Saturday, October 24, 2009

OEF Update, Oct. 24, 2009: Forces in Afghanistan Kill, Detain Militants; 2 US Troops Killed

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 24, 2009 -- An Afghan-international security force killed a dozen militants and detained several suspected militants in Kandahar Province on Thursday after stopping a number of vehicles in pursuit of a Taliban commander of Maywand District.

The joint security force initially targeted a number of vehicles in transit across southern Maywand District after intelligence indicated militant activity. Several militants were killed after they failed to respond to warnings used by the joint force in the attempts to gain compliance of the militants and their vehicles. Additionally, several suspected militants were detained. Subsequently, the joint force received hostile fire from militants in multiple vehicles maneuvering in the direction of the joint force. The joint force returned fire, killing another group of militants.

The joint force searched each of the vehicles and recovered a number of small arms weapons, documents and 2,600 pounds of black tar heroin. The joint force identified one of the dead militants as the sought-after Taliban commander of Maywand District.

In a separate operation, the Afghan-international security force detained several suspected militants after searching compounds in Wardak Province known to be used by a Taliban commander and facilitator and his element responsible for several rocket and IED attacks in the region.

The joint security force targeted the compounds near the village of Patankhel in the Sayed Abad District after intelligence indicated militant activity. The joint force searched the compound without incident and detained several suspected militants. No shots were fired and no one was injured in the search.

ISAF Casualties

An ISAF service member died of wounds sustained during a fire-fight while on a routine patrol in southern Afghanistan. Two U.S. servicemembers died as a result of an improvised explosive device attack also in southern Afghanistan. Both incidents occurred Oct. 23.

(Compiled from NATO International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: New M-ATV Arrives in Southern Afghanistan


NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of U.S. soldiers examining the first Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles (M-ATV) arriving in the southern region of Afghanistan. (Produced by Staff Sgt. Marcos Alices, Joint Sustainment Command - Afghanistan. Length: 00:02:48.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Friday, October 23, 2009

OEF Summary, Oct. 23, 2009: Forces in Afghanistan Kill Enemy Fighters, Detain Suspects

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Oct. 23, 2009 -- A combined Afghan and international security force killed enemy fighters and wounded another yesterday after forcefully entering and searching a series of compounds in Afghanistan’s Wardak province.

The compounds were known to be used by a Taliban commander and his group believed to be responsible for several attacks in the area.

The combined force initially searched a building in the province’s Chaki Wardak district without incident. But after observing enemy activity in a nearby compound, the force pursued those suspected militants. The militants fired on the combined force as it approached, and the force returned fire, killing a militant armed with an assault rifle, a pistol, fragmentation grenades and communications gear.

Hostile fire continued, and the combined force killed another militant and wounded another, who then was given medical aid. A search of enemy positions yielded multiple assault rifles and grenades.

In a separate Wardak province operation, a combined force detained several suspected militants after searching buildings in the Saydabad district known to be used by a senior Taliban commander believed associated with Taliban and Haqqani terrorist leaders in the area.

In Helmand province, a combined force killed several enemy militants and detained half a dozen others today after taking hostile fire when approaching a compound known to be used by senior Taliban commanders responsible for several attacks and other militant activities in the area.

(From an International Security Assistance Force news release.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OIF Summary, Oct. 23, 2009: Iraqis Nab Terrorism Suspects

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Iraqi police and soldiers, working with U.S. advisors, arrested seven terrorism suspects in Iraq over the last two days, military officials reported.

Iraqi police captured a suspected Islamic State of Iraq terrorist group leader and three accomplices today in Bayji. Intelligence reports indicate he’s also involved with insurgent groups in Hawijah, officials said.

In eastern Mosul yesterday, Iraqi soldiers arrested three suspects while searching for Islamic State of Iraq extortion-network leaders.

The soldiers were continuing a series of searches focused on extortion-network leaders in Mosul who are believed to have close ties with al-Qaida in Iraq and are suspected of extorting profits from construction contractors and using the money to fund bombing attacks against civilians and Iraqi security forces.

Evidence at the scene linked the suspects with the wanted extortion-network leader, officials said.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon: 1 Dead, 8 Wounded in Army-Navy Exercise

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- One military member was killed and eight were injured last night after an Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed into a Navy ship off the coast of Fort Story, Va., just north of Virginia Beach.

The crash occurred on the flight deck of the USNS Arctic around 8 p.m., and involved the Army helicopter and members of an East Coast-based naval special warfare unit, according to a statement released by the Navy’s Fleet Forces Command.

Another Army Black Hawk flew the injured servicemembers to a Norfolk, Va., hospital for treatment, the release said. The USNS Arctic returned to Naval Station Norfolk with the damaged helicopter on board.

Both Fleet Forces Command and officials from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., declined to comment further on specifics about the crash.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. More information about the soldiers involved may be available as early as today, an Army spokesman at Fort Bragg told American Forces Press Service.

(Report by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden, American Forces Press Service.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: NATO Ministers Endorse McChrystal Approach in Afghanistan

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that NATO defense ministers Friday endorsed the kind of broad counterinsurgency approach for Afghanistan that is the basis for the pending troop request by the NATO and the U.S. commander there, General Stanley McChrystal. The ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, are meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia.

VOA News reported that NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the defense ministers have a "general shared view" that the alliance must make Afghanistan strong enough to defend itself against militant forces. And he said the ministers also agree on the approach for accomplishing that.
"There is the support of this counterinsurgency strategy, which means that ministers agree that it does not solve the problems in Afghanistan just to hunt down and kill individual terrorists," Rasmussein said. "What we need is a much broader strategy which stabilizes the whole Afghan society."

That has been the core of the debate in Washington, with President Barack Obama reviewing the counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan he announced in March. The review was prompted, in part, by a grim assessment from General McChrystal, who is here at the NATO meeting to provide a direct readout to the defense ministers. The general's secret assessment, leaked to the Washington Post (newspaper) several weeks ago, follows the president's basic approach, but says it could fail unless he gets more troops.

His specific request is still secret, but it is believed to involve tens of thousands more troops.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Secretary Gates would not be drawn publicly into the debate over whether the troop-intensive counterinsurgency strategy is best or whether a more limited commitment involving air strikes and Special Forces operations would be better. He called any conclusions on that issue "vastly premature," and said key presidential decisions are two or three weeks away.

