Tag Archives: Afghanistan war

White House considering total pullout of Afghanistan after 2014

afghanistan

Stars and Stripes:  Facing stalled negotiations with Afghanistan’s president over a long-running war that’s swiftly falling from public view, U.S. officials have again signaled that President Barack Obama is mulling a complete U.S. pullout from the country.

In recent months, the United States and Afghanistan have been trying to hash out a plan to maintain an unspecified number of U.S. and allied troops in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism missions after the official end of combat operations in 2014. But now, The New York Times reported Tuesday, Obama is “giving serious consideration” to a complete withdrawal because of problems working with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The mercurial Karzai’s outbursts have frequently complicated the two nations’ dealings over the years, but the situation came to a head last month. Karzai, angered by U.S. attempts to hold peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, broke off negotiations over a long-term U.S.-Afghan security agreement.

The current flare-up is not the first time the administration has discussed the so-called “zero option.” In January, prior to a Karzai visit to Washington, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters that leaving no troops in Afghanistan was one of options under consideration.

But now, officials are saying that a full withdrawal, as the U.S. carried out in Iraq in late 2011, is becoming more likely. “There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option,” the Times quoted an unnamed senior Western official in Kabul as saying. “It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”

About 63,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, down from a peak of more than 100,000 in 2010. That number is set to drop to 34,000 by February, and continue to decline after Afghan national elections next April.

There are major differences of opinion within the Obama administration that make it hard to tell if the zero option is a real possibility or a negotiating tactic, said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Are you messaging this to try and get (Afghan officials) to move forward with some more effective approach?” he said. “Or is it because you really believe it?”

The troop count is not the only issue, Cordesman said. Post-war commitments of military and civilian aid are also hanging in the balance. With the stakes so high, the threat of a total withdrawal and accompanying cuts in international aid could be healthy motivation for Afghan officials, he said.

“I think it is very helpful for them to signal to the Afghans that the United States will shape its commitment to Afghanistan in direct proportion to the progress the Afghans make” on a range of fronts, he said.

But Lisa Curtis, the senior research fellow at Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, said an actual complete pullout would hamper the global counterterror mission and be a “disaster for U.S. interests.”

And even talking about it is not helpful as a negotiating tactic, because, she said, “The Afghans are already skeptical of the U.S. commitment to the region.”

But the head of a left-leaning veterans group, VoteVets.org, said U.S. servicemembers have done their job in Afghanistan, and it is time to bring them home.

“Ultimately, whether their nation survives is up to them, and keeping our troops there doesn’t change that equation,” said Jon Soltz, an Iraq war veteran and the organization’s chairman. “The only thing that changes, day by day, is the number of American men and women we’ve lost.”

I’m not holding my breath that Obama will do a complete withdrawal as you can’t count on what he says.

But the time has come to exit, IMO. Our troops have been there way too long – they should have gone in, completed the mission, and exited. Course I’m bias as my soldier is serving over there. They were rocketed on the Fourth of July and during the past two evenings.

Bring them home now!

DCG

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Remember, we are still at war

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da8h3wRa9To]
During a firefight, AT-4 Rockets and MK-48 machine guns are used to rain fire onto Taliban positions in Charkh Afghanistan.
As you prepare to celebrate Easter, please remember our soldiers in the sandbox who are still fighting a war. Pray for them that they all be safe!
h/t Weasel Zippers
DCG

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Boycott Delta Airlines for its treatment of a double amputee veteran

