and set the conditions for future success.”

Mongolians Provide Security, Training, Celebrate National Holiday in Kabul

CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan – The war in Afghanistan is one not only fought by the U.S. military, but rather by a coalition of forces from many countries. One partner nation that has been here since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom is the Mongolian Expeditionary Task Force.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53021

PHOTOS:
http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=images/images_gallery.php&action;=viewimage&fid;=300527

196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade More Stories from 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade RSS
Story by Sgt. Matthew Nedved
Date: 07.19.2010
Posted: 07.19.2010 12:19

The METF has been supporting the OEF mission since 2003, and in December 2009 became one of the top 20 troop-contributing nations to the war effort. Currently, there are approximately 150 Mongolians supporting the Kabul Base Cluster mission by providing base security and training for the Afghan National Army in mobile field artillery techniques.

“We are working with the United States, coalition forces and civilian security companies and it has been a great experience and opportunity for our soldiers to work with such a diverse group of people,” said Lt. Col. Dugarragchaa Dagva, METF commander.

The main effort for the Mongolian’s mission comes in providing fixed site security at Camp Eggers in Kabul. They conduct security patrols, provide perimeter security and also have a platoon standing by as a rapid reaction force.

“Security is very important. It allows all of the missions here on Eggers to be conducted under the security we provide. Camp Eggers residents can sleep well knowing we are here,” said Capt. Bat-Erdene, operations officer, Mongolian forces.

Another mission for the METF is training the Afghan National Army in a variety of weaponry at the Kabul Military Training Center. The Mongolians focus mainly on mobile artillery training, but also train the ANA on the SPG-9 rifle, 82 mm mortars and the 122 mm Howitzer.

The soldiers of Mongolia recently celebrated Naadam on July 11–13 – the national Mongolian holiday that commemorates the 1921 revolution when Mongolia declared itself a free country.

Naadam is also referred to as the three games of men. Each day of the festival there is a different competition held; wrestling, horse racing and archery. Other activities include military parades and martial art displays.

“The military began celebrating this more than a hundred years ago, allowing soldiers to train for battle. Today festivities are opened by an address from the President of Mongolia and a military parade,” said Erdene. “This is a good opportunity to share our Mongolian culture here at Camp Eggers with the other countries that we serve with.”

The Mongolian Armed Forces have distinguished themselves in every theater they have served in and are continuing to develop their capacity to take on more roles and responsibility each time they deploy. Nearly a decade ago, the Mongolian Armed Forces answered the call for additional troops in Afghanistan. Today they are one of the key players in OEF.

“I feel honored to serve here. Being part the Coalition is very important to Mongolia,” said Erdene. “This continues our relationship with other nations in our Mongolian peace keeping efforts,” said Erdene.

July 18, 2010

Bomb kills 3 in Kabul ahead of conference

By Rahim Faiez - The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jul 18, 2010 12:02:31 EDT

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber slipped through the Afghan capital’s tight security ring Sunday, killing three civilians near a busy market two days ahead of an international conference hosting representatives from about 60 nations, officials said.

To continue reading:

http://marinecorpstimes.com/news/2010/07/ap_afghanistan_071810/

AV8B Harrier Jet Crashes in Ocala National Forest

MARION COUNTY, Fla. -- The pilot who ejected from his Harrier jet shortly before it crashed is continuing to recover from his injuries.

http://www.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/news-article.aspx?storyid=159945&catid;=3

Edited by Deanna Fené
Anchor, First Coast News
Created: 7/18/2010 10:05:46 PM
Updated: 7/18/2010 11:14:05 PM

According to the U.S. Marine Corps, the AV8B Harrier crashed in the Ocala National Forest west of Lake George at about 8 p.m. Sunday.

The crash occurred during predeployment training of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and the jet was based aboard the USS Kearsarge.

Capt. Jarrod L. Klement ejected from the jet and was airlifted to Shands Gainesville for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

The cause of the crash is still being investigated.

Golf Company: Number Eight

"60 Minutes" Producer Henry Schuster Reflects On The Death of An American Soldier

I stared at the e-mail with disbelief. The header read "Sad News."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/07/17/60minutes/main6686668.shtml

(CBS) Written by "60 Minutes" producer Henry Schuster.
July 18, 2010

"In case you have not heard, Lt. Nick Bourgeois from Co G 2/8 was killed in an automobile accident yesterday. Not sure of many of the details or any plans, but I thought y'all would like to know.

Hard to believe he could lead his Marines through so much in Afghanistan and lose his life driving the roads of the USA. He was a great young man and will be sorely missed. Just hate that his children will miss out on the opportunity to grow up with him."

