Hardly A Fair Trade

Seriously, how could we be sure whether or not we killed the exact Taliban responsible for last Saturday’s deadly attack? If we knew who and where these barbaric cretins were, we probably wouldn’t have lost the Chinook in the first place.

U.S. kills Taliban insurgents who downed SEALs’ helicopter

The retribution wasn’t long in coming.

An American airstrike killed the Taliban insurgents whose attack caused a helicopter crash that killed 22 Navy SEALs and eight other U.S. service members, military officials in Kabul and Washington said Wednesday.

However, Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters at the Pentagon that the main Taliban leader in the area remained at large. He did not identify that insurgent commander, the hunt for whom set in motion the events that led to the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Saturday.

. . .

Special operations forces tracked down a group of “less than 10” insurgents and called in an airstrike from an F-16 fighter jet, Allen said. NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said the strike took place early Tuesday in the Chak district of Wardak province, close to the area where the Chinook helicopter was shot down.

See also:
U.S. Says It Killed Taliban Who Hit Copter
U.S. forces kill Taliban fighters who downed helicopter
Copter attackers found, killed in strike
US-Led Forces Kill Taliban Militants Behind Helicopter Attack
Strike kills insurgents who downed helicopter in Afghanistan, top commander says
Taliban helicopter shooter killed by United States
Military killed Taliban who downed US helicopter

There’s so many questions yet to be answered regarding this incident, including which CH-47 variant was shot down, why were so many SEALs crammed onto a single helicopter, and why was SEAL Team Six being used on what’s variously, so far been described as a rescue mission, a reinforcement, or an independent, follow on raid?

/this “we got the Taliban that killed our SEALs” makes for a heartwarming tale of revenge but, given how many times this story has already changed, I remain skeptically waiting for the real truth to unfold, if it ever does come out

Here We Go Again, Who’s Got The White Flag?

The Afghan government and the Taliban are holding not so secret secret talks and this time both Mullah Omar and Obama approve. The central question is, who’s trying to surrender to whom? I’ll bet it’s not Mullah Omar.

Mullah Omar backs Taliban talks with Karzai: report

Taliban leader Mullah Omar has, for the first time, backed secret high-level talks with the Afghan government to negotiate an end to the nine-year war, the Washington Post said Wednesday.

“They are very, very serious about finding a way out,” a source close to the talks told the Post, referring to the Taliban.

The Post cited unnamed Afghan and Arab sources as saying the talks were believed to involve representatives authorized by the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban group based in Pakistan, and Omar.

White House voices support for talks with Taliban

President Barack Obama supports recent attempts by the Afghan government to open peace talks with Taliban leaders, but still wants the insurgents to renounce violence and their support of al-Qaida, the White House said Wednesday.

However, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the United States was not taking part in any such talks. “This is about Afghanistan,” he said. “It has to be done by the Afghans.”

See also:
Taliban in talks with Karzai government
Taliban’s high command in secret talks to end war in Afghanistan
Taliban in high-level talks with Karzai govt
Taliban in ‘secret peace talks’ with Karzai
Could a deal with the Taliban end the war in Afghanistan?
Mulla Omar, US back Taliban talks with Karzai
Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar ready for peace talks with the US
West losing war in Afghanistan: Mullah Omar
Taliban Leader: Victory Over US-NATO Imminent
U.S. `Supportive’ of Talks Between Taliban, Afghan Government, Gibbs Says
Obama aide: We support Afghan-Taliban talks, but aren’t participating
Afghan, Pakistan Talks Focus on Taliban Joining Peace Process, WSJ Says
Key players in the Afghan peace process
Peace Is Hell

Remember this? “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity”. What a difference a year makes. At this point, it’s painfully obvious that Obama is willing to sacrifice anything, everything, and anybody to lose the war as quickly as possible and throw Afghanistan under the bus, regardless of the future consequences and negative implications for U.S. national security. “I want an exit strategy” . . . “I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

/it’s inevitably only a matter of time now before we tuck tail and run, Karzai bails with his U.S. taxpayer funded multi-billion dollar golden parachute, and the Taliban are back in Kabul, executing women in soccer stadiums, just like the last ten years never even happened

The American Combat Mission In Iraq Is Over

Hey, Obama said it, so it must be true, right?

So, what’s the difference between an old fashioned combat brigade and a newfangled “advise and assist” brigade? Apparently, not much, besides the tortured semantics spewing from Obama’s enormous piehole.

