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Archive for July, 2009

Forces Kill Militants, Detain Suspects in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 24, 2009

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 24, 2009 – Afghan and international forces killed several enemy fighters, detained nine suspects and destroyed a weapons stockpile in recent operations in Afghanistan’s Ghazni, Khost and Kandahar provinces, military officials reported.

Acting on intelligence that indicated militant activity, a combined force searched a compound last night in the Ghazni village of Jahangir Kalay. The compound was known to be used by a Taliban fighter responsible for supplying weapons and ammunition to local militants for attacks against Afghan and international security forces.

During the search, militants engaged the force, and the force returned fire, killing several enemy fighters. The search continued, and the force found and destroyed a stockpile that included assault rifles, a machine gun and grenades.

Also last night, a combined force conducted an intelligence-driven search of a compound west of the city of Khost in Khost province. The search targeted a key member of the Haqqani terrorist network officials said is responsible for multiple operations, including suicide attacks against Afghan and international forces. The search was conducted without incident, and the force detained six suspected militants, including the wanted man.

Elsewhere, an overnight operation reported yesterday in the village of Khosrow-e Sofia in Kandahar province resulted in detention of three suspected militants.

No combined-force or civilian casualties were reported in the operations.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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Route Clearing Patrols

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 22, 2009

Force Kills Enemy Fighters, Seizes Weapons in AfghanistanAmerican Forces Press ServiceWASHINGTON, July 22, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces killed several enemy fighters, detained one other and destroyed weapons caches in operations in Afghanistan over the past two days, military officials reported.A joint Afghan and coalition force killed enemy fighters and detained a suspect on a Taliban compound in central Helmand province yesterday.The force was pursuing a senior Taliban commander believed responsible for the recruitment of bomb-making technicians and the transfer of weapons and bomb-making materials into the region.The combined force searched a compound near the village of Heyderabad after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The force engaged a group of enemy fighters after receiving fire.The force detained an enemy fighter and seized an AK-47 assault rifle, a chest rack and 75 pounds of black-tar heroin.When leaving the compound, the force was engaged multiple times and called in precision close-air support. Several enemy fighters were killed during the incident.No Afghan or coalition force or civilian casualties were reported.Elsewhere, Afghan National Police, aided by coalition forces, killed several militants and destroyed a large weapons cache in Zabul province’s Arghandab and Shajoy districts July 20 during a cordon-and-search operation in an area known as a militant leader meeting point and Taliban recruiting area.Upon entering a local village, militants engaged the Afghan-led joint force with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The force responded with small arms and heavy weapons, killing multiple militants.A search yielded a large weapons cache that included an estimated 7,000 pounds of explosives and other miscellaneous ammunition. The force destroyed the cache in place.An Afghan National Police member and two coalition members were wounded. They were treated before being evacuated to a nearby coalition hospital. No civilian casualties were reported.(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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Body Parts Fly IED Emplacement Gun Camera

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 17, 2009

Coalition helicopter crew engaging insurgents who are placing an improvised explosive device.

KABUL, Afghanistan – While conducting operations in southern Afghanistan, International Security Assistance Force AH-64 Apache helicopters, from the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, observed insurgents placing an improvised explosive device. The location of the IED was on the main highway connecting the Helmand capital of Lashkar Gah with Kandahar City.

Insurgent operating along that highway routinely target Afghan national security forces and coalition forces with their deadly IEDs. Unfortunately, local civilians often become the victims of these indiscriminate attacks.

After taking all necessary precautions to ensure civilian safety, the ISAF helicopters used a precision weapon against the insurgents, preventing further IEDs from being placed.

“We are determined to assist our Afghan and Coalition security forces in protecting the Afghan people from the deadly and indiscriminate effects of insurgent emplaced IEDs,” said Col. Paul Bricker, commander, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. “We remain most deliberate in our efforts to ensure battlefield effects do not harm innocent civilians.

“Our rotary wing aviation operations will continue to focus on supporting ISAF and local security forces in establishing the conditions necessary for a safer environment in southern Afghanistan and to assist in the Afghan people living their lives without fear of insurgent attacks,” he said.

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Coalition, Afghan Troops Raid Terrorist Compounds

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 17, 2009

American Forces Press Service
KABUL, Afghanistan, July 17, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan forces raided several terrorist compounds in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past two days, disrupting bomb networks and seizing suspects and weapons, military officials reported.

The combined forces killed several insurgents in a gun battle in Paktia province last night, and a dozen militants were detained in raids that occurred in Logar, Paktika and Khost provinces in the East and Helmand province in the South.

Afghan and coalition forces searched an enemy encampment last night in the remote reaches of Paktia province in an effort to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters and weapons by the Haqqani terrorist group through the Khost-Gardez Pass along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The force targeted the site, southeast of Gardez, after intelligence indicated militant activity. Several insurgents engaged the force with small-arms fire throughout the operation. The force used direct fire and close-air support to repel the attacks, killing several shooters. The force continued the search and uncovered large munitions caches throughout the encampment. All munitions were destroyed in place.

