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”

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Suicide Skunks At The Jirga Party

The Taliban bite Karzai’s hand as he tries to feed them peace.

Taleban send message of war to Karzai’s peace summit

The scene was set for something dramatic as President Karzai approached the lectern yesterday.

His capital city was in lockdown. More than 1,600 dignitaries — tribal elders, ministers, MPs and ambassadors — had gathered in Afghanistan’s most venerated tent for a conference about peace. An estimated 12,000 soldiers, policemen and intelligence agents were involved in keeping all of them safe. The rest of the country was enjoying a two-day holiday.

Moments into Mr Karzai’s opening address, however, he was interrupted by the whistle and thud of an incoming rocket. The Taleban — conspicuous by their absence — had, nonetheless, managed to get their point across.

Plumes of smoke rose from beyond the tent’s perimeter as two more explosions followed. Then the sound of gunfire filled the air. Mr Karzai had described the Taleban as brothers. They, in turn, were trying to kill him.

At least five rockets were fired during the morning, police said, with two suicide bombers killed and a third arrested after they were found hiding in the shell of a house under construction barely 500 metres from the Loya Jirga, or Grand Assembly tent. Undeterred by either the risk to his life — he has survived at least three assassination attempts — or to the credibility of his conference, Mr Karzai urged his audience not to panic. “Sit down, nothing will happen,” he said. “I have become used to this.” In a direct appeal to his “dear Taleban brothers”, he said: “May God bring you to your homeland. Don’t destroy your homeland, don’t destroy yourself.”

The President left the conference in an armoured convoy, as planned, while the rest of the delegates formed smaller groups to try to agree on a set of ground rules for negotiating with the Taleban.

See also:
Taliban targets Afghanistan peace jirga
Afghan Peace Assembly Opens Amid Attacks
Suicide bombers in burkas attack Afghan peace conference
Afghan Insurgents Fire on Peace Conference
Taliban Attacks Dominate First Day of Peace ‘Jirga’
Taliban attack Afghan peace conference as Karzai speaks
Militants attack Afghan peace conference
Taliban by attacking Afghan peace jirga lashes at process
Taliban rockets hit as Karzai leads rare Afghan peace jirga
In pictures: Militants attack Afghanistan ‘peace jirga’
Gunfire erupts near venue of Afghan peace jirga
Three blasts hit near Kabul jirga tent
Afghan opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah vows to boycott ‘peace jirga’
Afghanistan: why US changed its mind about Karzai’s ‘jirga’

Um, I don’t think the Taliban is much interested in making peace, and why should they be? They can strike at will anywhere in Afghanistan and Obama’s already announced that we’re going to start withdrawing next year.

/it doesn’t take Sun Tzu to figure out that all the Taliban have to do is wait until we leave and then go sack Kabul for the big win, can you say Vietnam strategy regurgitated?

Bad OPSEC

Honey pot bomber and the CIA was Winnie the Pooh. Leon Panetta should resign, he had absolutely no earthly business being appointed as the CIA Director in the first place.

CIA bomber struck just before search

The Jordanian doctor arrived in a red station wagon that came directly from Pakistan and sped through checkpoints at a CIA base in Afghanistan before stopping abruptly at an improvised interrogation center. Outside stood one of the CIA’s top experts on al-Qaeda, ready to greet the doctor and hear him describe a way to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, the organization’s No. 2 and a man long at the top of U.S. target lists.

The Jordanian exited the car with one hand in his pocket, according to the accounts of several U.S. officials briefed on the incident. An American security guard approached him to conduct a pat-down search and asked him to remove his hand. Instead, the Jordanian triggered a switch.

A sharp “CLMMMP” sound coincided with a brief flash and a small puff of smoke as thousands of steel pellets shredded glass, metal, cement and flesh in every direction.

A moment that CIA officials in Washington and Afghanistan had hoped would lead to a significant breakthrough in the fight against al-Qaeda instead became the most grievous single blow against the agency in the counterterror war.

Virtually everyone within sight of the suicide blast died immediately, including the al-Qaeda expert, who led the CIA team at the base; a 30-year-old analyst; and three other officers. Also killed were two American security guards contracted by the agency, a Jordanian intelligence officer and the car’s driver. At least six others standing in the carport and nearby, including the CIA’s second in command in Afghanistan, were wounded by pellets that had first perforated the vehicle.

Those at the scene on Dec. 30 had been trying to strike a balance between respect for their informant — best demonstrated, in the regional tradition, by direct personal contact — and caution, illustrated by the attentiveness of the security guards, according to CIA officials.