U.S. soldiers help repel deadly attack on Iraq army headquarters

American soldiers helped Iraqi troops battle insurgents in downtown Baghdad on Sunday, repelling a major attack in the heart of the capital five days after President Obama declared an end to U.S. combat operations.

At least 18 people were killed and 39 injured in the midday attack in which a group of suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to storm the Iraqi army’s east Baghdad headquarters, located in a former Ministry of Defense building in a busy market district alongside the Tigris River.

2 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq

Two American soldiers were killed and nine were injured Tuesday when a man wearing an Iraqi army uniform opened fire on them in an Iraqi commando compound in the province of Salahuddin, an attack that highlighted the danger U.S. troops continue to face in Iraq despite the formal end of combat operations announced by President Obama last week.

The soldiers were members of a security detail guarding a U.S. company commander who was meeting with Iraqi security forces, according to a statement issued by the U.S. military. The military said it wasn’t clear whether the assailant was an Iraqi soldier, but Iraqi and Kurdish officials said the shooting occurred after an altercation between the American soldiers and a Kurdish Iraqi soldier.

See also:
US Forces engage in response to Iraq attack
Al-Qaida group claims attack killing 12 in Baghdad
Gunmen attack Iraq army base, kill 12
Attack Shows Lasting Threat to U.S. in Iraq
First U.S. troops killed in Iraq after Obama declared U.S. combat mission over
Iraqi soldier kills 2 U.S. soldiers
Iraqi Kills 2 U.S. Soldiers, Wounds 9
US soldiers killed in Iraq
U.S. troops in Iraq go from shock and awe to ‘advise and assist’
First U.S. Advise and Assist Brigade Arrives In Iraq Under New Dawn
Five myths about the Iraq troop withdrawal
Journalists face challenge: Is it really ‘end of combat’ in Iraq?
A Rose by Any Other Name (Make that A Combat Brigade by any Other Name…)

Now, does all this sound like U.S. combat operations ii Iraq are over? Simply renaming combat brigades as “advise and assist” brigades so that Obama can claim that the American combat mission in Iraq is over is nothing more than a cheap political stunt that does nothing to change the literal ground truth. For the 50,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq, combat is certainly not over, no matter what lies Obama tells.

/then again, it’s hardly surprising, this is the same Clown Car Club of an Obama administration that insists on pretending there is no war on terror and no terrorism by euphemistically relabeling these concrete, real world concepts as “overseas contingency operations” and “man caused disasters”

Feeding The Hand That Bites Us

I think you can safely say that the war’s not going well when you have to pay the enemy to protect your supply lines. That’s just seriously [expletive deleted] up.

U.S. indirectly paying Afghan warlords as part of security contract

The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

The security arrangements, part of a $2.16 billion transport contract, violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as Defense Department regulations, and “dramatically undermine” larger U.S. objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan, a report released late Monday said.

The report describes a Defense Department that is well aware that some of the money paid to contractors winds up in the hands of warlords and insurgents. Military logisticians on the ground are focused on getting supplies where they are needed and have “virtually no understanding of how security is actually provided” for the local truck convoys that transport more than 70 percent of all goods and materials used by U.S. troops. Alarms raised by prime trucking contractors were met by the military “with indifference and inaction,” the report said.

“The findings of this report range from sobering to shocking,” Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.) wrote in an introduction to the 79-page report, titled “Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan.”

The transport contract “has fueled warlordism, extortion, corruption, and maybe even funded the enemy,” Tierney said Tuesday in a House subcommittee hearing on the issue. “U.S. taxpayer dollars are feeding a protection racket in Afghanistan that would make Tony Soprano proud.”

See also:
Warlord, Inc.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan
Afghanistan haulage contract helping to fund Taliban, says US report
‘US money in Afghanistan lands up in the hands of Taliban’
US military faulted over truck security in Afghanistan
U.S. funds protection racket in Afghanistan, report says
U.S. Military Supply Chain Relies on Afghan Warlord Payoffs, Report Says
US Funds Used to Pay Afghan Warlords
US security contract ‘fuels Afghan warlords’
U.S. Said to Fund Afghan Warlords to Protect Convoys
‘Shocking’ Report: U.S. Funding Afghan Warlords
US money going to warlords in Afghanistan: Report
Lawmakers: Pentagon ignored payments to warlords

/pay your enemy for protection, hell of a way to run a military supply chain in the middle of a war

When Taliban Attack

Apparently not content to sit and wait around for the much promised and thoroughly foreshadowed major NATO Coalition assault on Kandahar, the Taliban have decided to launch an offensive of their own. And they call it al Fateh, or victory.