The e-mail was from Lt. Col. Christian Cabaniss, who commanded the 2/8 when we were with them last summer in Helmand Province. Co G 2/8 stands for Golf Company of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. If you've seen our story, you know seven of Golf Company's men were killed in action last summer.

We were there when one of these Marines, Lance Corporal David Hall, was killed by an IED planted by the Taliban. We were there when all seven were remembered in a memorial service by their comrades. Those were wrenching experiences yet in some ways understandable. People die during war (although, it must be said, no civilians died while Golf Company was deployed in the Garmsir district of Helmand).

But now? A traffic accident? This didn't seem like sad news, it seemed cruel.

I met Nick Bourgeois minutes after arriving at Golf Company's combat outpost in the village of Koshtay last August. Sure, he said, I'll take you on patrol. And after putting on our body armor and going through the pre-mission briefing, we came along as Lt. Bourgeois and his Marines moved from compound to compound, village to village, in the broiling sun.

Throughout that afternoon's patrol, and every mission he was on, Bourgeois was patient, careful, watchful and fully engaged with local villagers. He was polite and respectful, which counts for a lot in Pashtun culture, always looking for more information; always offering help; trying to woo the men away from the Taliban.

He knew that any patrol could come under attack; that the next footstep might set off an IED. But like the rest of Golf Company, he embraced the risk.

"In Afghanistan, Nick pressed the limits. He would go out on every patrol if you let him. There was nothing that he wouldn't do to get out of the wire. That's what makes it harder to believe he went this way," said Major Matt Martin, who commanded Golf Company.

During our down-time with Golf Company, Bourgeois told us about his family, growing up in Louisiana and, of all things, Cajun-style beef jerky. His family owns a famous and popular smokehouse and when he left the Corps, he wanted to join the business and carry on that tradition.

Maj. Martin had lunch with Bourgeois last month. It was the day before Bourgeois and his family would drive cross-country from Camp Lejeune, N.C., to Camp Pendleton, Calif. They spent time looking through their cruise book, which had photos from their deployment in Afghanistan. And they talked about Bourgeois' next assignment.

Bourgeois had done tours with the 2/8 in Iraq and Afghanistan. His next assignment, which likely would have been his last before leaving the Marine Corps, was something he was eager to begin. An avid practitioner of martial arts, he had just finished the black belt instructor course at Quantico, said Martin, and he would be leading the martial arts instruction for new Marines at Pendleton. Bourgeois had also been told he was being promoted to captain.

All that was left was the drive.

They were on the interstate, going through Arizona. Miranda Bourgeois was in the family van with their two young boys, Schriever and David; Nick was following in a rental truck loaded with household gears.

Miranda was several cars ahead of Nick. She said she glanced up in the rear view mirror and noticed the truck veering towards the median, then saw it flip over. She lost sight as she went over a hill. She pulled over. So did another car and after that couple agreed to look after the boys, Miranda went back to check on her husband.

"The U-Haul was pretty much crushed. I had to step over our stuff scattered on the highway. I was able to get over to the cab. There was not much I could see. His arm was still moving a little bit," said Miranda.

Someone tried to give first aid. A state trooper arrived and gently suggested she might be more comfortable staying with her children. Medevac helicopters came and went, taking others injured in the accident.

But Nick Bourgeois, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, didn't make it. He died on that interstate in Arizona.

Miranda Bourgeois was kind enough to tell me what happened. And to talk about her husband. They met at the Naval Academy as freshmen, were assigned to the same company. He was from Louisiana. She was from Ohio. Nick was deeply religious and soon she too became a devout Christian. Miranda was going to be a Marine officer but said God changed her mind.

The two of them couldn't be together if they both stayed at the Academy, so she left after her sophomore year. They got married in the chapel at Annapolis soon after Nick graduated.

Here's what Miranda Bourgeois wants you to know about her husband: "He left and came back [from Afghanistan] the same guy. He lost Marines over there. He knew who he was. It affected him that he lost those men. But it didn't change who he was, making him afraid or skeptical. He knew that God had a plan for everything."

"He loved God, loved his family and was ready to die for his country. That's how I would like him to be remembered."

Her faith - and Nick's - has helped her. Nick Bourgeois' promotion to captain came through shortly before his funeral.

ANP Graduate in Helmand Province

KABUL, Afghanistan – One hundred seventeen Afghan National Police graduated from training at Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Wednesday.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=52999

ISAF Joint Command More Stories from ISAF Joint Command RSS
Courtesy Story
Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 02:50

The officers completed an eight-week police skills course at the Joint Security Academy Southwest. The course consisted of six weeks of Ministry of Interior mandated training and two weeks of “core plus” training, which includes enhanced marksmanship, patrolling and combat skills training.

