Change Of Command

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Stars And Stripes

August 26, 2014

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KABUL, Afghanistan — Army Gen. John F. Campbell became the final commander of the NATO-led military coalition in Afghanistan during a ceremony Tuesday.

The former infantry officer and Special Forces commander takes over from Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who will become Commandant of the Marine Corps. The ceremony, at a military base in Kabul, was attended by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Campbell assumes control of the International Security Assistance Force as it finishes withdrawing from bases across the country in preparation for the end of its combat mission later this year. Close to 44,000 troops from 48 countries serve in the coalition, nearly 30,000 of them American. More than 100,000 troops were stationed in the country at the height of the coalition’s surge in 2010.

The challenges facing the general include planning for a post-2014 NATO and U.S. training and advisory role in the country. That task is complicated by the lack of formal agreements with the Afghan government and political uncertainty due a presidential election that is still undecided.

An entrenched insurgency, meanwhile, threatens stability in some parts of the country, testing the abilities of Afghan security forces, who were developed, trained and equipped by the coalition at great cost. Those forces lack many of the tools that gave ISAF the upper hand against insurgents, such as air support, medical evacuation and surveillance capabilities.

Managing dwindling troop numbers to continue to provide that assistance in the most critical areas of the country will be another test. Plans call for U.S. troop numbers to fall to 9,800 by year’s end.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel acknowledged those challenges while expressing confidence in Campbell.

”John’s leadership comes at a defining moment, as Afghanistan undertakes a historic political transition, and the United States and our coalition partners transition from combat to training and support for Afghan forces,” Hagel said in a statement.

The continuing election crisis could add further complications, with some parties threatening civil unrest. On the same day Campbell assumed command, presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah threatened to withdraw from the election review process unless officials meet several technical demands that could change the process.

~~~

http://www.stripes.com/news/campbell-becomes-final-isaf-commander-1.300015

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Shrapnel From Afghanistan V

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As I watched the platoon struggle that morning, I realized that I had overlooked a reality of Afghanistan.  We were facing two enemies, not one.  The Haqqani Network’s fighters we could handle.  Any time they chose to challenge us, we would smite them with firepower and make them pay for the effort.  We would not give ground, and I knew we would never know defeat.

But this other enemy was more devious.  How does one do battle with FOB (forward operating base) politics?  At the moment, I was at a complete loss.  Without a doubt, we needed to figure out a way to do it, because more blows like this one would tear the platoon apart…

~~~

from the book

Outlaw Platoon

by Sean Parnell with John Bruning

2012

~~~

We were here to help.  This was why we had joined the army in the first place.  We hadn’t done it because we lusted to kill.  We had joined because with our flag on our shoulders and the power of the army at our backs, we thought we could help change the world.

Today, we had changed a tiny piece of it…

~~~

The villagers watched the entire event.  In his turret, Chris Brown saw Cole die and unleashed a barrage of obscenities at the villagers.  They knew the bomb had been planted; that’s why they’d come outside.  They’d wanted to see what would happen.  Nobody had warned our platoon, despite the fact that we’d been bringing aid supplies to the village all summer long.

Brown racked the bolt on his 240 and swung it around, wailing with grief.  It would have been easy to touch the trigger and walk that machine gun back and forth until those Afghans were nothing but bloody chunks.  A less disciplined man in a less disciplined unit would have done it.  The same sort of thing had triggered the My Lai massacre of Vietnam infamy.

Those villagers who had viewed our men die and suffer wounds as though it were a soccer spectacle owed their lives to Chris Brown’s  sense of duty.  Instead of killing them all, he tipped the barrel up and strafed an empty hillside as he vented his anguish…

~~~

Unbeknown to us, some top secret national-level assets had been tracking unusual communications coming from our area.  Over the past several months, they had narrowed those transmissions down to FOB Bermel.

Somebody on post had been using our sat phones to contact an Iranian bomb-making cell operating out of a madrassa just over the Pakistani border.  We had an enemy mole in our midst.

On August 16, the mole had made contact with the Iranian team.  In coded references, he had revealed the exact loaction at which Outlaw Platoon planned to establish an observation post that day…

