Friday, July 31, 2009

Did Bad Decisions Set Stage For 9 U.S. Deaths In Afghanistan?

Click Image to Enlarge
(Image from Army Times)

From McClatchy News:

In the days before one of the fiercest battles in America's eight-year war in Afghanistan, Army Capt. Benjamin Pry argued for more surveillance flights to help his beleaguered unit of fewer than 50 soldiers.

Since moving into a new outpost on July 8, 2008, they had struggled with shortages of water, fuel, food and heavy machinery to help defend against an enemy attack that they believed would eventually come. Lacking excavating equipment, the troops dug fortifications by scraping the rocky soil with spades and bare hands.

Then on July 12, headquarters commanders diverted drones — remotely operated planes outfitted with cameras to spot enemy movements — to another area. Pry argued so hard to undo that decision that he said he breached professional etiquette. Still, he was unsuccessful.

Read more ....

My Comment: To read more on this battle and the U.S. Military's report/analysis on it, I recommend the following post at the Captain's Journal.

Ex-Soviet States Meet For 'Russian NATO' Summit

The Collective Security Treaty Organization is holding a meeting in Kyrgyzstan starting Friday. Map by

From AFP:

CHOLPON-ATA, Kyrgyzstan (AFP) – The presidents of seven ex-Soviet states ended a summit Friday of a Russia-led security grouping touted as an eastern counterweight to NATO but riven by disagreements.

The leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) sought at a lakeside resort in Kyrgyzstan to smooth out differences over a June 14 deal to establish the group's first joint rapid reaction force.

Read more ....

My Comment: The CSTO is just a shadow of the former Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact.

More News On The CSTO Summit

CSTO Leaders Gather For Informal Summit -- Radio Free Europe
Russia, Kyrgyzstan to sign base deal: official -- China Daily
Russia wants second base in Kyrgyzstan -- AP
Former Soviet Republics Expected to Form Joint Rapid Reaction Forces -- Novinite

Saudi Arabia Rejects President Obama's Approach To Middle East Peace

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (L) and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Photo AFP.

Saudis Reject 'Incrementalism' Of U.S.-Backed Peace Plan -- CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saudi Arabia on Friday bluntly rejected a call for step-by-step moves toward Middle East peace, an approach supported by the United States.

The United States had hoped that the Saudis would announce "confidence-building measures" that would break the current impasse and lead to a new round of talks.

"Incrementalism and a step-by-step approach has not and -- we believe -- will not lead to peace," Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said at the State Department Friday after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a major rejection and repudiation of President Obama's approach towards resolving the Israeli - Palestinian conflict. This is a major setback .... and one that has been completely under reported in the American Press.

More News On Saudi Arabia's Rejection Of U.S. Middle East Peace Efforts

Saudi FM puts burden on Israel to make peace -- AFP
Saudi Minister Takes Hard Line Against Peace Gestures to Israel -- Voice of America
Saudi Arabia rejects U.S. pleas on Israel -- Reuters
Saudi rebuffs US on improving ties with Israel -- AP
S Arabia rejects ties with Israel -- Al Jazeera
Remarks With Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal -- U.S. Department Of State

Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009 -- News Updates And Commentaries

People Power's Philippine Saint: Corazon Aquino, 1933-2009 -- Time Magazine

The arc of Corazon Aquino's life lent itself to maxims, but two hard-nosed ones seem particularly worth pointing out. First, political sainthood is a gift from heaven with a Cinderella deadline — once past midnight, you are a pumpkin. Second, personal virtues are never a guarantee of effective or successful governance. What was truly shocking about Aquino's tumultuous six-year term as President of the Philippines was that those maxims proved untrue. Midnight always threatened Aquino but never struck; and she was a good woman whose goodness alone, at the very end, was what proved enough, if only by an iota, to save her country.

Read more ....

More News On The Passing Of Corazon Aquino

Former Philippines president Aquino dead at 76 -- AP
Aquino, heroine of Philippine people power, dies -- Reuters
Philippines ex-leader Aquino dies -- BBC
Former Philippine president Aquino dies -- Financial Times
Corazon Aquino, Former Philippines President, Dead At 76 -- NPR
From housewife to People Power, Aquino kept the faith -- San Francisco Chronicle
Democracy hero Aquino dies, aged 76 -- The Australian
Philippine's people power leader Aquino dies -- ABC News (Australia)
Cory Aquino, Philippine democracy icon, dies at 76 -- Philippine Star
Corazon Aquino | 1933-2009 -- L.A. Times (Photos)

A Brief Euphoria in Tehran: 'We Can Win This'

Supporters of opposition leader Mir-Hossein Mousavi gather in northern Tehran in this frame grab taken from YouTube on July 30, 2009. YouTube / Reuters

From Time Magazine:

At 4 p.m. the Iranian government broke up an attempted memorial service at a cemetery, but very soon after, tens of thousands of protesters poured into the streets of central Tehran the night of July 30, overwhelming Iran's feared security forces. The crowds burned tires, honked horns, waved peace signs and chanted, "Death to the dictators." Because the demonstrators gathered in several neighborhoods throughout the capital as well as at the country's largest cemetery, 12 miles (20 km) south of the city center, the Basij paramilitary and Revolutionary Guards could not cover enough ground to control the growing crowds — one of the largest outpourings in recent weeks, albeit spread about the city. The protests even continued into the city's subway system as many participants hurried back into the city from the aborted prayer service at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery. "Tehran was our town today," exclaimed a 26-year-old woman. "We had more courage and the police less courage."

Read more ....

