Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pakistan Tribal Militias Oppose Taliban But . . .

Tribal militias, formed with the assistance of the Pakistan security forces, are successfully opposing the Taliban in the northwest tribal areas of Pakistan.  Some observers view this development with alarm - citing the problems with private militias unaccountable to the central government.  Others welcome the growth of the militias as they know the terrain, the population, and where the Taliban are hiding.  In addition, the militias are controlling areas and a population that the security forces of the central government have not been able to control for a number of years.  Read more in "Militias Stem Taliban, But at a Price", Military.com, December 287, 2010.

French Foreign Legion - Are the Glory Years Now Past?

A recent article explores the past and present of the French Foreign Legion.  The author states that its romantic days are in the past and the usefulness of the Legion has probably diminished.  Hmmmmmm.  Maybe not.  Read more in "The French Legion, a forgotten fighting legend", National Post, December 27, 2010.

Special Forces Not So Keen About Gays in Their Ranks

With the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" will come the problems that many supporters have ignored along the way to social engineering of America's military.  In the midst of a war in Afghanistan the military must now spend precious time, energy, resources and money on ensuring that everyone knows the rules, sits through countless classes, and reads the many orders, regulations, and edicts that will be forthcoming from the different military headquarters.  While many in the military support gays being able to serve in the military it is important to note that many do not.  The difference is in who supports gays and who doesn't.  Most of the military is composed of staff and support servicemen and women who work in an office environment and go home to their private rooms or homes at the end of the day.  If they do deploy, it is locations on the "super FOBs" where they have private living quarters.  It is the men in the combat units that see austere living conditions, communal living arrangements, and shared toilet and shower areas (if they exist) who are resistant to gays in their ranks.  No surprise there.  Of particular interest will be how the gays will be accepted into the Special Operations Forces ranks - as in the Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs.  Many doubt that gays will volunteer for extremely challenging Special Forces training or the dangerous and arduous assignments - so the numbers may be very small.  Read more in "Special Forces wary of 'don't ask, dont' tell' repeal", The Washington Times, December 27, 2010.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Special Forces Critical to Afghan War Effort

U.S. Army Special Forces units are contributing in a vital way to the fight in Afghanistan.  They are engaged in a host of activities to include Direct Action, Unconventional Warfare, Stability Operations, and Foreign Internal Defence. The pace of deployments have been constant for the seven Special Forces groups since 9/11.  Read more in "U.S. special ops forces vital in Afghan war", USA Today, December 27, 2010.

The Special Forces units are continually looking for young men to volunteer for their intensive training program and subsequent assignment to a Special Forces team.  For more information on opportunities see the links below:

Active Duty Special Forces
http://www.bragg.army.mil/sorb/

National Guard Special Forces
http://www.nationalguardspecialforces.com/

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Transparency International - Afghanistan Ranks Among Most Corrupt

The organization Transparency International has released a map depicting corrupt nations of the world.  It is entitled Corruption Perceptions Index 2010 Results.  Of note is Afghanistan - ranked among one of the most corrupt in the world.  Iraq does not rank much better.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shared Strategies for Homeland Security Exhibit and Conference (Dec 13-16, 2010, Denver, CO)

The Shared Strategies for Homeland Security Conference and Exhibit will take place on December 13-16, 2010 in Denver, Colorado.  The conference will be informative for first responders, healthcare professionals, the business community and citizens. 

http://www.denveruasipresents.com/

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weapons That Don't Shoot for Counterinsurgents

The Strategic Studies Institute of the United States Army War College has posted a paper on its web site entitled "Some of the Best Weapons for Counterinsurgents Do Not Shoot".  The paper is by Eric T. Olson and a synopsis and link to the Adobe Acrobat document is provided below.
"Even under the best circumstances, reconstruction in counterinsurgency is a difficult endeavor. The most critical tasks are numerous and complex. Many participating agencies must undertake missions that fall well out of their existing core competencies or operate in environments that are completely unfamiliar to them. The involvement of multiple agencies who are not accustomed to working together makes coordination difficult. And all this must take place in an environment where an armed, violent foe, who understands the disadvantage to him of a successful reconstruction effort, is determined to go to almost any length to resist progress or destroy what has been accomplished. If the counterinsurgent understands what needs to be accomplished and to what end, and he has a plan and can mount a coordinated effort to execute that plan, reconstruction can indeed then become one of the array of key weapons that do not shoot that are available to the counterinsurgent. Even as a weapon that does not shoot, reconstruction can end up being dangerous to the hunter as well as the hunted. A coordinated, skillfully executed reconstruction program is essential to a manageable security environment and strong national institutions that have the confidence and the support of the people. But reconstruction that is mismanaged, bungled, and obviously ineffectual not only represents a lost opportunity to advance the cause; it also may well put a weapon in the hands of the insurgent."
http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=1027

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

NATO Talks About Afghanistan in Lisbon

The European countries want out, America wants assurance that its sacrifice is winning, and other allies are dealing with domestic resistance to the Afghan war.  NATO is currently meeting to discuss troop levels, exit strategies, trainers and more.  Read about the conference that NATO is having in Lisbon about Afghanistan in "NATO gives unpalatable Afghan facts a tweaking", Sydney Morning Herald, November 20, 2010.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tanks in Afghanistan Inspired by Canadians

"KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The United States is to follow Canada’s lead by deploying tanks to southern Afghanistan. The decision to significantly up the ante in the war against the Taliban by sending 68-ton Marine Corps M1 Abrams tanks to Helmand province comes as Canadian heavy armour plays a vital but little known role in the war. U.S. commanders have called on the tanks of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) to assist them during key combat operations against the Taliban including during a recent offensive. The German-built Leopards have also provided frequent fire support for American troops from within a base in Panjwaii District that overlooks Zhari District."
Read the rest of the article in "Canadian tanks in Afghanistan inspire U.S. deployment", National Post, November 18, 2010.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Operations Increase in Afghanistan - Special Operations Missions Raise in Tempo

Special Operations forces have dramatically increased the rate of operations in Afghanistan.  So many of the Taliban leadership has been rolled up that the average age of the Taliban leader has gone from the mid-30s to the mid-20s.  Read more in "NATO ramps up attacks on Taliban in Afghanistan", USA Today, November 19, 2010.

Heavy Tanks to Deploy to Afghanistan

The U.S. Marines are going to deploy a company of heavy tanks to Afghanistan in its counterinsurgency fight.  The M1 Abrams tanks will allow ground troops to target insurgents from a distance of up to a mile with accurate heavy fire from its 120-mm main gun.  Read more in "U.S. deploying heavily armored battle tanks for first time in Afghan war", The Washington Post, November 19, 2010.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Afghan Special Forces Growing

The Afghan Army is slowly growing its Special Forces capability.  The core of the first Afghan Special Forces teams was recruited from the Afghan Commando Kandaks.  However this was having the effect of lowering the quality of the Commando Kandaks.  Now recruits are selected from the Afghan National Army - although they must go through a longer training program.  Read more in "Afghanistan Grows Its Own Special Forces", Strategy Page, November 10, 2010.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan - Date Is Elusive

The American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was widely announced as mid-summer 2011.  However, . . . it appears that is merely the start of the withdrawal.  The date slip provides more time for the U.S. military and its coalition partners to try and train up an Afghan army and police force and to rid the Karzai government of the massive problem of corruption.  In three more years the army may get trained up - the corruption problem, not so much. Read an article on the topic in "When Will Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan Ever End?", The Nation, November 12, 2010.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Operation Dragon Strike and the Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC)

The "clear, hold and build" concept of counterinsurgency is being done in Afghanistan in many ways by the different combat formations of the U.S. and its coalition allies.  Currently OPERATION DRAGON STRIKE is underway in the outskirts of Kandahar and the 101st Airborne Division is applying its version of "clear" to the operation using bulldozers and Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) devices.  Read more in "U.S. Military Bulldozes through Kandahar", CBS News, November 10, 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

MG Flynn to Shake Up Intel World

In a clear effort to shake up the intelligence community, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is bringing back the head of allied intelligence in Afghanistan, author of a highly critical report of allied intelligence efforts there, to handle relations with U.S. intelligence agencies, foreign partners and those who use intelligence.
Read more: http://www.dodbuzz.com/2010/11/02/dni-hires-fox-to-watch-henhouse/#ixzz14IpEgHHy

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Training at West Point Criticized by Army Officer Who Taught There

An Army officer who served at West Point as an instructor has provided an opinon article highly critical of the training program for our aspiring officers who spend four years there.  Read more at the link below on Foreign Policy Magazine (October 29, 2010).

http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/10/29/west_point_time_to_bring_its_military_training_up_to_the_standards_of_rotc

Monday, November 8, 2010

U.S. Army to Expand National Guard and Active Duty Special Forces

WASHINGTON (10/28/10) -- The U.S. Army Special Operations Command will double in size by 2017, said its commander, compared to what it was before the war on terror.

