Saturday, May 21, 2005


Osama Found Posted by Hello

Bullet Proof Posted by Hello

Bin Laden 'is alive'

"Islamabad - The world's most wanted fugitive is alive and on the run with a small group of fighters, Pakistan's foreign minister said, claiming army operations had 'paralysed' al-Qaeda's communication network and its ability to attack.

'Osama bin Laden is alive and moving around from place to place, but not with a large group of people,' a news report Friday quoted Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri as saying. "...

[bth: One might suspect that OBL hasn't been caught because it doesn't serve the interests of the Paki government that can bilk the US for financial, defense and trade concessions and that the US government might have reason not to capture him either. We once said, "wanted dead or alive" and "either with us or against us". At this pace, old age may be listed as a plausible future cause of death for OBL. Statements like this article from Pakistani officials usually come when a funding issue is before Congress or the World Bank.]

Iraqi Insurgent Sniper Training

Iraqi Insurgent Sniper TrainingTalk about death by power point. Here is a power point used to train Iraqi insurgent snipers that was translated by an American officer into english and posted on the internet to inform US troops in theater.

Soviet WWII veteran at a concert held in their honor earlier this month. Posted by Hello

WWII Soviet Cemetery near Moscow. Posted by Hello

Code Pink for Pork - New York Times

"The public can be cheered by the House's approval of a bill aimed at the five-alarm homeland confusion that's unleashed every time the government resorts to its antiterrorism color code. The code is a running joke, not an informative gauge of risk, and the House is directing that future alerts be tailored more to specific intelligence warnings for the cities and regions most affected. Would that Congress would take the same approach with the $2-billion-plus homeland security budget and direct the money to the cities and regions most threatened, rather than passing it around to places like Martha's Vineyard. "...

The independent 9/11 commission warned Congress that its pork addiction was undermining security by letting sparsely populated states reap six and seven times as much funds per capita as more tempting terrorist targets like California and New York. But so far, lawmakers are treating homeland pork withdrawal like a 12-step program. Currently, even the least threatened states are guaranteed something, a misguided approach that allows officials in Alaska to entertain outlandish proposals to buy a "defensive" jet plane.

...The outcome is likely to be a split-the-porker compromise, with Congress covering every antiterrorism pleading across the board, from soybean crops to skyscrapers. This is lawmaking for political security, not homeland security. The administration should be alerting the public that its safety deserves something better from Congress.

For Army Recruiters, a Day of Rules, and Little Else - New York Times

"Responding to reports of widespread cheating to enlist unqualified applicants, the Army suspended recruiting nationwide yesterday to retrain its ranks in ethics, but officials said they would not lift the monthly quotas that some recruiters see as a catalyst for abuse.
Maj. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the commander of all Army recruiting, said yesterday that 'the mission is the mission.'

General Rochelle said recruiters would still be expected to sign up two recruits a month, as they have been for years, even though the war in Iraq, declining unemployment and a lack of support from parents have combined to make recruiting more difficult than at any point since the end of the draft in 1973.

The one-day suspension, he said, was an effort to emphasize that 'taking shortcuts' to reach the Army's goal of 101,200 active-duty and Reserve recruits this year is unacceptable.

General Rochelle said the Army was responding to several incidents that had recently come to light, including the case of a man in Colorado who recorded a recruiter's guiding him on creating a fake diploma.

He said the Army could persuade people to join only if recruiters personify the military's core values, including honesty and integrity.
'There is no relativism there,' he said of the Army's approach to recruiting tactics. 'It's either right, or it's wrong.' "...

Recruiters, however, said they doubted much would change. As of April 25, the Army had recruited 35,926 active-duty soldiers, far short of its goal of 80,000 for the fiscal year that began in October.
As long as the war continues to scare people from serving, recruiters said yesterday in interviews, the 80-hour weeks would continue, along with the unyielding pressure to find recruits, which they say has already bred depression, broken marriages and rule-breaking among the ranks.

A recruiter in New York, who insisted on anonymity because the Army had ordered all recruiters not to speak to reporters, said the stand-down would probably scare some recruiters away from what the Army considers the most serious kinds of improprieties, like falsifying diplomas. Infractions viewed as easier to get away with, he said, like hiding drug use or depression, would probably continue.

Other recruiters were more skeptical. Another New York recruiter who also requested anonymity for the same reason, added that the suspension was simply a public relations stunt. "They can say whatever they want," he said, "but they didn't do anything about the recruiters who were doing this before it came out in the news."
The improprieties are also drawing attention from Congress. Army statistics show there were 325 substantiated allegations in 2004, up from 213 in 2002. During the same period, punishment declined: last year 3 of every 10 recruiters who were found to have committed improprieties intentionally or through gross negligence were relieved of duty; in 2002, 5 of 10 were relieved. ...

[bth: my wife is less sympathetic, but I feel for the honest recruiters that have to put up with the B.S. Their job is made almost impossible yet they must succeed if we are to have a volunteer army. How can this be improved? 1. Bust the recruiters that went too far. 2. Don't treat volunteers as cannon fodder by giving them ammo, armored vehicles vests and IED jammers asap. 3. Put their lives in danger only where vital national interests are at stake. Is Iraq at this point, critical to the nation? Volunteers vote with their feet. If it were, I think we'd see more politicians' kids enlisting but they are not.]

Remote detonator from an IED. We match a $225K armored humvee with occupants against a $30 radio, battery and a few artillery shells found in an unguarded armory. We are taking a casualty every 4 IED attacks versus every other one about a year ago. Small consolation. Posted by Hello

Eight members of elite Iraqi force killed; Sunnis form alliance

"BAGHDAD, Iraq Eight members of an elite Interior Ministry force have been killed in an ambush in Iraq.

Their 20-vehicle convoy came under attack in downtown Beiji (BAY'-zhee), north of Baghdad.

Two U-S Army Apache attack helicopters responded. Associated Press Television News footage shows them firing on targets near the ambush site.

The attack comes amid accusations by minority Sunni Muslims that the elite force, known as the Wolf Brigade, was involved in recent killings of Sunni clerics.

Meanwhile, Sunni Muslim groups in Iraq are joining forces. A thousand Sunnis assembled in Baghdad today and formed an alliance of religious, political and tribal groups to push for a stronger role in the government.

As their first act, the group called for the resignation of the Shiite interior minister, accusing his office of having a role in the killing of several Sunni clerics.

He denies the allegations, and says he won't step down."

[The Wolf Brigade was accused of stopping and killing the Sunni occupants of a mini- bus earlier this week by two wounded survivors found among the executed bodies. I think we are seeing the battle lines of the ethnic civil war.]

Bugler for Sgt. Ernest Bucklew. Posted by Hello

Chauvinism at the Battlefront - New York Times

"Female soldiers are barred by national policy from direct ground combat in Iraq, but that has not saved the lives of 34 American women killed so far in that lethal battlefield bereft of front lines. In a remedy steeped more in misplaced gallantry than wisdom, House Republicans ran into Pentagon opposition this week with a sudden proposal to protect women by cutting back the jobs they could hold in support units stationed to the rear of ground combat soldiers. The net effect, Army leaders properly warned, would hurt women's careers by shutting them out of more than 20,000 vital support jobs in a military effort that is already hard-pressed to keep its ranks filled with fresh volunteers. " ...