More News On Iran

Iran president: No rift with supreme leader -- AP
Ahmadinejad denies rift with Supreme Leader and attacks conservatives -- Independent
Iran's Ahmadinejad warns rivals their plans will fail -- Reuters
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies rift with Iran's clerical leadership -- The Telegraph
Iran FM says Britain, West behind protest deaths -- AFP
Hardline Friday Prayer Leader Throws Down Gauntlet to Opposition -- Voice of America
Iran’s rulers put 30 people on trial for opposition ‘conspiracy’ -- Times Online
Iran at the Crossroads -- New York Times editorial

Unrest In Honduras -- News Updates July 31, 2009

Honduran Interim Leader President Roberto Micheletti. Photo AFP

Interim Honduran Leader Says President Will Not Return To Power -- AFP

TEGUCIGALPA — Honduras' political standoff deepened Friday as interim leader Roberto Micheletti insisted that there would be no negotiated return to power of ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya.

The Organization of American States (OAS), meanwhile. was set to hold two meetings on the Honduran crisis in Washington on Friday.

Zelaya, who was elected as a moderate conservative and took a sharp turn to the left while in office, was overthrown in a military-backed coup on June 28. The United States and other nations have pressed for a diplomatic solution.

Read more ....

More News On Honduras

Honduran interim leaders: Zeyala can't be restored -- Yahoo News/AP
US Senator asks Clinton to explain Honduran policy -- Reuters
Ousted Honduran FM complains inadequate U.S. response -- China View
Zelaya's followers clash with Honduran soldiers, leaving 6 injured -- China View

Is Al Qaeda Rising In Yemen?

Why Yemen Could Become Al Qaeda Haven -- Christian Science Monitor

Four clashes in the past eight days underscore the state's vulnerability. Southern secessionists and northern rebels have weakened the central government.

Sanaa, Yemen - Yemen's vulnerability as a potential militant haven has been underscored by four attacks on security forces in eight days, as the country battles a Shiite rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south.

On Friday, Yemeni troops retaliated against suspected Al Qaeda militants after their truck was ambushed en route to the northeastern city of Maarib, reported Agence France-Presse. A tribal source told the news agency that antiterror troops attacked the militants' hideout, killing a wanted Al Qaeda leader, A'ed Saleh al-Shabwani.

Read more ....

My Comment: Yemen has been experiencing tribal and religious conflicts for centuries. What is happening now is actually "business as usual". But Al Qaeda thrives in these environments, and one must never forget that Bin Laden's family originated from this part of the world.

How Aid Money Is Being Wasted In Afghanistan

The new buildings in this corner of the ancient city of Qalat were supposed to represent the U.S. commitment to creating a new Afghanistan. Back in 2006, the U.S. and other international donors spent more than $10 million to create what was meant to be a sort of Emerald City, just down the hill from Alexander the Great's ruined castle. (Nick Schifrin/ABC)

The Army's $10M Afghan Flop -- ABC News

Reversing a Failed U.S. Policy in Afghanistan

The new buildings in this corner of the ancient city of Qalat were supposed to represent the U.S. commitment to creating a new Afghanistan. Back in 2006, the U.S. and other international donors spent more than $10 million to create what was meant to be a sort of Emerald City, just down the hill from Alexander the Great's ruined castle.

A new hospital. A new governor's house. A fire station. A justice center. A visitor's center. A cultural affairs building.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am sure there are many more stories like this one that are not reported or covered.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- July 31, 2009

On patrol: Royal Marine Commandos south of their base at Kajaki Dam in Helmand Province, Southern Afghanistan.

Unreliable Friends in Afghanistan - Max Hastings, Financial Times

The British and American peoples perceive Afghanistan overwhelmingly in terms of their own body bags. There are good grounds for anger about under-resourcing of the campaign. But losses are the price of any war. British deaths over eight years remain fewer than those incurred in six weeks of the Falklands conflict, while US theatre casualties are a tiny fraction of Vietnam’s.

Read more ....


Nigeria clashes bode ill for west Africa -- Simon Tisdall, The Guardian

The Palestinian Donor State -- Rick Richman, Commentary Magazine

Peace with Pakistan at Any Price?
-- Kanwal Sibal, Times of India

Japan Reaches Crossroads -- Tom Plate, Japan Times

Don't Panic over Beijing's Tehran Temptation -- Erica Downs, Foreign Policy

Now China Has a Credit Boom -- Paul Cavey, Wall Street Journal

Understanding the Weight of China -- Christopher Badeaux, The New Ledger

The G-2's First Official Meeting -- Gordon Chang, Forbes

Russia's Blackmail and Blackout -- Alexandros Petersen, Washington Times

Containing Russian Ambition in Europe -- Andre Glucksmann, City Journal

Italy Has Problems Beyond Berlusconi -- Geoff Andrews, Financial Times

A Trip Through Silvio's Italy -- Alexander Smoltczyk, Der Spiegel

U.S. and China Step Forward -- Japan Times

Venezuela's Rockets for Terrorists -- Washington Post

World News Briefs -- July 31, 2009

The new commander for the international troops in Afghanistan, U.S. general Stanley McChrystal (R), and General Egon Ramms commander Joint Force Command Brussum salute during a ceremony in Kabul June 15, 2009. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani

More Troops To Be Requested For The Afghan War -- Yahoo News/AP

WASHINGTON – The U.S. general put in charge of turning around the war in Afghanistan is likely to recommend significant changes in the campaign and may include a request for more U.S. forces that the White House is expected to resist.

Read more ....


Iran's Ahmadinejad warns rivals their plans will fail.

US extends Syria sanctions by 1 year.

Two killed as Yemeni police clash with suspected al-Qaeda militants.