The demand for Special Operations Forces (SOF), however, has almost quadrupled, said USASOC commander, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., Oct. 26 during the first-ever panel on special operations at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition.

"The operations tempo for the force has skyrocketed," Mulholland said, later adding that not even the drawdown in Iraq has reduced the number of special operations Soldiers there. He said the deployment ratio for SOF is the highest in the Army, with Soldiers deployed more than they are at home station.

"We will never build enough capacity within the force to meet the demand for the skills and disciplines we bring," Mulholland said.

USASOC is adding a battalion to each of its five active-duty Special Forces groups and its two in the National Guard. The Ranger Regiment stood up a Special Troops Battalion a couple of years ago and additional companies are being planned for each of the Ranger battalions.

What was only a single active-duty civil affairs battalion a few years ago has grown to four battalions, now comprising a full brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C. And the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade plans to add a fifth battalion next year. In addition, plans call for adding a second active-duty CA brigade in the future.

Psychological operations underwent a change this month from PSYOPS to military information support operations, or MISO. The 4th PSYOPS Group became the 4th MISG and the 9th PSYOPS Battalion became the 9th MISB. In addition, the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review calls for more PSYOPS companies, but a USASOC spokesman said that growth depends on future funding.

Overall, the budget for U.S. Special Operations Command -- the joint organization of which USASOC is a part -- should triple by 2017, compared to what it was before Sept. 11, 2001, Mulholland projected. He also said USASOC actually comprises about half of SOCOM.

USASOC now has about 5,000 Soldiers and civilians deployed around the world in more than 50 countries. Small teams still train foreign militaries around the globe, but nowhere are SOF missions more in demand than in Afghanistan, Mulholland said.

Missions in Afghanistan range from high-end, direct-action against insurgents to working with tribal elders in villages, Mulholland said. SOF helped train the Afghan light infantry and they're now training the Afghan Special Forces. Every type of mission in the SOF quiver is being conducted nightly in Afghanistan, he said.

High in demand for night operations are the modified helicopters of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Not enough MH-46s are available for the missions, and conventional aircraft must sometimes be used, officials said.

Over the next two years, USASOC plans to stand up an additional MH-47 company, said Brig. Gen. Kevin Mangum who recently transitioned from being deputy commanding general of the 1st Armored Division and U.S. Division-Center in Iraq to standing up a new Special Operations Aviation Command. Mangum said he arrived at Fort Bragg less than two weeks ago to stand up the new command.

"Our command will bring more capacity," he said, explaining that it will have responsibility for training, research and development, resourcing, and manning. What it will not do initially, though, is bring more helicopters to the fight, Mangum said. But he added that his command will free up the 160th SOAR to conduct its missions.

SOF is rubbing off on the conventional force, when it comes to capability and standards, said Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, Army G-3/5/7. He said special operations forces set the standard and challenge the rest of the force to meet it.

SOF also provides innovation and inspiration to the entire force, said Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., now the J-5 for the Joint Staff and recently the corps commander in Iraq.

"They shared their stuff, they shared their people, they shared their experiences," he said about SOF interacting with the general-purpose force. He added that SOF should no longer ever be considered a "niche" capability, explaining that they are now "fundamental."

Maj. Gen. James L. Huggins Jr., commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said his Soldiers sometimes "bird dog" for SOF and often work together with special operations forces as a team. Some of his Soldiers eventually decide to cross over to special operations, he said, but added that SOF gives back to the regular force ten-fold.

Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Mellinger of Army Materiel Command was also on the panel. He was a Ranger in the 1970s, and said young Soldiers back then looked at SOF differently. Now there is more trust and teamwork, he said, and young Soldiers look to Special Operations Forces for an example -- "for what right looks like," he said.

One proof that Special Operations has become more integrated into the regular Army is the existence of the SOF panel itself at the AUSA annual meeting, several of the panel members said.

"A lot of things that began in Special Operations are now ingrained into the Army," Mellinger added.
The above story is an Army News Release dated October 28, 2010 and can be found at the link below:

http://www.ng.mil/news/archives/2010/10/102910-Army.aspx

Learn more about Special Forces at the link below:

http://www.specialforcetraining.info/

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Taliban Resilent in Face of NATO Attacks

American intelligence officials have indicated that the Taliban are surviving the stepped up attacks that NATO has mounted over the past several months.
"The Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan have been largely unaffected by NATO's campaign, according to assessments by US intelligence services.  The Washington Post reports that the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other US intelligence services are in broad agreement that the Taliban and the Haqqani network, an independent militant group allied with the Taliban, have suffered only minor setbacks due to NATO's campaign."
Read the rest of the article in "NATO campaign having little impact on Taliban, say US intelligence agencies", The Christian Science Monitor, October 27, 2010.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Militias in Afghanistan and the Afghan Local Police Initiative (ALP)

The U.S. military is in search of a solution to how to win the war in Afghanistan but to still withdraw in accordance with Obama's time frame - next July.  Unfortunately the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan National Police (ANP) are not quite up to the task to take over.  In addition, the ANA and ANP do not have ties to the local population - an essential ingredient in counterinsurgency operations.  The Afghan Local Police initiative is an attempt to close this gap.  A 'bottom-up' approach some have called it.  Read a criticism of the ALP in "Afghanistan: Can Iraq-Style Militias Tackle the Taliban?", Time, October 27, 2010.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some Advocate CIA Control of Special Operations Activities in Yemen

There are some in the Obama administration who are advocating for CIA control of Special Operations activities in Yemen.  The CIA and Special Forces have a long history of working together from the early 1950s to the current war in Afghanistan.  Read more in "Support Grows for CIA Control of SpecOps", Military.com, November 1, 2010.

Special Forces Combat Diver Course in Key West, Florida

"On the southern tip of the Florida Keys, at what was a fallout shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis era, is the Special Forces Underwater Operations School. It's where the military's elite special-operations forces train at some of the most physically demanding courses in the Army: the Combat Diver Qualification, Combat Diving Supervisor and Diving Medical Technician courses. Soldiers of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Training Group, run the school as part of Fort Bragg's U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

During the six-week qualification course, Special Forces Soldiers learn more than basic scuba diving-they learn a new method of transportation. Master Sgt. J.T. Reed, the operations sergeant for the school, said the schoolhouse focuses on more than the skill of diving; it also focuses on the overall spectrum of waterborne operations, to include tactical infiltration and search and recovery operations." 
Read the rest of the article in "The water sorts it out", US Army News,  November 1, 2010.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Afghan Special Forces and Village Stability Program

The Afghan Army is fielding its first Special Forces teams after an intensive training effort.  These teams are fighting side-by-side with U.S. Army Special Forces detachments.  Read a report on how well the first Afghan Army Special Forces team is doing.  See "Afghan Special Forces team 'incredible', counterpart says", DefenseNews, October 27, 2010.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Training of Afghan's in Australia Causes Stir | PRC and Matiullah Khan

Reports of members of the Provincial Response Company - a part of the Afghan National Police under the Ministry of Interior - are training in Australia with the Australian Special Operations forces.  This has caused quite a stir as the PRC is part of a force in Uruzgan Province headed up by Matiullah Khan - a Karzai ally and warlord in that part of Afghanistan.  The Australian defence department has issued a statement about the training.  Read more in "Response from Department of Defence", The Age, October 29, 2010.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can the CIA Still Do Its Job?