The gruesome truth remains that war is hell, even as its front lines become viciously vague. The daily car bombings, suicide atrocities and insurgent raids show that no area of Iraq, from Humvee patrols to chow halls, is a safe haven for the occupation troops, male or female. Women have volunteered for the full range of opportunity and risk implicit in their military careers. They are proving their valor in Iraq and need no demeaning protections from Congress.

Shi-ite women of Sadr City. There is a persistent correlation between islamic law, suppression of women and terrorism. Posted by Hello

Sadr. I don't see how anyone can consider him a man of God. Posted by Hello

The Best P.R.: Straight Talk - New York Times

[bth: I rarely post an article in full but this deserves to be read in its entirely. It is an outstanding nondenominational call for common sense and truth in a world of lies.]

"The fact that the White House spokesman Scott McClellan spent part of his briefing on Tuesday excoriating Newsweek - and telling its editors that they had a responsibility to 'help repair the damage' to America's standing in the Arab-Muslim world - while not offering a single word of condemnation for those who went out and killed 16 people in Afghanistan in riots linked to a Newsweek report, pretty much explains why we're struggling to win the war of ideas in the Muslim world today. We are spending way too much time debating with ourselves, or playing defense, and way too little time actually looking Arab Muslims in the eye and telling them the truth as we see it."

In part this is because we are so dependent on their oil - and addicts never tell the truth to their pushers. In part this is because the administration got so carried away by the vote in the Iraqi elections that it lost focus. (We don't even have an ambassador in Iraq at this critical juncture, when it is so important that an ethnically balanced Iraqi government be formed. But don't worry - John Bolton is going to reform the U.N.)

And in part this is because we are afraid to say the truth, because we - wrongly - believe these people are incapable of rational thought and will just react violently. Therefore, if we have an information campaign, it must all be about explaining to them who we are, and why we are not bad people, and why Newsweek made a mistake. It must never involve us asking who they are and why they are behaving in ways that don't live up to the values they profess.

Instead of sending Mr. McClellan out to flog Newsweek, President Bush should have said: "Let me say first to all Muslims that desecrating anyone's holy book is utterly wrong. These allegations will be investigated, and any such behavior will be punished. That is how we Americans intend to look in the mirror. But we think the Arab-Muslim world must also look in the mirror when it comes to how it has been behaving toward an even worse crime than the desecration of God's words, and that is the desecration of God's creations. In reaction to an unsubstantiated Newsweek story, Muslims killed 16 other Muslims in Afghanistan in rioting, and no one has raised a peep - as if it were a totally logical reaction. That is wrong.

"In Iraq, where Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni Muslims are struggling to build a pluralistic new order, other Muslims, claiming to act in the name of Allah, are indiscriminately butchering people, without a word of condemnation coming from Muslim spiritual or political leaders. I don't understand a concept of the sacred that says a book is more sacred than a human life. A holy book, whether the Bible or the Koran, is only holy to the extent that it shapes human life and behavior.

"Look, Newsweek may have violated journalistic rules, but what jihadist terrorists are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan - blowing up innocent Muslims struggling to build an alternative society to dictatorship - surely destroys the Koran. They are the real enemies of Islam because they are depriving Muslims of a better future. From what I know of Islam, it teaches that you show reverence to God by showing reverence for his creations, not just his words. Why don't your spiritual leaders say that? I am asking, because I want to know."

Fortunately, a few courageous Arab intellectuals, such as Abderrahman al-Rashed, have asked such things. Writing in Wednesday's Saudi daily Asharq Al Awsat, he said: "When thousands in Afghanistan are concerned about a report in a magazine that does not reach them, written in a language they do not speak, leading them to protest in a manner unprecedented among other Islamic nations that do speak English, the matter is worth pursuing further: it tells us more about the dangers of propaganda and its exploitation by opposition groups than it does about spontaneous popular sentiments."

And a few days ago, a group of Iraqi journalists actually went to Jordan and got right in the face of Jordanian columnists and editors, demanding to know why they were treating Muslim mass murderers in Iraq like anticolonial war heroes. It's already changed the tone. That's the war of ideas.

The greatest respect we can show to Arabs and Muslims - and the best way to help Muslim progressives win the war of ideas - is to take them seriously and stop gazing at our own navels. That means demanding that they answer for their lies, hypocrisy and profane behavior, just as much as we must answer for ours.

[bth: well said]

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Generals Offer Sober Outlook on Iraqi War - New York Times

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 18 - American military commanders in Baghdad and Washington gave a sobering new assessment on Wednesday of the war in Iraq, adding to the mood of anxiety that prompted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to come to Baghdad last weekend to consult with the new government."

In interviews and briefings this week, some of the generals pulled back from recent suggestions, some by the same officers, that positive trends in Iraq could allow a major drawdown in the 138,000 American troops late this year or early in 2006. One officer suggested Wednesday that American military involvement could last "many years."

Gen. John P. Abizaid, the top American officer in the Middle East, said in a briefing in Washington that one problem was the disappointing progress in developing Iraqi police units cohesive enough to mount an effective challenge to insurgents and allow American forces to begin stepping back from the fighting. ...

In Baghdad, a senior officer said Wednesday in a background briefing that the 21 car bombings in Baghdad so far this month almost matched the total of 25 in all of last year.

Against this, he said, there has been a lull in insurgents' activity in Baghdad in recent days after months of some of the bloodiest attacks, a trend that suggested that American pressure, including the capture of important bomb makers, had left the insurgents incapable of mounting protracted offensives. But the officer said that despite Americans' recent successes in disrupting insurgent cells, which have resulted in the arrest of 1,100 suspects in Baghdad alone in the past 80 days, the success of American goals in Iraq was not assured.

"I think that this could still fail," the officer said at the briefing, referring to the American enterprise in Iraq. "It's much more likely to succeed, but it could still fail."

The officer said much depended on the new government's success in bolstering public confidence among Iraqis. He said recent polls conducted by Baghdad University had shown confidence flagging sharply, to 45 percent, down from an 85 percent rating immediately after the election. "For the insurgency to be successful, people have to believe the government can't survive," he said. "When you're in the middle of a conflict, you're trying to find pillars of strength to lean on." Another problem cited by the senior officer in Baghdad was the new government's ban on raids on mosques, announced on Monday, which the American officer said he expected to be revised after high-level discussions on Wednesday between American commanders and Iraqi officials.

The officer said the ban appeared to have been announced by the new defense minister, Sadoun al-Dulaimi, without wider government approval, and would be replaced by a "more moderate" policy. To raise the level of public confidence, the officer said, the new government would need success in cutting insurgent attacks and meeting popular impatience for improvements in public services like electricity that are worse, for many Iraqis, than they were last year. But he emphasized the need for caution - and the time it may take to complete the American mission here - notes that recur often in the private conversations of American officers in Iraq.

"I think it's going to succeed in the long run, even if it takes years, many years," he said...

The generals said the buildup of Iraqi forces has been more disappointing than previously acknowledged, contributing to the absence of any Iraqi forces when a 1,000-member Marine battle group mounted an offensive last week against insurgent strongholds in the northwestern desert, along the border with Syria.