The graduation marks the sixth class of ANP officers to graduate from JSAS, totalling more than 487 police officers, who now provide security in Helmand province and the surrounding area.
The JSAS trains ANP and Afghan National Army recruits.

Afghan Brig. Gen. Hakim Angar, Helmand Provincial Chief of Police and Maj. Gen. Richard Mills, Regional Command Southwest commander, presented graduation certificates.

There are currently 118 ANA soldiers training at JSAS. The next graduation ceremony is scheduled for August. The next ANP graduation is set for September.

Afghan Civilian Killed by IED in Kandahar City

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan civilian was killed today when an ANP patrol struck an improvised explosive device in Kandahar City.

http://www.dvidshub.net/?script=news/news_show.php&id;=53010

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 08:37

“The insurgents indiscriminate method of targeting Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF forces continues to cause civilian casualties,” said Col. William Maxwell, ISAF Joint Command’s Combined Joint Operations director. “We remain committed to our Afghan partners to defeat the insurgency and help bring peace and stability for all Afghan citizens.”

ISAF forces responded to the scene and provided support.

According to ISAF records, insurgents have killed nearly 80 civilians and wounded more than 150 more in the past two weeks alone.

Mullah Omar Orders Subordinates to Kill Afghans

KABUL, Afghanistan – International Security Assistance Forces intercepted orders from Taliban spiritual leader Mullah Omar at the beginning of June 2010 ordering his fighters kill Afghans.

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Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 06:23

This order is in direct contradiction to his instructions last year urging his followers to minimize civilian casualties in an attempt to compete with the ISAF population-centric tactical directives.

Omar’s latest instructions included five orders to his subordinate commanders:
1) Fight coalition forces to the death without withdrawing or surrendering; attempt to capture coalition forces whenever possible.
2) Capture and kill any Afghan who is supporting and/or working for coalition forces or the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
3) Capture and kill any Afghan women who are helping or providing information to coalition forces.
4) Recruit anyone that has access to coalition force bases and have the ability to collect detailed information about coalition forces.
5) Purchase or obtain more heavy weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and anti-aircraft machine guns.

“This proves the Taliban are willing to ignore their own Code of Conduct when they sense they are losing influence and control,” said Brigadier General Josef Blotz, ISAF Spokesperson. “As today’s attack against several Afghan civilians were killed and injured by a suicide attack in a residential area in Kabul today demonstrates.”

Recent insurgent-caused civilian casualty data, released by the independent Afghan Rights Monitor, estimate insurgent actions have caused 1,074 civilian deaths since January 2010, with 188 of those occurring since the release of Omar’s order. These statistics may indicate insurgent forces have received and are complying with the new order.

Civilians Killed, Injured in Suicide Attack in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan – Several Afghan civilians were killed and injured by a suicide attack in a residential area in Kabul today.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 05:27

Afghan National Police are at the scene and are investigating.

“The insurgents have chosen to use violence to gain media attention, once again at the expense of innocent Afghan civilians,” said Col. William Maxwell, ISAF Joint Command’s Combined Joint Operations Center director. “Our condolences and sympathy goes out to the families and friends of those affected by this attack,” Maxwell added.

According to ISAF records, insurgents have killed nearly 80 civilians and wounded over 150 more in the past two weeks alone.

There were no ISAF service members injured in the attack.

Insurgents Captured, Killed in Kabul, Kandahar and Zabul Provinces

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan and international forces conducted operations in Kabul, Kandahar and Zabul provinces last night.

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Date: 07.18.2010
Posted: 07.18.2010 03:18

An Afghan-international security force captured a Taliban facilitator last night in the Capital, who was considered a direct threat to the Kabul Conference.

The combined security force went to a compound outside Katasana in Musahi district to capture the facilitator, who has direct ties to the Kabul Attack Network and is responsible for improvised explosive device, and vehicle-borne IED attacks.

Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to peacefully exit the buildings. After the compound was cleared and secured, the combined security force detained the facilitator.

No shots were fired and women and children were protected by the combined security force.

The Kabul International Conference will bring together representatives of more than 70 partner countries, international and regional organizations and financial institutions to deliberate and endorse an Afghan Government-led plan for improved development, governance and stability.

Afghan and coalition forces captured a Taliban sub-commander and two additional facilitators, all considered direct threats to the Kabul Conference Friday.