July shapes up to be least deadly for U.S.; military grows hopeful about Iraq exit.

US investigating report of missing Americans in Iraq.


Corazon Aquino, ex-Philippines leader, dead at 76.

S.Korean fishermen face N.Korea probe.

U.S. imposes financial sanctions on N. Korea.

Aung San Suu Kyi verdict delayed.

Pakistani court rejects Musharraf trial.

Embattled Japan PM pledges to fix economy.


Hundreds of bodies in streets after Nigeria unrest. Mayhem in Nigeria.

Nigeria clashes bode ill for west Africa.

U.S. envoy says Sudan sanctions should be eased. Sudan pleased with US envoy's remarks on terrorism.

UN calls for Ivory Coast elections on Nov. 29.

South Africa's Zuma faces wide unrest.


British inquiry on Iraq opens with vow to be ‘frank’.

Hacker loses extradition appeal.

Bitter Turkey marks 50 years at Europe's door.

Italy ok's abortion pill despite church opposition.


Venezuela's top prosecutor wants restrictions on news media. Venezuelan lawmakers weigh restraints on media.

Cuba's Communist Party postpones key congress. Cuba shuts factories, cuts energy to save economy.

FARC seeks “National Accord” against U.S. bases in Colombia.

Mexico shuts Cancun beach, alleges sand was stolen.

US 'wait-and-see' attitude on new Mexican drug law.


Guantanamo: Detention challenges are far off for many.

Al-Qaeda claims suicide bombers were targeting Manchester United.


U.S. recession worse than prior estimates, revisions show.

Signs of weakness in economy boost Treasurys.

Pace of US economic decline eases.

What The Raptor Cancellation Means For The Navy

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets fly over Kadena U.S. Air Force base on Okinawa May 30, 2009. (Reuters)

From New Wars:

With what some may consider the “premature” ending of the F-22 Raptor fighter (after 30 years in development!), formerly known as the advanced tactical fighter or ATF Program, there are bound to be repercussions affecting the other military services. While the Army seems well on its way to a leaner mean force, after one expensive programs cancellation after another (Crusader artillery system, Comanche stealth chopper,Future Combat System), the Navy with having less to do than all the services in this War on Terror, having lost only a giant destroyer program, might now bear greater scrutiny from budget cutters.

Read more ....

My Comment: If the Air Force could lose their signature programs .... the Navy could then lose theirs. With the budget slashers looking at the U.S. military budget for cutting, the Navy must know that their signature programs are now on the block.

India Plans To Build 100 Warships

Indian Navy in formation

From The Financial Times:

India has plans to add about 100 warships to its navy over the next decade as it seeks to modernise its armed forces, and develop its low-cost shipbuilding capabilities.

Captain Alok Bhatnagar, director of naval plans at India’s ministry of defence, said on Thursday that 32 warships and submarines were under construction in the country’s shipyards. Work on 75 more ships, including aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and amphibious vessels, would begin over 10 years.

Read more ....

My Comment: They have a long way to go .... but news like this will only raise tensions with countries like Pakistan and China.

How Terrorists Are Recruited In Europe

Photo: A photo purporting to show Moez Garsallaoui firing a rocket launcher on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

European Gang Trained For Terror -- CNN

Editor's note: This story is based on interrogation reports that form part of the prosecution case in the forthcoming trial of six Belgian citizens charged with participation in a terrorist group. Versions of those documents were obtained by CNN from the defense attorney of one of those suspects. The statement by Bryant Vinas was compiled from an interview he gave Belgian prosecutors in March 2009 in New York, and was confirmed by U.S. prosecutors as authentic. The statement by Walid Othmani was given to French investigators, and was authenticated by Belgian prosecutors.

(CNN) -- An American who says he went to fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan told interrogators that about the time he became an al Qaeda member he came across several Belgian and French militants.

Belgian counter-terrorism sources said the group traveled to Pakistan's tribal areas at the beginning of 2008, also intent on fighting in Afghanistan.

Read more ....

My Comment: I only hope that cases like this are rare. If not .... Europe is positioning itself for a lot of hurt in the future.

Pictured: U.S. Missile Defence Test Hailed A Success As North Korea Tensions Rise

A Standard Missile - 3 (SM-3) is launched from the
USS Hopper the latest Missile Defence Agency test

From The Daily Mail:

The latest US missile defence test, conducted last night in Hawaii waters, was deemed a success as tensions continue with North Korea over that country's missile programme.

A short-range ballistic missile was fired from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on the island of Kauai and then was shot down by a three-stage interceptor missile from a destroyer, the USS Hopper.

The test, conducted by the Navy and the Department of Defense's Missile Defence Agency, marked the 23rd firing by ships equipped with the Aegis ballistic missile defense system.

With the latest test, there have been 19 successes, including the shooting down of a dead US spy satellite last year.

Read more ....

My Comment: The U.S. is getting better at their missile tests. These are short range ballistic missiles being shot down .... but is a clear indication of the overall progress in U.S. missile defense.

U.S. Takes Steps To Boost Security Cooperation With Russia

From The Washington Post:

The United States is moving to deepen security cooperation with Russia as part of the Obama administration's effort to "reset" relations with Moscow, senior officials told Congress on Thursday.

This week, a team of military experts went to Moscow for the first round of discussions on an early warning center that would assess the threat of ballistic missiles, including any from Iran or North Korea, the officials said. U.S. and Russian officials are also planning to hold talks in October to lay the groundwork for extensive military programs next year.

Read more

My Comment: Ignoring Vice President Biden's condescending remarks on Russia last week, this is the nitty-gritty work between the two countries. This Washington Post article gives a fair review of the U.S.-Russian relationship .... read it all.