American officers said that 125 insurgents had been killed, with the loss of about 14 Americans, but acknowledged that lack of sufficient troops may have helped many insurgents to flee across the border or back into the interior of Iraq. The border offensive was wrapped up over the weekend, with an air of disappointment that some of wider goals had not been achieved - possibly including the capture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Islamic militant who is the American forces' most-wanted man in Iraq.

General Abizaid, whose Central Command headquarters exercises oversight of the war, said the Iraqi police - accounting for 65,000 of the 160,000 Iraqis now trained and equipped in the $5.7 billion American effort to build up security forces - are "behind" in their ability to shoulder a major part of the war effort. ...

One of starkest revelations by the commanders involved the surge in car bombings, the principal insurgent weapon in attacks over the past three weeks that have killed nearly 500 people across central and northern Iraq, about half of them Iraqi soldiers, police officers and recruits.

Last week, Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American trainer in Iraq, defended the Iraqi security forces, saying in an e-mail message, "They are operating effectively with coalition forces - and, in some cases, are operating independently - in the effort to find the locations at which vehicles are rigged with explosives."

The senior officer who met with reporters in Baghdad said there had been 21 car bombings in the capital in May, and 126 in the past 80 days. All last year, he said, there were only about 25 car bombings in Baghdad.

[On Thursday, gunmen shot and killed a senior Iraqi Oil Ministry official, Ali Hameed, in Baghdad, The Associated Press reported, citing a police official.]

...The officer said that in two of the recent Baghdad bombings, investigators had found indications that the men driving the cars had been bound with duct tape before the attacks. He said the foot of one of the attackers, in a marketplace bombing last week that killed 22 people in south Baghdad, had been found taped to his vehicle's accelerator. In another case, the officer said, the attacker's hands were taped to the vehicle's wheel.

The implication was that those planning the attacks wanted to be sure that the vehicles would continue to their targets even if the drivers were killed by American or Iraqi gunfire as they approached.

...The revised policy, the American officer implied, would allow Iraqi forces, backed by Americans, to raid mosques when they are used as insurgent strongholds.

DefenseLINK News: DoD Examines High Operational Tempo's Effect on Equipment

"WASHINGTON, May 19, 2005 � Equipment that servicemembers are using in Iraq and Afghanistan is getting years worth of use in just one year on the ground, and the Defense Department is taking steps to ensure the tanks, Bradleys, Strykers, Humvees, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles stay in a high state of readiness. "

No one is going into combat in substandard equipment, a DoD report concluded.

The report -- "Ground Force Equipment Repair, Replacement and Recapitalization Requirements Resulting from Sustained Combat Operations" -- went to Congress last week.

The department was concerned about the effect prolonged combat would have on equipment even before Congress asked for the issue to be examined.

"Equipment is being used at a much higher rate than it is in peacetime -- two to eight times higher, depending on the piece of equipment you are talking about," said Mark Franklin Cancian, director of the Land Forces Division of DoD's Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. "As a result, it needs a lot more maintenance."

In addition, problems caused by the high operational tempo are further aggravated by the harsh environmental conditions. Equipment operating in Iraq and Afghanistan face problems from dust, dirt and heat, Cancian said. Other equipment, especially trucks and Humvees, are running with added armor, which taxes the engines, springs and brakes. ...

Newsday.com: A new trauma in Iraq--Severe brain injuries

"Because more soldiers in Iraq are surviving severe brain injury, doctors are witnessing a potentially long-lasting set of medical and mental problems unique to participants in modern-day war.

'Traumatic brain injury is the signature wound of this war,' said Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, an attending neurosurgeon at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Armonda and another neurosurgeon treated brain-injured patients in 2003, the first year of the war in Iraq. They performed 270 brain surgeries, 60 of which were for penetrating wounds. 'In previous conflicts, most of these people would have died,' Armonda said."

In the following year, Armonda said, neurosurgeons doubled the number of craniectomies, in which part of the skull is removed to accommodate brain swelling. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, mortality from brain injuries in the Vietnam War was 75 percent or greater, with 12 to 14 percent of all combat casualties having a brain injury. In the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, traumatic brain injury accounted for 22 percent or higher of the injuries - a larger proportion of casualties than it has in other recent U.S. wars.

War injuries resulting from brain trauma, according to a report today in the journal, range from memory and attention problems to inability to speak or carry out cognitive tasks.

Soldiers are arriving home with headaches and thought disorders, said Dr. Susan Oakie of the journal. They forget words. They may develop new aspects of their personalities and lose aspects of their old selves. With time and therapy, Armonda said, many will recover. But some will have symptoms that never abate. ...

Oakie said Kevlar body armor and helmets have protected soldiers from injuries common in other wars. But these advances are giving way to unique injuries and symptoms because in previous wars, soldiers did not survive to endure them.

Helmets don't guarantee protection against impacts that cause brain trauma. A blast can cause symptoms without signs of external injury, Armonda said.

Doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., are assessing all injured troops returning from Iraq. As many as 60 percent have brain injuries, the journal reported. Some are mild. Most are moderate to severe. "There is a good chance that they will be living with symptoms for a long time," Oakie said....

TRANSLATORS:Dying by the dozens in Iraq -- Union Leader

"It's one of the most dangerous civilian jobs in one of the world's most dangerous countries: translating Arabic for the U.S. military in Iraq.

One by one, little noticed in the daily mayhem, dozens of interpreters have been killed - mostly Iraqis but 12 Americans, too. They account for 40 percent of the 300-plus death claims filed by private contractors with the U.S. Labor Department."...

"If the insurgents catch us, they will cut off our heads because the imams say we are spies," said Mustafa Fahmi, 24, an Iraqi interpreter with Titan Corp., the biggest employer of linguists in Iraq. "I've been threatened like fifteen times, but I won't quit. A neighbor saw me driving and said, 'I am going to kill you.'"...

More than 4,000 translators work for San Diego, Calif.-based Titan, which supplies the U.S. military with Arabic- and Kurdish-speaking linguists. In April, Titan reported a 23 percent increase in revenues, or $559 million, a company record. Titan said its contract with the U.S. Army is its biggest revenue source, worth up to $657 million by the time it expires.

The human cost has been high. The U.S. Labor Department reports 126 death benefit claims for Titan workers in Iraq out of a total 305 for contractors as of mid-May. The Titan death toll includes 12 Americans, and possibly some non-translators, the company said, with another 149 wounded. ...

Titan's toll - which includes both violent deaths and accidents - is far higher than any of the hundreds of civilian contracting firms in Iraq, including those with many more workers.

For example, Halliburton, the Houston-based contractor with 50,000 employees spread between Iraq and Kuwait, has had more than 60 employees and subcontractors killed in the war zone, more than 250 wounded and one worker unaccounted for, spokeswoman Jennifer Dellinger said.

Many deaths don't show up in the Labor Department statistics under the name Halliburton because often claims are filed under subcontractor names. The 305 death claims with the Labor Department represent only part of the toll for American and other civilian contractors in Iraq. The true figure is difficult to estimate because many firms don't publicize workers' slayings. The U.S. troop death toll is over 1,620....

But some Iraqis working for Titan said they spent months on the job before being issued helmets, body armor, and ear- and eye-protection given to U.S. troops and foreign contractors.