Chris BrownMarine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown

Christopher Whalen, a financial analyst and banker who works for Carrington Holdings, is asking us to boycott Delta Airlines for its shameful treatment of a severely wounded veteran, Marine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown.
Here’s Whalen’s essay for ZeroHedge, “To Honor Our Veterans Please Boycott Delta Airlines,” Dec. 24, 2012:
“On Dec. 13, 2011, Marine Lance Cpl. Christian Brown was leading his squad on a foot patrol in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when he stepped on an explosive device that blew off both his legs, one above the knee, the other below his hip,” the Washington Post reported on December 13, 2012.  “He also lost part of his right index finger.”
“Last Sunday, almost exactly a year since those grievous injuries forced him to learn to walk on two successive pairs of prosthetic legs, Brown was ‘humiliated’ to the point of tears on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Washington after being clumsily wheeled to the back row of the plane, according to a complaint sent to the airline by an outraged fellow passenger.”
What is outrageous is that when several passengers on the Delta flight offered to give Brown their seats in first class, the Delta crew refused.  The Washington Post reports that “Flight attendants insisted no one could move through the cabin because the doors were being closed for takeoff.”
Now you are probably wondering why a financial analyst and banker is taking an interest in wounded veterans.  The answer is that my employer, Carrington Holdings, participates in a voluntary network of private companies and individuals known as the Veterans Airlift Command (VAC) that donate our Flight Crew and aircraft to move wounded veterans around the country.  The VAC organized and flew over 1500 trips last year and has a growing list of over 1800 planes and pilots that are standing by to help out.
The work of the VAC and its volunteers makes a big difference.  A couple of days before Christmas, our flight department at Carrington had the honor of flying Taylor and Danielle Morris home from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to their home in Iowa.  Like Chris Brown, Taylor was grievously wounded in battle and required months of rehabilitation before being discharged from military service.  You can see their story on YouTube.
Carrington tries to fly 15-20 missions a year and like all the participants in the VAC, supplies flight crew, aircraft, fuel, maintenance and insurance all free of cost to the Veteran and family.  We believe that it is our fundamental obligation to take care of those that have sacrificed so much while protecting our freedom.
Unfortunately while the Department of Defense generally does a good job of rehabilitation of wounded veterans, the last detail – namely getting these heroes home safely and with dignity – somehow is missed.  We were fortunate to be able to help this brave young man and his beautiful wife travel those last miles home in comfort and dignity that they deserve.  Like all veterans, they thank us profusely.  Our answer is simple: “No, thank you.”
The VAC tries to serve as many veterans as possible, but the sheer number of young men and women who return from Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts missing arms and legs among other severe injuries is still too great for this volunteer effort.  Hundreds of wounded veterans are still compelled to fly on commercial airlines and endure the same humiliation and disrespect that Chris Brown suffered at the hands of Delta Airlines.
In fact, when the VAC cannot fulfill a mission directly with a volunteer aircraft and crew, they buy and donate airline tickets to the Veteran and his or her family.  You guessed it, even on Delta Airlines in the past – not anymore.
The goal overall though, is to make certain that when commercial airlines have travelers like Chris Brown or the other thousands of severely wounded Veterans, they make generous accommodations available to treat these heroes with the respect and dignity that they deserve.  Or they can refer the veterans to organizations like the VAC for more customized transportation.  Working together, the commercial airlines and private organizations like the VAC can get the job done; take care of America’s Heroes.
Unfortunately when my colleagues at Carrington and many of the other organizations that participate in the VAC contacted Delta Airlines to complain about the treatment of Chris Brown and to ask for a change in policy, they were rebuffed.  They sent us a form letter. But this is a case where we are not going to take no for an answer.
The only reason that the commercial airlines aren’t interested in referring and taking care of the veterans is in pursuit of the Almighty Dollar.  Then in further pursuit of the fictitious “On Time Departure,” they treat these brave young soldiers like excess cargo.  Companies like mine won’t stand for that.
Those of us who travel as part of our jobs rightly hate commercial airlines as a business model, but my colleagues and I vehemently resent their treatment of this special group of passengers.  We need your help to get this bad situation fixed.  And until Delta Airlines changes its policies, the 2,500 employees of our company will no longer fly on Delta.
When our CEO, Bruce Rose put the policy out to all of our Associates, he was met with overwhelming support and expressions of pride from all corners of the country where we work.  Our Company “get’s it”.
Will you join us in expressing your outrage?
First, we want you to contact Delta Airlines CEO Richard H. Anderson and his colleagues. You can click here to get the contact information for Delta (NYSE:DAL).  But frankly all of the major airlines need to hear the same message.
If you share our sense of outrage at the way wounded veterans are treated by Delta Airlines and other commercial carriers, then please get involved. Something as simple as forwarding this post to you friends and colleagues is the first step.   And you can tell them, as we have, that you will not fly on Delta until they change their policy towards wounded veterans.
Second and perhaps more important, we need to contact members of Congress to demand that they pressure the White House, the Transportation Safety Administration and related federal agencies to make adjustments in law and regulation to change the way that Veterans are treated when they travel on commercial airlines.  The VAC web site has a number of horror stories about how wounded vets are humiliated by commercial airlines and the TSA.  Perhaps it has been lost on the TSA that these are the same people that are fighting on the front lines for what the TSA is pretending to protect.  This situation is outrageous and completely unnecessary, but it will be rectified when we get enough voices to demand change.
The good news is that thanks to the VAC and other organizations, a growing number of private companies and individuals are making their time and resources available to help address the needs of thousands of wounded soldiers coming home from war.  We don’t yet have enough volunteers and planes to get the job done privately, but the cases where we can take these brave men and women home in comfort and dignity make the effort worthwhile.
Just look at the photo below of Taylor and Danielle Morris  on their way home with our flight crew flying the VAC organized mission last week.  This is about honoring our veterans and doing the right thing.  Carrington and the VAC can’t do it alone – please help us to take care of the true American Heroes that have sacrificed so much protecting our freedom by making their lives just a little bit easier.
Merry Christmas
Christopher Whalen
www.rcwhalen.com
Links