But the secretary stressed that the United States has "no intention" of withdrawing from Afghanistan, and said even a U.S. troop reduction is "very unlikely."

"The question is do we have the strategy right in light of the situation we face? Does it need refinement in some way?" Gates noted. "And if it does need some adjustment in light of the events that have taken place over the last number of months, including the election and so on, and then what are the implications of that in terms of General McChrystal's resource request?"
Last month, Gen. McChrystal, in a strategy review now 55 days old, asked President Barack Obama for up to 80,000 additional U.S. troops for the fight.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Russia Violating START Treaty, Developing Multiple-Warhead Missile

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Newswire services yesterday for the most part ignored a Washington Times report that noted a leading lawmaker has complained Russia for years has been violating the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is set to expire Dec. 5.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and No. 2 Republican Senate leader, recently said in a Senate floor speech Oct. 19, that Russia's development of a new multiple-warhead RS-24 missile that was tested as recently as May 2007 violates the current treaty.
"That would be illegal for the Russians to deploy under START. So why are they testing it?" Mr. Kyl asked.

"In this case, it appears the Russians have cheated - if not in the letter of the START agreement, at least in its spirit - by converting one of their existing missiles, the Topol-M, to this new multiple-warhead variant," he said. The new missile is also known as the SS-27 by the Pentagon.

The argument of Mr. Kyl and others concerned with the administration's rush to conclude a new treaty is over how a new agreement can be reached when there is evidence that the Russians failed to abide by the old one.

However, Richard R. Verma, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, stated in a Oct. 5 letter to Mr. Kyl that he could not answer many questions posed by the senator because of ongoing negotiations in Geneva.

Mr. Verma stated that the administration has "committed ourselves fully" to finishing a new treaty by Dec. 5. "If a follow-on treaty cannot be concluded by December, the United States and Russia will need to find a mutually acceptable means to continue essential verification and transparency measures until a new treaty enters into force," he said, noting that a five-year extension of the old treaty is not likely.

Russian Embassy press spokesman Yegeni Khorishko said: "The Russian Federation is acting in full conformity with the provisions of the START treaty."

The senator's charge of treaty violations is backed up by a 2005 annual report to Congress by the State Department's bureau of verification and compliance which states that "a significant number of longstanding compliance issues that have been raised in the START Treaty's Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission remain unresolved."
Kyl is demanding that the administration tell the Senate if the Russian violations continued after 2005, or have been resolved, and also why no subsequent compliance reports were made public.
He also wants to know if the new agreement will be submitted to the Senate, which has the constitutional requirement to approve all treaties.

Either way, the Washington Times noted, Kyl said it appears unlikely the United States and Russia will conclude a new treaty limiting U.S. nuclear warheads by the time the 1991 pact expires.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: UN Envoy Endorses More Troops for Afghanistan

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the top United Nations envoy for Afghanistan says more foreign troops are needed to help secure the country, and to train its army and police forces. The envoy, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, spoke to reporters at a NATO defense ministers meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, Friday.

U.N. Special Envoy Kai Eide was blunt during a news conference before meeting with NATO's defense ministers. The Norwegian diplomat told reporters he endorsed the grim assessment by the NATO and U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, and his call for a change in the way the alliance operates in the country, VOA News reported.
"We have come to a point where I believe McChrystal is right," Eide said. "If we continue the way we've done so far, both with regard to the military effort, the civilian effort and the behavior of the Afghan government, this project will not work. Does it mean it's not doable? I believe it is doable, but it requires some basic changes, both from the Afghan government and from the international community."

General McChrystal is asking for tens of thousands more troops, although the exact figure is secret. Ambassador Eide endorsed the idea, but would not be specific on how many more foreign troops he thinks Afghanistan needs.

"I do believe, yes, that additional international troops are required," Eide said. "And I emphasize in particular the need that we have for such troops in order to partner better and mentor the Afghan national security forces as they grow."

He said that means working directly with the Afghan forces, and helping provide security between now and when the Afghans can handle the job on their own. And he called on coalition countries to all do their share.

"I believe that this can not be a U.S. only enterprise," Eide said. "There has to be contribution from other troop contributors, and in particular Europeans."
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is attending this meeting with a similar message, calling for a broad range of additional European help in Afghanistan, even though President Barack Obama is unsure of his decision whether to send more U.S. troops, VOA noted.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon: Gates Receives 'Mounting Endorsements' by NATO of Afghan Strategy Proposals

News in Balance

News in Balance:

Still waiting on a decision from President Barack Obama....

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today he’s encouraged by unofficial endorsements NATO defense ministers are expressing for Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy proposals for Afghanistan, along with indications they’re considering additional resources to support the mission there.

Gates, here for a NATO ministerial, emphasized that he is in a “listening mode” and not pressing for specific contributions.

“This was not the forum for anyone to express a view of any commitment,” he said.

McChrystal’s resource requests, including troop recommendations, are working their way through the NATO chain of command and will be addressed at a force generation meeting next month, he said.

However, Gates said several allies have indicated that they will, or are leaning toward, increasing their military or civilian contributions, or both. “I find that very heartening,” he said.

He also said he received “mounting endorsements of McChrystal’s approach” during his sessions here.

Gates said his goal is to take what he hears here back to President Barack Obama to consider as part of his strategy review for Afghanistan. The national security team is expected to provide the president several options within the next two or three weeks, he said.

The “analytical phase [of the review] is beginning to come to an end, he said, and the U.S. national security team is likely to provide different options for Obama within the next two to three weeks.

Multiple issues will be factored into that decision, he explained. “The question is: Do we have the strategy right in light of the situation we face? Does it need refinement in some way? And if it does need some adjustment -- in light of the events that have taken place over the last number of months, including the elections and so on -- what are the implications … in terms of General McChrystal’s resource request?”

Gates, Navy Adm. James Stavridis, supreme allied commander Europe, and McChrystal all are participating in the ministerial. McChrystal was slated to brief NATO and non-NATO countries supporting the International Security Assistance Force mission about conditions on the ground during a working lunch.

Today’s talks also highlighted the need for a common NATO and ISAF counterinsurgency doctrine and a more common approach to training for out carrying out counterinsurgency There’s “not enough shared experience about what works and what doesn’t,” Gates said.

