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Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Islamists killed after challenging Hamas – 15 Aug 09

Posted by Larry Barnes on August 16, 2009

Hamas security forces have clashed with Jund Ansar Allah, a radical Islamist group, in the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.Their leader, Abdel-Latif Moussa, was killed in the fighting. Hours before, he had called for Gaza to become an “Islamic emirate”, governed purely by Islamic law.Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin reports from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

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Hamas says Gaza now under control

Posted by Larry Barnes on August 16, 2009

Six Hamas fighters, including a senior commander, and several civilians died. The rest of those killed were from Jund Ansar Allah.About 120 people were injured, and some were in a critical condition, the BBC’s Rushdi Abu Alouf says.

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Toby Keith Entertains Troops in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 29, 2009

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, April 28, 2009 – Country singer and troop supporter Toby Keith finished up a 15-show tour in Afghanistan yesterday as he drew near the end of his seventh tour with the United Service Organizations.

Service members crowd the stage April 27, 2009, at Bagram Air Field, to catch a photo of Toby Keith during his concert in Afghanistan. This was Keith's seventh tour with the United Service Organizations. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Greenberger

Service members crowd the stage April 27, 2009, at Bagram Air Field, to catch a photo of Toby Keith during his concert in Afghanistan. This was Keith's seventh tour with the United Service Organizations. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Michael Greenberger

Keith spent five days criss-crossing the war-torn country visiting bases large and small in a whirlwind of handshakes, autographs, photo-ops and of course – country music shows.

Whether it’s hundreds of Marines at Camp Bastion or a crowd of thousands at Kandahar Air Field, countless hours of preparation and manpower go into making each show special.

“It’s a three-pronged attack,” said Rachel Tischler, USO vice president of entertainment operations. “The crews get to work setting everything up for the larger shows as most of the band goes to see people at the larger bases. While they are doing that, [Toby] and a few others visit the more remote locations.”

Keith’s tour visited Forward Operating Bases Tillman and Boris, near the Pakistan border, in addition to the larger bases, like FOBs Sharana and Salerno.

“It was important to Toby and the crew to visit as many of the smaller, remote locations as possible,” said Tischler. “Never mind getting entertainers – some of them don’t have running water!”

Keith, was taught early on to respect the military and those who serve in it.

“My father was a soldier. He taught his kids to respect veterans,” said Keith. “It’s that respect and the thank-you that we have a military that’s in place and ready to defend our nation; our freedom.”

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Since 2002, Keith and company have visited war zones, military bases and ships at sea to bring a little levity and light into the lives of those in harm’s way. He loves his job, he said.

“It’s a break from the monotony in their life,” Keith said of his duty to the troops. “They’re under fire and tremendous workloads trying to accomplish their goals, so when we show up, it changes that for a little while. We try to put smiles on their faces.”

According to the roaring crowd in the “clamshell tent” on Bagram, he succeeded.

“The energy level was so high,” said Army Spc. Jennifer Cook. “It brought all the soldiers in, no matter what kind of music they liked.”

Keith’s forte is playing country music. He’s been doing it for more than 23 years. Some of the hits he poured into the night sky over Afghanistan have been staples of country music for years – as well as favorites of those in uniform, such as “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue” and “American Soldier.”

Toby Keith

Toby Keith

Written after his first visit to Iraq, “American Soldier” is a tribute to service members everywhere. Keith salutes military mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters — ordinary people all over who volunteer to serve their country and give their lives for it if necessary. Keith took many of his first interactions with the military in Iraq, such as a remembrance ceremony for a fallen service member, and turned it into something many could understand.

“Those kinds of things just bore into your soul,” Keith said. “I would have never been able to complete ‘American Soldier’ if it weren’t for the experiences I had.”

The troops appreciate Keith just as much as he appreciated them.

“This show was awesome,” said Air Force Senior Airman Patrick McGuire. “I saw Toby Keith stateside and it was smoky and the crowd was just different. Here, it’s like he was here for us, not just a show. It just felt like he was here for us.”