~~~

We defeated the enemy every time they challenged us.  We took to rounding up their dead after each firefight and delivering them to the local mosques.  We masked this move as a gesture honoring Muslim burial rituals that required the deceased to be laid to rest within twenty-four hours of expiring, but the truth is that we were tired of the killing and were making a point: fuck with us, and your sons, brothers, and husbands will die.  Their mangled bodies will be dumped like bloody trash at your houses of worship…

~~~

In the pockets of the dead were documents ~ visas, passports, and notebooks that we knew would be of value.  And then we made a startling discovery.  Some of these enemy fighters were not Haqqani or Al Queda at all.

They were Pakistan Army Frontier Corps soldiers, Pakistan’s ragtag border militia.  We found their identity cards…

~~~

Now, in January, miles inside Afghanistan, we had discovered that Pakistani Frontier Corps troops had launched a joint offensive with Al Qaida and Haqqani Network fighters against a U.S. combat outpost…

~~~

The weapons we collected were later examined by a civilain intelligence team, who matched their serial numbers to recent production runs from Iranian factories…

~~~

I stood behind Greeson, Cowan, Sabo, and the rest of our platoon, watching the footage we’d captured.

It started with a rousing recruitment speech delivered in a Pakistani border town.  Jihadist orators urged the crowd of hundreds of men to join the fight against America.  By the time they finished, the enraptured crowd began to dance and sing.

The next scene showed a training range, also in Pakistan.  The Haqqani fighters were practicing short-range marksmanship, a necessary skill for urban fighting.  In other scenes, teams of jihadists practiced evading simulated gunfire.

When the training scenes ended, the screen went black for a moment.  At first I thought that was the end of the DVD, and I almost turned away.  I wish I had.

The next scene showed an Afghan Border Police checkpoint in the aftermath of a night assault.  The enemy had overrun the ABP (Afghan Border Police).  Bodies lay in heaps, illuminated by flashlights.

Then the cameraman stepped in front of a screaming captive…

~~~

Shrapnel from Afghanistan IV

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from the book

Outlaw Platoon

by Sean Parnell with John Bruning

2012

~~~

Baldwin had not joined the army for college money.  He hadn’t joined because he couldn’t find a job.  He’d joined to kill the sons of bitches responsible for 9/11.  This was his moment, and it made him positively glow…

~~~

Through these long and often boring days, our patrols yielded tidbits of information about the enemy we faced.  To my surprise, we were not fighting the Taliban alone.  The papers back home made our enemy in Afghanistan out to be a monolithic force.  We had made the same mistake during the Cold War, assuming that all Communist countries formed a monolithic, anti-Western bloc.  That simply was not the case.

Same thing in Afghanistan.  The Taliban was the main group aligned against us, but its influence on the border was much less substantial than that of another shadowy organization, one that the CIA knew well.  Known as the Haqqani Network, it had first taken shape during the Afghan-Soviet War in the 1980s, thanks to the acumen of its leader, Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haggani.  Charismatic, moderate in his religious views, and a capable diplomat and organizer, Haggani led a band of warriors in southeast Afghanistan that destroyed hundreds of Russian tanks and downed dozens of aircraft while playing a key role in the defeat of the Red Army.  Jalaluddin’s moderate views and proximity to the Pakistani border made him a natural fit with the CIA and Representative Charlie Wilson’s campaign to support the Afghan insurgency.  Before the end of the war, the Haqqani Network owed its funding, its weapons, and some of its training to the United States.

After the Russians withdrew, the Haqqani Network formed a loose partnership with the Taliban.  In 1996, Haqqani fighters helped the Taliban throw the Northern Alliance out of Kabul, a battle that established Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, as the most powerful man in Afghanistan.  Jalaluddin, though a respected warlord in his own right, did not have the strength to challenge the Taliban for supreme control of Afghanistan.  So they remained uneasy partners, sometimes feuding, sometimes working together if it served their own interests.

By the time my platoon arrived on the border, Jalaluddin’s sons had taken over the day-to-day operations.  They were well suited for the task, as their father had groomed them for specific roles.  One had become a fund-raiser in the Middle East.  Another had become the military commander.  A third son, Sirajuddin, had been named Jalaluddin’s successor.

Beneath the Haqqani family’s leadership, the network was managed by a core of loyalists who had fought with Jalaluddin against the Soviets and in the subsequent civil war.  Below their ranks were the young Turks, the rising leaders within the network who earned their reputation while fighting Americans along the border.

The network recruited its foot soldiers mainly from Pakistan, though there were plenty of Afghans in the rank and file as well.  Over the years, young men inspired by their mullahs to fight infidels had become the key source of manpower for the network, and under Siraj, it had been trending toward a radical Islamic orgaization.  Those devoted men, most barely out of their teens, had died in large numbers since 9/11, but there were always ample supplies of idealistic replacements waiting for the chance to leave their madrassas and join the jihad.

It took some time for us to understand how the foreign fighters we had killed on the mountaintop on May 8 fit into this equation.  Eventually, we unraveled it.  The Haqqani Network maintained a loose association with Al Qaida, which supplied it with talented jihadists from all over the globe.  These experienced men, many of whom had fought in Iraq, Somalia, or Chechnya, formed the insurgents version of an NCO corps.  They had become the backbone around which the indoctrinated, if inexperienced, sons of Pakistan coalesced.  In combat, the foreigners served as small-unit leaders.  When on the other side of the border, they functioned as the training cadre, preparing each new wave of jihadist canon fodder for the crucible ahead.

Thanks to our signals intelligence section, we’d come to know a little about Galang, the man who led the jihadists into battle against us…