Facebook-Marine-Marine Lance Cpl. Chris Brown in physical therapy

See also “Marine Double Amputee ‘Humiliated’ to Point of Tears on Delta Flight Gets Helping Hand From Fellow Vets,” The Blaze.
H/t my ol’ friend Sol.
~Eowyn

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Pray for our soldiers!

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Taliban Attack US Military Base, Jalalabad Airport

ToloNews: The Taliban launched an early morning attack on the joint US military base and city airport in the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, killing at least two Afghan civilians and three Afghan soldiers, officials said Sunday.
Two of the insurgents suicide-bombed the main gate of the base – also the entrance to Jalalabad airport – by blowing up their explosive-laden vehicles at around 5:45am local time. This paved the way for seven other armed insurgents to start an hours-long battle with the Afghan and foreign troops stationed there, according to provincial deputy security officer Abdul Jalil Shamal.
Two civilians and at least three Afghan special forces soldiers were killed, while another three civilians and 14 security forces were injured, acting deputy provincial governor Abdullah Wafa told TOLOnews. The force of the explosions is reported to have blown out windows in the area.
The attackers, who were armed with guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, were all killed by 8:00am, officials said. Some local residents in the area told TOLOnews that helicopters had fired on the insurgents, some of whom were wearing Afghan and Nato military uniforms.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement saying that a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at the entrance, clearing the way for several others to make their way onto the base.
A spokesperson for Isaf told the AFP news agency that “none of the attackers succeeded breaching the perimetre”. The military base in Jalalabad has been targeted by Taliban militants several times in the past few years.
It comes as Nato-led forces gradually hand full security of the country to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. Around 66,000 US troops and 37,000 troops of other nations are fighting insurgents alongside the Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
Please pray for our US soldiers and the NATO soldiers. They are in constant danger in Afghanistan.  If you’d like to support our troops, visit Soldiers’ Angels or anysoldier.com.
Side note: My boyfriend Matthew is not stationed at Jalalabad, where this attack occurred.  I Skyped with him on Saturday night and he is safe and sound!
DCG

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Obama’s Foreign Policy Doctrine

Every modern U.S. President has a doctrine that articulates his worldview and foreign policy.

As an example, reacting to America’s Vietnam War experience, the Nixon Doctrine was that the United States would no longer be the police for every and all in Asia. Henceforth, the countries of Asia-Pacific would be responsible for their own defense.

George W. Bush’s doctrine was that warfare is fundamentally altered by the Islamic terrorist attacks on the U. S. homeland on Sept. 11, 2001, and by the changed nature of America’s enemies from state actors to include non-government terrorist groups. As a result, America has the right to undertake preemptive attacks when and where we identify a terrorist threat. It is the Bush Doctrine that justifies our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan although neither government nor country had first attacked the United States.

Foreign affairs pundits have noted the peculiar lack of an Obama Doctrine although his first (and last) term is already drawing to a close.

Never fear! Fellowship of the Minds has discovered the secret Obama Doctrine!

The Obama Doctrine of the Irritating Bowing Syndrome

~Eowyn

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Abandoned and born in war

“An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.”
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.” (1849).