A separate Afghan-international security force killed several insurgents and detained a suspected insurgent while pursuing a Taliban weapons’ facilitator in Kandahar province last night.

The facilitator also assists with the movement of foreign fighters into the area and coordinates assassinations within Kandahar.

As the security force approached a compound northeast of Makuan in Zharay district they were immediately engaged by a number of armed insurgents. The security force returned fire, killing several of the insurgents.

After the initial engagement, the security force discovered an IED on a foot path leading to the targeted compound and subsequently identified multiple IED's rigged throughout the buildings in the compound. As the force continued their search they found a home-made explosives factory and a complex bunker system containing rocket propelled grenades emptied of their explosives.

Women and children were protected by the combined security force.

Another Afghan-international security force detained a suspected insurgent in Zabul province last night while pursuing a Shah Joy district Taliban commander.

The combined force went to a series of compounds in Molla Bahlul Kowrunah in Shah Joy district. After clearing and securing the area, the security force interviewed the residents of the targeted compound and detained the suspected insurgent.

No shots were fired and women and children present were protected by the combined security force.

July 17, 2010

Grief and gratitude at funeral for Marine Tyler Roads

At one point in high school, Tyler Allen Roads was struggling with his grades, so Larry Snelling, superintendent of the Fall River Joint Unified School District, went to have a chat with the boy he’d known for years.

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Photo Gallery:
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* By Ryan Sabalow
* Record-Searchlight
* Posted July 17, 2010 at 9:46 p.m.

“He said, ‘I’ll do better. I’ll make you proud of me,’ ” Snelling said before several hundred people Saturday at the 20-year-old fallen Marine’s funeral in Burney.

Snelling had no idea how much those words proved to be true.

“I’m so proud to have known him,” Snelling said. “I’m so blessed to have known him.”

Snelling was hardly alone. The words “pride” and “hero” and their various intonations were spoken over and over during the graveside service for Roads at the Burney District Cemetery on Bailey Avenue.

“He was my hero,” said Steven Gibbs, 22, of Burney, one of four of Roads’ former schoolmates who spoke through tears during the memorial. “I hope some day I can be someone’s hero like he was mine.”

The Marine lance corporal died a week earlier while supporting combat operations in Helmand province in Afghanistan, according to the Department of Defense.

Last Monday would have been his 21st birthday.

His flag-draped coffin was taken Friday from the Redding Municipal Airport to Burney on Friday. Hundreds lined the procession route.

By at least one estimate, some 500 people attended Saturday’s service, which included a Marine honor guard.

The gunshots from a 21-gun salute and the haunting melody of a Marine bugler playing taps floated through the evergreen trees.

The Marines gave three folded flags to Roads’ family, one to his mother, Sonia; one to his grandmother, Olivia Stevenson; and one to his wife, Megan Stone-Roads.

Family and friends revealed Saturday that Stone-Roads, 21, had discreetly married the young Marine in November.

Stone-Roads and Sonia Roads shook and sobbed during the services, often leaning on each other in their grief.

A 2007 graduate of Mountain View High School in Burney, Roads had lived with his grandparents, Greg and Olivia Stevenson of Burney.

Sara Evans, a family friend from Burney, said the Stevensons had asked her to convey to the community how thankful they are for the outpouring of support.

“She and Greg know what they had in their hearts with Tyler, and no words can express their feelings,” Evans said.

Roads also is survived by Travis and Liz Roads, his father and stepmother, and a host of other family members, many of whom attended the service.

“He was grandma’s shining star, as she put it,” said The Rev. Ken Frazier, who officiated the services.

He would say later to the young Marine’s wife: “Megan, you were his shining star.”

Dignitaries in the crowd included Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, and Shasta County Sheriff Tom Bosenko.

Nielsen said before the services that during budget negotiations earlier in the week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had asked him to send his condolences to the family because he couldn’t attend the services himself.

Schwarzenegger also had sent out a statement earlier in the week offering condolences from him and his wife, Maria.

Capitol flags were ordered to be flown at half staff.

Roads was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He is the second Marine from Burney to die in the war in Afghanistan.

Marine Capt. Matthew W. Bancroft, 29, a 1990 graduate of Burney High School, died along with six fellow Marines on Jan. 9, 2002, when the air-refueling tanker he was piloting crashed into a mountainside in southwestern Pakistan.

Ron Harshman, commander of the area’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post and a Navy veteran, said it came as no surprise that so many people turned out to offer their support and condolences to Roads and his family.

“That’s what people love about this community,” he said. “They come together.”

Afghans Teach Afghans, Americans in Background

PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Police in the Rokha District of the Panjshir province are taking the lead in training much-needed skills to other members of the ANP.