In Logar province, Afghan and coalition forces searched a compound thought to be used by a known Haqqani commander as a bomb-making cell for attacks on coalition and Afghan forces.

The force targeted the compound near the village of Ebad, southwest of Kabul, after intelligence indicated militant activity. The force conducted the search without incident and confiscated an AK-47 rifle and a chest rack. Three suspected militants were detained.

Two groups of joint Afghan and coalition forces searched known militant compounds July 15 in Khost and Paktika provinces to disrupt Haqqani communication lines and the flow of money and weapons into the regions.

The combined force targeted a compound north of the city of Khost after intelligence indicated militant activity there. The force conducted a search of the compound without incident and two AK-47 rifles and a shotgun were confiscated. The force detained five suspected insurgents.

In Paktika province, the combined force targeted a compound southeast of Ghazni where intelligence indicated militant activity. A search was conducted without incident and four suspects were detained.

No Afghan National Army or coalition force or civilian casualties were reported during either incident.

Afghan and coalition forces searched a compound last night in Helmand province thought to belong to a key Taliban commander believed to be responsible for directing suicide and bomb attacks in the area.

The force targeted the compound in the Nad Ali district where intelligence indicated militant activity. The force conducted a search without incident and uncovered a hand grenade in one of the targeted buildings. The force detained four suspected militants.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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Celebrities Entertain Troops in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 16, 2009

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, July 16, 2009 – Celebrities stopped by here yesterday to entertain troops as part of the star-studded USO’s Summer Troop Visit.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the celebrities are travelling throughout the U.S. Central Command area of operations to thank troops for their service and sacrifice.

The celebrities include actors Bradley Cooper and D.B. Sweeney, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn, National Football League Hall of Famer Don Shula, and sports commentator and model Leeann Tweeden.

The group’s first stop was aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier currently under way in the Gulf of Oman. From the floating airport to the sands of Iraq to the hills of Afghanistan, the stars accompanying Mullen said they were excited about entertaining the troops deployed overseas.

“We feel like we want to give something back,” said Shula, a well-known former Miami Dolphins coach. “We appreciate so much what our troops do, and we wanted to do something in return.”

Travelling to different locations presents logistical challenges. Travel in Afghanistan is dangerous, and some of the outposts are so remote, the only way to reach them is by helicopter.

“The hardest part is getting the talent out to where they have to go,” said Army Capt. Dena De Lucia, deputy chief of quality-of-life programs for U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

“Getting to remote [forward operating bases] means getting helicopters, and we got lucky this time because the 82nd Airborne graciously gave us two to use,” De Lucia said.

Planning these types of trips can be as harrowing as planning an air-assault mission.

“It takes weeks and months in advance to plan something like this,” De Lucia said. “It’s a very arduous process. You have to contact camps and make sure they can support the visit, and make sure you can get to where they need to go.”

Travelling throughout Afghanistan was difficult for the USO tour, but well worth it to both the troops they visited and the stars themselves.

“All of the places we go are really important, but the smaller locations are very austere, where they don’t have hot showers or necessarily a hot meal every day,” said Rachel Tischler, USO entertainment operations vice president. “So it’s very special to bring that touch of home to those people that don’t necessarily have those creature comforts.”

Many of the hundreds that lined up outside the Pat Tillman USO here yesterday were delighted that the stars could break away from busy schedules to visit them.

“It’s great to have the support of celebrities over here,” Army Sgt. Linnea Biniak said. “Them being here and showing support for the troops definitely raises morale.”

Inside the USO building, which is named for Pat Tillman, the ex-NFL player and U.S. Army Ranger killed in Afghanistan in 2004, the visiting celebrities struggled to give adequate attention to the servicemembers who had come to see them.

Rather than stay indoors, the stars decided to “walk the line” outside, where they could meet with more people and make sure everyone who came to see them received an autograph or personal photo.

In addition to the “grip and grins” pictures, ssome soldiers were given the opportunity to talk personally with celebrities. Army Spc. Jonathan Grizzard asked Sweeney about several of his films, including “Fire in the Sky,” a 1993 film in which Sweeney plays a man abducted by aliens.

“That was the sweetest experience I’d ever had,” Grizzard said. “I waited almost an hour, but I would have waited two hours — it was totally worth it!”

“I’ve got several movies that people really responded to, and it’s very flattering for people to bring up a movie that’s 10 years old and talk about specific scenes,” Sweeney said. “I kind of get to relive the process of making it, and it underscores what I think my role as an entertainer is, to help people forget their jobs for a little while and get through the day a little easier.”

Elsewhere in the line, football fans shook hands and “mugged” with Dunn. Iraqi war veterans swapped stories with Tweeden from her last trip overseas.

Cooper was a big draw following his most recent hit film, “The Hangover.”