Hamas Chief Outlines Terms For Talks On Arab-Israeli Peace

From The Wall Street Journal:

DAMASCUS -- The chief of Palestinian militant group Hamas said his organization is prepared to cooperate with the U.S. in promoting a peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict if the White House can secure an Israeli settlement freeze and a lifting of the economic and military blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Khaled Meshaal, 53 years old, said in a 90-minute interview at Hamas's Syrian headquarters that his political party and military wing would commit to an immediate reciprocal cease-fire with Israel, as well as a prisoner swap that would return Hamas fighters for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Read more ....

My Comment: The key part of this story is the following:

.... his organization would accept and respect a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders as part of a broader peace agreement with Israel—provided Israeli negotiators accept the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and the establishment of a capital for the Palestinian state in East Jerusalem.

That pledge falls short of recognizing Israel, a necessary step for Hamas to be included in peace talks ....

A non-starter to peace talks if you ask me.

Iraq War News Updates -- July 31, 2009

The most devastating attack was in the district of Al-Shaab,
where a car bombing killed 21 people. Photo AFP.

29 Killed In Bombings Near Baghdad Mosques -- Yahoo News/AP

BAGHDAD – Bombs exploded near five Shiite mosques in Baghdad, killing at least 29 people, in an apparent coordinated attack that targeted worshippers leaving Friday prayers, Iraqi police and hospital officials said.

The bombings shattered a period of relative calm in the Iraqi capital, raising to at least 303 the number of Iraqis killed in what has been one of the least deadly months for both Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops since the war began. Seven American troops have been killed — the lowest monthly total since the war started in March 2003, according to an AP tally.

Read more ....

More News On Iraq

Baghdad Shiite mosques bombed, 28 killed -- AFP
28 killed in bombings at Baghdad mosques -- L.A. Times
Deaths in Iraq mosque bombings -- Al Jazeera
Bombs near mosques across Baghdad kill at least 26 -- Reuters
Baghdad mosques hit by car bombs -- BBC
Iraqi Troops Blocked by Iranian Exiles -- Wall Street Journal
Death toll reaches 12 in Iraqi refugee camp violence -- CNN
Iraqi security forces kill 6 and wound 300 in raid on refugee camp -- Times Online
Medical team visits Iranian exile camp in Iraq -- USA Today
Bomb in Iraqi Political Party Office Kills 8 -- Voice of America
Explosions in Iraqi Political Office Kill at Least 5 -- New York Times
Britain Initiates Iraq War Inquiry -- Washington Post
Britain's legacy in Iraq: Basra -- CNN
Britain ends troop presence in Iraq after six years -- AFP
Iraq lauds U.S. withdrawal as fear of violence looms --
Memo says Iraqi forces competent; U.S. can leave -- San Francisco Chronicle
US military deaths in Iraq war at 4,329 -- Washington Post

Civil War In NIgeria's North -- News Updates July 31, 2009

A building of an Islamic religious sect is seen in flames after reportedly being set ablaze by Nigerian soldiers Photo: AFP

Islamist Sect Leader In Nigeria Killed In Custody -- Washington Post/AP

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria -- The leader of the Islamist sect blamed for days of violence in northern Nigeria has been shot and killed while in police custody, officials said Thursday.

The police commander of Borno state announced on state radio that Mohammed Yusuf, the leader of the sect some call the Nigerian Taliban, has "died in police custody."

Read more ....

More News On Nigeria And Its War With Islamic Extremists

Nigeria police claim victory over radical sect -- Yahoo News/AP
Nigerian militant killed after days of violence -- Christian Science Monitor
Nigeria Confirms Death of Islamic Sect’s Leader -- New York Times
`Nigerian Taliban' leader slain in jail -- Toronto Star
Probe into Nigerian sect leader's death demanded -- CBC
TIMELINE: Ethnic and religious unrest in Nigeria -- Reuters
In pictures: Nigeria clashes aftermath -- BBC

Afghanistan War News Updates -- July 31, 2009

U.S. Marines return from a partnered patrol with Afghan National Army soldiers in Lakari Bazaar, Afghanistan, July 19, 2009. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. James A. Burks

In Afghanistan, U.S. May Shift Strategy -- Washington Post

Request for Big Boost in Afghan Troops Could Also Require More Americans

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is preparing a new strategy that calls for major changes in the way U.S. and other NATO troops there operate, a vast increase in the size of Afghan security forces and an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials, according to several people familiar with the contents of an assessment report that outlines his approach to the war.

Read more ....

More News On Afghanistan

Fear, violence in Afghan countryside ahead of vote -- AFP
US service member killed in Afghanistan -- AP
Afghan clash kills 11 militants: police -- AFP
4 Afghan guards killed in blast -- AP
FACTBOX-Security developments in Afghanistan, July 31 -- Reuters
Taliban vow to disrupt Afghanistan election -- Reuters
Taliban Vows to Disrupt Afghan Election -- Voice of America
Taliban Actions Speak Louder Than Words, General Says -- U.S. Department of Defense
Analysis: Taliban code seen as bid to spruce image -- Yahoo News/AP
‘New’ Taliban Battle Rules Not So New -- The Danger Room
Translated excerpts from the Taliban code of conduct -- CNN
Roadside Bombs Make For Deadly July In Afghanistan -- NPR
US general may ask for more troops for Afghan war -- AP
ANALYSIS-U.S. Afghan commander may ask for more troops -- Reuters
Drones to target Taliban on both sides of border -- Dawn
US drones to target Taliban in Afghan war: report -- AFP
One Afghan Outpost Guards 100 Miles of Taliban Country -- ABC News
Afghanistan faces growing addiction problem -- L.A. Times
Problems plague rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan -- Yahoo News/AP
Govt to call for revamped Afghan aid effort -- AFP
To Have and To Hold -- Max Boot, Weekly Standard opinion
Afghan civilian deaths 'increase' -- BBC
UN: Civilian deaths up 24 percent in Afghanistan -- Yahoo News/AP
July Bloodiest Month For US In Afghanistan -- Click2Houston
US military deaths in Afghanistan region at 682 -- AP

