Results 16 to 29 of 29
02-15-10, 06:17 PM #16
maybe we ought to drop a few daisy cutters on this turbin heads,fry the poppy fields and there goes their money supply.
02-15-10, 06:21 PM #17
02-15-10, 06:26 PM #18
02-15-10, 06:29 PM #19
U.S. Marine Walks Away From Shot to Helmet in Afghanistan [The only injury: A small, numb red welt.]
Wall Street Journal ^
Posted on Monday, February 15, 2010 4:38:41 PM by Sub-Driver
U.S. Marine Walks Away From Shot to Helmet in Afghanistan
By MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS
MARJAH, Afghanistan—It is hard to know whether Monday was a very bad day or a very good day for Lance Cpl. Andrew Koenig.
On the one hand, he was shot in the head. On the other, the bullet bounced off him.
In one of those rare battlefield miracles, an insurgent sniper hit Lance Cpl. Koenig dead on in the front of his helmet, and he walked away from it with a smile on his face.
"I don't think I could be any luckier than this," Lance Cpl. Koenig said two hours after the shooting.
Lance Cpl. Koenig's brush with death came during a day of intense fighting for the Marines of Company B, 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment.
The company had landed by helicopter in the predawn dark on Saturday, launching a major coalition offensive to take Marjah from the Taliban.
The Marines set up an outpost in a former drug lab and roadside-bomb factory and soon found themselves under near-constant attack.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
02-16-10, 05:59 AM #20
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
updated 35 minutes ago
MARJA, Afghanistan - To the Marines of Bravo Company, the black-and-white video footage from a surveillance drone seemed to present the perfect shot: more than a dozen armed insurgents exiting a building and heading to positions to attack U.S. and Afghan forces seeking to wrest control of this Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.
Facing stiff resistance from Taliban fighters, the Marines radioed for permission to call in an airstrike on the insurgents at midday Monday. It appeared to be the sort of clear opportunity that would have prompted a rapidly executed bombing run during the Iraq war, or even in the first seven years of this conflict.
But not anymore: Officers at the Marine headquarters deemed the insurgents to be too close to a set of houses. In the new way the United States and its NATO allies are waging the Afghan war, dropping a bomb on or near a house is forbidden unless troops are in imminent danger of being overrun, or they can prove that no civilians are inside.
02-16-10, 09:39 AM #21
We Totally Destroy all that Poppy Field action and 4 good!!!Then The Taliban will be in a World of HURT and the Crooks running that Country.Just my Two cents worth
02-16-10, 09:45 AM #22
It’s easy for politicians and those rear echelon motherf***ers to make that call not to blow something up. I wonder if their tone would change if they were on the receiving end of heavy machine gun fire and being pinned down by sniper rounds. Man does that kind of sh*t **** me off. It’s always easier to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission.
“This Sgt. didn’t know Sir. I’m sorry and it won’t happen again.” LOL…way easier
02-17-10, 12:15 AM #23
i agree with you politicians dont have a clue let Marines or soldiers do their jobs not tie their hands.kill them all and let god sort them out
02-21-10, 04:41 PM #24
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU, Associated Press Writer Alfred De Montesquiou, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 47 mins ago
MARJAH, Afghanistan – Outnumbered and outgunned, Taliban fighters are mounting a tougher fight than expected in Marjah, Afghan officials said Sunday, as U.S.-led forces converged on a pocket of militants in a western section of the town.
Despite ongoing fighting, the newly appointed civilian chief for Marjah said he plans to fly into the town Monday for the first time since the attack to begin restoring Afghan government control and winning over the population after years of Taliban rule.
With fighter jets, drones and attack helicopters roaring overhead, Marine and Afghan companies advanced Sunday on a 2-square-mile (5.2-sq. kilometer) area where more than 40 insurgents were believed holed up.
"They are squeezed," said Lt. Col. Brian Christmas, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. "It looks like they want to stay and fight but they can always drop their weapons and slip away. That's the nature of this war."
U.S. officials signaled their intention to attack Marjah, a major Taliban supply and opium-smuggling center, months ago, apparently in hopes the insurgents would flee and allow the U.S.-led force to take over quickly and restore an Afghan government presence.
Instead, the insurgents rigged Marjah with bombs and booby traps to slow the allied attack, which began Feb. 13. Teams of Taliban gunmen stayed in the town, delivering sometimes intense volleys of gunfire on Marine and Afghan units slogging through the rutted streets and poppy fields.
Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi said the U.S. and its allies had expected the Taliban to leave behind thousands of hidden explosives, which they did. But they were surprised to find that so many militants stayed to fight.