Keith doesn’t just raise spirits though, he raises awareness too.

“It’s great to be supported by someone in the music business,” Cook said. “It also keeps us on people’s minds back home.”

Keith ended more than an hour of guitar whompin’, foot stompin’ music with a promise he’s echoed over 150 times: “I’ll see you next year.”

After departing Afghanistan, Keith and company head to Italy to finish their seventh USO tour.

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

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Taliban’s Strength in Pakistan Frustrates U.S., Chairman Says

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 24, 2009

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

QALAT, Afghanistan, April 24, 2009 – The Taliban’s growing strength in Pakistan is frustrating to the United States, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions from the traveling media after a meeting with Gov. Mohammad Ashraf Naseri of Afghanistan’s Zabol province at Forward Operating Base Walton, April 24, 2009. Mullen is on a six-day tour of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, escorting a USO tour, meeting with counterparts and visiting troops. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers questions from the traveling media after a meeting with Gov. Mohammad Ashraf Naseri of Afghanistan’s Zabol province at Forward Operating Base Walton, April 24, 2009. Mullen is on a six-day tour of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, escorting a USO tour, meeting with counterparts and visiting troops. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told reporters traveling with him that Pakistani military leaders are very concerned with the progress of terrorists groups inside Pakistan.

Last month, Pakistani civilian leaders worked out a deal with the Taliban that essentially recognized them in Swat – a tourist area north of Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad. Lately, the terrorists have begun attacking in Besur, a region only 60 miles from the capital.

Yesterday, Mullen visited military leaders in Pakistan, and discussed the situation in the country with them. He said the discussions he had with Pakistani Army Chief of General Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani were more focused on Swat, where the Taliban already are breaking their deal with the Pakistani government. “It was very clear that General Kayani is very concerned about the Taliban activity,” a military official familiar with the talks said.

The United States has continued to offer training and equipment help to the Pakistanis to counter the Taliban threat. “It’s safe to say we want them to do more,” said the official. “The admiral came back from the meetings very concerned and increasingly frustrated with the situation.”

The Pakistani military does understand the seriousness of the situation. While in Pakistan, Mullen observed two Pakistani military divisions going through counterinsurgency training. The two divisions were in the sixth week of a 14-week course. Once done, the units will deploy to the border area. “What they are going to do about Besur or Swat is really a Pakistani civilian decision that hasn’t been made,” Mullen said.

Nothing demonstrates how interconnected Afghanistan and Pakistan are than operations in Afghanistan’s Zabul province. The region is tied together by tribe and family, and the people of the region historically pay no attention to the Durand Line, surveyed by the British in the 1920s, which forms the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The Taliban take full advantage of this situation.

“Our focus on the border since we’ve been here is tied directly to the freedom of movement that the Taliban has, whether it’s farther north in [Regional Command East] or here in the south,” Mullen said. “That’s something that has to be dramatically reduced.”

An effort to stem the flow has to involve Afghanistan, Pakistan and the coalition to be effective, Mullen said. “This is the time of year where their influx is considerable, and Zabol, in particular, is a path they use,” the admiral said.

Mullen met with the governor of Afghanistan’s Zabol province, who has a good grip on the situation despite being in office for less than a month, the admiral said. “I think we can get the security piece right here, and by doing that we can enable the other things that must be done here,” Mullen said.

Within the province and Regional Command South there is very broad agreement on what the challenges are and how to approach them, Mullen said. “Clearly, security is a key issue here,” he said. “But it’s not just security; there are other needs tied to it.” Development, agriculture and governance also are part of a winning strategy, he said.

“I’m very optimistic and buoyed by the spirit and the leadership of the provincial reconstruction team, which is very focused on the needs as well,” he said. “But the challenges are significant. We know what they are. We have to move forward and execute.”

This will mean sacrifice, the chairman acknowledged.