Titan's Williams said Iraqi workers now get the same Kevlar helmets and vests issued to U.S. troops. ...

One Titan interpreter said he completed more than 100 missions without body armor and a helmet. The man spoke on condition his name wasn't used because he didn't want to lose his job.

This reporter, who spent more than a year in Iraq, accompanied Iraqi interpreters who wore no body armor or helmets on many U.S. military missions....

Money is the chief reward. The interpreters say monthly salaries start at $600 and range as high as more than $1,000 for those who take the most dangerous missions. That pay is big by Iraqi standards, where many survive on less than $100 a month.

Under those salaries, U.S. government death benefits for families of slain Iraqi translators would range from $300 to $700 a month, according to a formula in the Defense Base Act, which sets a maximum payout of less than $4,190 a month...

Mirror system for protecting drivers from small arms fire and RPGs. Posted by Hello

Mirror system to protect drivers. prototype Posted by Hello

SouthBendTribune.com: Is mirror key to Humvee safety?

"Mishawaka businessman Lee Grove went to bed one night in October with a problem on his mind and awoke with a way to save the lives of military personnel literally staring at him from his bedroom mirrors.

By moving a full-length mirror in front of a mirror on his dresser, Grove saw the glimmering reflection of much safer fighting vehicles.

The question facing Grove was the same as one of the most perplexing and dangerous problems facing America's military in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. That is that personnel driving Humvees and other military vehicles, even those that are armored and equipped with bullet-resistant windshields, are susceptible to small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
That's because the windshields, even the bullet-resistant variety, can either be blown out by external fire or crazed so badly that the personnel within the vehicle can't see out.

Grove, president of Remote Controls Inc., has the solution, providing Congress has the willingness to finance development and production of his invention. Grove, military leaders who have seen a mock-up and Indiana's two U.S. senators believe the answer to the problem just might be his antiballistic windshield armor, or AWA for short.

The device invented by Grove is essentially a wide periscope that fits over the windshield of the vehicle, allowing the driver to see the road clearly from behind the protection of an armored shield that sits in front of where the windshield used to be.The mirrors are made of polished metal, thin enough to allow bullets to pass through without ricocheting, and able to take multiple rounds without cracking or shattering.
The advantage for the driver inside the vehicle is that he or she can see a normal view of the road ahead without being exposed to enemy fire.

This week, at the request of U.S. Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., the Senate Armed Services committee approved a $3 million development grant for the windshield device. ...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Military Diaries: Going "Outside the Wire" with RC Cars

"By Sgt. Greg Papadatos
69th Infantry Regiment

Yesterday, I was 'outside the wire,' patrolling with the 2nd Platoon. We came upon a possible IED in the middle of the road, and stopped all traffic to check it out. While we were doing that, our battalion's S-3 officer drove by on the opposite side of the highway and spotted one of our soldiers not wearing his proper eye protection. He then lit up our company commander on the radio, and our CO had to reprimand us for that. All the while we're trying to figure out if the cardboard box in the middle of the road is merely a windblown piece of trash or a bomb planted there to kill us!

A young private in that platoon has one of those radio-controlled toy cars. When they find unidentifiable debris in the road, E.S. sends out his little RC car and rams it. If it's light enough to be moved or knocked over, it's too light to be a bomb, so we can approach it and get rid of it. If it's heavy, we call EOD. At night, they duct tape a flashlight to the car.

The military actually has robots that it uses for such things, but they are larger, slower, higher-tech, and frightfully expensive. Only EOD units have them, and you could wait for hours and hours before they show up with their robot. If 200 units read about this idea, and 50 units actually buy a toy RC car, and it saves just one single life, it would all be worth it.

I've suggested to E.S. that he put some fancy paint and a couple of LED lights on his toy car, demonstrate it to some Army brass at the Pentagon, and sell it to them for $80,000. He won't actually try that, but it's fun to imagine. In the meantime, I've also suggested to some of his chain of command that they put him in for a commendation or a medal for his ingenuity. If he ever finds a real bomb with that toy car, they probabl"

Al Qaeda behind rise in Iraq car bombs - U.S. army

"BAGHDAD (Reuters) - An upsurge in car bomb attacks in Iraq in recent weeks was ordered by al Qaeda's leader in the country, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, at a meeting of insurgents in Syria, a senior U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.

The shift toward more car bomb attacks is part of a wave of violence that has killed more than 400 Iraqis in the past three weeks and marks a change in tactics by an ever adapting insurgency, the officer said.

Zarqawi 'wasn't happy with how the insurgency was going,' he told reporters, adding that the Jordanian militant had ordered greater use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), the U.S. military acronym for car bombs.

'Zarqawi directed that people start using more VBIEDs and to use them more in everyday operations,' the officer said.

As one indicator of the shift in tactics, the number of car bombs in Baghdad, including those discovered before they could be detonated by insurgents, is 126 since the end of February, including 21 so far this month, the officer said.

He said the meeting in Syria was part of periodic consultations among insurgent leaders. It was not clear whether Zarqawi attended the meeting in person. "

[bth: so this is about 12 per week and rising.]

France jails 3 for helping Qaeda kill Afghan leader

" French court jailed three men for two to seven years on Tuesday for helping Al Qaeda agents who killed an Afghan resistance leader, Ahmed Shah Massoud, just before the attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.

The main Paris criminal court also jailed two other men for helping recruit Islamic fighters for Afghanistan, sentencing them to two and five years, respectively.

The court jailed an Algerian national, Abderrahmane Ameuroud, and two Frenchmen, Adel Tebourski and Youssef el Aouni, for seven, six and two years, respectively, for providing logistical assistance to Massoud's assassins.

The three were convicted of providing funds and forged documents to the two Tunisian militants who posed as journalists and died when they detonated a bomb that killed Massoud during an interview in Afghanistan two days before the 9/11 attacks....

The three were accused of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise and faced a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Al Qaeda targeted Massoud because he was a key military and political leader of the Northern Alliance, the main opposition to the fundamentalist Taliban movement that had provided Osama bin Laden's Qaeda movement with a base in Afghanistan.

Massoud was credited with playing a key role in defeating the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Despite his death, the Northern Alliance evicted the Taliban from power with Western military support.

Investigators traced the fake Belgian passports found on the two men who killed Massoud back to a network run from Belgium by Tarek Maaroufi, who was sentenced to six years in prison in Brussels in 2003.

Khellaf Hammam, who was not implicated in the Massoud affair, was sentenced to two years in prison Tuesday for organizing"

Arab-Asian split saps al Qaeda - The Washington Times:

"ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Counterterrorism officials say a growing rift between Arab members of al Qaeda and their Central Asian allies is tearing at the network of Islamic extremists.

The rivalry might have contributed to the arrest this month of one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants, a Libyan described as al Qaeda's No. 3 man and known to have had differences with Uzbeks.

Captured Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik suspects have been giving up information about the movements of Arab al Qaeda militants in recent months, four Pakistani intelligence agents said, leading to a series of successful raids and arrests. "

"When push comes to shove, the Uzbeks are going to stick together, and the Arabs are going to stick together," said Kenneth Katzman, a terrorism analyst with the Congressional Research Service in Washington. "I think the Uzbek guerrillas have had no home. Some of this could be a battle for survival." ...