"We predicted it would take many days. But our prediction was that the insurgency would not resist that way," Azimi told The Associated Press in Kabul.
In a statement Sunday, NATO acknowledged that insurgents were putting up a "determined resistance" in various parts of Marjah, although the overall offensive is "on track."
Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said Sunday that Marines and Afghan troops were continuing to run into "pockets of stiff resistance" though they were making progress. Diddams said no area is completely calm yet although three markets in town — which covers about 80 square miles — are at least partially open.
"Everywhere we've got Marines, we're running into insurgents," Diddams said. In many cases, the militants are fighting out of bunkers fortified with sandbags and other materials.
Before the assault, U.S. officers said they believed 400 to 1,000 insurgents were in Marjah, 360 miles (610 kilometers) southwest of Kabul. About 7,500 U.S. and Afghan troops attacked the town, while thousands more NATO soldiers moved into other Taliban strongholds in surrounding Helmand province.
It was the largest joint NATO-Afghan operation since the Taliban regime was ousted from power in 2001.
NATO's civilian chief in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said the military operation was moving slowly "because of essentially the ruthlessness of the opponent we face and the rules that we've set for ourselves" to protect civilians.
"We could have swept through this place in a couple of days but there would have been a lot of casualties." he said.
NATO said one service member died in a roadside bombing Sunday, bringing the number of international troops killed in the operation to 13. At least one Afghan soldier has been confirmed dead. Senior Marine officers say intelligence reports suggest more than 120 insurgents have died.
The Marjah operation is a major test of a new NATO strategy that stresses protecting civilians over routing insurgents quickly. It's also the first major ground operation since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan.
In a setback to that strategy, the Dutch prime minister said Sunday that his country's 1,600 troops would probably leave Afghanistan this year. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende spoke a day after his government collapsed when a coalition partner insisted the Dutch troops leave in August as planned.
Most Dutch troops are stationed in Uruzgan province, which borders Helmand to the north. Afghan officials expressed concern that Taliban fighters driven out of Helmand could regroup in Uruzgan without a robust NATO presence.
During Sunday's fighting, Marines found several abandoned Kalashnikov rifles along with ammunition hidden in homes, suggesting that insurgents intended to blend into the local population and fight back later.
Sporadic volleys of insurgent machine-gun fire rang out through the day.
"They shoot from right here in front of a house, they don't care that there are children around," said Abdel Rahim.
Abdul Rahman Saber, chief of the local council for Marjah, said the situation in much of the town was improving — that some residents had been able to return to their homes.
Anxious to begin the task of restoring government authority, Zahir, the new district leader, said he plans to meet Monday with community leaders and townspeople about security, health care and reconstruction.
"The Marines have told us that the situation is better. It's OK. It's good," said Zahir, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "I'm not scared because it is my home. I have come to serve the people."
Life in Marjah, however, remains far from normal. The price of food had soared, with the price of sugar and other staples doubling as the fighting continues.
"The Taliban are fleeing the area, but there is sporadic shooting," Saber said. "Two or three days ago, 12 civilians were wounded by bullets when they were escaping."
On Saturday, President Hamid Karzai urged NATO to do more to protect civilians during combat operations to secure Marjah, although he noted the military alliance had made progress in doing that — mainly by reducing airstrikes and adopting more restrictive combat rules.
NATO forces have repeatedly said they want to prevent civilian casualties, but acknowledged that it is not always possible. On Saturday, the alliance said its troops killed another civilian in the Marjah area, bringing the civilian death toll from the operation to at least 16.
Karzai also reached out to Taliban fighters, urging them to renounce al-Qaida and join with the government.
But the process of reconciliation and reintegration is likely to prove difficult.
On Sunday, Mohammad Jan Rasool Yar, spokesman for Zabul province, said authorities arrested 14 police in the Shar-e-Safa district on Saturday who had defected to the Taliban's side last week. They were found on a bus heading to Pakistan.
NATO said two insurgents, including a suspected Taliban commander, were captured Friday in northern Helmand province. The men are believed to be involved in making roadside bombs. They, along with three others earlier in the week, had been caught as part of an operation to break up the Taliban's weapons supply line.
02-21-10, 04:56 PM #25
02-21-10, 06:07 PM #26
First thing I do every morning ... read the updates. Thanks RhodeIsland for posting updates here...
God Bless the Marines...