Soldiers Discover Abandoned Baby on Side of Road in Afghanistan
Kevin Dolak reports for ABC News, Sept. 24, 2012

A newborn baby girl left abandoned on the side of the road in southern Afghanistan has been discovered by a group of Polish soldiers.

The soldiers came upon the baby, who they have named Pola, after Poland, wrapped in a towel on Wednesday while they were checking a route near their Waghez military base for safety, Defense Ministry spokesman Janusz Walczak told The Associated Press.

The group of soldiers was first suspicious when they discovered the baby, as there is a risk of hidden roadside bombs across Afghanistan.

It is still unclear who left baby Pola on the side of the road. The AP reported that there was no one found in a mile radius of where the baby was discovered.

After the troops found her, she was brought to a medical center at their base. The soldiers then bought the girl baby formula, a bottle and a bib.

H/t FOTM’s beloved Grouchy Fogie

~Eowyn

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No sir, we are not “numb”

War-weary U.S. is numbed to drumbeat of troop deaths

KOMO News:  It was another week at war in Afghanistan, another string of American casualties, and another collective shrug by a nation weary of a faraway conflict whose hallmark is its grinding inconclusiveness.

After nearly 11 years, many by now have grown numb to the sting of losing soldiers like Pfc. Shane W. Cantu of Corunna, Mich. He died of shrapnel wounds in the remoteness of eastern Afghanistan, not far from the getaway route that Osama bin Laden took when U.S. forces invaded after Sept. 11, 2001, and began America’s longest war.

Nearly every day the Pentagon posts another formulaic death notice, each one brief and unadorned, revealing the barest of facts – name, age and military unit – but no words that might capture the meaning of the loss.

Cantu, who joined the Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade on Sept. 11 last year and went to Afghanistan last month, was among five U.S. deaths announced this past week.

American troops are still dying in Afghanistan at a pace that doesn’t often register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it’s 31 a month on average, or one per day. National attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.

Each week at war has a certain sameness for those not fighting it, yet every week brings distinct pain and sorrow to the families who learn that their son or daughter, brother or sister, father or mother was killed or wounded.

As the war drags on, it remains a faraway puzzle for many Americans. Max Boot, a military historian and defense analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, has called Afghanistan the “Who Cares?” war. “Few, it seems, do, except for service personnel and their families,” he wrote recently. “It is almost as if the war isn’t happening at all.

The war remains at the forefront, naturally, for members of the military such as Marine Lt. Gen. John Kelly, whose son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly, was killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan in November 2010. “America as a whole today is certainly not at war, not as a country, not as a people,” Kelly said in a speech Aug. 28 at the American Legion’s national convention. Kelly is Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s senior military assistant.

“Only a tiny fraction of American families fear all day and every day a knock at the door that will shatter their lives,” Kelly said.


I beg to differ with the author of this article.  We are not “numb” to our soldiers’ deaths.  We read about it everyday.

As Tom wrote, what we want is to withdraw our troops now, bring them home, and stop letting Obama stroke his ego as a wartime president with the blood of our troops.

We are not “numb” and we support our troops. For the past four years I have been serving Soldiers’ Angels, sending letters and care packages to my “adopted” soldiers.  If you would like to support our troops, visit Soldiers’ Angels or anysoldier.com.

DCG

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Another Obama War? With Pakistan?

Pakistan stops NATO supplies after deadly raid

By Shams Momand
YAKKAGHUND, Pakistan | Sat Nov 26, 2011 3:45pm EST

(Reuters) – NATO helicopters and fighter jets attacked two military outposts in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing as many as 28 troops and plunging U.S.-Pakistan relations deeper into crisis.
Pakistan retaliated by shutting down NATO supply routes into Afghanistan, used for sending in nearly half of the alliance’s land shipments. It also said it would ask U.S. forces to quit an air base used for CIA drone strikes on militants.
The attack is the worst incident of its kind since Pakistan uneasily allied itself with Washington following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Read rest of story here.
H/t beloved Steve
~Eowyn

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War Hero Inducted Into Hall of Fame

On November 6, 2011, at a ceremony in Birmingham, Alabama, a war hero was inducted into the Alabama Hall of Fame.
What’s unusual is that the hero is a dog, and the Hall of Fame is an Animal Hall of Fame.
Blek is a German shepherd who recently retired as a U.S. military dog.
Blek and his handler, Staff Sgt. Brent Olsen of 42nd Security Forces Squadron, have been through a lot together. While in Afghanistan in 2010, the pair was injured after a soldier stepped on a pressure plate, setting off a series of five mortar rounds.