An observer of the CIA's activities and operations has recently penned an opinion piece posted on the CNN website that questions the CIA's ability to do its job.  See "Can the CIA still accomplish its mission?", CNN, October 26, 2010.

Interest in and Support of Afghan War Diminishing According to Report by Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations has released an article that states that interest in the war in Afghanistan has slipped.  This can be seen in the lack of debate on the war during the mid-term election period.  In addition, support has diminished as well.  Read more in "Foreign Policy and the 2010 Midterms: War in Afghanistan", Council on Foreign Relations, October 28, 2010.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Kabul Embassy Still Has Security Contractor Problems

A recent report has high-lighted some lingering security contractor problems at the Kabul, Afghanistan embassy.  Read more in "Report: Massive flaws in Kabul embassy security", Salon War Room, October 28, 2010.

A Glimpse of the Pakistan Border Area - A View from Pakistan

A correspondent provides us with an account of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area - from the viewpoint of a local Pakistan Army unit (called the Frontier Scouts) charged with securing the border.  Read "A different story emerges from Pakistan", Boston.com, October 29, 2010.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spending in Afghanistan Out of Control

The U.S. government is doing a poor job of coordinating the work done and accounting for money spent by 7,000 contractors rebuilding Afghanistan, an audit found.  "Navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best," the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction said in an accompanying statement Wednesday.  Read more in "Audit: Agencies can't readily account for Afghanistan spending", CNN News, October 28, 2010.

Investigative Report on "Information Operations Capstone" - Secret Private Sector Intelligence Gathering Operation Exposed

A recent news article provides some details on an investigation on "Information Operations Capstone" - the secret private-sector intelligence operation run by defense contractor Michael Furlong.  Read it here at "Pentagon says intel contractors went too far", Google Hosted News, October 29, 2010.

The Battle for Afghanistan | An Australian View

The Australians have been critical allies in Afghanistan for a number of years.  So naturally their press carries stories about their fighting men, the debate over the war (should they pull out), how to win the war, and how the war is going.  Read a viewpoint from one Australian on "how the war is going".  See "Latest Afghan battle front is in Washington", The Sydney Morning Herald, October 30, 2010.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Intel Opn in Afghanistan Went Too Far According to DoD Inquiry - Information Operations Capstone

The privately contracted intelligence operation run by Michael Furlong known as "Information Operations Capstone" is said to have exceeded its legal limits according to a recent inquiry by the Department of Defense.  Many are wondering what the issue is.  The operators in Afghanistan collecting the information were retired intelligence and Special Forces operatives.  If the endeavor was producing good intelligence then what is the problem?  Read more in "Pentagon: Intel Contractors Went Too Far", Military.com, October 29, 2010.

US Army Special Operations Holds Conference in Raleigh, NC to Discuss Future

U.S. Army Special Operations units are spread across the world but they still manage to keep in contact with each other from time to time.  One of these ways of staying in touch is holding conferences where they can periodically meet.  The United States Army Special Operations Command recently held a conference in Raleigh, NC.  Read about the conference in "US Army Special Ops Leaders Discuss Overseas Campaigns In Raleigh", The Raleigh Telegram, October 29, 2010.

3rd Commando Kandak in Afghanistan

The link below will bring you to a short news article about the Afghan 3rd Commando Kandak.  The Commando Kandaks have been one of the few success stories in Afghanistan. Partnered with U.S Special Forces teams these well-trained and experienced battalions are effectively fighting the Taliban.

http://www.dvidshub.net/news/59075/afghan-coalition-forces-find-firefights-ieds-panjwai

Private Security Firms in Afghanistan Provided Two Month Extension Before Shut Down

Private security firms operating in Afghanistan have been provided with a two-month long extension before being forced to shut-down due to a presidential decree by Karzai.  The firms provide security to NGOs and military installations throughout Afghanistan.  Read more in "Karzai delays private security deadline", The Sydney Morning Herald, October 29, 2010.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Matiullah Khan Aides Train in Australia

A warlord, Matiullah Khan, who controls a private Afghan army in Oruzgan Province has sent several of his key aides to Australia for some advanced training with Australian Special Forces.  Read more in "Afghan warlord's private army trained in Australia", The Sydney Morning Herald, October 29, 2010.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Private Security Companies in Afghanistan to Disband - Who Will Replace Them?

Karzai is insisting that the private security companies that have contracted with the coalition, private entities, and non-governmental organizations be disbanded.  His plan is to replace the almost 50,000 security contractors with Afghan National Police (ANP) or Afghan National Army (ANA) units.  That is not likely.  The police and Army are already fully engaged in the counterinsurgency fight - especially in southern Afghanistan. In addition, these units are largely untrained and plagued with desertion and drug use.  Many foreign firms and NGOs will leave rather than leave their security to Afghan security forces.  Read more in "Who Will Replace Afghan Security Guards", Military.com, October 27, 2010.

Calls for Ceasefire in Afghanistan

A leading news magazine has called for a cease-fire in Afghanistan.  The Nation published an article saying that the escalation of operations by the coalition has failed to kill off or diminish the Taliban and it is time for a negotiated settlement.  Read more in "Time for a Cease-Fire", The Nation, October 27, 2010.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can the Taliban and Al Qaeda be Split in Afghanistan?

One of the efforts underway in Afghanistan is to bring back into the fold "moderate" Taliban fighters.  The intent is to separate the Taliban from Al Qaeda and to "reintegrate" them into Afghan society and have them support the Afghan government.  A commentator provides his insight as to how this is going.  See "Turning the Taliban Against Al Qaeda", The New York Times, October 26, 2010.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Night C-17 Cargo and Personnel Parachute Jump - Video

A good video of the inside of a C-17 Cargo Jet dropping four Army vehicles and paratroopers on a night parachute jump.

Jamestown Foundation's Annual Terrorism Conference

The Jamestown Foundation will be holding their 4th Annual Terrorism Conference on Thursday, December 9, 2010 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  For more information click on the link below:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/941206173

Military to Assist in Domestic Cyberattacks

The Defense Department will assist the Homeland Security Department in fighting domestic cyberattacks.  A recent new report in The New York Times provides details.  See "Pentagon Will Help Homeland Security Department Fight Domestic Cyberattacks" posted on October 20, 2010.

Detection Technologies Conference, Nov 9-10, 2010, Arlington, VA

The Detection Technologies Conference is an event for those interested in the detection and identification of biological and chemical threats.  The conference will be held in Arlington, Virginia on November 9-10, 2010. 

http://www.knowledgefoundation.com/viewevents.php?event_id=238&act=evt

Monday, October 25, 2010

Furey - Local Engagement in Afghanistan

A paper recently published and posted on the Small Wars Journal provides some valuable insight into what has gone wrong with the war in Afghanistan and what needs to be done in the future to stabilize the country and accomplish the objectives of the United States.  The author takes us step by step through some of the past roadblocks and proposes some unique ways to attain our goals.  Read "A Comprehensive Approach to Local Engagement in Afghanistan", by Eric T. Furey, October 24, 2010.

Info about the author taken from the paper: 
"Eric Furey is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel. He served as a Red Team Leader and as part of the first Red Team (Alternative Perspective) to deploy with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Afghanistan from July 2008 to January 2009. He along with his fellow Red Teamers wrote the initial concept and plan for Tribal Engagement. In addition, they created a Tribal Engagement Fusion Cell. Their efforts became the genesis for subsequent local engagement activities in Afghanistan."