~~~

The Apaches arrived overhead.  Their crews detected the launch sites, could see the teams reloading for the next volley.  But they could not shoot.  The Pakistan Army troops on the slope were intermingled with the enemy rocket teams.

Our “ally’s” soldiers functioned as our enemy’s human shields…

~~~

Late that afternoon, we returned to Bermel through the Afghan National Army side of the base.  The ANA soldiers had spent the day inside the wire.  We passed knots of them playing dice games and kicking soccer balls.  Here and there, others sat in the dirt with vacant eyes, smoking hash.  Their polyglot uniforms were ill tended.  They were poorly groomed.  They looked like a unit that just didn’t give a shit.

From my turret, Chris Brown exploded, “You motherfuckers!  Fight for your own goddamned country!”

“Brown, knock it off,” I said…

~~~

Afghan, US Forces Target Taliban Leader

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Written by Bill Roggio

The Long War Journal

January 17, 2014

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Coalition and Afghan special operations forces targeted a Haqqani Network-linked Taliban leader during a recent raid in the central Afghan province of Parwan. The Taliban commander, who serves as Parwan’s deputy shadow governor, “transports weapons, fighters and suicide bombers” into the province and Kabul. Afghanistan’s president accused the US of killing eight civilians during the raid.

Ten Taliban fighters, a US Special Forces soldier, and two civilians were killed after Afghan commandos and Coalition advisers launched a raid on Jan. 15 “to disrupt insurgent activities in the [Ghorband] district, including attacks on Bagram Airfield,” the International Security Assistance Force stated in a press release.

ISAF said that the combined special operations force “came under heavy fire from insurgents, resulting in the death of one ISAF service member.” The two civilians were killed after the Afghan and Coalition force launched airstrikes on nearby buildings that were occupied by Taliban fighters.

President Karzai claimed that a woman and seven children were killed during the fighting, and again called for an end to the controversial ‘night raids’ by Coalition forces.

“The Afghan government has been asking for a complete end to operations in Afghan villages for years, but American forces acting against all mutual agreements … have once again bombarded a residential area and killed civilians,” a statement from Karzai’s office said.  The statement neglected to note that Afghan commandos led the operation.

ISAF indicated that areas of Parwan province remain under the Taliban’s control or influence.

“The operation was conducted in a high threat area with Taliban activity, some linked to the Haqqani Network,” ISAF said. “The insurgents in this area enjoy freedom of movement allowing them to harass and threaten the local population as well as stage and facilitate attacks.”

The primary target of the operation was Qari Nazar Gul, the deputy shadow governor, who also is “a member of the senior Taliban Commission.”

“Gul has ties to the Haqqani Network and transports weapons, fighters and suicide bombers to Parwan and Kabul,” ISAF said. He also “has conducted attacks against ANSF [Afghan National Security Forces] and Coalition forces including a complex attack at Bagram Airfield.” ISAF may be referring to the May 19, 2010 suicide assault on Bagram Airbase that was executed by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al Qaeda, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. The assault was led by Bekay Harrach, a dual-hatted IMU and al Qaeda leader from Germany.  Harrach is thought to have been killed during the attack.