The defense ministers also discussed the need to speed up training of Afghan security forces, and the importance of improving governance in Afghanistan, dealing with corruption and establishing legitimacy of the Afghan government.

Gates said he assured the NATO allies that the United States “has no intention of pulling out of Afghanistan or abandoning our core mission there.”

“It is a mission we deem critical to our national security and vital national interests,” he said.

Earlier today, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed similar sentiments on behalf of the alliance.

Ensuring that Afghanistan becomes solid enough to stand up to the insurgency is critical not only to its future, but global security, he said. “This is the only way to fight against terrorism.”

Toward this end, Rasmussen said there should be “no doubt about our determination” to fulfill the mission in Afghanistan. “We should remain as long as possible” to ensure it succeeds, he said.

(Report by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group Comes Home

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 21, 2009) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) man the rails as the ship transits into Naval Air Station North Island. Ronald Reagan's return to homeport San Diego marks the end of a five-month deployment in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Joshua Scott.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 21, 2009) Sailors man the rails as the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) pulls into Naval Air Station North Island. Ronald Reagan's return to San Diego marks the end of a five-month deployment to the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Oliver Cole.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 21, 2009) Friends and family members of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrate as the ship completes her transit into Naval Air Station North Island after a five-month deployment to the western Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Amanda L. Ray.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Oct. 21, 2009) Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) man the rails as they return to San Diego after a five-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph M. Buliavac.)

Focus on Defense:

SAN DIEGO, Oct 23, 2009 -- Four ships and more than 5,000 sailors of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 returned to their homeport of San Diego Oct. 21 after a five-month deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).

The strike group flagship, the Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), the guided-missile destroyers USS Gridley (DDG 101) and USS Howard (DDG 83) arrived to meet thousands of family members waiting on the pier.

The guided missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) and the guided missile frigate USS Thach (FFG 43) remain deployed. The two ships remained in the 5th Fleet AOR for a few extra weeks to provide Maritime Security Operations (MSO), but should arrive next month.

"This is the finest team of sailors I've been fortunate to call shipmates," said Rear Adm. Scott Hebner, commander, CSG 7. "I could not be more proud of each and every sailor and their families. The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group has been pretty busy the last few years, executing missions across the capabilities of our National Maritime Strategy--and answering the call with impressive results every time."

Ronald Reagan and embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 operated in the 5th Fleet AOR for more than two months, providing 30 percent of all air support to U.S. and coalition ground forces in Afghanistan. In total, they flew more than 1,600 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Ships of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group were also vital in counter-piracy operations off of Somalia and the Horn of Africa, and MSO to include protecting vital Iraqi infrastructure in the North Arabian Gulf.

"Every single sailor knew how vital the mission was to accomplish," said Capt. Kenneth Norton, Ronald Reagan's commanding officer. "Because they understood, regardless of their operational tempo, they performed the mission, not just to get it done, but to get it done well. They're selfless. Everybody did their job well to provide service to our Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen in Afghanistan."

Additionally, Ronald Reagan's sailors participated in 50 community relations (COMREL) projects during port visits to Singapore, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Phuket, Thailand.

"Being able to afford our sailors the opportunity to lend a helping hand to those who are truly in need, speaks volumes to the character of our sailors," said Chief Religious Programs Specialist (SW/AW/FMF) Marcus Taylor, who coordinated Ronald Reagan's COMREL projects. "I believe the sailors that volunteer really should be commended for their selfless efforts. It is a clear display of maturity and devotion to being goodwill ambassadors for the Navy and the United States."

Now at home, many sailors of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group will take leave to spend time with family and friends.

"This is my second deployment in two years," said Interior Communications 2nd Class Adam Treptow, who will be going on leave to his hometown of Parker, Colo. "Homecoming is always an indescribable feeling. I'm too excited. This is a chance for me to get off the ship, relax, unwind and finally buy myself a new truck."

The squadrons of CVW-14 include the "Redcocks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22, the "Fist of the Fleet" of VFA-25, the "Stingers" of VFA-113, the "Eagles" of VFA-115, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support (VRC) 30, and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

This ends the fourth deployment in four years for Ronald Reagan. The ship is named after the 40th U.S. president, and carries the motto of "Peace through Strength," a recurrent theme during the Reagan presidency.

(Report by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Frank E. Neely, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) - Ronald Reagan Strike Group Public Affairs.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OEF Update, Oct. 23, 2009: Forces in Afghanistan Kill, Detain Militants; ISAF Casualty

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 23, 2009 -- An Afghan and international joint security force killed a couple of suspected enemy militants and wounded one on Oct. 22, after forcefully entering and searching a series of compounds in Wardak province.

The compounds were known to be used by a Taliban commander and his group believed to be responsible for several attacks in the area.

During the operation the joint security force initially searched a building in Chaki Wardak district without incident. After observing enemy activity in another compound in the vicinity, the force pursued different suspected militants.

While moving to the new compound, the joint force received hostile fire and returned fire, killing an enemy militant armed with an AK-47 rifle, a pistol, fragmentation grenades and communications gear.

The joint force then received additional hostile fire. Returning fire the joint force killed another enemy militant and wounded an enemy militant who was then given medical aid by the force. A search of enemy positions yielded multiple AK-47 rifles and grenades.

In a separate Wardak province operation, a joint security force detained several suspected militants after searching a series of buildings in Saydabad district known to be used by a senior Taliban commander believed to maintain numerous contacts with Taliban and Haqqani leaders in the area.

The search was conducted without incident or injury, and no shots were fired.

In a third operation, a joint security force killed several enemy militants and detained half a dozen suspected militants during a compound search in Helmand province, today.

The compound is known to be used by senior Taliban commanders responsible for several attacks and other militant activities in the area.

The joint security force searched the compound near the village of Nangazi, northeast of Lashkar Gah district, after intelligence reports indicated militant activity. As the force approached the compound they received hostile fire. Returning fire they killed several enemy militants and then detained other suspected militants.

No Afghan civilians were harmed during any of these operations.

ISAF Casualty

An ISAF servicemember died of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan, Oct. 22.