Classified Iraq War Documents Provide Insight on the Conflict - WikiLeak Documents

The New York Times has posted numerous reports about the Iraq War that it has obtained from WikiLeaks.  Some of the reports are very damaging to the Iraqi regime supported by the United States with detailed accounts of torture of its prisoners.  Take a look at the "War Logs" on the Times website.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/war-logs.html

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Southeast Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Response Conference and Expo - Nov 16-18, 2010

The Southeast Counter-Terrorism and Emergency Response Conference and Expo will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 16-18, 2010. 
"This conference was created for Senior Level counter-terrorism personnel, emergency management and disaster response personnel, and first-responders, including emergency medical personnel, police and sheriff’s, Fire Chiefs, Emergency Medical Technicians, and military. The Conference schedule will include speakers covering regionally relevant and timely topics on counter-terrorism measures, threat assessment, crisis training, trends in terrorism threats, methodology for tracking, medical center preparedness and others. This conference will provide information on current terrorist threats, current mitigation and prevention systems and plans and information on how to best prepare as responders should a threat occur.  Workshops offering practical training for law enforcement and first responders would be held November 17-18. simultaneous to the conference."
http://defensetradeshows.com/southeast-counter-terrorism-and-emergency-response-conference-and-expo/

Click here for a comprehensive listing of all security and homeland defense conferences and seminars.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bomb Detection - The Dog is a Soldier's Best Friend Says JIEDDO

A lot of money has been spent by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization or JIEDDO on defeating the IED networks in Iraq and Afghanistan.  JIEDDO received priority in the defense department because IEDs were among the biggest killers of our troops.  After several years of intense work JIEDDO has determined that dogs are one of our best weapons against bombs.  Read more in "$19 Billion Spent Over Six Years, Pentagon Realizes the Best Bomb Detector Is a Dog", Popular Science, October 22, 2010.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dazed and Confused Afghan National Army

A read an interesting article by a war correspondent who is spending time in Afghanistan.  See "The Afghan National Army in Combat: Dazed and Confused?", Time, October 19, 2010.

White House Report on Afghanistan and Pakistan Not Encouraging

The White House has released a report on current efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan - and the report is not encouraging. Read more in "The White House's report on Af-Pak: Hold the optimism", The Washington Post, October 8, 2010.  Read more news on the war in Afghanistan in http://www.afghanwarnews.info/.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Yemen - How to Fix the Instability. Fire President Saleh?

An opinion piece recently suggested that Yemen's biggest problem was not
" . . . the Zaidi Shiite rebellion in Yemen's north or the separatist movement in Yemen's south. It isn't the 40 percent unemployment. It isn't the near one-in-10 childhood mortality rate or the malnutrition that causes more than half the country's children to be stunted. Although all those factors exist, tragically, in this hospitable, ancient, and beautiful country, and all are grave, none of them is Yemen's main problem."
According to this columnist the big problem is the country's president - Saleh.  Read the article at "Our Man in Sanaa", Foreign Policy, October 6, 2010.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wiretapping the Internet - What is the Correct Approach of LE Agencies?

The FBI wants more latitude in their ability to monitor Internet traffic for the purposes of fighting crime.  The current wiretap laws don't take into account the advances in communications technology - which provide a measure of security for criminal organizations.  Read an opinion piece on this topic in "Law enforcement's limits in wiretapping the Internet", The Washington Post, October 7, 2010.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shadow UAVs to Get Laser Target Designators

Shadow UAVs will soon be enhanced as a result of several programs to equip them with laser designators.  The RQ-7 Shadows are too small to carry weapons but can carry a lightweight laser designator that would mark targets for other platforms launching or carrying munitions.  Read more in "Laser Designators for RQ-7 Shadow UAVs", Defense Daily Industry, October 5, 2010. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Investment in Small Tactical Units vs Big Weapons Systems

Retired MG Robert Scales has wrote an article entitled "Small unit dominance" which has been published in Armed Forces Journal (October 2010).  In the article he presents the argument that we spend billions of dollars on complex weapons systems yet ignore the common infantryman who actually fights and dies in our wars.  He advocates a reallocation of resources towards the man on the ground who fights and dies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Army and its Ground Combat Vehicle Program

The military is always looking towards the future even as it fights its current wars.  This is true in the area of new equipment as well - the Army continues to develop plans for its future purchases.  Currently the Army is looking at the types of wars it will have to fight in the future and proposing what ground combat vehicles it will need to fight those wars.  Read an interesting article about the Army's Ground Combat Vehicle program entitled "A Heavy Load to Bear", by Thomas Donnelly.  It was posted on the website of the American Enterprise Institute on October 5, 2010.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How Will History Judge British Performance in Basra, Iraq?

"The British army suffered defeat in Iraq when it pulled out of Basra, a senior American general has argued.  UK forces left the city in 2007, leaving the people to be "terrorised", key White House adviser Gen Jack Keane told the BBC.  Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the withdrawal at the time as "a pre-planned and organised move".  The former UK commander in southern Iraq said his actions were constrained by political considerations."
Read the rest of the news article in "Britain suffered defeat in Iraq, says US general", BBC News, September 28, 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Michael Vickers to Head up Pentagon Intelligence Activities

Michael Vickers has been nominated to be the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and should be up for Senate confirmation soon.  Vickers was a Special Forces officer before joining the CIA.  He played a leading role in the CIA's support of the Afghan Freedom Fighters who fought the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.  Read more in "Charlie Wilson's Warrior Becomes Top Pentagon Spook", Wired.com Danger Room, September 30, 2010.

Monday, October 11, 2010

ICTOA 8th Annual Conference

The International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association (ICTOA) will hold its annual conference on October 19-21, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Click on the link below to learn more:

http://www.ictoa.org/events/

To see a listing of other security related conferences click below:

http://www.securityinfonet.com/Security_Conferences_and_Seminars.htm

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cyber Security Blog

Are you interested in how your family, school, business, or organization can stay safe online while using the Internet?  There are resources out there on the Internet that can assist you.  Many websites and blogs provide some detailed information.  One of these blogs is called "The Cyber Security Blog".  This blog " . . . explores a variety of cybersecurity issues including how to stay safe and secure online, emerging trends in security, the integration of cybersecurity, cybersafety, . . ." and more.  Click on the link below to visit the blog.

http://www.staysafeonline.org/blog

Saturday, October 9, 2010

$15 Million for USC Anti-Terrorism Center (CREATE)

The University of Southern California (USC) announced that the National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events has received a $15.3 million grant.  Read more in "USC receives $15.3 million grant for its anti-terrorism center", Beverly Hills Courier, September 28, 2010.

Friday, October 8, 2010

ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibit - October 12-15, 2010

The ASIS International annual seminar and exhibit will take place October 12-15, 2010 in Dallas, Texas.  The security seminar and trade exhibit is the largest held in the United States.  Guest speakers will include Captain Sullenberger (the pilot who landed the US Airways flight in the Hudson River) and President Pervez Musharraf (former President of Pakistan).  Learn more about this event at the link below.

http://www.asisonline.org/education/programs/dallas/default.htm

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Medal of Honor Presented to Family of Green Beret - SSG Robert Miller, 3rd Special Forces

The Medal of Honor was presented to the family of SSG Robert Miller - a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group who died in Afghanistan.  Read the Presidents remarks during the ceremony in "Highest Honor", Time Magazine, October 6, 2010.  Read a biography of SSG Miller.

Dangerous Solutions for Afghanistan?

A guest writer has posted an article on the AfPak Channel of the Foreign Policy website.  Thomas Ruttig, the co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, discusses some dangerous ideas proposed by others on how to solve our Afghanistan problem (one of which involves dividing Afghanistan into Pustun and non-Pustun areas).  Red the article entitled "Inside a Crazy Strategy for Afghanistan", AfPak Channel - Foreign Policy Magazine, September 28, 2010.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Super Yacht Security

Super yacht owners are spending big money for yacht security.  Some of the equipment they are buying includes underwater sonic cannons, surface lasers, GPS technology, and more.  Read about it in "Superyachts Lure Billionaires With Sonic Cannons, Lasers", Bloomberg, September 30, 2010.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blackwater and Partners Recieve Huge Contract from State Department

Blackwater (now known as Xe) has received a big contract from the State Department.  The contract, shared by a number of firms, is for providing protective services for American embassies overseas. The contract is worth $10 Billion.  Read more in "Blackwater firm partners with State Dept., CIA insiders", SpyTalk at The Washington Post, October 1, 2010.