The Uzbeks and other Central Asians found themselves competing with Arab members of al Qaeda for hide-outs and resources, with Arabs having the political and economic advantage, Mr. Katzman said.

Adding to the tensions was the senior al Qaeda figures' lack of trust in the Central Asian fighters, said a senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official.

Increasingly, the two sides began operating independently, often competing for the same money, weapons and support of the Pakistani tribesmen. Captured Uzbek, Chechen and Tajik fighters felt far more loyalty to Yuldash than to the Arab al Qaeda men.

A Pakistani intelligence official said it was difficult to get captured Uzbeks to talk about Yuldash, "but it was a lot easier to grill them for clues about the Arabs and their possible hide-outs. They felt far less loyalty."

[bth: excellent news. Looks like Waziristan is over populated with terrorists tha require resources from the locals, who in turn demand cash for providing sanctuary. Arabs have more cash than Uzbeks and Paki's never have enough. Good news for the good guys.]

A Report Card on Iraqi Troops

"HILLA, Iraq, May 17 -- The Iraqi colonel had just finished telling Army Gen. George W. Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, about the successful raids his brigade had carried out, the suspected insurgents captured and the weapons rounded up.

Then, on a screen at the far end of a narrow, cramped conference room where Casey was sitting, the colonel flashed a slide rating his brigade according to a system just devised by the U.S. military. The slide showed a nearly complete sea of red squares -- red for staffing levels, red for training, red for equipment and so on through several more categories."

Red means poor. It's the worst color to be on a scale that goes from red through orange and yellow to green.

A senior Iraqi general was accompanying Casey on a visit Tuesday to a dusty base on the outskirts of Hilla, about 60 miles south of Baghdad, that serves as headquarters for the 51st Brigade. He asked the colonel how he could have settled on so much red after having listed so many operational achievements.

"Because I want you to give me more help," the colonel said, grinning, his ploy exposed. ...

In any case, senior U.S. commanders say they are pleased to finally have a means for trying to measure how well, or how poorly, the fledgling Iraqi military is doing.

"We now have a tool to help us assess the progress of Iraqi forces," Casey said....

Academies and training facilities are graduating about 8,000 members of the military and police forces a month...

Of 81 Iraqi army battalions assessed, only three were rated green, able to conduct operations independently. Of 26 larger brigade headquarters formed so far, only one earned such a rating, according to officers familiar with the confidential assessment....

The survey showed that the best Iraqi units are those that have received the most assistance from U.S. forces, with units in Baghdad and north-central Iraq the strongest....

Building up the Iraqi military's tail is a U.S. priority this year.

[bth: I view this as a very, very positive step in the right direction -- toward the exit.]


Jazeera reporter says gave money to Qaeda suspect

"MADRID, May 16 (Reuters) - Al Jazeera correspondent Tayseer Alouni told a court on Monday he delivered $4,000 to a man later charged with mass murder in the Sept. 11 attacks but said he was doing a favour for an acquaintance."...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

My Memorial Day Speech

I was approached by a man on crutches with war wounds inside and out. He is a Vietnam vet. He asked if I would give a Memorial Day speech in Stoneham, MA at the end of this month.

I could not say no.

Now what do I say?

Chaplain Charles Burgess and son upon returning to Italy from a tour in Iraq. Reportedly he was in the second vehicle ahead of John and David's during the ambush. His vehicle reportedly had a broken machine gun which did not fire which might be appropriate for a chaplain's vehicle but not for a combat mission. In the end I guess is was just John and 200 rounds of ammo when he should have had 600. They would take an empty machine gun off his body. We never heard a word from Burgess. Not a word. Shalom. Posted by Hello

S.C. firm to supply armored vehicles

"A Ladson-based company's new armored vehicles will protect U.S. troops from roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And the company will receive nearly $90 million in the process.

The Department of Defense has hired Force Protection Inc. to build 122 Cougars, which can survive a blast from an improvised explosive device, said Michael Aldrich, Force Protection's vice president for sales.

Force Protection must complete the first order of 71 vehicles by May 2006. The company's 240 employees can build 20 Cougars a month, Aldrich said.

In combat, soldiers who specialize in disarming land mines and improvised explosive devices (called IEDs) will ride in the Cougars, Aldrich said. These soldiers are called on by infantry and other combat units to inspect and defuse possible explosives on the battlefield. About 10 percent of explosive devices detonate while they are being inspected by troops, according to a Defense Department report.

Marines have been using the Cougar in Iraq since October, Aldrich said."...

The Cougar looks like a super-sized Hummer. It comes with a V-shaped hull that deflects any explosions away from the cabin. The vehicle’s steel body packs on the weight — 19 tons, or as much as 12 Toyota Camrys — but can travel 70 miles per hour on asphalt, Aldrich said....

“We’ve been operating for two years now, and we’ve had one broken wrist in a Buffalo,” he said. “We’ve taken out explosives that would take out an Abrams tank.”...

Pike said the purchase is a good move for the Army, although the service has been slow in developing armored vehicles to protect its troops. The Army’s bureaucratic size got in the way, Pike said, but it also took time to figure out how to defend against enemy tactics.

...The contract is good news for Force Protection, which has been losing money as it prepared itself to compete for business with large defense contractors, like General Dynamics.

The S.C. company lost $10.2 million in 2004 and $5.2 million in 2003.

“It’s from trying to do business with the federal government,” Aldrich said. “You have to be big enough to get the contract.”



The Defense Authorization Bill includes $344 million dollars in funding for additional Humvees.

"The measure was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and will soon be considered by the full U.S. Senate. The funding is in addition to the $150 million already included in the Iraq Supplemental bill. Just last month, the Pentagon admitted it was short 1,800 up-armored Humvees in Iraq. Many of the Humvees are manufactured in Indiana. "...

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Evan Bayh today announced that $344 million for additional Humvees has been included in the Defense Authorization bill. This funding, along with the $150 million Bayh already secured in the Iraq Supplemental bill, will help address the current shortage of Humvees in Iraq. Just last month, the Pentagon admitted it was short 1,800 up-armored Humvees in Iraq, the ninth time in two years that the Pentagon has underestimated the need for up-armored Humvees in Iraq. The $344 million was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee and will now move to the full Senate for consideration. Senator Bayh also announced that the Armed Services Committee approved $3 million for Mishawaka-based Remote Controls, Inc. to develop Antiballistic Windshield Armor.

"Time and time again, the Pentagon has failed to provide our troops with the protective equipment they need, " Senator Bayh said. ... "It's time that we started erring on the side of doing more rather than less to protect our troops," Senator Bayh said. ...

Army trucks lack basic safety items - 7/13/04

"WARREN - Most soldiers learned to drive at home in an era of antilock brakes, multiple air bags and other safety features that make accidents less likely and easier to survive.

But in the Army, many of the trucks they are driving lack such modern safety components as antilock brakes, rollover-resistant cabs, energy-absorbing materials and interiors with enough room to be jostled around in without a deadly impact.

In some cases, military trucks have safety features that were outdated even before the vehicles were built.

Moreover, the equipment meant to help soldiers perform combat missions can make them less likely to survive an accident. Radios and other communications equipment are being jammed inside crowded passenger compartments of Humvees and other vehicles, shrinking the amount of space for them to ride out a crash unharmed by sharp, hard surfaces.