Spain On High Alert As ETA Marks The 50th Anniversary Of Its Founding

Tourists look at the smoke and flames coming from a car explosion in the Palmanova beach area, southwest of the island's capital, Palma de Mallorca. Photograph: AP Photo/AP

From AFP:

MADRID — Spain went on maximum alert Friday as ETA marked its 50th anniversary after two bombings this week blamed on the Basque separatist group, including an attack that killed two police officers.

The approach to the anniversary saw an upsurge in violence, with a massive car bomb exploding outside a police barracks in Burgos in northern Spain on Wednesday which lightly injured 64 people, including sleeping children.

Read more ....

More News On Spain And The ETA

Spain on maximum alert for 50th anniversary of ETA
-- AP
Bombings Put Spain On Edge As Eta Turns 50 -- SKY News
Spain on high alert after bombs -- BBC
Spain to hold memorial service for slain policemen --
Eta attacks achieve no more than a propaganda victory -- Times Online
Eta 'under pressure to attack' -- BBC
Travel chaos after Mallorca car bomb kills two police officers -- The Guardian
Mallorca target of Spain's second attack in two days -- Christian Science Monitor

Afghanistan: US Surgeons Drafted In As British Medics Exhausted By Casualty Surge

A surgeon at work in Camp Bastion field hospital: 157 wounded arrived for treatment in one week. (Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

From Times Online:

The surge in British casualties in Afghanistan has left military surgeons so exhausted that a US surgical team has been drafted in to help.

The British doctors have also been overwhelmed with casualties from other nations, including US Marines, Afghan troops and civilians.

Extra British plastic surgeons have had to be sent to the field hospital at Camp Bastion in central Helmand along with additional X-ray technicians and specialist nurses.

The Ministry of Defence revealed that 57 soldiers had been wounded in action in the first two weeks of this month, the worst casualty figure since British troops deployed to Helmand province in 2006. The previous highest toll of those injured, 46, was in June — but that was for the whole month. In the same two-week period, 15 soldiers were killed.

Read more ....

My Comment: The British appear to not only lack the necessary equipment to fight in Afghanistan .... like helicopters and the proper MRVs .... they also lack the necessary medical assistance in the event of casualties.

Divided, Demoralized Palestinian Movement Hopes To Hit 'Restart'

From McClatchy News:

RAMALLAH, West Bank — For half a century, the fortunes of the Palestinian people have been inextricably linked to the fate of Fatah, the once-dominant political movement founded by Yasser Arafat. Five years after Arafat's death, the movement is divided, and hopes of establishing even a weak Palestinian state alongside Israel appear as elusive as ever.

Next week, for the first time in two decades, Fatah leaders from around the world will meet in Bethlehem at a conference they hope will be a new start. The run-up to the conference doesn't give demoralized Palestinians much reason for hope, however.

Read more ....

My Comment: The McClatchy news reporter realizes what all Middle East observers have known for a long time .... there is no viable partner on the Palestinian side to negotiate peace.

As long as the Palestinians remain divided, any talk about peace will just be that .... talk.

It’s Time For The US To Declare Victory And Go Home

Col. Timothy Reese: ‘It’s Time for the US to Declare Victory and Go Home’ -- Washington Independent

As the old saying goes, “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose. Today the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are good enough to keep the Government of Iraq (GOI) from being overthrown by the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Baathists, and the Shia violent extremists that might have toppled it a year or two ago. Iraq may well collapse into chaos of other causes, but we have made the ISF strong enough for the internal security mission. Perhaps it is one of those infamous paradoxes of counterinsurgency that while the ISF is not good in any objective sense, it is good enough for Iraq in 2009. Despite this foreboding disclaimer about an unstable future for Iraq, the United States has achieved our objectives in Iraq. Prime Minister (PM) Maliki hailed June 30th as a “great victory,” implying the victory was over the US. Leaving aside his childish chest pounding, he was more right than he knew. We too ought to declare victory and bring our combat forces home. Due to our tendency to look after the tactical details and miss the proverbial forest for the trees, this critically important strategic realization is in danger of being missed.

Read more ....

More News On The Possibility Of U.S. Forces Leaving Iraq Earlier Than Planned

Out of Iraq by Next Year? -- New York Times
US Adviser To Iraqi Military Urges Early US Exit -- AP
Army Colonel: U.S. Should Leave Iraq, ASAP -- Danger Room
Military Adviser: Time For U.S. to Leave Iraq -- CBS News
It's Time to Declare Victory and Go Home -- Foreign Policy
US should declare victory and leave Iraq, says top military officer -- The Guardian
Text of Colonel Reese’s Memo -- New York Times

My Comment: US Army Col. Timothy R. Reese has some valid points .... it is probably the time to declare victory and plan the next phase.

In the end that is what is going to happen. A few thousand U.S. military personnel will be in the desert to train and develop Iraq's air force and military .... and the other 100,000+ will be back home.