Monday, October 4, 2010

October is National Awareness Cybersecurity Month

The National Cybersecurity Awareness Month takes place in October.  This is a campaign to educate citizens, schools, businesses and other organizations about the dangers of the Internet and how to stay safe online.  You can learn more about staying safe online by clicking on the link below:

http://www.staysafeonline.org/ncsam

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Industrial Controls Susceptable to Computer Worms - as in Stuxnet

"Ongoing analysis of the Stuxnet worm, which has breached thousands of industrial control systems around the world, reveals a complex, professional and dangerous piece of malware that appears to cross the line from cyberspace to the physical world.  “Stuxnet has been called a cyberweapon,” said Jimmy Sorrells, senior vice president of Integrity Global Security. “The intent was to cause physical damage and maybe to kill people.”
Read more in the news article entitled "Stuxnet reveals vulnerabilities in industrial controls", Government Computer News, October 1, 2010.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Terrorism Warning Issued for Americans in Europe

Adminstration officials are warning of threats against Americans who are in Europe.  Recent intelligence reports state that terrorism attacks are imminent.  Read more in "Source: U.S. to Issue Travel Warning on Public Places in Europe", Fox News, October 2, 2010.

Pennsylvania Homeland Security Chief Resigns Amid Intel Bulletin Controversey

Pennsylvania's Homeland Security chief has resigned as a result of controversy over a contract with a private "intelligence firm" that provided bulletins relating to threats to Pennsylvania.  Read more in "Pa. homeland security chief resigns in fallout over intel contract", Politico, October 1, 2010.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Information about U.S. Army Special Forces Training

Much of my blogging is about the war in Afghanistan.  U.S. Army Special Forces plays a huge role in the war - conducting operations ranging from capture / kill missions against Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, advising Commando Kandaks, assisting in village security and defence programs, and working with and training the Afghan Special Forces units.  So what type of training prepares these "Green Berets" for these complex and dangerous missions?  Now you can know.  Visit a newly created website at the link below:

http://www.specialforcestraining.info/

Techno Forensics & Digital Investigation Conference - Gaithersburg, MD - Oct 25-26, 2010

The 6th Annual “Techno Forensics and Digital Investigation Conference” will be held in Gaithersburg, Maryland on October 25-26, 2010.  Click on the link below for more information.

http://www.techsec.com/html/TechnoForensics2010.html

http://www.securityinfonet.com/Security_Conferences_and_Seminars.htm

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Max Boot Reviews "Obama's Wars" Book by Bob Woodward

Max Boot is not too kind to Bob Woodward's book - Obama's Wars.  Read his comments in "Backstage Drama", Council on Foreign Relations, September 30, 2010.  You can buy the book at Amazon.com at the link below:

Obama's Wars

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Are Drone Attacks in Afghanistan Effective?

A columnist, Micah Zenko writing for The New York Daily News, asks if the use of drones to attack Taliban and al Qaeda leaders is overrated.  Read more in "Why drones are overrated: They kill terrorist leaders - - but leave terrorist networks intact", The New York Daily News, September 29, 2010.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review of "Obama's Wars" by Gelb

Bob Woodward's book "Obama's Wars" has caused the administration some sleepless nights as they repair some of the damage.  Leslie Gelb reviews the book and provides insight on some of the juicy parts.  See "Bob Woodward's 'Obama's Wars': Les Gelb on Who Got Burned", The Daily Beast, September 23, 2010.  The book can be purchased at the link below:

Obama's Wars

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Two Afghan Journalists Held by Coalition Forces

President Karzai has called for the release of two Afghan journalists held by coalition forces suspected of ties with Taliban.  See "Afghan President Calls for Release of Journalists", ABC News, September 23, 2010.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

War Contractor Deaths Outnumber Military Deaths

"More private military contractors than uniformed service members were killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan between January and June of this year, marking the first time that corporations have lost more personnel on America’s battlefields than the United States military, according to ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative reporting group. More than 250 civilians working under American contractors were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the first six months of 2010, while 235 soldiers died in that same period, according to the latest report in ProPublica’s Disposable Army series."
Read more in "Contractor Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan Outnumber Service Member Deaths", At War Blog - The New York Times, September 23, 2010.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bob Woodward's Book to Cause Major Headaches for White House Afghanistan Policy

Bob Woodward's book is predicted to cause major headaches for the Obama administration.  The book reveals a lot about the interpersonal relationships with major players in the Afghanistan policy debate.  Read more in "Barack Obama's bitter divisions with generals revealed in new book", The Guardian, September 22, 2010.

The book can be purchased at the link below:

Obama's Wars

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Afghanistan Counterterrorist Pursuit Team (CPU)

The CIA has funded, trained, and employed a private paramilitary force in Afghanistan called the Afghanistan Counterterrorist Pursuit Team or CPU.  The unit was formed in the early days just after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces.  The CPU reportedly numbers about 3,000 and is used primarily in the border regions but is also employed throughout the country.  The CPU works in conjunction with U.S. Army Special Forces at times.  Read more in "US official: CIA runs elite Afghan fighting force", Stars and Stripes, September 22, 2010.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Afghan Election Investigators Confront Threats and Bribes

Afghanistan's flawed elections are now in the hands of a governmental system most often associated with fraud and corruption.  At each Afghan province the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC) has boards determining the election results.  Read more in "Afghanistan election investigators face threats, bribes", The Christian Science Monitor, September 22, 2010.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Update from Wardak Province, Afghanistan

Coalition forces provided a press conference by the governor of Wardak Province, a Jordanian Colonel, and an American Colonel.  They made brief statements and then answered questions on the progress being made by the Afghan government in the province.  Read the transcript of the teleconference at the link below:

"DoD News Briefing with Col. Johnson, Gov. Fidai and Col. Aref via Teleconference from Afghanistan", DoD News Transcript, September 15, 2010.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

$35 Million Requested for Afghan Local Police

"KABUL—U.S. and NATO military commanders across Afghanistan are preparing plans for village-based defense forces that will receive arms and funds in a bid to beat back Taliban insurgents in rural towns where President Hamid Karzai's government has scant control.

The Pentagon has requested congressional approval to divert an initial $35 million from the budget for the Afghan security forces to form the new local police groups. Critics say local militias could pose a security threat without careful monitoring."
Read the rest of the article in "U.S., NATO Look to Use Local Police in Afghanistan", by Julian Barnes and Adam Entous of The Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2010.  Read more about local defense initiatives in Afghanistan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Dismissal of Counterinsurgency Critics

A writer refutes the critics of the current popularity of counterinsurgency strategy (or methodology) in Afghanistan.  Read more in "A false dichotomy", Armed Forces Journal, September 2010.  Read more articles and publications in counterinsurgency at the link below.

http://www.securityinfonet.com/military/counterinsurgency-COIN.htm

Thursday, September 16, 2010

U.S. Special Forces Working Discreetly in Yemen

WASHINGTON - American commandos are working discreetly in Yemen's mountains to train that country's military to fight al-Qaeda-linked extremists in a signature Obama administration effort to fight terrorism without inflaming anti-U.S. sentiment.

The scope and amount of the military training in Yemen have grown slowly, reflecting the Pentagon's intention to tackle the terror threat while being mindful that a large American footprint in the conservative, Muslim country could actually fuel the insurgency, while also being financially unaffordable.

"Over the last year, the number of U.S. trainers moving in and out of Yemen has doubled, from 25 to about 50 now. The numbers fluctuate depending on the training schedule, but they are providing a complex level of instruction that combines tactical ground and air operations." 
 Read more: http://www.philly.com/inquirer/world_us/102512754.html#ixzz0zKWkQ2rN

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Birthplace of Taliban to be Targeted this Fall in Afghanistan

"The next focus for coalition forces in Afghanistan looks set to be Zhari district, the birthplace of the Taliban and a major southern nest of the insurgency.  Canadian Forces tried for years to pacify Zhari, in Kandahar province. However, for much of that time, the Canadian military had only a fraction of the forces the Americans now have to secure the 300-square-kilometre district.