Outdated designs and a lack of safety features are contributing to the unnecessary deaths of U.S. soldiers in military vehicles.
With increased mobilization of troops for the Iraq war, the Army had its worst accident record in a decade last year: 833 crashes, 50 deaths and 223 injuries. " ...

[bth: Tom Masch recommends this article. It is excellent and detailed if you are into safety features on military vehicles.]

Fighters for Israel's freedom honored

"WEST POINT -Fifty-seven years after volunteering in Israel's war of independence, Marvin Libow still becomes flushed with emotion when he recalls his harrowing experience and the sacrifices of his fellow soldiers.

'I needed to be here, to commemorate my friends and celebrate all that their sacrifices have given the world,' said Libow as he choked back tears yesterday morning before a memorial service at the U.S. Military Academy's Jewish Chapel. The service was honoring Col. David (Mickey) Marcus and the 40 other North American volunteers who died while fighting to preserve Israel's creation."...

Candles were lit for those lost in the Israeli conflict and for David Bernstein, a Jewish West Point graduate killed in Iraq last year....

"It's important for us to be here today," Levin said. "We are paying tribute to those that gave of themselves for others. It's a beautiful and necessary ceremony."

[bth: Lt. David Bernstein's parents will give a memorial award in their son's honor to the 5th ranking graduate of West Point late next week. Best wishes Richard and Gail B. and our best to you and your. The Harts]

Injured Iraq Vets Battle A New Enemy

"RICHMOND HILL, Ga. - Even though he's in pain every day, it doesn't seem to occur to U.S. Army Capt. Jonathan Pruden to feel sorry for himself.

The bones in his right foot were shattered by a bomb in Iraq. He has no feeling in his left leg below the knee. He can get around on crutches, but that irritates his leg and shoulder injuries, so he spends 90% of his waking hours in a wheelchair. But if you ask him, he'll tell you how much better off he is than the other guys.

'A lot of guys in my unit and other units are more severely injured,' he says. 'They've lost limbs, their eyesight. Unfortunately, it seems like hundreds of guys are coming back now that are paralyzed. I'm fortunate.'

Pruden, 27, was driving an unarmored Humvee that was caught in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad on July 1, 2003. He took 173 pieces of shrapnel and one AK-47 round that passed through his left knee. A piece of shrapnel the size of a golf ball shattered his shoulder blade and lodged near his spinal cord. His arms and legs were shredded. " ... [excellent article]

National Cemetery in Florida Posted by Hello

Iraqi rebels killed nine by shooting down RAF Hercules with 'ageing anti-aircraft gun'

"Iraqi insurgents using a rudimentary anti-aircraft weapon against an RAF transport plane are likely to have caused the biggest single loss of life in the conflict, military sources disclosed yesterday.

Nine RAF crew and an SAS signaller were killed when a C130 Hercules was shot down during a "special duties" mission 20 miles north-west of Baghdad on Jan 30.

An interim Ministry of Defence report has ruled out almost everything apart from enemy fire and it was suggested that a missile or rocket-propelled grenade could have brought down the aircraft.

But an official told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that the report concluded that the Hercules had been shot down by anti-aircraft artillery, as it flew at a low altitude, possibly 150ft.

"It was shredded by a multi-barrelled 20mm canon," the official said. "They have worked out that's what caused the crash."...

It is not known why the Hercules, which was equipped with sophisticated defensive measures, was flying at low altitude for the 40-minute trip.


Iraqi children play with parts of a destroyed armored vehicle near Qaim in May 2005 Posted by Hello

Senate Panel OKs Defense Spending Boost

"WASHINGTON - A Senate committee approved a $441.6 billion defense bill for fiscal 2006 that envisions spending an additional $50 billion next year for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'Our forces serving around the world are truly the first line of defense in the security of our homeland, and they deserve our strongest support,' Sen. John Warner of Virginia, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said after the authorization bill passed on Friday.

'This bill provides our men and women in uniform and their families, the resources and authorities they need to successfully carry out their missions.'
The bill:

-Adds $1.4 billion over the president's budget request for force protection gear for service members. "...

-Authorizes $344.2 million for up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and wheeled vehicle add-on ballistic protection to provide force protection for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The bill also authorizes $878.4 million for 240 Stryker vehicles. Critics of the Army's Stryker troop-carrying vehicle say it inadequately protects soldiers. ...

[bth: with all this money its nice to see some was actually spent on things the troops need in the field to survive. The bill passed the senate 100:0]

Lang Cougar H. Posted by Hello

Iraq's Qaeda warns Sunnis against constitution

"May 17, 2005 -DUBAI (Reuters) - Iraq's al Qaeda blasted calls by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for Sunni Muslims in Iraq to participate in drafting a new constitution, saying those who did would be infidels, according to an Internet statement.

'The crusaders' hag (Rice) came to sully the land of the caliphate-wants the participation of apostates and secularists claiming to be Sunnis,' the group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said in the statement posted on Tuesday on a Web site used by Islamists on Tuesday.

'Would anyone draft the constitution other than those who do not believe in God's book' said the statement dated May 16."

"Our Sunni faith stipulates that the sword and bullets be the only dialogue between us and worshippers of the cross."

Rice met Iraqi leaders on Sunday to discuss the battle against an escalating insurgency and said minority Sunni Arabs should be included in political processes.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shi'ite, said he wanted the drafting of the constitution to involve Sunnis. Iraqi politicians are reaching out to Sunnis, who were dominant under Saddam Hussein, hoping to lessen support for the insurgency.

Zarqawi's group, one of the main networks fighting the government and U.S. forces, has threatened to kill fellow Sunnis who join the new government announced late last month.

"Those of sick hearts rush to please the Jews and Christians and sell their religion for earthly interests, desiring posts," Al Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq said.

It also vowed in its latest statement to avenge what it said was the desecration of the Koran in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, the Iraqi city of Basra and the U.S. base in Guantanamo.

A report in Newsweek magazine's May 9 issue about U.S. interrogators desecrating the Koran sparked protests across the Muslim world. Newsweek later retracted the report.

[bth: I'm not sure that this is the languae of reconciliation we were hoping for.]

Dutch WWII veteran on VE day at US cemetery in Holland. Posted by Hello

Iwo Jima monument Posted by Hello

$45.7M for 122 Cougar Armored Trucks

"Force Protection Industries Inc. in Ladson, SC received a sole-source $45.7 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum ordering quantity of 122 Cougar Joint Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Rapid Response Vehicles (JERRV) and associated manuals, spares and field support. The initial delivery order is for 71 out of the 122 vehicles available on the contract." ... [bth: this is really good news for troops in the field.]

Iraq Says Troops Will Stop Raiding Mosques

"BAGHDAD, May 16 -- The Iraqi government said Monday that its soldiers would no longer raid mosques in their fight against insurgents, ending a practice that Sunni Arab leaders had long opposed on grounds that it provoked sectarian strife."...

On Monday, the leader of a Shiite militia that battled U.S. forces for days last August in the city of Najaf spoke up after a long silence, saying the presence of U.S. troops was the cause of growing conflict among Iraqis.