Military And Intelligence News Briefs -- July 31, 2009

Click Image to Enlarge
(Image from Army Times)

Investigating the Battle of Wanat, Afghanistan -- The Captain's Journal

The Battle of Wanat has been in the news lately. Tom Ricks has posted an analysis of the battle from his reading of a thus far unreleased document - a study by an Army Historian at the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth named Douglas R. Cubbison. There is an interesting comment thread at the Small Wars Journal blog on this topic. Ricks finds that the result of the battle - 36 casualties, 9 dead and 27 wounded - resulted in large degree from a failure to implement the principles of counterinsurgency.

Read more ....


Afghan Fight Needs COIN Plus: Cordesman -- DoD Buzz

Sale of F-16s to Iraq raises issues -- UPI

Vehicles Return from Iraq for Redeployment to Afghanistan -- Defense Talk

VH-71 Conundrum -- Defense Tech

Russia to lay down one multipurpose submarine a year from 2011 -- RIA Novosti

Wireless Gun Gagdet May Let Commandos Shoot Around Corners -- The Danger Room

Obama’s Army pick gets grilled by McCain -- The Hill

New process to drastically change programmed aircraft maintenance -- Air Force material Command

Peacekeeping: Coping With Crippling Corruption -- Strategy Page

Why Not the Killer Drones? -- New Wars

OpEd: In the Meantime, on the Great Exchequer… -- Defense Professionals

DARPA Readies An Ultra-Fast Mini-Sub

Have Bubble Will Travel via The Day


In a world of rapidly evolving threats, every branch of the military is looking for a way to respond as quickly as possible. But whereas the Air Force, Army and Marines can simply fly to whatever hot spot flares up next, the Navy, by its very nature, still needs to sail. That's where the Underwater Express comes in.

Currently, the Navy's fastest submarine can only travel at 25 to 30 knots while submerged. But if everything goes according to plan, the Underwater Express will speed along at 100 knots, allowing the delivery of men and materiel faster than ever.

Read more ....

Update: Navy Studies Super-Speedy SEAL Sub -- War Is Boring

My Comment: From a scientific point of view, this is so cool.

Military May Ban Twitter, Facebook As Security ‘Headaches’

From The Danger Room:

The U.S. military is strongly considering a near-total ban on Twitter, Facebook, and all other social networking sites throughout the Department of Defense, multiple sources within the armed forces tell Danger Room.

It’s the latest twist in the Defense Department’s tangled relationship with so-called “Web 2.0″ sites. But while earlier social media blockades have been thrown up over bandwidth and secrecy concerns, this fresh ban stems from fears that Facebook and the like make it far too easy for hackers and cybercrooks to gain access to the military’s networks.

Read more ....

My Comment: I expect Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites to start protecting their platforms very soon. The negative publicity that hackers are giving to these networks .... including critical comments from institutions like the U.S. military .... will only help to speed this process up.

Personally .... I hope the Pentagon does not act to quickly on this matter. Social networks play a crucial and important role in maintaining the moral of our troops. Banning it will only hurt everyone.

Eurofighter Deal To Be Inked: Sources

A Eurofighter takes part in an airshow in Vigo, northwestern Spain. The four partner countries in the Eurofighter consortium were on Friday due to sign a contract on production of the first part of the third tranche of the aircraft, sources said Thursday. (AFP/File/Miguel Riopa)

From Yahoo News/AFP:

MILAN (AFP) – The four partner countries in the Eurofighter consortium were on Friday due to sign a contract on production of the first part of the third tranche of the aircraft, sources said Thursday.

"The contract will be signed tomorrow (Friday) in Germany," said an Italian defence ministry source.

"It will be signed at the Eurofighter consortium headquarters at Hallbergmoos, near Munich," an industry source added.

The contract, worth about eight billion euros (11.2 billion dollars), was for 112 of the 236 planes in the third tranche, the source added.

Read more ....

More News On The Eurofighter

Eurofighter deal to be signed Friday
-- Reuters
BAE puts faith in fighter planes -- The Telegraph
RAF Chief: 'Govt To Halve Warplane Order' -- Sky News
UK to sign up for new Eurofighters -- Financial Times

Blackout Bomb: Air Force's High-Powered Microwave Weapons Fry Enemy Equipment

Blackout Bomb: Graham Murdoch


An Experimental Stealth Weapon Could Blind Enemy Surveillance.

In modern warfare, where missions are sometimes over in minutes, a blind enemy is a defeated enemy. The electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear weapon detonated miles aboveground would zap an army’s surveillance equipment, but not without causing heavy collateral damage. Instead, a new Air Force tool will fry electronics using high-power microwaves emitted by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

Read more ....

My Comment: A unique and portable EMP (actually microwave) type of weapon. I am sure that this will be the first of many types of microwave weapons.

Can The Military Find The Answer To Alternative Energy?

From Business Week:

DARPA, the Defense Dept. agency that helped invent the Internet, is setting its sights on cleantech.

Nine years ago, Robert J. Nowak, an electro-chemicals expert for the Defense Dept., learned that senior generals weren't happy with their troops' electronic gear. While the night-vision, laser, and GPS devices worked well, the batteries that powered them weighed some 25 pounds per soldier, heavy enough to hurt some of the troops.

So Nowak, who worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Dept.'s famous research branch, solicited bids for a new device that would power a soldier's gear at a tenth of the weight and a fraction of the $100 cost of the batteries. Today, the original 18 companies that took up Nowak's challenge have been whittled down to two: Livermore (Calif.)-based UltraCell and Adaptive Materials of Ann Arbor, Mich. Their solution: small, sturdy fuel cells that can power a soldier's clutch of mobile devices for a week on a gallon or so of methanol or propane. Battle-ready versions of the fuel cells will be available this year.