(Compiled from NATO International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Milestone: Oct. 23, 2009, 26th Anniversary of Attack on US Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Today marks the 26th anniversary of the October 23, 1983 bombing of the United States Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

Each year the United States honors the sacrifices of the 241 American servicemen who lost their lives that day in service of their country while protecting the stability of Lebanon.

The Marine barracks memorial on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut reads, "They came in peace."

Timeline:
Oct. 23, 1983 - A suicide terrorist driving a truck loaded with explosives blew up the headquarters of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 and wounding others -- the highest number of Marine casualties in a single day since World War II. Almost simultaneously with the blast that devastated the Marine Corps building, a second suicide bomber drove a car into a building occupied by French paratroopers and destroyed it, too. An unspecified number of Marine replacements embarked for Beirut, Lebanon, to replace the Marines killed or wounded by the terrorist attack. President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation lowering the nation's flag to half-staff in honor of the fallen Marines and addressed reporters at 8:38 a.m. at the South Portico of the White House, saying the "deeds make so evident the bestial nature of those who would assume power if they could have their way and drive us out."

Oct. 25, 1983 - Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Paul X. Kelley visited seriously wounded Marines injured in the Beirut terrorist bombing at the Wiesbaden, West Germany, U.S. Air Force hospital. Kelley presented 16 purple hearts before inspecting the flattened Marine headquarters building.

Oct. 26, 1983 - Vice President George Bush inspected the Marine barracks and said “insidious terrorist cowards” would not change U.S. foreign policy.

Oct. 29, 1983 - Bodies of 14 Marines and one sailor killed in Beirut, Lebanon, in the terrorist bombing, arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., which is the U.S. military’s mortuary. The fallen Marines, the first of the terrorist casualties to return to U.S. soil, were assigned to the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit from Camp LeJeune, N.C. The caskets, each draped with an American flag, were arranged in a row inside an aircraft hanger that had been converted to a funeral chapel for the day’s ceremonies.

Nov. 4, 1983 - President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan paid solemn tribute to the American servicemen killed and wounded in Grenada and Lebanon at a memorial service at Camp LeJeune, N.C. U.S. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger established the Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Attack. U.S. Navy (Ret.) Adm. Robert L.J. Long headed the commission.

Nov. 6, 1983 - A religious service was held for the U.S. Marine Corps at the Washington Cathedral, Washington, D.C. The service paid special tribute to the Marines who died in the terrorist bombing in Beirut and in the invasion of Grenada.

Nov. 15, 1983 - Commandant of the Marine Corps U.S. Marine Gen. Paul X. Kelley returned a salute to Lance Corporal Jeffrey Lee Nashton, the Beirut bombing victim whose speechless devotion to the Marine Corps led him to scrawl "Semper Fi" as Kelley stood by his hospital bed in West Germany on Oct. 25, 1983, three days after the attack. In a brief ceremony at Bethesda Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md., Kelley presented Nashton with a plaque containing his four general’s stars and the words "Semper Fi."

Dec. 28, 1983 - The Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut International Airport Terrorist Act released a 140 page unclassified report on the 23 October 1983 incident. A key recommendation by the Commission asked that the Secretary of Defense direct the development of doctrine, organization, force structure, education, and training necessary to defend against and counter terrorism.
Visit the Pentagon's 25th anniversary Web site for details.

Related: Special Report - Beirut Barracks Bombing

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Discuses McChrystal NATO Briefing on Afghanistan

News in Balance

News in Balance:

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his fellow NATO defense ministers will hear today from the commander of the alliance’s International Security Assistance Force and U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal will offer his on-the-ground assessment of conditions and progress in building the Afghan security forces in both numbers and capability during an alliance defense ministers conference that’s under way here, NATO officials said.

Gates will participate in several sessions focused on the NATO mission in Afghanistan. During a working lunch, he’ll meet with allied ministers and their counterparts from non-NATO nations contributing troops in Afghanistan. Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and representatives of several international organizations involved in Afghanistan also will participate.

Deliberations also are expected to address resourcing, as well as a new training mission NATO plans to launch for Afghan security forces.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called yesterday for more forward momentum in Afghanistan, including a redoubling of efforts to help with reconstruction and development. But the focus, he said, also needs to include holding the new Afghan government to account, dealing with corruption and building Afghan security forces so they are strong enough to provide security in Afghanistan, with NATO in a security role.

“Afghanistan needs to be made strong enough to resist the insurgency if it is to be able to resist terrorism,” he said. “It’s as simple as that, and that is the essence of the McChrystal approach.”

Rasmussen warned that foot-dragging in providing the needed support only will make the challenge bigger. “We have to do more today if we want to be able to do less tomorrow,” he said.

“To my mind, it is clear,” he said in a statement issued before yesterday’s opening session. “Hoping that Taliban extremists will never again host al-Qaida is not a strategy. They did it in the past. We can only assume they will do it in future.”

As Gates participates in the ministerial conference, he said he’s buoyed by a renewed sense of purpose he’s detected within the alliance.

“Frankly, since the NATO summit last spring, I have seen more energy and more commitment on behalf of both the military and civilian leadership in the alliance than I have seen in the previous two years that I was in this job,” Gates told reporters before arriving here last night.

Gates said both he and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have sensed the shift during meetings and telephone conversations with their NATO counterparts.

“There seems to be a renewed commitment that we have to do this and get this done right,” he said.

“This is an alliance issue,” he emphasized.

(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Gen. McChrystal to Make Surprise NATO Briefing

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan planned an unexpected appearance Friday at a meeting of NATO defense ministers focused on making Afghan security forces responsible for fighting the war there.

Officials said Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal was to brief NATO ministers, including U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on his view of the war in Afghanistan, according to an Associated Press report.

A document provided to AP outlines formal NATO approval of plans to eventually give Afghan army and police officials control over a war that is in its ninth year.

The plans, AP said, specifically do not require any withdrawal of the 104,000 U.S. and NATO troops that will be in Afghanistan by the end of the year.

Instead, they officially affirm NATO's intent to shift from being in charge of security and rebuilding in the war-torn nation to taking a backup role to Afghan officials, according to the document.
"This is not associated with any force withdrawal or predetermined decrease in force level requirements," the document written by NATO's public diplomacy division states. "It will entail a change in the nature of the security assistance provided to the Afghans and the balance of responsibility."