"I don't demand to put a deadline on the withdrawal of occupation forces, I demand their immediate withdrawal from Iraq," the radical cleric Moqtada Sadr told followers gathered at his home in Najaf. "The occupier is trying to create a strife among people. I hope to reconcile Sunnis and Shiites. They are one."
On Monday, the Iraqi military announced it had apprehended a "very close confidant" of the Jordanian insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi. Salim Youssef Khafif Hussein, said to be an expert at making car bombs, was arrested in Mosul on Friday, the military said....

[bth: I have a hard time seeing how not raiding mosques makes any sense.]

IRAQ: Al Qaeda and God's Will

"May 17, 2005;The organization known as 'al Qaeda in Iraq' made one of its rare public announcements, accusing the United States of setting off the suicide car bombs that had killed so many Iraqis lately. Iraqis were also warned against participating in the writing of a new constitution. Al Qaeda believes that Iraq, and the entire Islamic world, should be run according to Sharia (Islamic law, as found in the Koran and interpreted by Islamic scholars and clerics.) Thus al Qaeda views the recent elections as blasphemy. These views have not got much support in Iraq. The only thing that keeps al Qaeda alive is the support of Sunni Arabs, especially the deposed Baath Party, that want Sunni Arabs back in power. "...

Al Qaeda believes, really believes, that the suicide bombings and murder of Iraqis who disagree with them will work because the al Qaeda zealots are doing God's Will. Some al Qaeda members have other, more dangerous ideas about subverting democratically elected governments. But these free thinkers are considered deluded and borderline blasphemers. Al Qaeda is all about being holier than thou, and there is nothing more devout that martyring oneself for the cause. This, of course, limits ones usefulness to the organization. As a result, the al Qaeda leadership goes through a lot of turnover and makes it difficult for the organization to grow in experience and effectiveness. This is being seen rather vividly in Iraq.

Now that there's an Iraqi government in charge, and Iraqi ministers running all departments, changes are occurring. The government has banned raids on mosques. The United States stayed away from mosques for about a year, but then began raiding them when it became obvious that gunmen and terrorists had taken over the mosque compounds as headquarters because they knew they were safe. American troops used Iraqi police or soldiers to make many of the raids, and in the last year, Iraqi police commandoes have made many mosque raids on their own. As a result of all this, terrorists don't use mosques as much as they used to. Thus the gesture, towards devout Sunni Arabs, to stop the raids. The government believes that instead, mosques used by terrorists can be shut down and mosque administrators arrested. Unlike Americans, the Iraqis are quick to arrest family members of people they are looking for. This usually forces the suspects to turn themselves in. If the "no-raids" policy does not work, the raids will be resumed. The government didn't say that. They didn't have to' Everyone understood it.

Defense Tech: PAK PREDATOR STRIKE

"The killing of a suspected operative of Al Qaeda in Pakistan eight days ago by a missile launched from a remotely controlled Central Intelligence Agency aircraft was the latest such strike in a shadowy effort that both Pakistani and American officials have sought to hide,' the Times reports." ... [bth: this link provides excellent information on the use of Predators against al-Qaeda in Pakistan along with some rather encouraging information that in fact we may be hunting OBL in fits and starts].

Defense Industry Daily - $19.3M for FY 2005 Patriot Missile Engineering Services

"Raytheon Co. in Bedford, MA received a $19.3 million modification to a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for FY05 Patriot missile Engineering Services."... [bth: hopefully it will include enough software patches and radio links with the air force and navy to keep it from shooting down F/A-18 fighters like Lt. Nathan White's. You will find details of Lt. White and how the Patriot mistook a fighter plane flying at around 500 MPH with a ballistic missile at 10 times the speed. That and the whitewash investigation that followed.]

Monday, May 16, 2005


Remains of a car bombers vehicle on Iraqi police in Baqubaa. Posted by Hello

Suicide car bomber hit Baqubaa policemen in an open truck packed with 40 men. Posted by Hello

Remains of US Humvee near Baghdad, May 13, 2005 Posted by Hello

Terror detainees sent to Egypt

"The prime minister of Egypt said yesterday that more than '60 or 70' terror suspects had been sent to his country by the United States since September 11, the first public acknowledgment by any country that it receives detainees from U.S. agencies in the legal practice known as rendition. "...

Mr. Nazif denied, however, that the suspects were tortured as a matter of policy, an accusation made by human rights groups, although he acknowledged that abuses did occur. ...

In Afghanistan, the Taliban rises again for fighting season

"Instead of fizzling out, the rebels are staging their annual spring resurgence with a surprising new spirit, writes Nick Meo from Kabul. This wasn't what US military planners were expecting

15 May 2005
American soldiers in the mountain valley of Deh Chopan expect to be targeted by an unseen enemy. But the amateurish hit-and-run attacks of the Taliban - wildly fired rockets and mistimed roadside bombs - rarely inflict casualties. It was a shock, then, when a patrol was ambushed a fortnight ago with rocket-propelled grenades and sustained small arms fire. Six Americans were wounded. Two had their legs blown off. Two more were wounded badly enough to require evacuation to Germany for surgery.

The outcome of the ferocious five-hour battle was predictable enough - withering air power obliterated the Americans' enemies - but not before a US unit had suffered serious casualties and was forced to fall back before a determined enemy assault. A couple of days later nine Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers died when they were ambushed by machine-gun fire as they got down from a truck in Kandahar province - the newly formed ANA's worst-ever combat loss. Then two US marines were killed in a cave where they had insurgents pinned down."

This wasn't what US military planners were expecting at the start of this spring's "fighting season" when the snow thaws in the mountains. After all, Afghanistan is supposed to be the war that the American military has won. The official emphasis has changed from combat operations to "hearts and minds" programmes....

When they had finished combing through the body parts of their enemies, among the 44 dead were Chechens and Pakistanis, feared al-Qa'ida fighters. Other reports indicate that more sophisticated tactics are being used and that new weapons are being smuggled in over the Pakistan border. When a Romanian soldier was killed near Kandahar last month it was a modern anti-tank mine that blew up his armoured personnel carrier, not an improvised bomb or one of the old Soviet landmines that frequently don't work.

Further north along the Pakistan border, near Khost, the war hasbecome a hot one - human waves of Taliban fighters launch night assaults against the fortified bases of an Afghan mercenary force recruited by the CIA. Those insurgents are under the command of an old warlord with links to Saudi Arabia - Jalaluddin Haqqani - whose Pakistan-based operations seem to have received a new infusion of Gulf money.
The capital, Kabul, has also seen a revival in terrorism. An apparent suicide bomb attack on a Kabul internet café popular with foreigners killed a UN employee and terrified foreign aid workers and diplomats. Then the worst anti-US riots since the fall of the Taliban devastated eastern Afghanistan last week. Seven died, aid agency buildings were burnt and looted, causing millions of dollars of damage.

Orchestrated as they may have been, the riots showed a new mood of anti-Americanism which will worry the US military and the Kabul government. ...

The US military machine cannot really be damaged by a low-level insurgency that refuses to die, and US forces suffer nothing like the terrible casualty figures in Iraq. But increasingly it looks less and less as if the US military has won and more and more as if GIs are bogged down in a guerrilla war that threatens to go on for years to come.