Background on the Haqqani Network

The Haqqani Network is a powerful Taliban subgroup that operates primarily in the Afghan provinces of Khost, Paktia, and Paktika, but also has an extensive presence in Kabul, Parwan, Logar, Wardak, Ghazni, Zabul, Kandahar, Baghlan, Kunduz, and Takhar. In addition, the network has expanded its operations into the distant Afghan provinces of Badakhshan, Faryab, and Kunar, according to ISAF press releases that document raids against the network. In central Afghanistan, the Haqqani Network coordinates suicide operations and complex assaults with groups such as the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda, Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, in what ISAF used to call the Kabul Attack Network.

The Haqqani Network has close links with al Qaeda, and its relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISID) has allowed the network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan. The terror group has also extended its presence into the Pakistani tribal agency of Kurram.

In North Waziristan, the Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. In addition, the Haqqanis have established multiple training camps and safe houses that are used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives and by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.

The Haqqani Network has been implicated in some of the biggest terror attacks in the Afghan capital city of Kabul, including the January 2008 suicide assault on the Serena hotel, the February 2009 assault on Afghan ministries, and the July 2008 and October 2009 suicide attacks against the Indian embassy.

The terror group collaborated with elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence service in at least one of these attacks. American intelligence agencies have confronted the Pakistani government with evidence, including communications intercepts, which proved the ISID’s direct involvement in the 2008 Indian Embassy bombing.

In the summer and fall of 2011, the US and the Afghan government linked the Haqqani Network and Pakistan’s intelligence service to the June 28, 2011 assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul and the Sept. 13, 2011 attack on the US Embassy and ISAF headquarters. Shortly after the September attack, Admiral Michael Mullen, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Haggani Network of being one of several “[e]xtremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan.”

The US military has been hunting top Haqqani Network commanders in special operations raids in the Afghan east, while the CIA has targeted the network with a series of unmanned Predator airstrikes in Pakistan’s tribal agency of North Waziristan. In November, the CIA killed Maulvi Ahmed Jan, a top deputy to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the group’s operational commander, in a strike in the district of Hangu.

Despite the targeting of top Haqqani Network leaders, the group continues to expand in Afghanistan.

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http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/afghan_us_forces_tar_1.php

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Cause of Helicopter Crash Determined

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Written by Bill Roggio

The Long War Journal

January 11, 2014

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The Taliban were responsible for downing a US Army Blackhawk helicopter in the southern Afghan province of Zabul on Dec. 17, 2013, the International Security Assistance Force has confirmed. The helicopter may have been brought down by an anti-helicopter mine such as one tested by the Islamic Jihad Union, an al Qaeda-linked group known to operate in the province.

When the helicopter crashed on Dec. 17, ISAF said that “initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time of the crash.” The Taliban immediately claimed credit for the attack on their website, Voice of Jihad, however, stating that “Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate have shot down the helicopter of foreign troops.”

Two days ago, ISAF told CNN that “the families of the soldiers killed in the December 17 helicopter crash have been notified that ‘enemy action caused the crash and loss of life,” Stars and Stripes reported.  Five US soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division and another from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment were killed in the Taliban attack.

The exact cause of the downing of the helicopter has not been disclosed. Three US military officials told CNN that “the Taliban has been deemed responsible — either by shooting the helicopter or if the low-flying aircraft set off a bomb hidden on the ground.”

In the past, the Taliban have successfully shot down US helicopters with rocket-propelled grenades. The most significant shootdown took place in August 2011 in the Tangi Valley in Wardak province. Taliban RPGs struck a US Army Chinook that was involved in a raid to capture a senior Taliban commander; the attack resulted in the deaths of 38 US and Afghan troops, including 17 Navy SEALS from SEAL Team 6.

While Taliban-fired RPGs have been credited with downing ISAF helicopters, jihadists in Afghanistan have also advertised the testing of what they described as an “anti-helicopter fragmentation mine” designed to take out US Army Apache attack helicopters. In July 2013, the IJU, an offshoot of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, displayed one such weapon in a video about its operations in Paktika province.  The IMU and al Qaeda are known to operate in Zabul; members often serve as embedded military trainers to Taliban forces.