02-21-10, 07:03 PM #27
03-01-10, 04:05 PM #28
KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan on Monday announced a ban on news coverage showing Taliban attacks, saying such images embolden the Islamist militants, who have launched strikes around the country as NATO forces seize their southern strongholds.
The announcement came on a day when the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) fighting the Taliban reported six of its service members had been killed in various attacks.
Journalists will be allowed to film only the aftermath of attacks, when given permission by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency, the agency said. Journalists who film while attacks are under way will be held and their gear seized.
"Live coverage does not benefit the government, but benefits the enemies of Afghanistan," NDS spokesman Saeed Ansari said. The agency summoned a group of reporters to announce the ban.
The move was denounced by Afghan journalism and rights groups, which said it would deprive the public of vital information about the security situation during attacks.
"Such a decision prevents the public from receiving accurate information on any occurrence," said Abdul Hameed Mubarez head of the Afghan National Media Union, a group set up to protect Afghan journalists, who often complain of harassment by authorities.
"The government should not hide their inabilities by barring media from covering incidents," said Laila Noori, who monitors media issues for Afghanistan Rights Monitor, the country's main liberties watchdog. "People want to know all the facts on the ground whenever security incidents take place."
The Afghan government banned reporting violence for a single day during a presidential election last year, but otherwise had not had formal restrictions on filming security incidents. However, journalists have occasionally been beaten by security forces while filming at the scene of incidents in the past.
Two blasts hours apart on Monday killed at least six people in the southern city of Kandahar, birthplace of the Taliban whose fighters are being targeted in a renewed push by NATO-led troops.
One ISAF member was killed in one of the Kandahar strikes. In various attacks in the country, five other ISAF service members were also killed, the force said.
NATO-led troops launched an offensive last month to drive the Taliban out of their strongholds as part of a plan to hand control of the country to Afghan forces before a planned U.S. troop drawdown that would begin in July 2011.
U.S. General Stanley McChrystal, the ISAF commander, visited Marjah in Helmand province, the town seized by U.S. Marines in the offensive, one of the biggest operations of the eight-year-old war.
He was joined by Afghan Vice President Karim Khalili and Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal, who met hundreds of local residents at a "shura," or traditional council meeting.
"The most important thing is to bring peace and stability to the people in Afghanistan. This is our priority. This is a promise," Khalili told the gathering. But not all were impressed.
"You promised not to use big weapons. Why was my house destroyed?" asked Abdul Kader, a white-bearded village elder.
McChrystal told reporters the goal was to build a government in the area that villagers would embrace: "In the near term, they have to feel represented, they have to feel it's fair."
There could be 200-300 fighters left in the town "who were Taliban two weeks ago," McChrystal said. "Now, whether they still are is a personal choice for each of them. Some may become sleeper cells waiting for someone to tell them what to do. Some may just put the gun away and see what's going to happen."
Fighters have responded with attacks in other parts of the country, using roadside bombs and suicide attacks.
In the past week, the Taliban have carried out four big attacks killing at least 29 people and wounding scores more.
On Friday, two suicide blasts and a two-hour shootout between Afghan forces and the Taliban rocked the capital Kabul, killing 16 people and wounding 37. Among those killed were Indian government employees and an Italian diplomat.
In Monday's first blast, a suicide bomber blew up a car as NATO-led troops passed in convoy on a road several miles from Kandahar airport, a key NATO base. Mohammad Ibrahim, a doctor in a Kandahar hospital, said four civilians were killed.
A NATO helicopter evacuated the wounded, and a bridge close by was badly damaged, a Reuters journalist said. Hours later, a car packed with explosives blew up outside Kandahar's main police station, killing a police officer and wounding 16 people.
03-06-10, 05:21 PM #29
By Christopher Torchia - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Mar 6, 2010 8:39:03 EST
KABUL — The hardest fighting is over, but the battle for Marjah is just beginning.
The outcome of last month’s military campaign was never in doubt. With 15,000 combined NATO and Afghan troops pouring in to oust an estimated 400-1,000 insurgents, it was simply a question of how long it would take to clear the southern Afghan city that belonged to the Taliban for years.
Now, the fight for Marjah focuses on keeping the population safe and — perhaps harder — setting up the first clean and effective civilian administration there in decades.
The war in Afghanistan is not just about seizing territory. Western forces, in enough numbers and backed by enough firepower, can do that almost anywhere against scattered insurgent squads with inferior weaponry, however determined the Taliban are, however inventive and deadly their booby traps and ambushes.
In the long term, the war is more about perceptions of authority and commitment than casualty tolls and objectives cleared, more about the Afghan civilians and what they believe and fear.
