Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Terror attacks are ‘part and parcel of living in a big city’, claims London mayor Sadiq Khan


From Daily Mail: The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that living with terror attacks – like the one that hit New York at the weekend – is ‘part and parcel of living in a big city’.

Mr. Khan told the Evening Standard: ‘It is a reality I’m afraid that London, New York, other major cities around the world have got to be prepared for these sorts of things. That means being vigilant, having a police force that is in touch with communities, it means the security services being ready, but also it means exchanging ideas and best practice.’

The dopey mayor...

The dopey mayor…

Mr. Khan, who was elected as Mayor in May to replace Boris Johnson, who is ironically now Britain’s Foreign Secretary, was in the United States on a business trip.  He said he had a ‘sleepless’ night on Saturday after a bomb exploded on West 23rd Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighbourhood, injuring 31 people.

Another device on 27th Street in Manhattan failed to go off and Ahmad Rahami, an Afghan-born US citizen was later arrested in New Jersey.  Mr. Rahami has been charged in relation to the New York explosion and another device that exploded harmlessly hours earlier near a race in Seaside Park, New Jersey.

After taking advice from the New York authorities it was ‘business as usual’ for Mr. Khan, who visited the 9/11 memorial and attended a New York Mets baseball game. Mr. Khan reportedly hinted that the Mets could come to London next year to play a Major League Baseball game at West Ham’s Olympic Stadium.

The other dopey mayor...

The other dopey mayor…

Mr. Khan later met with the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, as well as with Muslim community leaders, and co-wrote an editorial in the New York Times.

Mr. Khan, who was the first Muslim Mayor of a major western city when he was elected in May, Mr. de Blasio and Paris’s Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, wrote: ‘We call on world leaders to adopt a similar welcoming and collaborative spirit on behalf of the refugees all over the world. Our cities stand united in the call for inclusivity. It is part of who we are as citizens of diverse and thriving cities.’



Man cuts off wife’s nose when she protested his decision to marry a child

The Religion of Pieces strikes again.

Reza Gul/AFP Photo

Reza Gul/AFP Photo

An Afghanistan woman, Reza Gul, 20, was attacked by her husband after arguing with him over his decision to take a 6- or 7-year-old niece as his fiancée. Gul’s husband, Muhammad Khan, 25, then allegedly cut off her nose with a knife. Gul’s mother, Zarghona, told the Times that Khan and his family had beaten and abused Gul throughout her six-year marriage.

Yahoo reports that Gul brought her severed nose with her to the hospital and had already lost a lot of blood, according to hospital officials. But the local Afghan facility was not equipped to reattach her nose. Gul is seeking to travel to Turkey to have reconstructive surgery, according to the the Times. A police official told the Times that the Taliban had arrested Khan and is holding him in custody.

According to the U.N., Afghanistan remains one of the worst places to be a woman, and violence against women remains “endemic.” Child marriages, like the one Khan was said to be arranging, are also common, robbing girls of the opportunity for education and often leading to abuse.

AP notes that many Afghan women are victims of domestic violence because constitutional rights for protection are often denied to women in the country. And progress toward achieving rights for women is often met with significant resistance. This month, women were not invited to join the Afghan delegation during peace talks aimed at ending the country’s decades-long conflict.

Read all the details in The New York Times and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission report.


Russian intelligence says ISIS and Taliban amassing on Afghan border for invasion of Central Asia

Note that the source is Russian, not U.S., intelligence, and the newspaper reporting this is the UK’s Express, not the NYT.

That’s America under the Obama administration.

Consortium of Defense Analysts

ISIS to invade Central Asia

Nick Gutteridge reports for the UK Express, that Russian intelligence claims that huge numbers of Islamist fighters — ISIS and Taliban — are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border, ready for an invasion of central Asia.

Speaking at a meeting of special services from the Commonwealth of Independent States, Moscow’s spy chief Alexander Bortnikov warned that heavily-armed Taliban fighters, many of whom have pledged allegiance to ISIS or the Islamic State, are prepared to pass through porous border controls.

Bortnikov said:

“The international community has now hit a new geopolitical challenge, an international criminal group in the name of the Islamic State. This project, which grew out of the ‘Arab Spring,’ has gained momentum thanks to the double standards of certain world regional powers by using ‘a terrorist battering ram’ to reach their own strategic goals in Asia and Africa.

According to our estimates, citizens from more than 100…

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Having a bad day at work? Try dealing with incomings…

Originally published on January 29, 2014: My military guy came home from Afghanistan last October, after serving and surviving one year there. He shared with me this video of what it’s like to get rocketed in Bagram.

It’s pretty scary to us civilians yet know that our military are trained and prepared to deal with this. They see it as a “hassle” to deal with and, of course, the Taliban fire rockets on 9/11, Christmas, and other holidays – just to be jerks. The Taliban are usually so stoned they miss targets. Unfortunately, they do hit our guys as during my military guy’s tour, they lost four souls to a rocket attack.😦

So next time you’re having a bad day at work, be thankful your job doesn’t involve this!