It described a gradual transition of power to Afghan forces even as U.S. and NATO troops continue to battle the Taliban and other insurgents. The plans to do provide a deadline for the transition.
Last month, Gen. McChrystal, in a strategy review now 55 days old, asked President Barack Obama for up to 80,000 additional U.S. troops for the fight.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wire: Pew Poll Finds Most Americans Say They Lack Background to Follow Afghan News

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that the latest weekly News Interest Index survey, conducted October 16-19 among 1,004 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, finds that public interest in the war in Afghanistan continues to be fairly modest. Only about one-in-ten (9%) cite the war as their top story for the week, which is less than the percentage (14%) that mentioned the story of a boy thought to be aboard a runaway balloon who was later found safe, and the proportion citing swine flu news (20%).

Pew said that the public expresses a range of feelings about the news about the war in Afghanistan: a majority (56%) often feels that "it seems like the same news about the war in Afghanistan all the time, nothing ever really changes"; 42% say they do not often feel this way.

Over half (53%) say they do not always have enough background information to follow the news about Afghanistan.

Nearly as many (53%) say they do not always have enough background information to follow the news about Afghanistan. By contrast, far fewer Americans (26%) say the news about the war is so depressing they would prefer not to follow it. Only 20% say they feel guilty about not following news from the war in Afghanistan more closely.

Most Americans are unable to correctly estimate the number U.S. military personnel that have been killed in the war in Afghanistan. Just 25% correctly estimate 900 as the fatality count for the war in Afghanistan. Most people (52%) overestimate rather than underestimate the number of U.S. fatalities: 25% say around 1,500 have been killed, while 27% estimate the military death toll at around 2,500. By contrast, a plurality (42%) correctly estimates U.S. troop deaths in Iraq at about 4,300.

Notably, paying very close attention to either conflict, does not significantly improve the chances of knowing the fatality count for a given war. Those following the Afghanistan war very closely or the Iraq war very closely are no more likely than the public at large to correctly estimate the fatality level of each respective war.
Pew also reported their findings on Americans' views of Afghanistan News.
Those following the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan very closely express different views on war coverage than those following Afghanistan news less closely – especially those following Afghanistan news the least closely.

About four-in-ten (42%) of those following news about the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan very closely say it is the same news all the time with nothing ever really changing; most (56%) do not feel this way. By contrast, 68% of those who follow news about the war not too or not at all closely see it as unchanging.

Similarly, highly attentive Afghanistan news followers do not feel they lack the background information to follow war news (40% say they lack background information, 58% say they do not). The balance of opinion among the less-attentive is the reverse: majorities say they do not always have enough background information to follow the news about the war in Afghanistan.

In addition, 38% of those who do not follow Afghanistan closely say the news can be so depressing they would rather not hear about it; 27% say they feel guilty about not following the news from Afghanistan more closely. Far fewer of those who pay closer attention to news about Afghanistan express these views.
Pew finds more Americans trust the military than the press on Afghanistan.
Most Americans express either a great deal or a fair amount of confidence in the U.S. military to give the public an accurate picture of how the war in Afghanistan is going. Nearly three-quarters of Republicans (73%) have at least a fair amount of confidence in the military to give an accurate picture of how things are going, compared with 63% of independents and 54% of Democrats.

There is less confidence in the press to provide an accurate account of the war. Overall, 40% of the public expresses at least a fair amount of confidence in the press, compared with 59% who have not too much confidence or none at all. Just a third (33%) of Republicans and 37% of independents say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the press to give an accurate assessment of the war in Afghanistan. By contrast, Democrats express about the same level of confidence in the press (52% great deal/fair amount) as they do in the military (54%).
The News Interest Index is a weekly survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press aimed at gauging the public’s interest in and reaction to major news events.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source and data: Most Say They Lack Background to Follow Afghan News

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: Dismount Patrol in Pul-E-Alam, Logar Province, Afghanistan, Part 2


NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of a dismounted patrol in the Logar province of Afghanistan. Scenes include U.S. soldiers using an interpreter to question locals about suspicious activity in the area. Part 2 of 2. (Produced by Spc. Richard W. Jones Jr., Joint Combat Camera Afghanistan. Length: 00:01:35.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OEF Summary, Oct. 22, 2009: Forces Detain Suspected Militants in Afghanistan

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- A combined Afghan and international security force detained almost a dozen suspected militants in Afghanistan’s Khowst province today after searching a compound known to be used by a Haqqani terrorist organization commander and his element responsible for bombings and armed attacks in the area.

The combined force searched compounds near Peru Kheyl village north of Khowst City after intelligence reports indicated militant activity there. The force detained the suspects, one of whom was identified as the sought-after Haqqani commander.

In another operation today, a combined force detained two suspected militants after searching a compound in Paktia province known to be used for making roadside bombs. The force searched the compound near the village of Tabiban, southwest of Gardez City, without incident.

In other news from Afghanistan, a combined force detained a suspected militant yesterday after searching buildings known to be used by a Taliban bomb maker maker in Kandahar province. The suspect is believed to be responsible for numerous attacks and ambushes in the region, and also is believed to be a shadow governor for the local Taliban’s illegitimate government.

Meanwhile, U.S. and NATO forces continue to realign forces to better secure and stabilize population centers in Afghanistan, most recently by closing Combat Outpost Lowell in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province Oct. 20.

Prior to the closure, international forces met with local leaders to explain the decision and discuss the handover of facilities. The facilities were left intact for use by the local community after all military equipment was removed.

Coalition forces and the Afghan government will continue to seek opportunities to cooperate with and provide assistance to Afghans in the Kamdesh district, officials said. International Security Assistance Force troops will use the opportunities provided by realignment to enhance combined action with Afghan forces and to assist the Afghan government to build governance and development capacity in populated areas, they added.

(Compiled from NATO International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Iraqi Police Nab 14 al-Qaida Suspects

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that Iraqi security forces arrested 14 suspected al-Qaida members in western and northern Iraq, including three who were formerly detained by U.S. troops in the country, local police officials said Thursday.

The Assocaited Press said six men arrested in Fallujah were wanted for allegedly planning attacks in and around the city, which is located 40 miles west of Baghdad, said the city's police chief, Col. Mahmoud al-Isawi.