“I saw a sign on one of the [forward operating base] walls today with names of seven American soldiers who lost their lives in this province,” Mullen said.

The U.S. troops understand the challenges, and they are “incredibly patriotic, dedicated to the mission and dedicated to each other,” the chairman said.

The chairman made it a point to visit the provincial reconstruction team in Zabol to highlight the necessary cooperation among many agencies. The soldiers and federal civilians assigned to the team “are at the heart of what really matters, which is development and really helping the Afghan people,” Mullen said. “They are proud and excited about doing what they are doing. It makes me proud and humble to be associated with them and serving with such a great group of people.”

Mullen said he thinks of the sacrifices American servicemembers and their civilian colleagues make. He comes to the area of operations, he added, to thank them for their service and “to better understand what we ask them to do, and then do everything in my power to help them succeed in the missions.”

U.S. servicemembers understand their new strategy. “What struck me was how much our people understand the execution requirements of counterinsurgency,” Mullen said. “I’ve described it as part of our DNA, and a couple of years ago, that just wasn’t the case.”

The troops know that success is not just about combat operations, Mullen said.

“They know it’s about the Afghan people,” he said. “They know it’s about information operations and the messaging and getting out in front of the enemy. They are living and breathing it, rather than just studying it and learning how to execute it. That’s a huge change for me over the past year.”

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Outpost Gives Hint of Challenges in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 23, 2009

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

COMBAT OUTPOST DEYSIE, Afghanistan, April 23, 2009 – Nothing illustrates the difficulties of combat in Afghanistan’s Regional Command East like this base on the Gardez-Khowst road.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the base yesterday to hear from the soldiers on the ground what life is like in Afghanistan. He flew from Kabul to Forward Operating Base Airborne, and then to this combat outpost.

Mullen met with leaders and servicemembers who explained their duties and talked about the challenges they face.
The area is “geographically challenging,” said Army Brig. Gen. Mark Milley, deputy commander for operations of Combined Joint Task Force 101. The camp guards what will become a macadamized road. The right of way is marked, and construction equipment soon will move in. The outpost is more than 8,000 feet above sea level, and lowlanders can feel the lack of oxygen.

Mountains surround the camp, and the soldiers of the reconnaissance troop of the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team work with Afghan soldiers to ensure the safety of local people who are building the road.

Roads are important in Afghanistan – and almost nonexistent. One soldier spoke of driving along what he thought was a road, but it turned out to be a dry streambed.

Because roads represent the good intentions of government, they have become a way for federal and provincial officials to show they are trying to improve the lives of average Afghans. But roads also become targets that the Taliban and other enemy groups attack, Milley said.

Without roads, goods cannot get to market, medical care is limited, and tribes and families become isolated. U.S. and Afghan soldiers provide security so progress can continue. The Taliban and their allies kill innocent people and intimidate road crews as a last-gasp measure to show the government is ineffective, Milley said. “They will not be successful,” he added.

Follow-through is almost a mantra to the general, who said finishing the road will demonstrate the government’s commitment to the tribes and families. American and Afghan troops being in the area also represent commitment and follow-through to the people, he noted.

Regional Command East has twice the number of combat brigades that it had this time last year. All are in tough battle spaces, Milley said. In the north, the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team operates in the Hindu Kush mountains, which top 16,000 feet in some places.

“It is some of the toughest infantry fighting country in the world, and those soldiers are doing a great job in a very tough fight,” Milley said.

An enhanced brigade out of Fort Polk, La., operates with a French battalion in Parawan province; and a Polish brigade operates in Ghazni province.

The 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team is the newest brigade in the area, brings about 3,500 additional soldiers into the region south of Kabul, the Afghan capital.

Operating in the southern portion of Regional Command East is the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Alaska. In addition, Regional Command East has an aviation brigade, engineers and logisticians, as well as the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets and medical facilities needed to maintain the force in the field.

Essentially, five brigades are responsible for security in an area about the size of North and South Carolina, Milley said. The enemy is as varied as the topography.