Update 12/23/14: Be thankful this Christmas for our soldiers who have made it home safely. We still have many troops abroad in both Iraq and Afghanistan who won’t be home to spend the holidays with their loved ones. They will undoubtedly be rocketed on Christmas. Prayers for their safety!


Military medicine works on better prosthetics for young, active, disabled combat veterans

Gregory Bull/AP Photo

Gregory Bull/AP Photo

NY Daily News: The blood is not the most jarring part of the photograph taken shortly after the bomb blew off Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brian Meyer’s leg and hand. It’s his smile.

The bomb technician had asked a team member to take the picture. He knew his defiance in the face of death would keep his comrades going and ease the torment caused by what they had witnessed.

His attitude set the tone for the long journey the double amputee is taking along with nearly 2,000 troops who lost one or more limbs from combat injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s also pushing military medicine to find better ways to accommodate such a large population of young, severely disabled combat veterans who want to maintain an active lifestyle. Many wear out their prosthetic limbs in a matter of months doing everything from mountain climbing to running marathons.

With survival rates reaching historic highs during the two wars, the Naval Health Research Center is launching a major, six-year study on wounded warriors to track their quality of life and better understand the road to recovery.

So far, 1,500 people have signed up for the Wounded Warrior Recovery Project study. The Navy aims to recruit 10,000.

About 50,000 military personnel have been injured in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 16,000 hurt so severely that they likely would not have survived previous conflicts.

Doctors say a positive attitude is key to recovery, so the study will also examine mental resilience and why some troops have it and others don’t. It will rely on Web-based, telephone and mailed surveys conducted every six months about mobility, ability to function and social activity. Researchers will also analyze military databases detailing clinical encounters with each service member injured while deployed.

Eric Lunson/AP Photo

Eric Lunson/AP Photo

The study aims to provide one of the broadest reviews yet of how post 9-11 veterans with a variety of combat injuries are coping and enjoying life, and how much their quality of life impacts their long-term care.

Meyer is not yet part of the study but intends to participate. His case was featured in the New England Journal of Medicine in May to demonstrate the success of battlefield trauma care over the past decade.

The retired Marine has benefited from a host of new medical strategies used by the military, including laser treatments.

Cmdr. Peter Shumaker, chief of dermatology at Naval Medical Center San Diego, helped pioneer the use of an ablative laser — commonly used to smooth wrinkled or acne-scarred skin — to ease Meyer’s scar tissue, dramatically improving the range of motion in his fingers, among other things.

“It’s a privilege to work with soldiers and Marines, like Brian, because they’re young and motivated and healthy and they can go farther than we ever thought,” Shumaker said. “They don’t want to just walk, they want to do things that their colleagues are doing, their friends are doing.”

Meyer was hospitalized for a month after the 2011 bomb blast in Afghanistan. He lost his right leg above the knee, and his right hand above the wrist. Only his pinky and ring finger remained intact on his left hand.

After multiple surgeries, he was outfitted for prosthetics and learned to walk again. But Meyer, 29 at the time, wanted full independence.

He turned down offers to install wheelchair ramps in his home. He debated before accepting a handicap parking permit. He did not want to avoid the struggle to reintegrate. He wanted to go anywhere. “I focus on what I have left, not what I lost,” Meyer said.

His prosthetic arm has a flashlight so at night he can see where he plants his prosthetic foot. His prosthetic arm has the knobs and battery pack positioned to one side so he can shoot a bow and arrow.

Thanks to the laser treatments on his scar tissue, he can now hold a toothbrush, write with a pen, dial his phone, and pull the trigger of a hunting rifle. Laser treatments also removed a sore, allowing him to withstand his prosthetic leg for 18 hours a day.

Shumaker and Dr. Chad Hivnor, who recently retired from Lackland Air Force Base, helped pioneer the method. Hivnor also discovered botulinum toxin A injections decrease perspiration where the prosthetic limb attaches, helping stop it from slipping off while the person is exercising or in hot climates.

The findings were recently presented to the American Academy of Dermatology to promote the treatment for severely scarred people in the general population.

“These are not special, scar lasers or special, wounded warrior lasers,” Shumaker said. “We’ve taken these techniques that are primarily used for cosmetic purposes and altered them a bit to apply to trauma rehabilitation.”

Such unconventional treatments make a big difference in daily life, veterans and their doctors say. One soldier’s scar tissue has softened so he can grasp his daughter’s hand; another can now type.

A week after a recent treatment, Meyers rode on his motorcycle through a shopping district in Murrieta, 60 miles northeast of San Diego. His pinky and ring finger operated the throttle that has been put on the left side because he only has a left wrist. It has a side car that can carry another amputee, wheelchair or his dog.

Meyer and two others have started the nonprofit organization, Warfighter Made, which modified his motorcycle. It also customizes sports cars, off-road vehicles and other transportation for veterans, who can join in the work.