"The group is believed to be behind many murders and attacks against the citizens and the police forces," al-Isawi told AP, without specifying when the arrests or the attacks took place.

Police detained the other eight suspects, one of whom was a woman, during a raid Tuesday on a suspected militant hideout in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, the police chief in the city, Jamal Taher, told the AP. Police confiscated roadside bombs and car bombs during the raid, he said.
Two of the men in Fallujah and one in Kirkuk were previously detained by U.S. forces but were subsequently released, said the two police chiefs.

As part of an agreement between the two countries that took effect Jan. 1, Iraqi authorities have begun reviewing the cases of U.S. detainees to decide whether to free them or press charges. Thousands have been freed because there is little or no evidence against them, but some are suspected of having returned to violence.

The two men in Fallujah were suspected by the U.S. of having links with insurgents but were released in July for lack of evidence, said al-Isawi. They had been held at Camp Bucca, a military base in southern Iraq that served as the largest U.S. detention site in Iraq before it was closed down last month, said al-Isawi.
(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Strong Earthquake Strikes Afghanistan and Pakistan

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services this evening reported that a strong earthquake centered in the Hindu Kush mountains shook a wide area of eastern Afghanistan and Pakistan early Friday, swaying buildings in the Afghan and Pakistani capitals.

The Associated Press reported that there were no initial reports of damage or casualties from the quake, which struck about 12:21 a.m. Afghan time (1951 GMT, 3:51 p.m. EDT Thursday).

However, the temblor was centered in a remote mountain area where communications are poor and reports of casualties take time to reach the capital, AP noted.
The earthquake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.2 and was centered in the mountains about 167 miles (268 kilometers) northeast of Kabul and 140 miles (230 kilometers) west of Mingaora, Pakistan, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Buildings shook in the Pakistani cities of Peshawar and the capital Islamabad, and the quake was felt as far east as Lahore near the Indian border, Pakistani television stations reported.
The Afghan Interior Ministry said it had no immediate reports of deaths or damage, AP said.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Lockheed Gets $1 Billion Pentagon Aegis Deal

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) is being awarded a $1 billion U.S. Missile Defense Agency contract for design and development work on its Aegis ballistic missile defense system for Navy cruisers and destroyers, the U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday.

The Aegis system is designed to intercept ballistic missiles post boost-phase and prior to re-entry.

A Reuters news service report noted that the contract covers work from Oct. 1, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2014, the Pentagon's daily contract digest said.

Work is to be performed in Moorestown, N.J., The Associated Press said.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: Dismount Patrol in Pul-E-Alam, Logar Province, Afghanistan, Part 1


NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of U.S. Army soldiers, assigned to Alpha Company, BSTB, 3/10 Mountain Division, as they dismount to speak to local farmers about an attack on Coalition Forces the night before in Logar Province, Afghanistan. Part 1 of 2. (Produced by Spc. Richard W. Jones Jr., Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO. Length: 00:01:26.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera: Aboard USS George Washington, Oct. 22, 2009

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 19, 2009) An F/A-18C Hornet from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John M. Hageman.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 20, 2009) A towed target is sprayed by ammunition during a live-fire exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan L. Guimont.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 20, 2009) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 3rd Class Robert Haworth, assigned to the air department aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) fires a .50-caliber machine gun at a towed target during a live-fire exercise. George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 20, 2009) Hull Technician 2nd Class Jason Nicholson demonstrates how to don an MCU-2P chemical, biological, and radiological protective mask to Hull Technician Fireman Apprentice Sara Bingham during a general quarters drill aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mike Mulcare.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct.18, 2009) Gunner's Mate Seaman La'kesha Hartsfield, assigned to the weapons department of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), uses an M-14 rifle to shoot a messenger line to the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) during a replenishment at sea. George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Seaman Apprentice Marcos Vazquez.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 17, 2009) A plane captain cleans an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Dambusters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jacob D. Moore.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
YELLOW SEA (Oct. 13, 2009) The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) transits behind the Republic of Korea guided-missile destroyer SeJong the Great (DDG KDX 991), along with the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), the Republic of Korea destroyer Kang Jan Chan (DDH 979) and the guided-missile cruisers USS Cowpens (CG 63) and USS Shiloh (CG 67) during a bilateral exercise. George Washington is underway supporting security and stability in the Yellow Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Stewart.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
YELLOW SEA (Oct. 13, 2009) The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), middle, and the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) transit behind the Republic of Korea guided-missile destroyer SeJong the Great (DDG KDX 991) during a bilateral exercise. George Washington is underway supporting security and stability in the Yellow Sea. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Stewart.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 17, 2009) Aviation Ordnanceman Airman Apprentice Nathaniel Corron cleans a pylon on an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Golden Dragons, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 192 aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73). George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jacob D. Moore.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
YELLOW SEA (Oct. 13, 2009) The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the Republic of Korea navy Aegis destroyer Sejong the Great (DDG KDX 991) are underway in the Yellow Sea during a bilateral exercise. George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeffrey Stewart.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 13, 2009) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Dambusters of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 catches the #2 arresting wire aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) during routine flight operations. George Washington, the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist John M. Harrington.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
PACIFIC OCEAN (Oct. 9, 2009) Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Justin Lane stands life buoy watch on the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as an F/A-18E Super Hornet assigned to the Royal Maces of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 27 prepares to land. George Washington is underway supporting security and stability in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jacob D. Moore.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Army Casualty (OEF)

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- The following news release made available Thursday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Kyle A. Coumas, 22, of Lockeford, Calif., died Oct. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wire: Gates Goes to NATO for More Help in Afghanistan

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Newswire services today reported that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates flew to Slovakia to ask NATO defense ministers to help the United States respond to the request for more resources made by the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal.

VOA News said Secretary Gates is in the awkward position of asking NATO allies to do more in Afghanistan, while President Barack Obama has been taking months reviewing his own plans. Gates told reporters on his aircraft it makes sense to have these talks now because the effort to stabilize and develop Afghanistan is a NATO mission, not just an American one.

This is an alliance issue and my view all along has been we ought to do this in a way that if General McChrystal has an additional set of needs, it should not be looked upon as exclusively the responsibility of the United States to respond," said the defense secretary.