NATO saw Marjah — a Taliban logistics center and drug-smuggling hub and the largest southern city under Taliban rule — as a key prize in Helmand, the southern Afghan province they’ve struggled to reclaim from the insurgents.
But even more than its strategic worth is Marjah’s value as a symbol. The operation is intended to showcase how NATO plans to win the war — by putting civilians first. Successfully grafting in a workable government could provide a model for allied advances into more parts of the south, where the Taliban still control large swaths of the countryside.
In Marjah, the challenge was never the “clearing phase,” as military commanders call the military offensive. It’s the “holding phase” that follows: getting functional Afghan forces to control the area for good.
In fact, Marjah already has been “cleared” at least three times: first, shortly after the 2001 invasion that ousted the Taliban’s hard-line regime, again in 2007 and, most recently, in March 2009.
In 2002, this AP reporter witnessed similar scenes to today: government agents with rifles and stacks of American dollars trying to establish control.
“We’re trying to walk in step with the international community,” a deputy police chief said at the time.
But the Western-backed government did not sustain its efforts. The difference this time, according to the plan, is that at least 2,000 Marines and half as many Afghan forces are slated to stay and keep the insurgents from returning.
Much will depend on whether the Afghan government, plagued by corruption, can put a convincing Afghan face on what happens in Marjah; on whether cash will come to fix roads, bridges and houses, to build schools and clinics; on whether farmers will hew to a planned seed program for legitimate crops instead of poppy; and whether NATO troops will stay long enough to see through change and stabilization.
“We need time. We need to build the trust of the people because the people are scared,” Ministry of Defense spokesman Mohammad Zahir Azimi said Thursday in Kabul.
Neither the Taliban nor the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, can prevail without the backing, willing or forced, of Afghanistan’s civilian population.
Fighting without bombs or bullets
Both sides know this, and so they fight a parallel conflict, without bombs and bullets. Like campaigners in a heated electoral contest, they make promises and proclamations, and trash-talk their adversary’s claims.
Retreating insurgents, endured or tolerated rather than loved by many Afghans in areas under their control, told Marjah’s villagers that Americans would rape and plunder. That didn’t happen.
Civilians, in fact, led American forces to 70 percent of concealed insurgent bombs that have been discovered in an area near Marjah where the Army’s 5th Stryker Brigade operated, said Capt. Nolan Rinehart, an Army intelligence officer. That shows some degree of cooperation, even though many villagers are wary.
“They’re very hesitant because we’re new; we’re foreign,” Rinehart said. “It’s hard to maintain a good perception [of international forces] if we keep jumping around from place to place because the Taliban will move right back in when we leave.”
Marines are settling in for a while in Marjah, but the civilians will be watching closely and judging harshly. The Western-backed Afghan government has a public platform there for the first time in a long time; the insurgents’ pitch comes from the underground, or proxies.
A meeting last week between village leaders near Marjah and a district official was a case in point. The official, Asadullah, spoke softly about how the government can only provide services with public support; how Western troops pay compensation for damage to property, unlike Russian invaders during the Cold War in the 1980s; and how the Taliban creed of holy war was defunct.
Then a man leaped to his feet and denounced U.S. troops for disrupting lives.
Taliban information ops
American soldiers said the speech was Taliban “IO,” a reference to Information Operations, a military term for propaganda and other efforts to influence people. They later pulled the man aside and used a hand-held biometrics device to store his retina image and other data.
There will be distractions in Marjah. Big military operations will get underway elsewhere. Attacks in Marjah won’t stop, even though most of the Taliban who once ruled there are either dead or injured, lying low or relocating to more friendly turf in the south.
“This is a 12- to 18-month campaign we are embarking on. It’s not going to be easy,” Army Gen. David Petraeus, commander of American operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Tuesday. He asserted that after more than eight years of fighting in Afghanistan, the U.S. is finally getting enough troops, diplomats and organizational structure to be able to keep extremist groups from taking over again there. President Obama sent an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan earlier this year.
Of course, Afghan forces must provide security long after Western troops are gone, and whether they are up to the task is a question. Some Afghan soldiers fought aggressively in the Marjah campaign, and some were unreliable.
American restraint on the battlefield almost certainly reduced casualties among the civilian population, but soldiers sometimes struggled to connect with villagers. In one awkward exchange, a soldier from a military intelligence battalion told a villager that he wanted to build a hospital closer to his home. A soldier next to him interrupted before the Pashto-speaking interpreter could translate.
“Don’t make any promises,” he said quietly. The translator remained silent, and the conversation ended there.
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