Read more ....

My Comment: The military are the biggest consumers of energy. If they can find a way to provide alternative energy, this will go a long way to help the everyday consumer.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pakistan Injects Precision Into Air War On Taliban

Pakistanis in May at a temporary camp for internally displaced people. Millions of civilians have been moved from conflict areas. Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan’s Air Force is improving its ability to pinpoint and attack militant targets with precision weapons, adding a new dimension to the country’s fight against violent extremism, according to Pakistani military officials and independent analysts.

The Pakistani military has moved away from the scorched-earth artillery and air tactics used last year against insurgents in the Bajaur tribal agency. In recent months, the air force has shifted from using Google Earth to sophisticated images from spy planes and other surveillance aircraft, and has increased its use of laser-guided bombs.

Read more ....

My Comment: Pakistan's Air Force is learning from the Americans. Why level a town to get a group of men when a precision missile strike can decapitate these men with minimal collateral damage.

The video in the New York Times piece is worth the watch.

Hat Tip: Prairie Pundit

Britain's Iraq War Inquiry -- News Roundup July 30, 2009

Britain Initiates Iraq War Inquiry -- Washington Post

Ex-Prime Minister Blair Is Set to Testify.

LONDON, July 30 -- Britain launched an independent inquiry into its role in the Iraq war Thursday, with the panel's chairman confirming that former prime minister Tony Blair will be among the witnesses and that it would not "shy away from making criticism."

John Chilcot said at a news conference that the panel would scrutinize the period from 2001 until the present, making its investigation Britain's widest-ranging inquiry yet into the Iraq war.

Read more ....

More News On Britain's Iraq War Inquiry

Iraq war inquiry starts in Britain -- Euronews
British probe into Iraq war to open -- AFP
Britain begins Iraq war inquiry -- AP
Blair to be called before UK inquiry to Iraq war -- CNN
Will Iraq probe worry ministers? -- BBC
Blair will be called up to testify before Iraq inquiry -- Scotsman
How Iraq inquiry will work: 'Oral witness testimony is crucial' -- The Guardian
Profile: Sir John Chilcot -- The Guardian
Initial report of Iraq war inquiry is unlikely before general election -- Times Online
Opposition anger over 2011 date for Iraq war report -- The Guardian

U.S. Congress OK's $636 Billion Defense Budget -- News Updates

House OKs $636 Billion Defense Bill -- UPI

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) -- The U.S. House passed a $636 billion Pentagon spending bill Thursday that includes programs President Barack Obama has threatened to veto.

Lawmakers voted 400-30 to cut new funding for the controversial F-22 fighter jet, but retained two expenditures Obama opposes -- $560 million for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and $485 million for new helicopters to fly the president, The Hill newspaper reported Thursday.

Read more ....

More News On The U.S. House Version Of The Defense Budget

House strikes F-22, passes defense bill -- Reuters
House cuts F-22 funding, nixes other weapons cuts -- AP
House Cuts F-22 Funds, But Not Others -- Time Magazine
House passes $636B defense bill despite veto threat -- The Hill
House Approves Defense Bill, Strips F-22 Funds -- Washington Post
House funds Pentagon programs set for termination -- AP
Obama Threatens to Veto $636B Defense Spending Bill -- FOX News
US votes against F-22 production -- Al Jazeera

'Nigeria's Taliban': How Big a Threat?

A police officer looks at the bodies of Islamic fundamentalists who were shot during cross fire outside police headquarters in Maiduguri, Nigeria, on July 28, 2009. Pius Utomi / AFP / Getty

From Time Magazine:

The immediate crisis may be over in Nigeria, but the threat of violence remains. Government security forces today attacked a mosque filled with Islamist militants, killing scores of fighters and forcing more to flee. The militants, blamed for days of violence across the country's north, belong to a group known as Boko Haram, which aims to overthrow the federal government in Abuja and impose a strict version of Islamic law. The sect's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, escaped the raid along with some 300 of his men, but he was later arrested, according to police. Four days of clashes, sparked by attacks on police stations and government buildings, have killed at least 300 people.

Read more ....

Update: Islamist sect leader shot dead after capture in Nigeria -- Yahoo News/AFP

My Comment: Nigeria has always had religious/tribal conflicts and wars. but can Nigeria degenerate into a Sudan (Muslim north Christian south) type of conflict and war with millions of casualties .... I would have to say that after witnessing the battles that happened this week .... I would not bet against it.

Iran Security Forces Retreat As Huge Numbers Of Mourners Gather At Cemetery

The mother of Sohrab Arabi, shown in the poster at right, who was killed during Iran's post-election turmoil last month, speaks with protesters at an opposition rally at Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery just outside Tehran. Associated Press

From The L.A. Times:

As many as tens of thousands of protesters meet at the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, whose shooting death was videotaped. Meanwhile, the first group of protesters arrested in the unrest heads to trial.

Reporting from Tehran and Beirut -- Thousands and possibly tens of thousands of mourners, many of them black-clad young women carrying roses, overwhelmed security forces today at Tehran's largest cemetery to gather around the grave of Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose videotaped shooting at a June 20 demonstration stunned the world.

Read more ....

My Comment: Tens of thousands show up .... when I read stories like this I feel that there is still hope in Iran.

U.S. Shifting Drones' Focus To Taliban

A Reaper drone, which comes equipped with Hellfire missiles and precision-guided bombs, takes off from Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan. Such unmanned aircraft are to be used to hunt specific insurgent targets. Staff Sgt. James Lee Harper Jr. / U.S. Air Force

From The L.A. Times:

In Afghanistan, the military is moving away from targeting Al Qaeda in favor of stabilizing the country.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan -- U.S. military leaders have concluded that their war effort in Afghanistan has been too focused on hunting Al Qaeda, and have begun to shift Predator drone aircraft to the fight against the Taliban and other militants in order to prevent the country from slipping deeper into anarchy.