“What we want is for a guy in the coolest car to drive into a handicap spot and have people be like, ‘What’s this guy doing?’ Then they see him get out with his prosthetic legs,” said Meyer, whose prosthetic leg sports a sticker of Bill Murray and the word “Laugh.”

Meyer works for the Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, counseling fellow combat veterans. He loves the photograph taken after he was injured because “it’s the exact opposite of what somebody expects you to do. So when I show it to people and they are inspired by it, instead of being shocked, I know they get it.”



Ryan Pitts to receive Medal of Honor for combat actions in Afghanistan


US Army: The White House announced today that former Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his combat actions during an enemy engagement in Wanat in the Waygal Valley of northeastern Afghanistan, July 13, 2008.  President Barack Obama will place the Medal of Honor around Pitts’ neck during a ceremony at the White House, July 21, 2014.

Pitts will be the ninth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. The White House says Pitts and his family will join the president at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

Pitts served with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade.

The White House notes that Pitts’ personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal w/ “V” Device, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal w/ three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “4”, NATO Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Action Badge, Pathfinder Badge and Parachutist Badge.

In the summer of 2008, Pitts, then a sergeant, and his team were part of Operation “Rock Move,” meant to transfer remaining forces and capability from Combat Outpost Bella to a new location on the outskirts of a village called Wanat. The new position was Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler. COP Bella was to be closed.

The mission was expected to be the last for the Soldiers before returning home — they’d been in Afghanistan for 14 months.

On the morning of July 13, at about 4 a.m., Pitts was manning Observation Post Topside, which was positioned east of the main base, and east of a bazaar and hotel complex in Wanat.

Shortly after, Soldiers conducting surveillance identified potential insurgents. They put together a request for fire. But before that could happen, at about 4:20 a.m, Soldiers heard machine-gun fire from the north. After that, the valley erupted in enemy fire.


Soldiers at OP Topside were hit with small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. Pitts and six other paratroopers at OP Topside were injured in the initial volley of enemy fire. Two paratroopers were killed. Pitts took grenade shrapnel in both legs and his left arm.

For more than an hour after, Pitts continued to fight and defend his position and his teammates, despite his injuries.

Throughout the battle, despite the loss of blood and severity of his wounds, Pitts’ incredible toughness, determination, and ability to communicate with leadership while under fire allowed U.S. forces to hold the observation post and turn the tide of the battle.

Without his ability to stay alert and fight while critically wounded, the enemy would have gained a foothold on high ground and inflicted significantly greater causalities onto the vehicle patrol base, and the enemy could have been in possession of the fallen Soldiers at the observation post.

Nine Soldiers — Spc. Sergio Abad, Cpl. Jonathan Ayers, Cpl. Jason Bogar, 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, Sgt. Israel Garcia, Cpl. Jason Hovater, Cpl. Matthew Phillips, Cpl. Pruitt Rainey, and Cpl. Gunnar Zwilling — were killed in the battle.


War vet reunites with K9 partner: ‘He was my best friend’


KOMO: After five tours in Afghanistan, a retired marine flew home Thursday to a rousing reunion with his very first partner. There was tail wagging, ball throwing and big, sloppy, wet kisses.

“I’m really nervous,” former Marine Sgt. Deano Miller said as he waited at Sea-Tac Airport.

He’s been waiting four years. Four years to be re-united with Thor, the friend that kept him and his colleagues safe every day of their 2010 tour in Afghanistan.

“I’m just so excited,” Miller said. “I didn’t think this was ever going to happen.”

Thor is an explosives sniffing expert and Miller was his very first handler. Together they led patrols through Afghanistan, usually on point, searching for improvised explosive devices, IEDs.  The pair ate together, slept together, patrolled together. 


“I love that dog,” Miller said.

After they completed that first tour in Afghanistan, Miller came home, but Thor had to go back. “He was my best friend, he was my everything, I didn’t go anywhere without him, and then when I had to leave him I felt like I abandoned him,” Miller said.

Thor has done five tours and has had four more handlers after Miller.  Now Thor is retired — he left Afghanistan in October, and flew home Thursday from North Carolina to be re-united with his first partner.

Miller was nearly speechless as Thor walked off the escalator with a volunteer from Mission K9 Rescue, Kathileene Anderson, who brought Thor home.  A mass of cameras, people, and the long flight left Thor unable to settle. But after Miller took him for a quick walk outside to a dog-friendly area at the airport he was ready to chase a ball, mouth his favorite stuffed animal and pay attention to his first friend and last home.

Miller and his fiance live in Tacoma with their two other dogs, Tevin, a Siberian Husky and Doug, a yellow lab/golden retriever mix like Thor.  Miller’s fiancee Tomi Gallegos says they’re all ready for him.

“He has his own kennel and food bowl, water bowl, we’re not worried about dog beds because they all sleep in our bed anyway,” she said.

Volunteer Anderson was tearful at having to leave Thor behind, saying it was an honor to help two heroes reunite.  “I feel like it’s a miracle,” Anderson said.

The American Humane Association paid for Thor’s flight home. The organization estimates that each military working dog saves the lives of approximately 150 to 200 service members.