In one scene of the IJU video, the jihadist fighters are shown carrying what the SITE Intelligence Group described as “the prototype for an anti-helicopter fragmentation mine.”

“The mine can hit a target at a distance of 300 meters,” the IJU video states. The cameraman describes the anti-helicopter fragmentation mine as an “unpleasant surprise” for the US helicopter crews. The IJU narrator indicates, however, that the mine was not fired.

If the Dec. 17, 2013 helicopter crash is determined to have been caused by an anti-helicopter fragmentation mine, it would be the first successful attack of its kind reported in Afghanistan. It would also indicate that ISAF forces, which are relying more on helicopters for support as Western forces continue to draw down, face a new threat from the Taliban and allied groups in Afghanistan.

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http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/taliban_shot_down_us.php

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6 US Soldiers Killed in Copter Crash

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By Cid Standifer and Jon Harper

Stars and Stripes

December 17, 2013

 

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KABUL — Six U.S. servicemembers were killed Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan; one American on board survived, U.S. defense officials said.

The International Security Assistance Force did not release the names or nationalities of the casualties pending notification of their families. But in Washington, a U.S. defense official said all the victims were Americans.

The official said there was one survivor who was injured in the Black Hawk UH-60 crash. The injured survivor is an American.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash, but ISAF said initial reports indicated there was no enemy activity in the area.

Malik Ali Mohammad, district governor of Shahjoi district in southern Zabul province, said an aircraft crashed there at 2 p.m. Tuesday. ISAF officials would not confirm the location of the crash.

The crash brings the total number of ISAF deaths in Afghanistan to more than 150 this year, according to iCasualties.org. It marks the deadliest day for coalition forces in Afghanistan since seven Georgian soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing in Helmand province on June 6.

Afghanistan has long been known as a difficult place for pilots to navigate due to its rugged high-altitude terrain. At least 180 aircraft are reported to have crashed or been destroyed during the 12-year war, according to civil aviation safety statistics and published reports on military crashes.

Accidents caused the vast majority of the crashes, and military helicopters belonging to the NATO-led coalition accounted for most of the overall losses. Helicopters are widely used in Afghanistan as inter-theater transports due to the threat posed by roadside bombs and land mines and because the mountainous country lacks modern roads.

In April, there was a series of crashes: A civilian cargo plane crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven civilians; four airmen were killed in the crash of an MC-12 twin-turboprop aircraft, also in Shahjoi district; and on April 3, an F-16 fighter-bomber crashed about 10 miles south of Bagram Air Field, killing the pilot.

In March, two helicopters crashed within a week. The pilot of an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter died when the chopper crashed in Kandahar province. A Black Hawk crashed outside Kandahar city, killing five U.S. servicemembers.

In all of those instances, the NATO-led coalition said no enemy activity was reported.

Additionally, in May a KC-135 tanker aircraft supporting operations in Afghanistan crashed in nearby Kyrgyzstan.

In February, a U.S. helicopter went down in eastern Kapisa province. Coalition officials said no one was seriously injured in that incident, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. It, too, was under investigation.

~~~

Jon Harper reported from Washington. Josh Smith, Alex Pena and Heath Druzin contributed to this report, as did Zubair Babakarkhail and The Associated Press.

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Continue reading

The Legend of Colonel Sheena Johnson

Sheena with bow & arrow

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by Rawclyde!

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One girl-soldier on my crew fought off

5 wanna-be rapists in her platoon

Killed them & did not get caught

Her blood-lust knew no bounds when it came to the Taliban

~

500 mysteriously disappeared while she ranged around

Out of uniform for one month in northeast Afghanistan

After which she was promoted to Colonel

This included 3 Waziristan villages that she leveled

(Nobody knows how and, anyway, it’s just a rumor)

~

She was assigned to nurture an ill-conceived outpost

Deep in the mountains, so deep it scratched the back

Of Pakistan & consequently was doomed until

She got there & winked at her suddenly happy soldiers

~

They got so charged-up just looking at her

They paved a crumbling rock road with asphalt

For 100 miles before lunch time & without a break

Nobody but one village urchin knows where they got the asphalt

~

Then one freezing morning she & her sparse gear were gone

The outpost fell into an endless & bottomless depression

Until they found a dead Taliban with an arrow in his back

Suddenly they knew ~ the Colonel wasn’t gone at all

~

Now the soldiers at this craven location pull guard duty

With smiles on their faces & joy in their hearts

‘Cuz every so often when least expected they catch a glimpse

Col. Sheena Johnson, half naked, stalking Taliban in the snarky shadows…

~

(Copyright Clyde Collins 2013)

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Sheena_86c69e62

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

The Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

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Quotes from The Outpost

Enduring Freedom

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…They suspected that however loudly the 1-91 Cav officers may have tooted their own bugle about their counterinsurgency accomplishments, their fifteen months’ worth of effort wasn’t about to undo decades’, if not centuries’, worth of habits and traditions of self-preservation.  (p.392)

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af10_16832683

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…The United States had gotten itself in the middle of a variety of blood, land, and tribal feuds, Brown believed, and the government of Afghanistan itself had very little, if any, interest in making serious efforts in that region.  The insurgency was actually gaining strength, especially in the remote rural areas of eastern Afghanistan.  (p.408)

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us-drone-strikes-kill-18-in-north-waziristan-1372853795-4131

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…On May 21, 2012, President Obama and the NATO allies announced that in the summer of 2013, Afghan government forces ~ ready or not ~ would take the lead on providing security throughout the country, and that U.S. combat forces would see their mission end come midnight, December 31, 2014.  (p.608)