Terror groups in the region are fractious, with no single unifying philosophy or goal, the general said. “They are murderous groups who want nothing but power for themselves,” he said. “They have no vision for the future, and the Afghan people understand this. Still, they intimidate the population and think nothing of killing innocent men, women and children to further their sick ambitions.”

Westerners talk about the Taliban, but the enemies are varied, though their tactics are similar. The Hakkani network, an extremist group led by Hekmatyar Gulbaddin, Taliban groups dedicated to the overthrow of the Pakistani government, and local groups that simply want power all are part of the mix. “They distrust each other, but can sometimes come together with commonality of purpose,” Milley said.

The general said he does not like to attach a number to the enemy presence, but when pressed, he said the various groups have between 7,000 and 11,000 combatants. But then, he added, the discussion becomes “Who is a combatant? Is an Afghan who joins a raid to feed his family because there is no work in his village a combatant or just someone being used?”

Separating the enemy from the people is the key to winning in Afghanistan, Milley said, and the enemy has four options. “They can fight and die, they can surrender, they can throw their weapons away and run or they can reconcile,” he said.

The American effort in the nation is built around classic counterinsurgency strategy. U.S. forces aim to provide security for the people. Once they establish security, they need to hold the area to prevent the enemy from moving back in. There must be development to provide jobs and opportunities for the people.

Building governance at local, provincial and federal levels is vital. “The people must see the government as a benefit to them,” Milley said. “They must turn to the government for help, rather than the enemy.”

But the most important portion of the counterinsurgency strategy is training Afghans to take on the security challenge. “The best counterinsurgency fighter is an indigenous fighter,” Milley said. “If a stranger comes into a village, a local Afghan will notice in ways that we can’t. They’ll know if the man is trouble or not. Security forces must be the face of the government. If so, people will turn to them.”

The Afghan National Army is the most respected institution in the country, Milley said. “The Afghan soldiers can whip the enemy’s butt every time,” he said. But there are not enough of them, with 82,000 in the service.

“The Afghan army must be a bigger factor,” the general said. In Regional Command East, two Afghan army corps work with Combined Joint Task Force 101. More kandaks – Afghan battalions – are scheduled to join the fight in the region.

Ultimately, part of the solution in the country is a professional police force. Training the Afghan police has been a problem, but it is proceeding, Milley said. Police live among the people, he explained, and are best suited to understand local concerns and — more importantly — to know those in the area who cause trouble.

Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan runs 450 miles down the eastern portion of Regional Command East’s area. It has a mountainous terrain, and the people of the border area have tribal and family ties on both sides. At least 2,000 footpaths run across the border in the Regional Command East area alone, Milley said, and another 200 paths can handle at least burros.

The Afghan Border Police have been receiving training and equipment. They are becoming more effective, the general said, but more needs to happen.

On the Pakistan side of the border, the Frontier Corps has made strides in combating Taliban fighters who use the region as a safe haven. “What has to happen now is coordinating our operations,” Milley said. U.S., Afghan and Pakistani officials sit down regularly to talk about common challenges. At the tactical level, U.S., Afghan and Pakistani units are allowed to contact each other, and they do, the general said.

But Pakistan remains a problem. Taliban fighters continue to take refuge in the country, and while the Frontier Corps is effective in Baijur, they are not operating in other areas. “This is going to require a concerted effort,” Milley said.

Combined Joint Task Force 101 will turn over command of the region to a headquarters built around the 82nd Airborne Division later this summer.

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U.S., Afghan Forces Kill Eight, Detain Five

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 17, 2009

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2009 – Coalition and Afghan forces killed eight militants and detained five in recent operations throughout Afghanistan, U.S. military officials reported.

In operations today:

— Afghan soldiers, assisted by coalition forces, killed two militants in Farah province’s Khaki Safed district. The combined patrol came under machine-gun, small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire from five to seven militants. Shortly thereafter, 20 to 30 fighters joined in from established firing positions. The Afghan and coalition forces pursued the militants on foot. Most abandoned their fighting positions, but two were killed and several others were wounded as the combined elements cleared the area.