Looking for Battle, Marines Find That Foes Have Fled

"ARABI, Iraq -- Cpl. Alexander Kalouf snapped an ammunition clip into his M-16 assault rifle and strapped grenades to his chest in the crowded hold of an armored vehicle, bursting into excited snatches of songs with other Marines as they headed into hoped-for battle." ... [bth: good article about the situation for the marines in western Iraq.]

Kidnapped Iraqi governor freed after five days

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) Gunmen freed the kidnapped governor of Iraq's western Anbar province Sunday after U.S. troops ended a weeklong offensive in the region, relatives and a government official said.

Gov. Raja Nawaf Farhan al-Mahalawi was kidnapped Tuesday as he drove from Qaim to the provincial capital of Ramadi. The kidnappers later called his family and said they were holding the governor until U.S. forces pull out of Qaim, a Syrian border town about 200 miles west of Baghdad.

They also offered to exchange the governor for three followers of Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who they said were seized in the U.S. offensive, according to the family." ...

i-Robot pakbot for checking buildings or caves Posted by Hello

Iraqi near car bombing. May 2005, NYTs Posted by Hello

TCS: The Useless Blood of May

"What do you do when you're Islamothug Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and you're running out of 'front line' fanatics to handle your suicide bombings?

You lie. You get some pathetic shlub who's just come over the border from Syria with an I.Q. well south of his enthusiasm to fight the infidels. You dramatically inform him he is needed to drive an important cargo of explosives to location X, where al-Qaida experts are going to make it into a bomb that will be employed on an important mission.

Off he goes at the wheel of some beat-up white Nissan, sitting low on its springs from the cargo of artillery shells in the back. What he doesn't know, of course is that he is the bomb, complete with remotely controlled fuse hidden somewhere in the car.

He's wheeling through the outskirts of Baghdad, drumming his thumbs on the steering wheel and trying to remember the name of the guy he's supposed to meet for the delivery but he's actually one cell phone ring away from what some believe is a rendezvous with numerous virgins."...

The Mystery of the Insurgency - New York Times

"WASHINGTON -American forces in Iraq have often been accused of being slow to apply hard lessons from Vietnam and elsewhere about how to fight an insurgency. Yet, it seems from the outside, no one has shrugged off the lessons of history more decisively than the insurgents themselves."

The insurgents in Iraq are showing little interest in winning hearts and minds among the majority of Iraqis, in building international legitimacy, or in articulating a governing program or even a unified ideology or cause beyond expelling the Americans. They have put forward no single charismatic leader, developed no alternative government or political wing, displayed no intention of amassing territory to govern now.

Rather than employing the classic rebel tactic of provoking the foreign forces to use clumsy and excessive force and kill civilians, they are cutting out the middleman and killing civilians indiscriminately themselves, in addition to more predictable targets like officials of the new government. Bombings have escalated in the last two weeks, and on Thursday a bomb went off in heavy traffic in Baghdad, killing 21 people.

This surge in the killing of civilians reflects how mysterious the long-term strategy remains - and how the rebels' seeming indifference to the past patterns of insurgency is not necessarily good news for anyone. ...

[bth: the reporter goes on to say that without a plan the insurgency fails. I'm not so sure. Also he forgets that the Sunni's used total terror for 35 years to hold down a majority of Shia and Kurds. From the Sunni ex-Baathist perspective, this is just a continuation of tactics that worked in the past. We don't readily see it because we are new comers on the block. Our military obsession with attacking command and control targets makes this war particularly vexing]


Checkpoint Posted by Hello

Turning Avenger into a Gun Truck

"U.S. Army infantry divisions and armored cavalry regiments are equipped with mobile anti-aircraft vehicles called Avengers. They have not got any use in Iraq until recently, until eight of them were recently converted to operate as gun trucks.

The Avengers are hummers with a turret mounted on the back. The turret contains two missile pods "...

Al-Qaeda said to favour Canadian recruits | CBC

"The majority of al-Qaeda recruits in Canada are being trained at home, not abroad, making the terror network a direct threat to Canada, according to a recently declassified intelligence report.
The homegrown recruits are highly prized for their familiarity with Western societies, says the Canadian Security Intelligence Service report, obtained by the Toronto Star.

The group once trained recruits in the hills of Afghanistan, but the camps were dismantled as the U.S.-led 'war on terror' became firmly established."...

Security investigators have responded to the trend of expanded recruitment by doing things like monitoring internet chat rooms for angry youths willing to join a cause, the report says.

They're also keeping their eyes on who's playing paintball. Paintball is mentioned in Canada's only arrest under new anti-terrorism legislation. ...

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Raymond Philippon salutes his son Lance Corporal Lawrence Philippon of Connecticut, killed in May 2005 Posted by Hello

Bin Laden henchman �seriously wounded� - Sunday Times - Times Online

"IRAQ'S most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, has been seriously wounded, according to a doctor who claims to have treated him last week.

The doctor told an Iraqi reporter in the western city of Ramadi that Zarqawi was bleeding heavily when he was brought into hospital on Wednesday. After treating his wounds the doctor tried to persuade him to remain, but the Jordanian-born terrorist�s minders drove him away. ...

According to the doctor, Zarqawi was escorted into Ramadi general hospital by smartly dressed men. “He was bleeding heavily and his escorts were well dressed with a look about them that was different from the casualties and family members we had been receiving from the al-Qaim offensive,” he was quoted as saying.

“I treated his injury and asked that he remain in hospital for further observations and told him that we would have to register him and take down his name and details. But he became very nervous and agitated. He refused and told me he would not be staying.

“The three men with him asked me politely that he be allowed to leave hospital immediately and that I supply them with a prescription and a list of medication that he may need.”

The doctor, who recognised Zarqawi from his photograph on television, followed them to their vehicle to try to convince them that the patient should remain in hospital. At that point, he said, he saw machineguns. They threatened to kill him if he told anyone what he had seen.

They then produced a wad of US dollars to secure his silence. The doctor said that he had refused to take the cash.



The claim was supported yesterday by a senior commander in the Iraqi resistance who had been to Ramadi to investigate the report. The doctor, who refused to specify the nature of the wounds and asked not to be identified, was detained by the Americans on Friday for questioning, residents said."

Niece of returning Sgt. Peralta Posted by Hello

Saudi Court Sends Three Reformists to Jail - Yahoo! News

"RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Three reform advocates were sentenced Sunday to terms ranging from six to nine years in prison, prompting a human rights activist to call their trial a 'farce.'

The three men were found guilty of sowing dissent, disobeying their rulers and sedition, said their lawyer, Sheik Ibrahim al-Mubarak. Their trial, which began last year, was seen as a response by the country's authoritarian rulers to the modest pro-reform movement's attempts to encourage political openness.

The three were the last remaining detainees of 13 reformers who were arrested in March 2004 after openly criticizing the strict religious environment and slow pace of reform in the kingdom. Some of the reformers had signed a letter to Crown Prince Abdullah calling for political, economic and social reforms, including parliamentary elections....

"The sentences are too harsh and they are very unfortunate. There is no logic behind them," said Ibrahim al-Mugaiteeb, who heads an independent Saudi rights group, Human Rights First. "This is a farce."...





Edge of the abyss Posted by Hello