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Story by 2nd Lt. Jason Smith
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 04:44

ANP Capt. Safat Ullah Sangee, Panjshir Operations Coordination Center-provincial, spends his days teaching map and compass reading techniques to police in each of the seven districts in the valley.

July 13 was the second day of Sangee’s three-day course at the Rokha Police Headquarters. Some of the things Sangee taught included how to use a protractor with a map, give grid coordinates, find grid coordinates, identify terrain features, and measure distance between points.

“I have almost four months training in map reading in Kabul,” said Sangee, a nine-year ANP veteran. “The Canadians taught us.”

Sangee said map reading is necessary for ANP because they will not always be working in the same area. He said even a policeman who knows his own district may have to respond to other districts in the province, or even to other provinces.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Jennings, Task Force Wolverine Embedded Training Team with Provincial Reconstruction Team Panjshir, said Sangee attended the ETT’s “Train the Trainer” course for map reading. He said Sangee was an outstanding student and has been an “awesome” teacher.

“This is district six for Capt. Sangee,” said Jennings, an Underhill, Vt., native. “The response from the ANP students has been overwhelming. He’s been doing a great job.”

Rhoka ANP Training Officer Sefatmir said having an Afghan teach the class makes it easier for his men to learn.

“We can easily learn from Afghans because we can understand them easily, and they know how to teach us,” said Sefatmir. “If (Americans) try to teach, it will take a very long time. The teacher will say something and then it will need to be translated by someone who isn’t an expert in the field that’s being taught.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, Panjshir PRT commander and auxiliary police officer for Fairfax County Police Department, Va., agrees that learning from another expert in the field who speaks the same language makes training more productive.

“There are certain terms and concepts that police forces use that are unique to the field,” said Velasquez. “Training can be a lot more effective if you’re teaching or learning from people who use the same terminology. I think the training Capt. Sangee provides is a great example of how an expert in one area of police work can offer quality training to others in the same field.”

Throughout day two of the training, Sangee ran an interactive class. He instructed from a map, dry-erase board and computer presentation on a large flat-screen TV. The students participated often, and from time-to-time, the group would find something to laugh about.

Although the ETT interpreters moved among the students helping where they could, the U.S. Army ETT members stayed in the back of the room for the whole class in an observation role.

“Over the nine years we’ve been here, training has been plug-and-play,” said Jennings. “Now, it’s self-sustaining, and it’s on the Afghans to provide the training.”

Jennings said the self sustainment is important so “we can go home.”

“It has been a pleasure having members of our ETT assist the Afghan National Police,” said Velasquez. “Also, having some law enforcement experience from a great police department like Fairfax County has really helped me work better with the ANP.”

Day three will be GPS training, said Jennings. After the group finishes the last district with the map and compass course, they will look at offering some training in close-quarter combat with weapons and room clearing procedures.

Banned by Taliban, Judo Instructor Teaches Troops

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Every night, among the hum of tread mills mixed with the tang of sweat in Forward Operating Base Wright’s small cardio room, Soldiers, Sailors and local nationals gather to practice Judo Karate with instructor Dr. Shams Kamalpuri, Speer clinic doctor.

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Story by Staff Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 02:07

Prior to Taliban rule, Kamalpuri had built a reputation for himself in the country after creating five Judo clubs with more than 800 Afghans participating in them -- before seeing everything he worked for whisked away by the imposing Taliban regime.

“When I was in the fourth grade I started training in Iran because there were no martial arts instructors in Afghanistan,” said Kamalpuri. “I competed in the surrounding countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Iran, and I won 32 tournaments.”

In 2000, the Taliban arrested Kamalpuri for teaching martial arts and beat him to the point that metal rods now hold together the bones in both of his arms.

“They said I was teaching violence and that it was against the teachings in the Quran, and yet they used violence to beat me and destroyed my property,” said Kamalpuri, after the Taliban destroyed his Dojo. “They kept me in jail for three months while they did this.”

After his run in with the Taliban, Kamalpuri was forced to leave behind his old life as an instructor and chose to go to school, becoming a doctor where he now works in the Speer clinic at the FOB.

The class he teaches to his hodgepodge of students could be compared to mixed martial arts, as it blends the striking from Karate with the throws and grappling of Judo. Kamalpuri began teaching the class to two interpreters who worked on the FOB and now it includes a mix of Soldiers, Sailors, interpreters and workers from the Philippines.

