Saturday, October 17, 2009

YouTube - Shamwow Dub Parody - Scamnow

YouTube - Shamwow Dub Parody - Scamnow

TheChive » Blog Archive » Snuggie parody video, ‘Sleevie’ (vid)

TheChive » Blog Archive » Snuggie parody video, ‘Sleevie’ (vid)

Military Reverses Ban On Afghanistan Soldier Death Photos

Military Reverses Ban On Afghanistan Soldier Death Photos: "NEW YORK — Military leaders in Afghanistan have backed off an attempt to ban news organizations embedded with the Army from photographing or videotaping images of U.S. personnel killed in the war.

But there was still confusion Friday about what photographers will be allowed to capture on the battlefield. The ban put in place by regional commanders at the Bagram Air Field was partly in reaction to a controversy over distribution last month of a photo by The Associated Press showing a U.S. Marine mortally wounded in a grenade attack."...

[bth: the articles goes on to confuse matters even further]

US' Kerry: decide Afghan vote before adding troops | Reuters

US' Kerry: decide Afghan vote before adding troops | Reuters: "WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - It would be irresponsible of President Barack Obama to commit to sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan when the outcome of that country's election is undecided, U.S. Senator John Kerry said on Saturday.

In an interview with CNN's 'State of the Union,' Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the United States should not proceed with a new Afghan strategy involving more troops without a clear partner in Kabul.

'Look, it would be entirely irresponsible for the president of the United States to commit more troops to this country, when we don't even have an election finished and know who the president is and what kind of government we're working in,' Kerry said from the Afghan capital, Kabul."....

Gen. McChrystal's Credibility Problem - Page 4 - The Daily Beast

Gen. McChrystal's Credibility Problem - Page 4 - The Daily Beast:... "Given the overwhelming challenges the United States faces in Afghanistan, and President Obama’s determination that Gen. McChrystal is the most qualified person to command our military campaign there, some may wonder why his dishonesty about Tillman should matter. It matters because deceit by a military officer of McChrystal’s rank is a poisonous betrayal of trust that shouldn’t be countenanced. The possibility that his subterfuge was intended to mislead the public during the run-up to a presidential election is especially troubling. “What we have here is a very clear, deliberate abuse intentionally done,” lamented Rep. Henry Waxman at the conclusion of a 2007 hearing into the Tillman coverup by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Why is it so hard to find out who did it?”"

Asia Times Online :Al-Qaeda's guerrilla chief lays out strategy

Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan: ..."The Pakistani Taliban have also been given a bloody nose by the military in tribal and urban areas. Negotiations were also underway to strike peace deals with some Taliban commanders in various Afghan provinces.

Then last week at least nine US troops along with several dozen Afghan National Army (ANA) personnel were killed in a raid on an outpost in Nuristan province, besides the abduction of over 30 ANA officers and soldiers by the Taliban.

This attack was complemented by a series of other attacks on North Atlantic Treaty Organization bases across the southeastern provinces of Khost, Paktia and Paktika, forcing top US General Stanley McChrystal to pull out all troops from isolated posts in remote areas in these provinces to relocate them in population centers.

This created immense space for the Taliban to operate freely, meaning that if Pakistan conducted operations in South Waziristan, the militants could easily move across the border to find sanctuary.

The attacks over the past few days have also shown that the militants are still capable of striking important targets almost at will. They also mean a redesign of the war theater in which Pakistan will have to relocate its troops from the eastern front (India) to the western front (Afghanistan), as the Taliban are now the number one enemy."....

"However, I realized that decades of armed and political struggles could not help to inch forward a resolution of this issue. Nevertheless, East Timor's issue was resolved without losing much time. Why? Because the entire game was in the hands of the great Satan, the USA. Organs like the UN and countries like India and Israel were simply the extension of its resources and that's why there was a failure to resolve the Palestinian issue, the Kashmir issue and the plight of Afghanistan.

"So I and many people all across the world realized that analyzing the situation in any narrow regional political perspective was an incorrect approach. This is a different ball game altogether for which a unified strategy is compulsory. The defeat of American global hegemony is a must if I want the liberation of my homeland Kashmir, and therefore it provided the reasoning for my presence in this war theater.

Ilyas continued, "When I came here I found my step justified; how the world regional powers operate under the umbrella of the great Satan and how they are supportive of its great plans. This can be seen here in Afghanistan." He added that al-Qaeda's regional war strategy, in which they have hit Indian targets, is actually to chop off American strength.