— In Kandahar province’s Maywand district, U.S. and Afghan troops killed six enemy fighters and detained one in an operation targeting an alleged mid-level terrorist responsible for orchestrating attacks on U.S. forces. Afghan troops killed five of the insurgents in a field near the compound where the suspect was believed to be. The other insurgent was killed inside the complex after taking up arms and refusing to surrender. About 5 and a half pounds of opium was found and destroyed at the compound.

— In Nangarhar province, Afghan army commandos detained a suspected insurgent after receiving a tip from local villagers that the suspect was coordinating terrorist activities from his home.

— In Logar province’s Baraki Barak district, U.S. and Afghan troops detained a suspected insurgent believed to be responsible for acquiring and developing bomb-making material for use against local residents and security forces.

In Paktya province’s Zormat district yesterday, Afghan commandos detained three suspected insurgents during a search of an alleged insurgent leader’s home. The suspects and their alleged leader are believed to be involved in mortar and small-arms attacks against Afghan and U.S. forces.

No Afghan or U.S. casualties were reported from these operations.

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International Effort Benefits Afghanistan’s Alasay Valley

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 17, 2009

By French Army Maj. Patrick Simo

An Afghan soldier distributes information to local children in a village of Afghanistan's Alasay Valley. A joint effort by the Afghan, French and U.S. militaries conducted a medical operation in the valley April 5 and 6, 2009, providing care to more than 600 Afghans from local villages. French Army photo by Maj. Patrick Simo

An Afghan soldier distributes information to local children in a village of Afghanistan's Alasay Valley. A joint effort by the Afghan, French and U.S. militaries conducted a medical operation in the valley April 5 and 6, 2009, providing care to more than 600 Afghans from local villages. French Army photo by Maj. Patrick Simo


Special to American Forces Press Service

ALASAY VALLEY, Afghanistan, April 17, 2009 – The Afghan, French and American militaries conducted a medical operation here April 5 and 6, providing care to more than 600 Afghans from local villages.

A joint civilian-military cooperation and provincial reconstruction team also met with students and teachers from two schools in the village to determine the community’s needs. The teams distributed more than 500 school kits in Sultankhel, an area known for attacks on coalition troops.

Meanwhile, Afghan and U.S. servicemembers patrolled the bazaar and met with local vendors.

“The patrols with the French were fantastic,” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Davis said. “Once we entered the bazaar, the French moved very slow and tactically, clearing alleyways and shops one by one.”

Following the community outreach, the teams held several community council meetings with local leaders in the Spee and Skan valleys to review the security situation in the eastern district.

The second-in-command of the Afghan National Army’s 1st Kandak brigade and the head of the Afghan National Police met with the chief American embedded training team and a representative of French Task Force Tiger, discussing security concerns for more than six hours.

“There is a real desire to move forward and unite around the sub-governor in order to extend this quiet situation to the valley bottoms,” one of the local elders from Alasay said.

The key to this mission was to talk, share and find solutions to solidify the still-fragile relationships in the valley, following a major offensive operation in March involving two companies of Task Force Tiger and two companies from the ANA’s 1st Kandak.

Since December, the Kapisa combined tactical group increased security in its area of operations. The daily presence of Afghan and French soldiers in the valleys is particularly effective, Task Force Tiger leaders said.

“In this kind of counter-insurgency war, the people are truly the center of gravity of our operations,” said Col. Nicolas Le Nen, French commander. “We are able to simultaneously conduct kinetic actions and support operations to the inhabitants of the valleys. Winning of the hearts and minds is crucial if we are to improve security, governance and development of the province.”

(Maj. Patrick Simo of the French army serves with the Task Force Tiger public affairs office.)

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Twelve Militants Killed, Suicide Bomber Thwarted in Afghanistan

Posted by Larry Barnes on April 13, 2009

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2009 – Twelve militants were killed and a suicide bomber was stopped in Afghanistan during weekend operations.