Gates says since the NATO summit last spring he has seen "more energy and more commitment" among NATO nations to doing what is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan. He described current consultations with NATO allies as "intense."
General McChrystal says the allied effort could fail to prevent a militant takeover in Afghanistan unless he is given more resources. In a secret request, he is believed to be asking for 40,000 or more additional troops, on top of 68,000 U.S. and nearly 40,000 coalition troops already there, VOA noted.

Gates says that increased troop presence to provide security will not end problems of corruption and weak governance in Afghanistan. He says the international community will still have much work to do with any new government in Kabul to provide the kind of stability, security and services that will have a chance of convincing the Afghan people to support the government, rather than the militants of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

(Report from newswire sources.)

Source: Gates Asks NATO for More Help in Afghanistan

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OEF Update, Oct. 22, 2009: Forces in Afghanistan Detain Militants; US Casualty

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

KABUL, Afghanistan, Oct. 22, 2009 -- An Afghan and international joint security force detained almost a dozen suspected militants in Khowst province today after searching a compound known to be used by a Haqqani commander and his element responsible for improvised explosive device and armed attacks in the area.

The joint security force searched compounds near Peru Kheyl village north of Khowst City, after intelligence reports indicated militant activity and detained suspected militants, one of whom was identified as the sought-after Haqqani facilitator and commander. The compound search was conducted without incident.

In another operation today, a joint force detained a couple of suspected militants after searching a compound in Paktya province known to be used as an IED manufacturing facility for militant elements in the region.

The joint security force searched the compound near the village of Tabiban, southwest of Gardez City without incident.

In both operations no shots were fired, and no one was injured.

ISAF Casualty

A U.S. servicemember died of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan, Oct. 21.

(Compiled from NATO International Security Assistance Force news releases.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: Joint Mission for VBIED Making Factory (OIF)


NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 -- Embedded above is a b-roll video of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi soldiers conducting a cordon and search of a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) site. (Produced by Sgt. Ferdinand Thomas, American Forces Network Iraq. Length: 00:02:25.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

US Air Force C-17 Tests New Assault Landing Strip in Wyoming

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
A C-17 Globemaster III from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., lands at the Wyoming National Guard's Guernsey Army Airfield in Guernsey, Wyo., Oct. 17, 2009, during the official opening of the updated airstrip now capable of handling the massive cargo aircraft. The airstrip is now able to park up to 23 fixed-wing aircraft, including three C-17s. In addition to the civilian-military airstrip, Camp Guernsey also boasts nearly 70,000 acres of terrain and supports approximately 65 square miles of restricted air space up to 30,000 feet. (U.S. Army photo by Brandon Quester.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
C-17 Globemaster III from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., takes off from the Wyoming National Guard's Guernsey Army Airfield in Guernsey, Wyo., Oct. 17, 2009, during the official opening of the updated airstrip now capable of handling the massive cargo aircraft. The airstrip is now able to park up to 23 fixed-wing aircraft, including three C-17s. In addition to the civilian-military airstrip, Camp Guernsey also boasts nearly 70,000 acres of terrain and supports approximately 65 square miles of restricted air space up to 30,000 feet. (U.S. Army photo by Brandon Quester.)

Focus on Defense:

CAMP GUERNSEY, Wyo., Oct. 21, 2009 -- A C-17 Globemaster III from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., approached the 5,500-foot-long stretch of paved runway, landed, then rolled to a stop. That's not much space on which to land a heavily loaded, half-million pound cargo plane, but officials here say it's the perfect runway for C-17 pilots to train on.

Wyoming National Guard members and special guests gathered at the Camp Guernsey Joint Forces Training Center Oct. 17 to celebrate the opening of the upgraded runway with its new turnaround points and a new width expanded to 90 feet. McChord Airmen from the 7th Airlift Squadron lent a hand at this historical event by performing an assault landing of the first C-17 on the new runway, which went through $9.6 million in upgrades to accommodate ever greater numbers of joint combat forces engaged in pre-deployment training.

"These new facilities accommodating C-17s offer great capabilities to prepare for contingency operations more similar to what our military sees in current conflicts," said Lt. Col. James Twiford, commander of the 7th Airlift Squadron.

Called Guernsey Field, its aviation capabilities include a joint-use airstrip capable of supporting C-17s. Approximately 360 square miles of sparsely populated terrain and 65 square miles of restricted airspace up to 30,000 feet are part of the field. The runway was constructed to withstand the demands of the C-17s which now will be able to transport joint units to and from the facility as well as conduct combat airlift training using the center's aerial delivery drop zones.

More than 100 people attended the ceremony and watched as the McChord Airmen performed a C-17 flyover and a landing that demonstrated the airfield's and the aircraft's capabilities. Distinguished visitors included Mike Sullivan, former Wyoming governor; Jim Twiford, former president of the Wyoming Senate; Rep. Dave Edwards, former state representative and former chair of the Joint Transportation Interim Committee; Rep. Dave Edwards; and Guernsey Mayor Michael Pettigrew.

"Lieutenant Colonel Twiford's landing of the C-17 at the Wyoming National Guard's Camp Guernsey was the culmination of several months of coordination among the 7th Airlift Squadron, Camp Guernsey, the 62nd Airlift Wing, 18th Air Force and Air Mobility Command," said Lt. Col. Dave Herder, Camp Guernsey deputy garrison commander. "John Ryan, McChord airspace manager, Lt. Col. Twiford and I, with help from each agency, spent a lot of time and energy ensuring the collaborative effort maintained the exceptional standards of a joint endeavor. At the end of the day it was an overwhelming success and the beginning of a new era in tactical training opportunities and joint operations."

The McChord-based 7th AS was the first to fly and land the C-17 at Guernsey Field. Air Force officials call the C-17 the service's "most flexible cargo aircraft." The C-17 can operate from austere airfields including assault runways as short as 3,500 feet and only 90 feet wide. The aircraft turns around on narrow runways by using its backing capability to make a three-point turn.

Maj. Joseph O'Rourke, 62nd AW current operations chief and a pilot in the 7th AS, said such maneuvers are generally performed by aircraft commanders. All aircraft commanders are required to conduct assault landings every training cycle.

"That's a lot of training we have to accomplish," said Major O'Rourke. "Assault strips and airdrop training are vital to the Air Force C-17 community, providing critical combat readiness capabilities."