"The RAW [India's Research and Analysis Wing] has detachment command centers in the Afghan provinces of Kunar, Jalalabad, Khost, Argun, Helmand and Kandahar. The cover operations are road construction companies. For instance, the road construction contract from Khost city to the Tanai tribe area is handled by a contractor who is actually a current Indian army colonel. In Gardez, telecommunication companies are the cover for Indian intelligence operations. Mostly, their men operate with Muslim names, but actually the employees are Hindus."

"So should the world expect more Mumbai-like attacks?" I asked.

"That was nothing compared to what has already been planned for the future," Ilyas replied.

"Even against Israel and the USA?" I asked.

"Saleem, I am not a traditional jihadi cleric who is involved in sloganeering. As a military commander, I would say every target has a specific time and reasons, and the responses will be forthcoming accordingly," Ilyas said.

As I noted Kashmiri's answers, I thought of how several years back he was the darling of the Pakistani armed forces, their pride. The highest military officers were proud to meet him at his base in Kashmir, they spent time with him and listened to the legends of his war games. Today, I had a different person in front of me - a man condemned as a terrorist by the Pakistani military establishment and their biggest wish is his death.

"What impressed you to join al-Qaeda?" I asked.

"We were both victims of the same tyrant. Today, the entire Muslim world is sick of Americans and that's why they are agreeing with Sheikh Osama. If all of the Muslim world is asked to elect their leader, their choice would be either [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar or Sheikh Osama," Ilyas said.

"If it is so, why are a section of militants bent on war on Muslim states like Pakistan? Do you think this is correct?"

"Our battle cannot be against Muslims and believers. As I have mentioned earlier, what is happening at the moment in the Muslim world is a complexity due to American power games which have resulted into reactions and counter-reactions. This is a totally different debate and might deviate me from the real topic. The real game is the fight against the great Satan and its adherents," Ilyas said.

"What turned you from the most-beloved friend to the most-hated foe in the eyes of the Pakistani military establishment?" I asked.

"Pakistan is my beloved country and the people who live there are our brothers, sisters and relatives. I cannot even think of going against its interests. It was never the Pakistan army that was against me, but certain elements who branded me as an enemy to cover up their weaknesses and to appease their masters," Ilyas said.

"What is 313 Brigade?" I asked.

"I cannot tell you, except war is all tactics and this is all 313 Brigade is about; reading the enemy's mind and reacting accordingly. The world thought that Prophet Mohammad only left women behind. They forgot there were real men also who did not know what defeat was all about. The world is only familiar with those so-called Muslims who only follow the direction of the air and who don't have their own will. They do not have their own minds or dimensions of their own. The world has yet to see real Muslims. They have so far only seen Osama and Mullah Omar, while there are thousands of others. Wolves only respect a lion's iron slap; lions do not impress with the logic of a sheep," Ilyas said. ...

[bth: a fascinating interview with a very dangerous enemy. One wonders why the interview was allowed and why now? Is it the Pak. offensive? Note that the attack on the American outpost which triggered a retreat from a province in Afghanistan seems designed to give the Taliban space to retreat into Afghanistan once the Pakistan attach occurs and the seeming random attacks on road contractors a few weeks ago was thought by this person to be an attack on Indian intelligence agents.]

Earmark Probe Focusing on Former Top Aide to Visclosky -

Earmark Probe Focusing on Former Top Aide to Visclosky - "A federal investigation into defense contracts awarded through congressional earmarks is increasingly focused on a former top aide to Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.) who worked with the congressman on funding requests from clients of a powerful lobbying firm, according to two sources familiar with the probe.

Investigators have gathered evidence that Charles E. Brimmer, Visclosky's former longtime chief of staff, suggested to some lobbyists that companies seeking Visclosky's help in getting Pentagon funds would need to commit to a program of donations to the member of the Appropriations defense subcommittee, the sources said. The Justice Department is trying to determine whether Brimmer's proposal constituted quid pro quo, an illegal act in which a public official requests something of value in exchange for an official action.

Brimmer, 55, Visclosky's right-hand man on political and appropriation decisions, announced in late May that he would retire from his post, days after investigators subpoenaed records from Visclosky's offices and from Brimmer personally. Visclosky said then that investigators sought information about the congressman's dealings with the PMA Group, a lobbying powerhouse that also has been a focus of the investigation....

[bth: shocked, shocked.]