But more than a dozen current and former government officials interviewed for this article said they could not account in full for what they called a breach of operational security at the base in Afghanistan’s Khost province. Advance pat-downs and other precautions are common in an age of suicide bombers, and meetings are kept small and remote. None of these sources would agree to be identified by name, in many cases because of their former or current work as covert operatives.

Several intelligence sources said the principal mistake was in trusting the bona fides of the Jordanian doctor, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who had never previously been invited to the base. The meeting was arranged with help from the Jordanian officer, who was among those waiting at the site for Balawi to arrive and was killed.

“You get somebody who has helped you and is incredibly important for the information he’s going to potentially provide — these are prize possessions,” said a former CIA field officer. “Somebody comes, and it’s like a celebration that they’re coming. It’s good to make them feel welcome. It’s good to make them feel important.”

The man who would prove to be a deadly attacker, the former officer said, “was heralded as a superstar asset. . . . So you get an important visitor coming. So you go out and meet him. . . . Is it bad tradecraft? Of course.”

Ten good guys dead, more wounded, in what pretty much amounts to an own goal.

See also:
Video Message: Suicide Bomber Wanted to Avenge Death of Taliban Leader
CIA boss defends agency after Afghan suicide blast
Bomber says in video that he shared U.S. secrets
Al-Balawi-A Perfect Double-Cross of Jordanians and CIA!
CIA Bomber in Video With Taliban Leader
How this suicide bomber opened a new front in Al-Qaeda’s war
Wife Says CIA Bomber Saw US as Adversary
Jordan says ‘no proof’ Balawi was CIA suicide bomber
Jordan disputes Khost bomber status
Strike on CIA base tests U.S. assessment of al Qaeda
EXCLUSIVE: CIA Suicide Bomber Photo
Spy links with CIA suicide bomber are problem for Jordan
From Jihadist Blogger to Suicide Bomber
Mehsud’s death sparked CIA attack
Military revising security procedures after attack on CIA
CIA bombing prompts ‘change’ in US security

Take their word for it, they love death more than we love life, they can’t be trusted as allies, period. Their religion trumps our money.

/any “al Qaeda expert” worth their salt should have already known that

A Bad Day For The Taliban

Pakistan’s Army Captures Taliban Stronghold in South Waziristan

Pakistan’s army said it captured a Taliban stronghold at Sararogha in South Waziristan as troops try to complete an offensive to clear fighters from the region before winter starts next month.

“Security forces have commenced sanitization of Sararogha” and are clearing the area of explosive devices, the army said in a statement yesterday. Pakistan says the offensive in South Waziristan has cut off escape routes to prevent the Taliban from fleeing in large numbers.

The Taliban denied their forces are being defeated, saying they are withdrawing in order to fight a “long war,” the Associated Press reported yesterday, citing a spokesman for the group.

The army began its largest operation against militants in the tribal region bordering Afghanistan last month. The offensive provoked suicide bombings and attacks that have killed more than 300 people.

“There is no place for the Taliban in Pakistan,” the Associated Press of Pakistan cited Interior Minister Rehman Malik as saying in a radio interview yesterday in Islamabad. “The entire nation has said no to the Taliban.”

See also:
21 insurgents killed in Operation Rah-e-Nijat: ISPR
18th day of Rah-e-Nijat, Sararogha secured, forces advance,
21 terrorists killed, 1 soldier martyred

Troops regain control of Sararogha, kill 21 Taliban
Pakistan’s military claims Taliban stronghold
Pak army control Taliban stronghold: military
21 more terrorists killed in SWA
Troops surround Sararogha, Uzbek terrorists’ base
12 terrorist killed in last 24 hours: ISPR
Pakistani forces say enter a main Taliban base
Pakistan army storms Taliban stronghold: military
7 militants killed in SWA operation, forces near to Sararogha

/keep going Pakistan, don’t stop until the Taliban is completely wiped out, take your country back

The Taliban Is Serious About Winning In Afghanistan, Are We?

It’s bad enough that the Taliban is killing more U.S. and NATO soldiers than ever, using ever more sophisticated tactics, destroying NATO supply convoys at the vulnerable border choke points between Pakistan and Afghanistan, and generally intimidating and terrorizing the civilian population with suicide bombers and mutilations. Now there’s a new twist, the Taliban is using targeted suicide bombings to assasinate high ranking members of the Afghan military chain of command and civilian leadership.

Taliban Kill Spy Official, 22 Others

A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least 23 people including Afghanistan’s deputy intelligence chief Wednesday, demonstrating the insurgency’s reach and its ability to hit a vulnerable Afghan government.