After returning from Afghanistan and several months of surgeries and physical therapy, Olsen and Blek were reunited. Because of the injuries Blek sustained, he was no longer allowed to work, but that didn’t stop the reunion, as Olsen adopted the dog who’d been his constant companion in Afghanistan.
“He’s my best friend,” he said. “I don’t go anywhere without him now, and I feel bad when I leave him. He’s definitely part of my family. He’s done good things, saved peoples’ lives.”
The Alabama Animal Hall of Fame is a committee of the Alabama Veterinary Medical Foundation which recognizes animals who have demonstrated extraordinary loyalty, courage, service or intuitive abilities in its relations with humans.
According to Olsen, no one fits that description better than Blek.
“He’s being inducted for what we did as a team in Afghanistan. We found (improvised explosive devices.) He’s an incredible dog,” Olsen said.
Olsen said he was glad to see a military working dog being honored for his bravery and hoped it would shed some light on the unique part dogs have played in wars throughout history. The Romans used to put spikes on them and run them through the crowds of soldiers. In Vietnam dogs saved countless lives by sniffing out snipers and countless other tasks.
“Beyond that, they love unconditionally,” Olsen said. “Blek will bend over backwards for me. I love my job, and he loves working. Some people don’t understand how truly great dogs are.”
[Source: Maxwell Air Force Base]
Good dog, Blek !
~Eowyn

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Nobel Committee Rescinds Obama’s Peace Prize

BREAKING NEWS!

Obama Forfeits Peace Prize

By Robert S. Becker – June 26 2011 – Information Clearing House

Stuck between shame and chagrin, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has for the first time in human history reversed a past prize selection. With high drama this week, the Committee notified President Obama his misguided 2009 Prize has been formally rescinded, requesting the $1.4 million payoff be returned.

“It’s not about the money,” conceded a press release, “we have a sacred obligation to protect the honor of humanitarian-arms maker Alfred Nobel. Plus, there’s the reputation of renowned peacemakers like Henry Kissinger we need to treasure. Sadly, we are forced to conclude that since his ’09 award ceremony Obama has qualified as nothing less than the world’s greatest, pre-emptive warmonger. Frankly, outgunning Bush, with three new discretionary wars, contradicts humanistic notions of peacemaking. We are chagrined that, after the fact and in only two years, our winner doubled his war production. It’s this reversal that triggers ours, despite all the office wall signage we have to change.”

Apparently, killing civilians with unmanned predatory drones in Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya pushed the Committee over the line. “Unlike Obama or Bush, we at Nobel admit blunders,” explained Bjorn Bjorn, “Obama’s soaring rhetoric carried magic dust because we, too, got enthralled by demonstrably empty promises. What were we thinking? Instead of ending regional violence, Obama has notched his military credibility, again and again. Our worst fear is that our Prize provided cover for new assaults, thus deflecting anti-war outrage. The only good news is the Afghan surge wasn’t a prelude to striking Iran.”

Historically, Nobel choices have incited strong reactions, Bjorn continued, “like selecting hard-line, Vietnam cold warrior Henry Kissinger. But never before have we honored a leader blatantly wedded to pre-emptive bombing of civilians in non-attacking countries. What’s the underlying Obama credo, “All we are saying is give war a chance”?

+++

Alas, the above is SATIRE. Ha Ha Ha Ha

But if those Norwegian socialists on the Nobel Peace Prize Committee have any shred of moral integrity, this should be real instead of satire.

It was bad enough that the NPPC awarded the Peace Prize to such non-pacifists as Yassar Arafat (1994) and Henry Kissinger (1973), and swindlers such as Al Gore and the UN’s IPCC (2007), but giving it to Obama 8½ months into his presidency takes the cake.

Congrats, NPPC, for utterly trashing the meaning of “peace” and of “prize”.

H/t beloved fellow and brave Microsoft whistleblower Tony Whitcomb.

~Eowyn

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