“I was hitting [it] heavy, and I saw Shams (Kamalpuri) and two other interpreters practicing so I asked, ‘Hey do you mind if join?’ He said something to the interpreter and the interpreter said sure no problem,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Frank Concolino, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team force protection specialist hailing from Farmingville, N.Y. “I had a great time training with him so I invited some friends from the PRT, and we all started training together.”

Communication in the class is often primitive as Kamalpuri counts out punches and kicks while demonstrating the movements.

“He really works hard to teach us, since we can’t speak Pashtu and he speaks very little English,” says U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Rubio, FOB Mayor’s assistant from San Diego, Calif. “But the interpreters in the class help out and translate and (by) training with him the last three months we are learning how he communicates. It becomes more and more natural every day.”

For the Soldiers and Sailors, they get a great workout and a first-class opportunity to hone their skills. But that pales in comparison to what their teacher gets -- a chance to revive a passion that the Taliban could not take away.

Training Illiterate Afghan Soldiers to Read Maps, Police to Write Tickets

The NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan recognizes the impact of illiteracy on the development of the Afghan National Security Forces and is taking dramatic steps to improve the situation. Prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan had a growing educational base that included ten established universities.

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Story by Michael Faughnan_Ph.D.
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 12:45

At that time, the literacy rate approached 22 percent. Thirty years of warfare destroyed the Afghan school system and left a generation of young people incapable of reading. These are precisely the young men and women the ANSF must recruit to man its forces. Determination of a current overall literacy rate is difficult because it varies so greatly across the country. Many organizations have conducted literacy surveys in an effort to determine a national literacy rate. Most find an overall literacy rate of approximately 28 percent. The literacy rate among men is considerably higher than among women (44 percent to 12 percent). These rates vary widely across the country with urban areas having a higher rate than rural. The highest rates are found in Kabul (Male:58 percent; Female:42 percent; Overall:50.4) and the lowest are found in Zabul (Male:.9 percent; Female:.1; Overall:.5). Consequently, in some provinces it is nearly impossible to find a literate recruit.

Illiteracy is felt by the security forces in several ways. First, it prevents soldiers and police officers from fully performing their duties. An illiterate soldier cannot read a map and an illiterate policeman cannot write a report or identify suspect vehicles. Second, the training provided to the illiterate must be task oriented. Skills must be taught through supervised, hands-on repetition. Third, training in advanced concepts and skills cannot be conducted. Sophisticated skills required by medics, logisticians, computer specialists, and others simply cannot be taught to an illiterate person. Without literate soldiers the development of modern army and police forces is simply not possible. Recognizing the training and operational issues created by illiteracy, the NTM-A Education Division, working out of CJ-7, has developed a robust and growing program to provide training to illiterate members of the ANSF. Soldiers and police attend literacy instruction in their unit areas. NTM-A currently employs more than three hundred instructors in support of the Army and 318 in support of the police. To meet the known requirement within the police forces, an additional 700 instructors are being added in the near future. All of the instructors are Afghan nationals. They are required to have at least a high school education and pass Ministry of Education literacy instructor certification requirements.

The Ministry of Education developed the curriculum NTM-A instructors use. It provides students with the basic literacy and numeracy skills normally attained through completion of the third grade. In addition to reading, students learn basic mathematics skills including three digit multiplication and division. To date, more than 2,500 members of the ANSF have completed the third grade program. With completion and the awarding of a Ministry of Education certificate, these soldiers and police are eligible for entry into the larger adult education program at the fourth grade level.

NTM-A is not satisfied with this success. The command’s goal is to provide this basic literacy capability to every member of the ANSF. With at least a 70 percent overall rate of illiteracy, this remains a difficult task. Work has begun on the next step as well. A working group is currently modifying the Ministry of Education’s fourth through sixth grade curricula for presentation to adult learners. Additionally, the team will work to incorporate basic military skills and tasks as part of the lessons. For instance, early planning suggests that first aid training could be used as part of a science credit.

Training the thousands of illiterate members of the ANSF is certainly a daunting task. The command sees literacy training as one of the pillars upon which a new, vibrant Afghan society will be built. NTM-A expects that our literacy program will ultimately support the broader development of Afghanistan through the development of literate security forces. As soldiers and police transition from uniformed to civilian life, the resulting increase in literacy of the overall population will have a beneficial impact that we can only imagine.

Tons of Drugs Destroyed During Joint Operation in Helmand Province

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan-international security force discovered approximately 1.9 tons of processed heroin, 1,800 pounds of raw opium, and 200 pounds of ammonium nitrate during a security operation in Now Zad district, Helmand province July 17.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 01:18

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the drugs have a U.S. street value of more than $38 million before taking into account the common practice of cutting it with other ingredients which would exponentially increase the value. The ammonium nitrate could be used to produce approximately 25 improvised explosive devices.