. . .

The slain official, Abdullah Laghmani, helped head the National Directorate of Security, which has been at the forefront of the anti-Taliban fight. Insurgent groups have long targeted Mr. Laghmani, according to Afghan intelligence agents.

Early Wednesday, Mr. Laghmani was emerging from a mosque in Mehterlam, the capital of Laghman province, about 60 miles east of Kabul, when a man approached and detonated explosives. The blast killed Mr. Laghmani and a number of senior provincial officials, according to Sayed Ahmad Safi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

How the bomber slipped past Mr. Laghmani’s security detail wasn’t clear, Mr. Safi said. Mr. Laghmani, who comes from Laghman, had been at the mosque to discuss security in the province with tribal elders, according to Mr. Safi. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said his group was responsible for the attack, the Associated Press reported.

The insurgents have repeatedly warned Afghans not to work with the government, and they’ve killed high- and low-ranking officials. In recent weeks, they’ve ambushed and wounded lawmakers traveling along a main road south of Kabul; killed a district governor in southern Afghanistan; and slain a number of election workers in the North.

President Karzai called Wednesday’s attack an attempt by the “enemy” to undermine the government. But other “brave and hardworking” Afghans would take the places of those slain, he said in a statement.

The attacks point to an insurgency that is packing a powerful punch as it expands beyond the Taliban stronghold in the south to the eastern border with Pakistan as well as other areas of Afghanistan. Once-peaceful provinces in Afghanistan now see regular insurgent attacks. In July and August, 153 foreign troops were killed, the deadliest two-month period since the war began in 2001.

See also:
Afghan intelligence chief Abdullah Laghmani killed in suicide attack
Afghan spy boss killed in Taliban suicide attack
Blast kills senior Afghan intelligence official
In Afghanistan, suicide bomber kills intelligence official at mosque
Suicide bomber kills 23 in Afghanistan
At least 23 die in Afghanistan blast -spokesman

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is calling for a change in strategy to counter the increasing Taliban threat.

Danger growing in Afghanistan

Nearly eight years on, the multinational endeavor to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan is in serious trouble. A recent security review conducted by the Afghan government and United Nations agencies indicated the Taliban either control or pose a high risk of attack in 40 percent of the country.

Casualties among Afghan civilians and the International Security Assistance Force — about half of which is American — are rising. August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. forces, as insurgent attacks and roadside bombs claimed 49 American lives.

President Obama has responded to the calls of military leaders to increase troop strength in Afghanistan, deploying an additional 21,000 troops in recent months. Another 4,000 are due before the end of the year.

But as with the surge in Iraq, success in Afghanistan isn’t merely a question of more boots on the ground. It’s also dependent on giving them the right leaders with the right strategy. And it’s dependent on our Afghan partners.

A new strategic assessment from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, calls for a revision of current strategy. The primary objective, he says, should be to earn the trust of the Afghan people and prepare them to take the lead in securing their country.

Temporarily taking towns and villages out from under control of the shadow government of the Taliban isn’t enough to earn the trust of the local population, McChrystal writes in a counterinsurgency document. Areas must be held and the local context changed “so people are more attracted to building and protecting their communities than destroying them.”

The biggest problem, however, may not be the size or strategy of the ISAF force. It may be the Afghan government.

McChrystal’s assessment assumes a timeline of several years before Afghan security forces and government institutions build up operational effectiveness. But mounting allegations of fraud and unexpectedly low voter turnout in last month’s presidential election along with continuing concerns about corruption and drug trafficking raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the government of President Hamid Karzai.

See also:
Afghanistan strategy must change, US commander McChrystal says
Gen. McChrystal calls for overhaul of Afghanistan war strategy
Report: McChrystal says US needs new Afghanistan strategy
Obama to Receive McChrystal Report Wednesday
Obama to get Afghan report on vacation
Obama using 5 measures to assess Afghan report
Top General in Afghanistan Looks to Replace Support Force With Combat Troops
EXCLUSIVE: General mulls more fighters in Afghanistan
Gates hints at US buildup in Afghanistan
Why McChrystal may not get more troops for Afghanistan
How long before Americans demand change in Afghanistan?

All I can say is that Obama had better be prepared to follow his military commander’s advice and do whatever is necessary to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, and he had better not be looking for the nearest exit door to cut and run through.

/giving Afghanistan back to the Taliban and al Qaeda on his Presidential watch, after eight years of sacrificing American blood and treasure to the conflict, will not look good on Obama’s historical resume