On April 11, Afghan and coalition forces conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol in the Shinkay district of Afghanistan’s Zabol province killed four armed militants who attacked them using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. The forces responded with smallarms and heavy-weapons fire and close-air support, killing the militants.

An Afghan man accidentally flipped his vehicle and suffered minor injuries as he fled the area to escape the militants’ gunfire.

In the Sabari district of Khowst province, Afghan National Army commandos on a reconnaissance patrol discovered a vehicle by the side of the road that had been prepared for use as a car bomb. Wires protruding from the car’s dashboard led to a battery pack and a switch attached to the gear shift. The back of the vehicle had been hollowed out.

The elite Afghan soldiers disabled the car bomb, and it was destroyed in place.

During other April 11 operations in Afghanistan, eight militants were killed in unrelated incidents in Wardak and Logar provinces.

In Wardak’s Sayed Abad district, militants attacked a Task Force Spartan patrol with small-arms fire and RPGs. Seven of the attackers were killed with a combination of indirect fire from a local military base and coalition close-air support.

A separate incident in Logar’s Kherwar district left another attacker dead after a group of militants fired at a combined Task Force Spartan and Afghan unit on patrol in the area.

(Compiled from U.S. Forces Afghanistan and Combined Joint Task Force 101 news releases.)

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Soldiers, Afghan Police Work Together Outside Bagram Airfield

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 30, 2009

By Army Capt. Michael Greenberger
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, March 30, 2009 – The rising sun brought a flurry of activity in the motor pool of the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company, Special Troops Battalion on March 19 as the soldiers prepared to run a “reverse option” – a joint checkpoint with Afghan National Police outside Bagram’s entry control points.

Army Spc. Steven Rogers

Army Spc. Steven Rogers stands atop his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Just two weeks prior, a suicide bomber attacked one of the base’s entry control points, but was thwarted by local Afghan peacekeepers.

Everywhere in the 2nd Platoon motor pool, Alpha Company soldiers moved with a purpose, loading equipment, weapons and water into their up-armored Humvees. After radio checks were complete, the soldiers mounted up and rolled out to the entry control points.

The road outside the southern edge of Bagram Airfield is a stretch of muddy potholes, rocks and debris. With skill, precision and watchful eyes, the soldiers navigated their immense vehicles over the uneven terrain, constantly beeping their horns at civilian traffic to alert them to their presence.

From left, Jalaludin, a captain with the Afghan National Police, briefs Ali, an interpreter, and Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button at a checkpoint outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

From left, Jalaludin, a captain with the Afghan National Police, briefs Ali, an interpreter, and Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button at a checkpoint outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

“Our main goal is to keep everyone and the vehicles safe,” said Army Sgt. Roberto Castillo, an Iraq veteran now serving in Afghanistan. “We do a lot to avoid civilians and their vehicles on the road, because we have to share it and want to maintain a better relationship with the [local people].”

Army Spc. Steven Rogers mans the turret of his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Army Spc. Steven Rogers mans the turret of his armored security vehicle while conducting checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Gunners constantly scanned the terrain for threats while the vehicle bounced around the muddy mess.

“We are always aware of our surroundings,” said Army Spc. Todd Haskel said. “When I first got here, I was constantly scanning – constantly on edge. Now it is like second nature to me.”

After a short but challenging trip, the soldiers rolled on to the checkpoints in force. They moved swiftly to cover the avenues of approach, laying down concertina wire and orange cones to block the roads while patrol leader Army 1st Lt. Jeremy Button contacted the Afghan National Police already on the ground.

“We are very happy with these guys,” said Jalaludin, a captain with the ANP. “We have worked with them often, and we work well together. The Army soldiers are happy with us, because they know when they call us for a joint mission, we will be here.”

The town outside Bagram is a bustling hub of two-story buildings, shops and shanties –– people are everywhere. The Afghans watch the soldiers intently as they go about their tasks, yet keep their distance.