Three fighting battalions from the 101st Airborne Division, comprising about 2,400 soldiers, having been assembled in Zhari. Canadian troops are in the adjacent district of Panjwai.  Securing Zhari is a key part of Operation Hamkari, a belated coalition decision to throw firepower at Kandahar to beat back the insurgency in the province, the spiritual home of the Taliban and the region that is believed to be their top target." 
 Read the rest of the news article in "Coalition forces target Taliban birthplace", The Globe and Mail, September 10, 2010.  Read more news about the fight for Kandahar at the link below.

http://www.securityinfonet.com/afghanistan/fight-for-kandahar.htm

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Aid Workers in Afghanistan Say Security is Worse

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Even as more American troops flow into the country, Afghanistan is more dangerous than it has ever been during this war, with security deteriorating in recent months, according to international organizations and humanitarian groups."
Read the article in "Security in Afghanistan is Deteriorating, Aid Groups Say", The New York Times, September 11, 2010.

http://www.afganwarnews.info/

Monday, September 13, 2010

U.S. Marines Rescue Ship from Pirates

"MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept. 9, 2010 – A 24-member maritime raid force from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit today boarded and seized control of an Antigua-Barbuda-flagged, German–owned vessel from pirates who attacked and boarded it yesterday.

The Marines serve aboard USS Dubuque, operating under Combined Task Force 151.  The mission secured the safety of the M/V Magellan Star’s crew and returned control of the ship to the civilian mariners. 
Nine pirates are under the task force’s control, pending further disposition, officials said, and the ship’s crew has not reported any injuries or casualties. No injuries to the maritime raid force were reported."
Information from "Marines Seize Control of Ship from Pirates", American Forces Press Service, September 9, 2010.  Learn more about maritime security.

Map of Afghanistan Affected by Floods (August 2010)

The recent flooding in Pakistan that has caused so much trouble has also affected areas of Afghanistan.  ReliefWeb.int has posted a map depicting these flooded areas (dated August 30, 2010).  Click on the link below to access the map.

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/LYLN-88VNBN?OpenDocument

Other maps of Afghanistan can be found here:

http://www.securityinfonet.com/afghanistan/Maps-of-Afghanistan.htm

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Operation Dark Heart - Reviews of New Book on Covert Activities in Afghanistan

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) has blocked the publishing of a new book by a retired Army intelligence officer. The book is called "Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan - and The Path to Victory".  The book was wrote by LTC Anthony Shaffer - an officer in the Army Reserves and DIA intelligence officer.  Read some reviews of the book at the links below:

"Spies and Contractors", by David Isenberg, Cato Institute, September 10, 2010.

"Pentagon Fighting Release of New War Memoir, 'Operation Dark Heart'", Daily Finance, September 10, 2010.

"Pentagon Plan: Buying Books to Keep Secrets", The New York Times, September 9, 2010.

The book - once cleared for publication - will be available on Amazon.com at the following link:  Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and The Path to Victory

Kandahar Boardwalk in Afghanistan

It seems lots of journalists want to write about "the Kandahar Boardwalk".  I haven't seen it but it must be pretty amazing to get all this print.  Here is another story about the place where Soldiers can relax with a burger and fries.  See "In Kandahar, you can get burgers and fries at U.S. "boardwalk", The Washington Post, September 12, 2010.

For more Afghan war news visit:

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

http://www.securityinfonet.com/afghanistan/The_War_In_Afghanistan.htm

Saturday, September 11, 2010

National Guard Special Forces Seeking Members

The U.S. Army National Guard Special Forces has played an important role in the defense of our country since September 11, 2001.  The 19th and 20th Special Forces Groups of the Army National Guard are two of the seven U.S. Army Special Forces Groups that belong to the United States Army Special Forces Command.  Each of these National Guard groups has deployed numerous times over the past several years to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations around the world.

The National Guard Special Forces is constantly recruiting new members for its operational detachments and support units that are located around the country. The units will accept former Green Berets who are already trained, prior service members from other units (all job specialties), or individuals who have never served. There are training programs for all individuals who wish to join a Special Forces unit.  The website link found below provides information on Special Forces training, locations of National Guard Special Forces units, and who to contact if interested in joining a National Guard Special Forces unit.

http://www.nationalguardspecialforces.com/

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Ghost in Kandahar

Sometimes some strange stuff happens in a war.  Here is one story with an unusual ending.  See "A Ghost in Kandahar", The New York Times, September 8, 2010.

Karzai Hedging His Bets - Seeks Accommadation with Taliban

Much to the dismay of the minority ethnic population of Afghanistan Karzai is seeking an agreement with the Taliban - who are mostly Pushtun from the east and south of the country.  Aides close to Karzai say he has lost confidence in the ability of his Afghan Army and the coalition forces to defeat the Taliban and he sees a political agreement as the only possible way to end the conflict.  Read more in "Karzai Divides Afghanistan in Reaching Out to Taliban", The Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2010.  Read more news about the war in www.afghanwarnews.info/.

Petraeus Sees Challenges and Progress in Afghanistan

Genereal Petraeus provides some insight as to the direction of the conflict in Afghanistan in an interview.  This is reported in a recent news report.  See "Petraeus Expects Sustained Violence", The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2010.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

COMISAF COIN Guidance - Petraeus Issues Counterinsurgency Guidance for Afghanistan (August 1, 2010)

The Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) - General Petraeus - has issued his commander's counterinsurgency guidance.  The document is available on the ISAF website where you can read it online or download it as a PDF file.  It is dated August 1, 2010.  See the link below:

http://www.isaf.nato.int/the-afghan-hands-blog/commanders-blog/comisaf-guidance-01-aug-2010.html

4th BCT of 101st Now Deployed to Afghanistan: Completes Deployment of Surge Forces

The 4th Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division - stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky - has now deployed to eastern Afghanistan.  This completes the movement of 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan that is known as "The Surge".  Read more of the deployment of the 4th BCT in "Surge Is Fully Deployed to Afghanistan", by Julian Barnes, The Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2010.

Yemen: Fighting the al-Qaida Network with a Small Special Forces Footprint

The United States has slowly built up its Special Operations presence in Yemen - with about 50 operators in the country training elite Yemen counter-terrorist units.  The enemy is an insurgent force linked to al-Qaida who seem to be growing stronger as time goes on.  This group is also showing indications of attempting to target U.S. and other Western interests.  Read more about the Special Forces training effort in Yemen - see a news article on this topic in "US terror training in Yemen reflects wider program", Google AP Hosted News, September 8, 2010.

Biometric Database of Iraqi Citizens: Do We Hand it Over?

The United States has a huge database of biometric information on Iraqi citizens.  The biometric data contains fingerprints, iris scans, photographs and other personal information to include names, occupation, home of record, etc.  Some of the individuals in the database are suspects or known insurgents.  Others were employees of the U.S. military who worked on the many large military bases scattered across the Iraq countryside.  Still more are just average citizens who had their biometric data collected randomly.

The question remains - as the Iraq war concludes - about what to do with this database.  At least 7% of the Iraqi population has their biometric information collected.  Given the history of Arab countries and the lack of democratic processes found in that part of the world this is a scary situation - especially for those who are in the database.  The use of this large biometric database will likely lead to wide scale abuse by the Iraqi government.  Read a recent news article on this topic - "Worries about US data on Iraqis", The Boston Globe, August 31, 2010.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Afghan National Police - Moving Forward

A cheerleader's view of the Afghan National Police (ANP).  Read "Improving the Afghan National Police is One Path Forward", NTM-A CSTC-A 'Shoulder to Shoulder' Blog, September 6, 2010.

Afghanistan Strategy Explained by Petraeus

"Kabul, Afghanistan – Progress in Afghanistan has been faster than expected in some respects, and not as far along in others, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said here September 3rd.  The progress achieved so far in Afghanistan is “about standard for any one of these kinds of deliberate campaigns,” Petraeus said.