The move, described by government and Defense Department officials, represents a major change in the military's use of one of its most precious intelligence assets. It also illustrates the hard choices that must be made because the drones are in short supply.

Read more ....

My Comment: The drones will be used for a lot of missions .... but (I am sure) they are primarily going to be used at night to target those who plant IEDs.

Venezuela's Attorney General: 'Freedom Of Expression Must Be Limited'

From Yahoo News/AP:

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's top prosecutor insisted Thursday that freedom of expression in Venezuela "must be limited," and proposed legislation that would slap additional restrictions on the country's news media.

The new law would punish the owners of radio stations, television channels and newspapers that have attempted to "cause panic" and "disturb social peace," Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.

It also would punish those media owners who "manipulate the news with the purpose of transmitting a false perception of the facts."

"Freedom of expression must be limited," Ortega said.

Read more ....

My Comment: Chavez's Government does not even hide their intentions anymore. So much for freedom of the press and the freedom to protest.

Pyongyang Seizes Boat From South

South Korean activists demanded the North return a South Korean fishing boat.
Associated Press/Lee Jin-man

From The Wall Street Journal:

SEOUL -- North Korea seized a South Korean fishing vessel and its four-person crew after they strayed across the inter-Korean maritime border in the East Sea, or Sea of Japan, early Thursday, South Korean officials said.

The incident will be a new test of how North Korea will deal with the outside world. Since the illness of dictator Kim Jong Il last August, North Korea has taken a harder line in its dealings with foreigners, most visibly with its detention of two American journalists and a South Korean businessman.

Read more ....

My Comment: These fishermen are not going to be heard from for a long time. One more divergence away from the mess of what is North Korea and one more more nail in the coffin for any hope on negotiating a limit to North Korea's nuclear program.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- July 30, 2009

No Toppling Dominoes In South Asia, Thank You -- Globe And Mail

In her brilliant book The Uses and Abuses of History, historian Margaret MacMillan tells a story about two Americans discussing the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001. One draws an analogy with Pearl Harbor, Japan's attack on the United States in 1941. His friend has no idea what this means. “You know,” the first man replies. “It was when the Vietnamese bombed the American fleet and started the Vietnam War.”

Read more ....


Did Biden Blow Up the Russian 'Reset'? -- Gregory Scoblete, RealClearWorld

The Military Is Not the Police -- New York Times editorial

No Unguarded Moment -- David Ignatius, Washington Post opinion

Banishing Our Friends -- Wall Street Journal editorial

Tough on Israel -- Washington Post editorial

Philippine death squads -- Washington Times opinion

Fragile Philippine democracy -- Washington Times editorial

Revenge of the ‘Shoe Bomber’ -- Debra Burlingame, Wall Street Journal

Why China Eclipsed Russia -- Peter Osnos, The Daily Beast

Washington Is Taking China Too Seriously
-- David Pilling, Financial Times

Island of Discord Between Russia & Japan -- Vladimir Kozin, Moscow Times

World News Briefs -- July 30, 2009

A demonstrator in Italy holds up a picture of Neda Agha-Soltan, an Iranian woman who was killed during post-election unrest in Tehran in June. Iranian police were out in force on Thursday at a cemetery where defiant opposition leaders are planning a memorial visit to the graves of protesters killed in post-election violence, witnesses said. (AFP/File/Giuseppe Cacace)

Iran Police Break Up Memorial For Protest Victims -- Yahoo News/Reuters

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Baton-wielding Iranian police fired tear gas on Thursday and arrested protesters mourning the young woman killed in post-election violence who has become a symbol for the opposition to Tehran's hardline leaders.

Read more ....


Iran police beat opposition sympathisers at graveside memorial.

Bombs kill 12 in north and west Iraq, say police.

US hopeful about exit after a quiet July in Iraq.

West Bank settlers send Obama defiant message.

Israel to allow cement into Gaza.


US envoy warns of possible new sanctions on North Korea.

India prime minister pushes for dialogue with Pakistan.

Burma warning on Suu Kyi protests.

Kyrgyz authorities crack down on opposition rallies.

Activist says thousands missing in China's Uighur Province.

Beijing closing coal plants in environmental move.


Nigerian sect leader shot dead after capture: police.

Algerian soldiers 'die in ambush'.

Fed-up South Africans lash out at Zuma's government.

Fears of Zimbabwe plot grow after minister is held for stealing old mobile phone.

How Google and governments should manage Africa's Internet boom. Cable fault cuts off West Africa.


Spanish police defuse 2nd bomb on Mallorca. Blast on Spanish Island of Mallorca kills 2.

Moldovan Communists beaten in landmark election.

Recession robs Spain's youth of jobs and hope.

Report: Only 367 Muslim women in France wear full veil.

Serbian officials say Mladic is 'within reach'.


Honduran Leader backs return of President.

Hugo Chavez freezes ties with Colombia over weapons row.

Treasury announces sanctions of Mexican Drug Lords.

Russia signs oil pact, offers $150M credit to Cuba.


U.S. judge orders Guantanamo prisoner Jawad freed.

I bombed Jakarta hotels.

Was Manchester United the target of the Jakarta bombing?


Weak Treasury auctions raise worries about US debt burden.

US economy likely to contract in second quarter: Obama.

China's central bank reassures on monetary policy.