Afghan Insurgents Attack U.S. Base in Kandahar

Insurgents late Saturday launched coordinated ground and rocket attacks on Kandahar Air Field, the main coalition base in southern Afghanistan.

Stray rocket and mortar attacks on the Kandahar base have been common in recent years, but before Saturday, insurgents hadn’t mounted any coordinated assaults there.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions rattled through the base for about two hours, witnesses said. A spokeswoman for the U.S.-led coalition said a “small number” of military and civilian personnel were injured. There was no immediate information about any fatalities, she said.

The attack on Kandahar Air Field comes just a few days after a similar insurgent strike on Bagram Air Field, the main coalition base in eastern Afghanistan. Those insurgents, some disguised as U.S. forces, killed one contractor and injured several U.S. service members in the Bagram attack.

The Taliban declared this month that it was launching an offensive, dubbed al Fateh, or victory, aiming to besiege and take over coalition bases. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber rammed a van packed with explosives into a lightly armed convoy of coalition vehicles, killing killing 18 people including five Americans and a Canadian.

Coalition spokesman Brig. Gen Josef Blotz said the attack on the Kandahar base began at about 8 p.m. with a rocket and mortar barrage.

At least one rocket landed near a central hub of activity in the airfield, a collection of coffee shops and merchant booths surrounding a field where personnel often play soccer and volleyball.

Insurgents then launched a ground attack on the north side of the base, “but they did not pierce the perimeter,” Gen. Blotz said. Coalition gunships were strafing fields around the base hours after the attack, searching for insurgents who were repelled in the assault, said Gen. Blotz, who was on the base during the attack.

See also:
Afghan Guerrillas Attack U.S. Base In Kandahar
Insurgents attack Afghanistan base
Afghan Nato base comes under attack
Insurgents attack NATO’s southern Afghan base
Rebels Attack Base in Afghanistan
Kandahar Attack – Nato Kandahar Air Base Attacked in Afghanistan
U.S. contractor killed, 9 soldiers wounded in Taliban attack on Bagram air base
Taliban Attack American Base Outside Kabul
U.S. troops, Afghan police sweep through Taliban stronghold
Into Kandahar, Yesterday and Tomorrow
Results of Kandahar offensive may affect future U.S. moves
The chaos awaiting Kandahar
Taliban win £1,600 bounty for each Nato soldier killed

Needless to say, it’s not a welcome development that the Taliban are able to blow up our convoys and mortar and rocket our main air bases seemingly at will. It’s going to be a long, hot summer in Afghanistan, let’s hope we can retake the initiative and drive the Taliban onto the defensive and into retreat.

/God bless our troops, keep them safe, and grant them victory over our enemies

You’ve Got To Get Out To Get In

“Retreat Hell! We’re just attacking in another direction.”
(Attributed to Major General Oliver P. Smith, USMC, Korea, December 1950.)

Afghanistan war: US leaves remote outpost of Korengal

It became known as “Enemy Central,” a small, isolated slice of eastern Afghanistan synonymous with violence, a dogged adversary and, increasingly, futility. More than 40 US soldiers have died there after being drawn into battles of attrition for questionable return. In the worst such incident, 16 American troops on a special forces mission were killed when their helicopter crashed under enemy fire.

Now the last US troops have pulled out of the Korengal valley on the grounds that they can be better used somewhere else. “This repositioning, in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces, responds to the requirements of the new population-centric counterinsurgency strategy,” Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, joint commander of international forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement on NATO’s website. “The move does not prevent forces from rapidly responding, as necessary, to crises there in Korengal and in other parts of the region, as well.”

Part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy is to pull troops back from remote mountain outposts and concentrate them in the towns and villages where more of the Afghan population lives. By putting the emphasis on protecting civilians instead of killing Taliban fighters, he hopes to drive a wedge between the two, isolating and alienating the insurgents.

The withdrawal in Korengal – a short tributary valley so isolated that its inhabitants speak their own language – has been going on for months. Combat Outpost Vegas, high up in the valley, closed last year. But US military officials have said in the past that the strategy was delayed by a shortage of cargo helicopters, military bureaucracy, and Afghan politics.