The current Afghanistan strategy has been in the making since 2008, the general said, when a U.S. Central Command assessment and subsequent policy reviews revealed that factors he called “the inputs” of the Afghanistan mission weren’t right. New organizational structures and some new leaders were necessary, he explained, and concepts and approaches needed refinement. And, he added, insufficient resources had been applied to the effort at that time."
The author of the article - in part provided above - is John Banusiewicz with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs. Read the rest of the article in "Petraeus Explains Afghanistan Strategy", Clarksville Online, September 4, 2010.  Click here to read more news on the Afghan War.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Surviving the Cut: Special Forces Combat Diver, Discovery Channel

The Discovery Channel will air a special presentation on the Army's Combat Diver School that is located in Key West, Florida.  The special is called "Surviving the Cut: Special Forces Combat Diver".  See some previews at the link below:

September 8, 2010 - Wednesday Night - 10:00 pm
http://dsc.discovery.com/videos/special-forces-combat-diver

Special Forces Lacking Aircraft in Afghanistan

The Special Forces units operating in Afghanistan, according to a recent news article, are operating without the necessary airlift capability they need.  The problem has existed for years with no solution in sight.
"The shortage of organic lift aircraft in CJSOTF-A is no secret. It has been the subject of news articles and congressional hearings. But in the nine years that Special Forces have been operating in Afghanistan, little has been done to remedy the situation.

Col. Don Bolduc, the current CJSOTF-A boss, controls three UH-60 Black Hawks on loan from the 82nd Airborne Division and three MH-47 Chinooks from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) to support a force of about 3,000 stretched across Afghanistan. For any missions that requiring helicopter support beyond what that small force can accomplish, he must ask other units for help.

Efforts to fix the problem have failed due to a combination of Pentagon bureaucracy and senior military officials’ opposition."
Read the rest of the article in "Special ops forces lack lift aircraft in theater", by Sean Naylor, Army Times, September 5, 2010.

Iraq: Future Operations?

With the declared "end of combat operations" in Iraq a number of analysts and commentators have been expressing their thoughts on the road ahead.  They are looking at the Obama administrations strategic plans and the planned actions on the ground in Iraq by the less than 50,000 troops who will remain over the next year.  It appears the State Department will take an increased role in further developing the Iraq government and its processes as we transition from a military-led effort to a civilian-led effort. The remaining troops will perform in an "advise and assist" role, provide "enablers" such as UAVs and logistic support, and be a source for intelligence analysis and dissemination.  The military has stated that we are transitioning from combat operations to stability operations.  Of course, there will be special forces teams doing what they do with the occasional CIA agent in the mix!   A number of news articles below provide differing perspectives on what the current situation looks like, what the future holds, with suggested plans of action that should be considered.

"This Week at War: The Iraq Gamble", by Robert Haddick, Foreign Policy Magazine, September 3, 2010. Robert Haddick is the managing editor of Small Wars Journal.

"Breaking Dawn: building a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq", by Colin H. Kahl, Foreign Policy Magazine, August 31, 2010.  Colin H. Kahl is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Middle East.  His article describes the overall tranisition strategy, provides a brief on the current security environment in Iraq, and discusses the political drivers of instability, the critical transitions that must take place, and how we must enter into a long-term strategic partnership with Iraq.

"Analysis: Iraq's Military Needs After 2011", by Stephen Farrell, The New York Times At War Blog, September 2, 2010.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Reporter in Afghanistan Details Morale and Views of Troops on the Ground

A war correspondent from the New York Daily News tours Special Forces camps in Afghanistan and reports back on the conduct of the war and the thoughts of the troops on the ground.  He asks the SF guys what they think of the new strategy.  They remind the reporter that SF has been doing this type of mission for decades (and in the early days of the Afghan War) - it just has taken "big Army" to relearn the COIN lessons that others never forgot.

"After spending nearly three weeks in Afghanistan traveling constantly between Kabul, Bagram Airfield, Kandahar Airfield and several remote U.S. bases, I've been pressed by friends and colleagues to explain the state of the nine-year war amid President Obama's surge to 100,000 American troops."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2010/09/05/2010-09-05_through_the_eyes_of_grunts_daily_news_reporter_relays_ontheground_wisdom_of_troo.html#ixzz0yevCFvlO

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Punked in Iraq

Here is something different.  A reality show in Iraq is scheduling interviews for personalities and celebrities.  Enroute to the interview fake bombs are placed in the cars of the celebrities. They then travel through a military checkpoint where the bombs are discovered.  Hmmmmmmm.  See "Punk'd, Iraqi-Style, at a Checkpoint", The New York Times At War blog, September 3, 2010.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Iraq Needs a Slower Clock and U.S. Engagement

The former ambassador to Iraq during 2005-2007 states that Iraq needs persistent U.S. assistance in the political sphere - especially when forming up their government and settling internal disputes over oil, money, and the three large groups within Iraq society - Shia, Sunni, and the Kurds.  See "Iraq needs U.S. engagement, and a slower clock", The Washington Post, August 31, 2010.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Iraq War: Win or Lose?

An online article explores the results of the Iraq War.  He states that we didn't win but we didn't lose.  See "The Iraq war leaves a fog of ambiguity", The Washington Post, August 31, 2010.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Safi Airways - Afghanistan

Countries in the midst of war still manage to function -although at a minimal state of efficiency.  Many who have not been to Afghanistan would think it abnormal that civilian air flights are regularly scheduled.  But there are some international flights going to and from Afghanistan.  Safi Airways is one airline that does fly in and out of Kabul - it is the "International Airline of Afghanistan".  Read an interesting piece about a passenger who flew Safii Airways - "Safi Air's Unusual In-Flight Magazine", ABC News, August 19, 2010.  Other links of interest on Afghanistan are:

www.safiairways.aero/

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blackwater and Pakistan

Rumors persist of Blackwater's presence in Afghanistan.  Yet one more news article has come out saying it is so.  See "How Active Is Blackwater in Pakistan?", Foreign Policy Journal, August 30, 2010.  Read more news articles about security contractors.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tea, Schools, and Afghanistan

The author of "Three Cups of Tea" was interviewed about how building schools in Afghanistan would go a long way to helping the country.  He wonders why we don't provide more money for education in Afghanistan.  He points out that the higher-education ministry in Afghanistan needs about $247 million to run its educational system but that the donor nations will not provide it.  He also points out that estimates state it takes $1 million to train up and keep a Soldier in Afghanistan and wonders why we don't pull back 247 Soldiers and start building schools.  Read the article in "A cup of tea bring the promise of good news in Afghanistan", The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 29, 2010.  Click here to read more Afghan War News.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Iraqi's Voice Their Feelings on U.S. Military Withdrawal

A reporter who visited Iraq in 2003 had interviewed Iraqi's about the invasion. Now, in a new report, he tracks down these same people to ask him how they felt the last several years have gone and their feelings about the war.  See "Iraq special report: American Soldiers sacrificed a lot.  But we sacrificed more", The Guardian, August 27, 2010.

Friday, August 27, 2010

How the U.S. Withdrawal in Iraq Will Work

Some facts about the movement of troops, vehicles, equipment from Iraq over the past several months is provided at the link below.  See "FACTBOX - The mechanics of the U.S. pullout from Iraq", Reuters, August 27, 2010.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI) 2010 Conference and Expo (Sep 20-21, 2010)

The Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI) 2010 Conference and Expo will be held in Washington, D.C. on September 20-21, 2010. 
"Started in 2006 to address the need for cross industry collaboration and communication between critical infrastructure industries and local, state and federal government, the Homeland Security for Networked Industries (HSNI)™ conference draws together network security professionals with a common purpose of protecting our nation's critical infrastructure networks. HSNI focuses on three major critical infrastructure industries, namely: Telecommunications, Utilities and Transportation."
http://www.hsni2010.com/

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Afghanistan's War Crimes Museum

Afghanistan has established a museum that honors the lives of people who have been killed and buried in mass graves in Afghanistan over the past three decades.  The museum is located in northeastern Afghanistan in Faizabad.  While it is a step forward in recognizing Afghanistan's history in past conflicts it does not seem to go far enough in identifying some of the instigators of mass murder.  Read more in "Afghanistan's new war crimes museum punts on still-powerful warlords", The Christian Science Monitor, August 23, 2010.  Click on the link below to read more news about the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/index.htm

Eliminating Private Security Firms in Afghanistan "More Dangerous"

An aid worker who works in Afghanistan has wrote an editorial about Karzai's plan to eliminate the more than 50 security firms that have 30,000 plus privately armed personnel will make Afghanistan more dangerous. The worry is that NGOs will have to bribe corrupt Afghan officials to get security - security that is not as safe as that provided by foreign security firms.  Read the editorial in "Making Afghanistan More Dangerous", The New York Times, August 21, 2010.