~~~

Jake Tapper

The Outpost

2012

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I’ve Never Been To Afghanistan

by Rawclyde!

~

MV5BMjE1MjkxNDIwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTc0OTgwMw@@__V1__SX640_SY724_

Col. Sheena Johnson, homesick for the USA, comforted by Rawclyde!

~

     I’ve never been to Afghanistan.  I’ll never go to Afghanistan.  When I was in the U.S. Army fer 4 years (1980-1984), they sent me to Hawaii to support support during peace time.  Hard duty.  But somebody had to do it.

     A few years back, the Taliban government wouldn’t hand over Ben Laden, so our government with our military wiped them out ~ and Afghanistan became our broken nation to rebuild ~ and NATO has partnered with us.  So now we’re all in Afghanistan.  Lots of us just don’t know it.

     Welcome to Afghanistan ~ one tough nut to crack.  How’s it feel, American?  How’s it feel trying to rebuild Afghanee Land on the cheap in the image of yourself?  Are you in denial?

     We’re rebuilding Afghanistan in the image of ourself because its the only way we know how to rebuild a nation ~ and this particular nation is such a basket case that all we can really do is fill it with hardboiled eggs, say “Happy Easter,” and leave.  It’s taking us about twelve years.  Hopefully we can leave unlike the way we left Saigon.  We got chased out of there.  Hopefully we can leave Afghanistan somewhat more smoothly ~ maybe somewhat like we left Iraq.  We’re trying very hard ~ except for the Tea-Party Republicans in the US House of Representatives.  They shut our government down for two weeks recently.  It’s like they don’t even know we’re at war in Afghanistan.  Their shutdown of the government probably helped the Taliban & their assorted cronies kill more Americans ~ maybe like us draft-dodgers did in Vietnam.  So I guess many of us are guilty at one time or another.

     I always end up having to explain ~ if I was a draft-dodger yesteryear, how is it that I was in the US Army too?  Well, I draft-dodged.  Then later I lied my way into the Army.  They knew I was lying about never having been a fugitive of the selective service system.  They wanted good liars at the time.  I’d make a good spy.

     I wouldn’t go to Vietnam.  We were the aggressor.  However, the Soviet Union was the “aggressor,” incidentally in Afghanistan, when I enlisted.  I was also unemployed and needed a job.  I was 30 years old.  1980.  I was a crazy boy.  I still am at 63.

     My older brother, Dill, hates reading about this worse than I hate writing about it.  He volunteered, US Army, went to Vietnam.  He was a helicopter mechanic & crew-chief at Pleiku & came back a silent sergeant ~ became an airline mechanic and in due time retired ~ a regular guy ~ married twice ~ two sons.  And our family is proud of him.

     About two weeks after he got home from the Vietnam War, I showed him an article in Time Magazine about Pleiku getting run over in the TET Offensive.  He barely missed a big boom boom.  He didn’t say anything.  He just read the paragraph & quietly became a right winger.  I became a left winger.  And the eagle happily flutters its wings as it swoops across the canyon.