Meanwhile, inside the building, Shula shared his most memorable moments with diehard sports fans eager for a glimpse of his Super Bowl ring and to get his autograph on their footballs.

Staying until well after 10 p.m., the stars made sure everyone had gotten what they’d come for before finally packing it in to prepare for another day of travelling to more Afghan locations the following day.

“It’s amazing for them to come out here and represent the United States,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Raymond Stone. “Not many people come out here, and I think it’s great that they do it. They’ve got other things that they have to do, yet they’ve taken the time to come out here and show their support to us.”

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger is assigned to the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Soldiers Capture ‘High-value’ Terror Suspect

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 14, 2009

American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, July 14, 2009 – U.S. forces apprehended a wanted man suspected of being the leader of a bomb-making cell during a July 12 civil affairs mission west of Baghdad.

Civil affairs officers from C Troop, 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, went to the man’s house July 12 to pay for damages to his front door caused during a previous attempt to capture the known criminal.

The man attempted to flee through a field behind his house, but surrendered to pursuing C Troop soldiers, who transferred him to Iraqi army custody.

The suspected criminal admitted he is a member of an insurgency group. Iraqi soldiers had been searching for him for nearly a week.

“He was listed ninth on the [battalion’s] Iraqi high-value target list, and there was a terrorist warrant for his arrest here in Iraq,” said Army 2nd Lt. Jason Hickman, a C Troop platoon leader.

The man also is one of the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s “most wanted.” The 30th HBCT is the parent brigade to the 150th Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, and is made up of National Guardsmen from North Carolina, West Virginia and Colorado. C Troop is based in Glen Jean, W.Va.

(From a Multinational Division Baghdad news release.)

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Forces Detain Militants, Destroy Weapons in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 8, 2009

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 8, 2009 – Afghan and coalition forces detained suspected militants and destroyed homemade bombs in operations in Afghanistan today and yesterday, military officials reported.

In Ghazni province, Afghan and coalition forces detained suspected militants last night during operations aimed at disrupting Haqqani terrorist activities, including attacks on coalition bases by a key Haqqani commander, assassination attempts of Afghan government officials and the flow of foreign fighters and weapons into the region.

The forces assaulted three compounds south of Ghazni city. In one of the compounds, the forces engaged a suspected militant who did not comply with instructions to stop moving toward them. During this engagement, a ricocheting round killed a civilian female. The forces killed several armed enemy combatants, detained six suspected militants and seized grenades and rifles.

Elsewhere, Afghan National Police, assisted by coalition forces, discovered and destroyed 21 homemade bombs in Oruzgan province today and yesterday.

The Afghan-led force was conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol when the patrol was fired on from a wooded area. The force returned fire, killing a militant. The force discovered and destroyed 21 homemade bombs.

No Afghan or coalition force or civilian casualties were reported.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan news releases.)

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U.S., Afghan Forces Launch Offensive Into Taliban Stronghold

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 2, 2009

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 2, 2009 – Thousands of American servicemembers and hundreds of Afghan soldiers launched Operation Khanjar today to provide security to the Helmand River Valley in southern Afghanistan, according to officials here and in Kabul.

Some 4,000 Marines, sailors and soldiers and 650 Afghan soldiers launched nearly simultaneous air and ground assaults all along the river, officials said.

The forces, under the command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force, are entering areas where few – if any – coalition forces have been in the past. Helmand province is a stronghold of the Taliban, and the coalition mission is to secure the area and make it safe for Afghans to live without the threats of militant groups.

“The operation in Nawa is going to be very effective,” Helmand Gov. Gulab Mangal said. “The security forces will build bases to provide security for the local people so that they can carry out every activity with this favorable background and take their lives forward in peace.”

The troops are from the Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Marine Aircraft Group 40 and Task Force Pegasus — the 82nd Airborne Division Combat Aviation Brigade — provided aviation support.

This is the first operation to use the troops President Barack Obama ordered to the area after taking office.

The operation is part of an overall NATO effort in to extend security to the Afghan people in southern Afghanistan. Similar operations are under way in other parts of Helmand and in Kandahar province, including the British-led Operation Panchai Palang, which began last week.

The effort is designed to connect local Afghans with their legitimate government while establishing stable and secure conditions for national elections scheduled for August, as well as enhanced security for the future, officials said.

“What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, the brigade commander.

Officials said the focus remains true to counterinsurgency doctrine: ensuring the safety, security and stability of the area. Once secure, the British-run Helmand Provincial Reconstruction Team in Lashkar Gah, working with Afghan government officials, will follow up security gains with economic and governance projects.

“The Taliban offer no future, no hope, and we will work to provide immediate security gains to the local citizens of the Helmand River Valley,” Nicholson said in a written statement.

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BBC NEWS | South Asia | US opens ‘major Afghan offensive’

Posted by Larry Barnes on July 2, 2009

Afghanistan

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