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The War in Afghanistan - news articles chronologically listed

Afghan War News - a listing of news sources about the Afghan War

Security Contractor News - news article about security contractors around the world

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Plan B for Afghanistan

"There's another way forward in Afghanistan.  Call it Plan B.  An ad hoc group of disillusioned foreign policy experts is offering President Obama a serious, well thought-out alternative to his current failing strategy there."
Read the rest of the article in "A Plan B for Afghanistan", Huffington Post, August 18, 2010.  Read more news about Afghanistan:

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Monday, August 23, 2010

Special Forces Told to Shave Beards in Afghanistan by Senior Commanders

For several years members of a Special Forces team serving in Afghanistan would wear beards - as this would help them earn the trust of the Afghans.  Afghan men, at least in the Pushtu south, see a beard as a sign of maturity, respect, and manhood.  In southern and eastern Afghanistan a man without a beard is sometimes seen as a communist, from northern Afghanistan (Tajik, Uzbek, or Hazari), or gay.

It seems the days of Special Forces Soldiers wearing beards in order to build rapport with the Afghans are over.  Now they are shaving off their beards in order to build rapport with conventional battle space owners (brigade commanders who own the turf where SF ODA's operate).  Read more in "Some special ops troops told to lose the beard", Stars and Stripes, August 19, 2010.

Iraq War is "Over" but Stability is Ellusive

While many applaud the withdrawal of "combat troops" from Iraq by the end of this month a sign of success and the possible end to the Iraq war - others point to lingering problems.  Al Qaeda terrorist still persist, Sunni factions are still in armed opposition, and the government has not yet been formed even though it is months after the national election.  The U.S still has 50,000 troops and over 90,000 civilian contractors in the country.  The violence has lessened significantly from the 2006-2007 era but it is still present.  Read more in "Hanging by a thread: As Iraq war formally ends this month, country is still struggling for stability", The New York Daily News, August 22, 2010.

Karzai Playing Politics with Afghan Security Contracting Firms

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai's decree ordering private security companies operating in Afghanistan to leave the country by year's end complicates U.S. strategy in an already troubled, nearly nine-year-old war. Confronted with a robust Taliban-led insurgency and slow progress in raising capable Afghan security forces, U.S. officials have complained that Karzai's deadline for getting rid of the contractors, on whom allied forces are heavily reliant, is unrealistic. And it could have a major impact on Afghanistan's security situation.

Pressure has grown in recent months for Karzai to assert control over the private security companies, as media reports and a damning U.S. congressional investigation have exposed reckless and unlawful behavior by contractors. The President's order, issued Tuesday, Aug. 17, applies to roughly 25,000 armed guards - most of them Afghans - employed by more than 50 government-registered companies contracted to protect NATO supply convoys, bases, political figures and other organizations. An exception was made for private security firms working inside compounds used by international groups, embassies, businesses and nongovernmental organizations based outside the capital. (See pictures of the presidential election in Afghanistan.)".
Read the rest of the article in "Karzai Plays to the Crowd with Threatened Ouster of Afghan Contractors"Yahoo! News, August 18, 2010.  Read more news about security contractors and the Afghan War.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Humanitarian Aid Groups Cooperating with The Taliban in Afghanistan

Humanitarian aid groups are cooperating with the Taliban and providing aid to the Afghan population under Taliban control.  Read a news article on this topic in "Foreign Policy: Cooperating With The Taliban", National Public Radio, August 18, 2010.  View more Afghanistan war news at the link below:

http://www.afghanwarnews.info/

Saturday, August 21, 2010

IPOA Legal Conference, Washington, D.C., September 16, 2010

"In 1977, Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to further U.S. economic policy and protect the integrity of the American business system. Over thirty years later, the U.S. Department of Justice now refers to corruption as a “national security issue” that impacts U.S. efforts in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. Other nations, such as the United Kingdom, have recently taken a much harder line on corruption. Criminal prosecutions, of both companies and individuals, are on the rise. What do these developments mean for companies operating in contingency environments? How do you address the challenges of corruption when working in failed or weak states, and how do you stay compliant with applicable laws?

Join IPOA for a one-day conference that will look at these issues, and discuss the complex intersection of corruption, national security, and contingency contracting. The conference will include panels of experts that will discuss the FCPA and other similar anti-corruption laws, their relevance on contingency operations, and the challenges of compliance. The panels also will discuss past cases and prosecutions that demonstrate the very real nature of these challenges."
Click here for more information on the conference.   Click here for a comprehensive listing of other conferences about security, conflict, and terrorism.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Are Afghan Village Security Forces actually Local Militias With a New Name?

Many critics are saying that the new program of establishing local village security forces are just another way of using local militias to do what the Afghan security forces can't do.  And the critics point out that this is a dangerous road to go down.  Read more in:

August 12, 2010. "Afghanistan's 'Militia' Problem: Can Local Defense Forces Replace Private Security Firms". The Jamestown Foundation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Afghan War News - August 19, 2010

Afghanistan War News
"Karzai Orders Private Security Out of Afghanistan"
NPR
August 18, 2010
http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/08/16/129238260/karzai-orders-private-security-to-exit-afghanistan

"Drones Surge, Special Ops Strike in Petraeus Campaign Plan"
Wired.com Danger Room
August 18, 2010
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/petraeus-campaign-plan/

"Documentary 'Restrepo' puts soldiers face on war in Afghanistan"
JS Online.com
August 18, 2010
A documentary of an Army unit of the 173rd that spent 15 months in the Korengal Valley in RC East.
http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/movies/100944264.html

"Sniper in Afghan Town Puts Marines on Edge"
The Wall Street Journal
August 17, 2010
Located in the town of Marjah, Afghanistan is a sniper establishing a reputation as a good shot. Unfortunately he works for the enemy and the Marines want to find him.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703824304575435403980423346.html

"Combined Operation Breaks Up Illegal Taliban Detention Compound"
ISAF NATO
August 18, 2010
http://www.isaf.nato.int/article/isaf-releases/combined-operation-breaks-up-illegal-taliban-detention-compound.html

"In Afghanistan, bomb attacks hit high in July"
USA Today
August 19, 2010
http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2010-08-19-ied19_ST_N.htm

Drones and Special Operations Forces Play Big Role in Afghanistan

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Ever since the Afghanistan war became a counterinsurgency fight, critics have charged that commanders’ cautions about using force only inhibit the fight against the Taliban. But in the shadows, NATO Special Operations Forces are engaged in an intensely lethal war of their own.

According to information provided to Danger Room by Gen. David Petraeus, the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, in just the past 90 days these elite units have captured or killed 365 militant leaders, detained 1,335 insurgent foot soldiers and killed another 1,031 insurgents on top of that."
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/petraeus-campaign-plan/

Biometrics in Afghanistan

"BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (Aug. 14, 2010) – Coalition forces in Afghanistan have various ways of gathering information to determine if members of the Afghan population are insurgents or innocent. With the scan of an eye, biometrics has made the process easier.  There are multiple biometric systems used in today’s military: the biometrics automated toolset, the hand-held interagency identity detection equipment and the secure electronic enrollment kit."
Read the rest of the article in "Biometrics: Giving Afghans an Identity", CJTF-101, August 15, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

War Strategy in Afghanistan Explained by Petraeus

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" broadcast Sunday, Petraeus said the strategy is to establish secure zones and expand them outward.  "Oil spot is a term in counterinsurgency literature that denotes a peaceful area, a secure area," Petraeus said in the interview conducted last week. "What you're always trying to do is extend that, push that out."
 "Petraeus explains Afghan security plan", CNN.com, August 15, 2010.