The combined security force was pursuing a senior Taliban commander for northern Helmand province who is also involved in the purchase and distribution of IED-making material when they discovered the drugs and illegal fertilizer in an area east of Urmuz in Now Zad District.

Helmand province has seen heavy fighting between coalition forces and the Taliban, who are deeply entrenched in the villages of the poppy-producing region. The Taliban are known to use the proceeds from the sale of drugs to pay for weapons, IED components, explosives and foreign fighters who are being brought into Kandahar and Helmand provinces by the Taliban.

The security force detained two suspected insurgents who were transporting the drugs and explosive material, which was destroyed at the scene. No shots were fired.

"Drugs, weapons, bombs, foreign fighters and violence-this is what the Taliban offers the people of Afghanistan," said Col. Rafael Torres, ISAF Joint Command's Combined Joint Operations Center director.
"Afghan and international forces will continue to interdict the drugs used to fund insurgent activity and give the people of Helmand the opportunity that security and stability will bring," added Torres.

Security Forces Strike Insurgent Leadership and Networks in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Between July 9-16, Afghan and ISAF forces conducted a series of precision operations, killing dozens of insurgents and detaining more than a hundred suspected insurgents in operations targeting key leadership and networks linked to attacks against the Afghan people and coalition forces.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 01:03

Among those targeted in more than 40 operations over the last week were suspected insurgent commanders and fighters linked to the recent 2nd July IED attack at the Ariana Hotel in Kunduz and the June 30 attack against the Jalalabad Airfield as well as several other previous attacks.

"The insurgent fighters are systematically tracked and targeted in precision partnered-operations that ensure the safety of innocent Afghans and prevent unnecessary damage to buildings," said Rear Admiral Smith, ISAF Director of Communication. "In over 75 percent of the operations conducted this week, insurgents were captured without a single shot fired. This fact should be placed in stark contrast to the over 46 civilians killed by the insurgents during the same period."

Additionally, components to build improvised explosive devises including over a thousand pounds of explosive material, ammonium nitrate, 155 mm artillery rounds and several hand grenades were seized and destroyed during these operations. Also confiscated were three motorcycles rigged with explosives, similar to the one used in June that killed an innocent Afghan bystander in Kandahar City.

Other confiscated weapons included machine guns, small arms weapons, rocket propelled grenade launchers and rockets were also seized, reducing the threat to civilians and security forces.

A single drug seizure during this same period yielded 1.9 tons of heroin and 1,800lbs. of raw opium with a street value of approximately $39 million. This money would have been used to fuel the insurgency.

These operations are part of the greater coalition activities designed to protect the Afghan people and deny the insurgents shelter and their ability to operate in Afghanistan.

"While the insurgent leaders enjoy safe and comfortable lives with their families in their sanctuaries in Pakistan, their fighters and mid-to-low level leaders are captured or killed on a regular basis," said Smith.

Afghan, International Forces Conduct Numerous Operations Across Southern Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security Forces with International Security and Assistance Force partners completed operations across Afghanistan to detain insurgents, disrupt suicide bomber networks, provide humanitarian assistance and hinder narcotics and lethal aid trafficking in southern Afghanistan.

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Courtesy Story
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 12:54

On July 15 an ANSF and ISAF combined force conducted an operation in Nahr-e-Saraj District in Helmand province to detain a senior Taliban commander and facilitator of improvised explosive devices within Helmand province. ANSF force-led callouts occurred at two compounds resulting in two men taken into custody by Afghan authorities.

On July 14 an ANSF and ISAF combined force conducted an operation in Kabul City to detain Shafi Ullah, a suspected key insurgent and suicide bomb facilitator linked to a Taliban shadow governor in Kabul. Afghan legal representatives entered a compound and arrested five individuals suspected of being members of an attack network.

Seized from the compound were rifles, one machine gun, ammunition, components used to construct improvised explosive devices and approximately 70 kilograms of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, a key component in the manufacture of home-made explosives.

On July 13 in Uruzgan province, ANSF and ISAF forces secured the road north to Kalach Village to allow a humanitarian assistance convoy to reach the village in northern Chorah District. Two local trucks were used to transport approximately 11 tonnes of flour to the village bazaar where it was distributed among local residents. 600 kilograms of medical supplies were also provided as was a small quantity of stationery for use by the village's school children.