“We set up these blocking positions as an antiterrorism measure,” Button said. “It’s a nice show of force for any bad guys who might be in the area.”

The soldiers kept an eye out for anyone or anything that looked suspicious.

“If we see a suspicious vehicle, the Afghan police stop and search the vehicle and question the occupants,” Button said. “We mainly serve in a support roll to back them up.”

“We’ve been doing missions like these for 13 months,” said Army Spc. Randall Preston said. “We set up these positions, and the Afghan people immediately adjust. They stay out of the way and try to help.”

The Afghan National Police are familiar with the people who congregate around the entry control point, and they quickly recognize strangers.

“Before the Americans came, there were a lot of bad people here,” Jalaludin said. “These are good people here now though, and they are tired of all the fighting. They just want security and peace, and are glad the Americans are here to help.”

“These ANP are really solid,” Button said. “They do what you ask them to do, and they show up and do a good job.”

From left, Army Spc. Randall Preston and Army Spc. Jeremy Richards place concertina wire and orange cones to block the road during checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

From left, Army Spc. Randall Preston and Army Spc. Jeremy Richards place concertina wire and orange cones to block the road during checkpoint operations outside Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, March 18, 2009.

Missions employing random antiterrorism measures and procedures are an important part of security operations in Afghanistan.

“It’s important to do random patrols to disrupt enemy forces,” said Army Capt. William Coulter, Alpha Company commander, “as well as not set a predictable schedule or pattern of patrolling.”

After an hour or so, the ANP commander gave the call to collapse the blocking positions, so the U.S. soldiers secured their equipment, said their goodbyes, and headed for home.

Unique to the 101st Airborne Division, the “Slayers” serve as a mobile reaction force, able to respond within minutes of being called.

“We have infantrymen, signal soldiers, a mechanic –– it makes us self-sufficient, adaptable and flexible,” Button said.

Along with Alpha Company’s 1st platoon, 2nd platoon’s primary mission is patrolling and the security of Bagram Airfield and Afghanistan’s Parwan and Kapisa provinces.

“These are an extraordinary group of guys,” Button said Button. “They never back down from a mission, and never got a mission they couldn’t handle.”

The Slayers have performed more than 1,000 missions since arriving in Afghanistan in March 2008.

(Army Capt. Michael Greenberger serves with the 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.
U.S. Army photos by Capt. Michael Greenberger)

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Hamas Hails Obama

Posted by Larry Barnes on March 22, 2009

Khaled Meshaal in Damascus, 18 March 2009
Khaled Meshaal has said the great powers needed Hamas and Obama agrees.

The political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, has credited US President Barack Obama with using a “new language” for the Middle East. It appears that capitulation and cowardice are greatly appreciated by America’s enimies.

Mr Meshaal also said that an open capitulation to terrorist demands is in the works at the Obama White House. An official opening to his Palestinian Islamist movement was only “a matter of time”, and it appears to me that a cabinet posting could be one his demands.

Even though the interview was published three days after President Obama called for a “new beginning” in relations, the taint of preconditions hangs over Iran’s response.

Iran and Syria provide financial backing for terrorists in Hamas. And Hamas is the instrument of suppression most favored by the money brokers in D.C..

Mr Obama’s video message to the Iranian was empty and vapid, but Iran’s leaders and people will see the weakness it betrays. As a major break with previous US policy it will be approved by the Marxist Stalinist Media (MSM), that favors world destabilization as a method of “news” production.

Of course following such a display of weakness, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei demanded concrete policy changes from the US.

Hamas’s charter calls for the destruction of Israel and it ensures no peace in the near future with unrealistic demands. The fact that Hamas has pretended to legitimacy through elections has hardened their position. “Our weight in resolving the Palestinian question stems from our roots in society, in the people who have voted for us and who will do so again” Mr Meshaal told a reporter.

Posted in Hamas, New, Obama, Palistine | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

 
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