And it is not just Korengal that is seeing American forces depart. The US footprint in nearby Nuristan Province – the mountain highlands that were the setting for Rudyard Kipling’s tale of imperial hubris, “The Man Who Would Be King,” has all but vanished, too. Two separate attacks in 2008 and 2009 saw a total of 17 US soldiers die when insurgents overran their outposts in remarkably similar circumstances.

The signs in Nuristan, though, are encouraging. Since the US pulled all its troops out of Kamdesh district, the scene of the most recent of these battles, Taliban-linked insurgents have been on the back foot as local communities and elders turn against them.

See also:
ISAF Units Realign in Eastern Afghanistan
American troops pull out of Korengal Valley as strategy shifts
US forces leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. Forces Leave Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley
U.S. retreat from Afghan valley marks recognition of blunder
After the bloodshed, the leaving
US leave, Taliban claim victory
Korangal valley
Hi-Def Pics – One of the Heaviest Taliban Combat Areas: Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley (15 photos)

Well, McChrystal wrote the U.S. book on counterinsurgency, so he certainly knows what he’s doing, given the terrain and number of troops available, we certainly can’t occupy every square inch of Afghanistan. Besides the bloody fighting for limited returns, it also appears that our very presence in the Korengal valley was counterproductive to positive relations with the local civilian population living in the area. Not only weren’t we accomplishing much militarily, we weren’t winning any hearts and minds either, better to redeploy our limited resources and try our luck somewhere else.

/all that said, it doesn’t mean the Taliban and the Lefty media won’t be doing a happy dance while spinning this withdrawal as a propaganda victory and an American defeat

All Your Al Qaeda Caves Are Belong To Us

Pakistan Seizes Insurgent Stronghold on Afghan Border

Pakistani forces have seized a key al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold along the border with Afghanistan that once served as a hideout for Ayman al Zawahiri, second-in-command to Osama bin Laden.

The capture of Damadola, a district in the Bajaur tribal region, is a major success in Pakistan’s counterinsurgency campaign. The area had long been dominated by insurgents operating on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Pakistani forces seized the scenic district late last month, after several days of fierce fighting that Pakistan said left more than 75 foreign and local militants dead. Pakistan’s military took reporters to the site, which is surrounded by snow-capped mountains less than five kilometers from the Afghan border, for the first time Tuesday.

“It was the main hub of militancy where al Qaeda operatives had moved freely,” said Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, the regional commander.

A complex of caves and fortified compounds made it more difficult for the Pakistani forces to dislodge the insurgents.

“They had occupied the ridges. There were 156 caves designed as a defensive complex,” said Gen. Khan, who is head of the Frontier Corps responsible for Pakistan’s counterinsurgency campaign in the region.

Gen. Khan said his forces have cleared the area to the Afghan border and that the campaign against the insurgents there was in its final stage. He said the development would help the U.S.-led troops fighting the insurgents across the border.

Tribesmen in the area have formed militias to defend their villages and have vowed to to back the military in fighting the militants. “We will not let the Taliban to return to our villages,” said Sultan Khan, a local farmer.

The Pakistani army first mounted an operation in Bajaur in August 2008 and claimed victory in February 2009, but violence resumed when the army’s focus switched to Pakistani Taliban fighters in the northwestern valley of Swat and the border region of South Waziristan.

It took almost 18 months for the military to fully dislodge the insurgents. But the army’s hold remains tentative, with top insurgent commanders escaping to surrounding areas. Damadola is a strategically important region that offers access to Afghanistan, Pakistan’s northern district of Chitral, the main highway to China and to Swat.

See also:
Pakistan’s Army takes control of al-Qaeda cave network on Afghan border
Al Qaeda’s Pakistan Lair Captured
Pakistan seizes Taliban and Al Qaeda cave network
Pakistan ‘takes over’ Taliban base
Offensive gives Pakistani government control of Taliban cave, tunnel complex
Pakistan finds secret al-Qaeda and Taliban underground cave complex
Large Network Of 156 Taliban Caves Found In Pakistan
Taliban network of 156 caves discovered in Pakistan mountains
Taliban stronghold in Bajaur falls, Pak forces plan Khyber offensive
Army takes control of Bajaur Agency
Forces regain control of Bajaur
Troops seize Damadola for first time
Pakistan takes key al-Qaida stronghold
Troops secure Bajaur
Security forces declare final victory in Bajaur

Way to go Pakistan for capturing a key piece of al Qaeda and Taliban real estate!

/too bad the previous owners weren’t home at the time