On July 12, an insurgent commander was killed in a combined ANSF and ISAF operation that took place west of Kandahar. The insurgent commander Sultan Agha, prepared fighters and plans for attacks against Combined Forces and operated around the Spin Masjed area. He was known to be at the forefront of attacks on Combined Forces during the period of June 4-6. His removal has deprived the insurgent network of a key tactician.

On July 11 an ANSF and ISAF combined force searched a compound in Nahr-e-Saraj District in Helmand province to disrupt narcotics distribution operations. About 22 kilograms of opium was seized during the search and one male occupant was detained by Afghan authorities.

Another male who subsequently hindered the operation and is believed to be associated with the transport of narcotics and lethal aid, was also taken into custody by Afghan authorities.

No civilians were injured in these operations.

ISAF Docs Struggle to Save Scores of Children in Afghanistan

CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – A call comes in to the Camp Bastion Hospital – medical evacuation helicopters are inbound. The staff scrambles to ensure they have enough medical personnel available. They also have to prepare special kits for this batch of patients they are about to receive – the pediatric kits.

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Story by Gunnery Sgt. Steven Williams
Date: 07.17.2010
Posted: 07.17.2010 12:46

Six children ages 6 to 11 years old are brought into the emergency room with burns over 20 to 70 percent of their bodies. Two are sent to Kandahar Air Field for specific care. Two are hustled off to the intensive care unit. Two are placed in “expectant” care – the nurses are just trying desperately to keep them comfortable and out of pain as they pass away.

It’s not a rare occasion. The hospital cares for scores of children every week, suffering from all kinds of severe trauma like head injuries, burns and gunshot wounds. As interviews for this story were being conducted, nurses said approximately 50 percent of the patients in the intensive care unit were children.

“I think our staff is quite well-versed in that now,” said Royal Air Force Squadron Leader Sarah Charters, the officer in charge of the emergency room at the hospital. “Before we came out here, some members of staff had some anxieties about looking after children. But we’ve got two pediatrics specialist nurses who are based in the hospital and they’ve done a lot of training and mentoring with our staff. I mean, most of our staff are used to looking after sick children, but not with the same frequency and intensity as we’ve seen out here.”

Out here, the enemy follows no laws of war. Their tactics take a toll on even the most innocent victims.

“It’s frustrating sometimes because you feel as if they’re carrying a burden,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tymesia Cortez, a critical care ICU staff nurse. “They’re innocent.”

The coalition doctors say they only hope the children truly understand what they’re trying to do for them.

“We don’t know what a lot of Afghans feel about us,” said Lt. Cmdr. Cheryl Cottrell, another critical care ICU staff nurse. “And when they come through our door, I think it’s part of our culture to be a good host in this hospital and show them we are very decent people and we give them as much care as we would give to a U.S. soldier or a U.K. soldier. It’s my hope that they feel that we are attentive to their needs and that we are caring for them in them in the best way we know how.”

It seems to be something many Afghan adults understand. Like the case with the six children in this story, adult Afghans often rush children or other injured adults to the nearest coalition troops asking for emergency medical attention.

“They know if they get to the closest point where there are coalition troops that a corpsman will look at them,” said Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jose Belen, a corpsman with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) who is one of the medical personnel who plays an integral role in coordinating medical evacuations in southern Afghanistan. “The corpsman will then make a decision as to whether or not the injuries are serious enough for the casualty to be evacuated.”

And the care doesn’t stop at Bastion. There is a unique team at the hospital responsible for getting patients, child or adult, on to follow-on care at other hospitals. The Critical Care Air Support Team is a five-person Royal Air Force team capable of any level of care on any aircraft.

“We have an excellent standard of care with the most modern intensive care technology,” said RAF Squadron Leader Lucy Ryder, CCAST flight nurse medical officer. “We can activate and be in the air in an hour.”

The CCAST team treats local nationals, Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police, U.K. and U.S. service members along with pediatric patients. The Afghan patients are taken to places like the Afghan National Army’s Herat Regional Hospital or Kandahar Regional Military Medical Center, or the civilian-run Bost Hospital in Lashkar Gah.

The Bastion Hospital staff doesn’t hear much after the patients leave the doors for follow on care. Many wonder if they made a difference.

“I always wonder about that feedback,” said Cortez. “Has their perception of us changed? Did they see how much we give of ourselves to care for them? I hope that they think we’re better than what they may have heard.”

The 9-year-old boy with 32 percent burns over his body thought so.

“We called the interpreter,” explained Cottrell, “just to let the child know they were going to put him on the litter and he was going to fly to this other hospital, and he did not want to go. He was a little upset. He wanted to stay here.”

But the staff hooked the boy up with the typical going away gifts – some extra clothes, stuffed animals and other little things donated to the