An aircraft commander or mission pilot are the only Airmen who can conduct the steep and swerving descents and short stops using thrust reversers and brakes during an assault landing. It's an initial qualification achieved at aircraft commander upgrade school at Altus AFB, Okla.

Such landings can be conducted in blackout conditions in which aircrews wear night vision equipment to see special lights defining the runway. It could be compared to landing on an aircraft carrier at night, except that the runway is a lot longer and is not pitching and rolling.

However, a C-17 is longer than three Navy F/A-18 Hornets and can carry a 70-ton Abrams tank and more than 100 Soldiers.

With 62nd AW Airmen flying airlift missions to Iraq and Afghanistan and a long history of supplying airlift to joint forces in that region, the training is relevant. Wing Airmen say they remain ready to respond to all requests, including natural disaster missions and combat missions into joint force operations overseas.

"This new runway is one more element in our national defense infrastructure that continues to make us the most capable military in the world," said Colonel Twiford. "It's an asset to the C-17 community, the Department of Defense and the nation."

(Report by Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker, 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs.)

Labels: , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Navy to Commission USS Makin Island

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Sept. 14, 2009) The amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD 8) pulls into her homeport of San Diego. Makin Island is the final amphibious assault ship built in the Wasp-class, but the first of the class built with gas turbine engines and an electric drive. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Husman.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
STRAIT OF MAGELLAN (Aug. 15, 2009) The amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD 8) sails easterly through the Strait of Magellan as the ship prepares to enter the Pacific Ocean. Makin Island departed Pascagoula, Miss., July 10 and is currently circumnavigating South America to its new homeport in San Diego. Makin Island is the eighth and final Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and is scheduled for commissioning in San Diego on Oct. 24. (Photo courtesy of Chilean Navy.)

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
SAN DIEGO (Sept. 14, 2009) Sailors assigned to the Wasp class-amphibious assault ship Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island (LHD 8) man the rails as the ship approaches its homeport of San Diego. Makin Island is the final amphibious assault ship built in the Wasp class, but the first of the class built with gas turbine engines and an electric drive. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jon Husman.)

Focus on Defense:

NORTH ISLAND, Calif., Oct. 21, 2009 -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) will be formally commissioned in a ceremony on Naval Air Station North Island Oct. 24.

The ship, which has been dubbed the "Prius of Navy warships," arrived in San Diego in mid-September, three years after her christening. The ship brought over 1,000 sailors and their families to the San Diego community.

"I am eager for Makin Island to finally join the fleet," said Vice Adm. D.C. Curtis, commander, Naval Surface Forces. "The sailors of this crew exemplify the best this nation has to offer. They represent America's Navy with pride and distinction and proudly serve as part of a global force for good."

Makin Island is the final amphibious assault ship built in the LHD-1 Wasp-class, but is the first of the class built with gas turbine engines and electric drive.

The Navy projects that this advance will save nearly $250 million in fuel costs over the ship's lifetime. The development is already paying off – during the ships transit from Pascagoula, Miss., to San Diego, Makin Island consumed over 900,000 gallons less fuel than a steam ship completing the same transit, saving more than $2 million in fuel costs.

Other environmentally-friendly initiatives include the use of an electric plant to power auxiliaries, meaning no steam or associated chemicals; and the use of reverse osmosis water purification systems that negate the need for chemicals like bromine or chlorine.

"The USS Makin Island represents the centerpiece and future of naval expeditionary warfare and will significantly enhance our ability to rapidly respond to emergent tasking around the world," said Rear Adm. Earl Gay, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3. "Her commissioning is a watershed moment for our Navy-Marine Corps team, and I am honored to have her in the fleet."

According to Capt. Bob Kopas, commanding officer, the true strength of Makin Island rests in her crew.

"This crew brings a 'gung ho' attitude of teamwork and determined enthusiasm to the fleet, in the tradition of Carlson's Raiders, who originated the term 'gung ho'," said Kopas. "The dedication they have shown over the past four years has brought the ship to life and lays the foundation for Makin Island to face the challenges of the next 40-plus years of supporting the needs of our nation and Navy."

(Report from a Surface Forces Public Affairs news release.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Army Casualty (OIF)

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2009 -- The following news release made available Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Bradley Espinoza, 26, of Mission, Texas, died Oct. 19 in Qwest, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Pentagon Identifies Marine Casualty (OEF)

News in Balance

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2009 -- The following news release made available Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense is the text of a statement identifying a casualty:
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. David R. Baker, 22, of Painesville, Ohio, died Oct. 20 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

Labels: , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

OIF Summary, Oct. 21, 2009: Forces in Iraq Arrest Terrorism, Murder Suspects

Dispatches from the Front

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2009 -- Iraqi forces, aided by U.S. forces advisors, arrested two terrorism suspects and a murder suspect in Iraq in recent days, military officials reported.

Iraqi security forces, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested two suspected terrorists -- a father and son -- in Salahuddin province Oct. 16.

The forces arrested Diyah Adib Hassan Albu Nassir in his home in Bayji with a warrant issued by the Federal Appellate Court of Salahuddin. They arrested Nassir’s son, Farhan Diyah Adib Hassan Albu Nassir, after they determined there also was a warrant for his arrest. The elder man is suspected of funding insurgent activities for several terrorist organizations in northern Iraq.

Elsewhere, the Qaim special weapons and tactics unit, with U.S. forces advisors, arrested an Iraqi police murder suspect Oct. 19 based on a warrant issued by Iraq’s Higher Judicial Council Magistrate Court.

The suspect also is accused of having al-Qaida in Iraq ties and involvement with insurgent activity, according to the warrant.

(Compiled from Multinational Corps Iraq news releases.)

Labels: , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Combat Camera Video: Revisiting the Jalrez Valley in Afghanistan

video

NOTE: News readers click here to watch the video.

Dispatches from the Front:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2009 -- Embedded above is a NATO video package. Wardak Provence in Afghanistan saw a big arrival of U.S. troops earlier this year, but has the extra deployment achieved the desired results? NATO TV revisited the area to find out. (NATO TV video. Length: 2:48. Not on the THE TENSION's YouTube channel.)

COMBAT CAMERA More Combat Camera Imagery on THE TENSION

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button