     My little brother is an artist.  My big sister was a holistic masseuse.  Now she is an old lady.  We’re all getting pretty old now.

     The theme of Old Timer Chronicle II has something to do with, obviously, Afghanistan.  The reason for this is ~ I have a TV now but Afghanistan is rarely mentioned on the news.  It’s not mentioned too often in newspapers either lately.  Yet we still have people there in harm’s way.  So, kind of like a newspaper editor, I’m kind of covering the war until we leave there, hopefully as scheduled come November, 2014.

     After all, the US Army is the only entity that ever really payed me to write.  They made me a journalist for a while.

~~~

sheena_07_c

! My gal on leave !

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

~~~

Duty World

http://dutypoeticslab.yolasite.com

~~~

Col. Johnson At The Outpost (III)

26521288

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

~~~

Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

~~~

     One of the elders from the Mandigal shura, an ancient man with a thick white beard, had been staring right into Tucker’s eyes as he spoke.  Tucker could feel his simmering glare; the old man was looking at him with an expression that seemed to him to be saying, Look at this stupid fucking kid yelling at us.  The twenty-four-year-old lieutenant could only imagine the war and poverty that had marked this man’s life, only guess how little he must care about being barked at by some young pup in yet another occupier’s foreign tongue.

     “We’re here for only a short time,” Tucker said, “Then we’re going to return to America, where we have happy lives ~ where our roads are paved, our children go to school, and our police protect us.  You, however, will continue to struggle with violence, as will your children and their children.  If you want to make a difference, let us know.  We’re here to help.”

     The Americans left Urmul and returned to the outpost…

~~~

Sheena2

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

~~~

the tome:

http://www.amazon.com/Outpost-Untold-Story-American-Valor/dp/031618540X/ref=sr_1_1/176-9910068-1373460?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382304802&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outpost+by+jake+tapper

~~~

Col. Johnson At The Outpost (II)

JungleGirlPower

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

~~~

Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

~~~

     It was true that violence was down in his area of operations, but that wasn’t because his men had gone soft.  As Kolenda saw it, none of what he was doing had anything to do with being warmhearted.  In his opinion, counterinsurgency was a pretty damned cold-blooded strategy, all about being out there with specific goals ~ establishing stability and defeating the insurgency ~ and intelligently using the full range of available leverage, from cash, clean water, and education for local children to bullets, when appropriate, to get the desired results.  There was an element of manipulation involved.  Sure, he wanted the Afghans to have better lives ~ how could anyone not, after seeing that kind of impoverishment.  But there was also something transactional about American promises of clean water, construction jobs, and a brighter future for Afghan kids.  This wasn’t charity; the bottom line was, these offers were made to save American lives and help destroy anyone who hoped to hurt ISAF troops.  Kolenda could never understand why some folks viewed the carrots as being somehow inferior to the sticks…

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Soundtrack:

http://songza.com/listen/long-gone-brother-cloydlovesthe

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Art by Mike Huddleston

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Photo of Tanya Roberts

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Col. Johnson At The Outpost

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

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     Anayatullah then asked the elders, “Before the Americans came to Kamdesh, had you ever heard of a development project?”  Of course not, he said.  The insurgents were making no effort to build a stronger Afghanistan, whereas the United States was trying to help.  “So,” he announced, “we need to help the Americans.”  Two days before, insurgents had fired a PKM machine gun into the Camp Keating mosque, which was used primarily by the ANA soldiers and the outpost’s Afghan Security Guards.  Firing into a mosque?  “These are not Muslims,” Anayatullah declared, “they are terrorists.  If you help the bad guys, we will destroy you.  If the local people help the enemy fighters, they are not helping the government;  they are considered to be Al Qaeda.”  Others weighed in, expressing similar sentiments.

     Meetings proceeded in this same manner over the next couple of months.  Sometimes they took place at Combat Outpost Keating, but it was preferable to hold them in the villages, because “forcing” the Americans to travel to them enhanced the elders’ credibility in the eyes of their people.  Kolenda and Hutto noticed, in fact, that there seemed to be a direct correlation between their participation in these shuras and a decline in violence.  By the end of September, attacks on Camp Keating and OP Warheit, as well as on Bulldog Troop patrols and missions, had ceased…

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Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Afghanistan US Army

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