'Low-risk' Afghan plan calls for troops U.S. may not have | McClatchy

'Low-risk' Afghan plan calls for troops U.S. may not have | McClatchy: "WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military can send only about 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in the next three months without putting excessive strains on the Army and Marine Corps, but the top Afghanistan commander has said he needs more than twice that number to have the best chance of success, military and administration officials told McClatchy.

Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal has said that even if it sent 30,000 additional troops, the U.S. would risk failure in Afghanistan under the current strategy. His resourcing plan offers President Barack Obama three options based on the estimated risk, said two U.S. military officials, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly and because the proposal remains classified.

The low risk option, which McChrystal has said offers the best chance to contain the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize Afghanistan, calls for 80,000 additional U.S. troops, while his medium risk option puts the number at 40,000 to 45,000, the officials said.

'This is a fully resourced COIN (counter-insurgency) strategy with the low-risk option,' one official said. The current Army counterinsurgency manual, however, estimates that an all-out COIN campaign in a country with Afghanistan's population would require about 600,000 troops.

Some 20,000 additional forces would be deployed under"McChrystal's high-risk option, but that would mean the greatest risk of failure, the same official said. There now are 67,000 U.S. troops and 52,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan.

White House officials have leaked word that McChrystal's maximum option calls for 60,000 to 80,000 or more troops, but that many aren't available in the near future.

According to Army readiness figures, four lighter brigades needed for Afghanistan's rough terrain -- three from the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and one from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y. -- will be ready by December. A fifth brigade, also from the 101st Airborne, could deploy by March. Those would total roughly 25,000 troops who'd be accompanied by several thousand support troops....

Terrorists assault 3 police facilities in Lahore - The Long War Journal

Terrorists assault 3 police facilities in Lahore - The Long War Journal

No extra troops to Afghanistan, says Sarkozy | France 24

No extra troops to Afghanistan, says Sarkozy | France 24: "France will not send any more troops to Afghanistan, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview with a French newspaper on Thursday.

'Is it necessary to stay in Afghanistan? I say 'yes'. And to stay to win ... But France will not send a single soldier more,' Sarkozy told Le Figaro.

Sarkozy said he wants instead to see more home-grown Afghan troops fight the Taliban guerrillas.

'They will be the most effective in winning this war because it is their country. But we need to pay them more to avoid desertions that benefit the Taliban,' said the French president.

France currently has 3,000 troops in the NATO-led coalition battling the Taliban and training Afghan security forces. So far, 36 French soldiers have been killed since 2001.

Sarkozy's comment came just after a call by NATO’s commander to send more troops to the restive southern region of Afghanistan.

“To really complete the ‘shape, clear, hold, build,’ we need at least two additional brigades of coalition forces, somewhere between 10,000 or 15,000 troops,” Major General Mart de Kruif, NATO’s commander in the region, told AFP in an interview on Thursday....

[bth: let's get real here. The french aren't sending more troops and the brits are talking a big game but only committing 500 more. The Canadians are leaving in a couple of years. There simply aren't going to be enough foreign troops committed to the Afghan fight to tip the scales.]

In order to clear other areas in the south, such as the Helmand province, “we"

Friday, October 16, 2009

Monty Python at 40 - Page 4 - The Daily Beast

Monty Python at 40 - Page 4 - The Daily Beast

Monty Python at 40 - Page 2 - The Daily Beast

Monty Python at 40 - Page 2 - The Daily Beast

US pays $400 per gallon for gas in Afghanistan | Raw Story

US pays $400 per gallon for gas in Afghanistan | Raw Story:... "'One of the most expensive ways to supply fuel is by transporting it in bladders carried by helicopter; the amount that can be flown at one time can barely satisfy the need for fuel,' the Hill notes.

The paper notes that the $400 pricetag is referred to in Pentagon argot as the “fully burdened cost of fuel.”

The government's Defense Energy Support Center provides fuel to the military at $2.78 per gallon, the conveyance of which then grows exponentially more expensive as it travels through dangerous combat zones.

Gen. James Conway, who runs the Marine Corps, told a Navy forum that perilous risky routes up gasoline that originally cost $1.04 gallon up to $400.

“These are fairly major problems for us,” Conway was quoted as saying."

[bth: holy shit. $400/gallon. One wonders what the price would be if we bought it off the open market in Afghanistan, giving profits to middlemen in Afghanistan that could make an honest living instead of growing opium.]

Sydney jihadists guilty of terrorism plot - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Sydney jihadists guilty of terrorism plot - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Five Sydney men who embraced violent jihad have been found guilty of plotting a terrorist attack on Australian soil, after a 10-month trial.

The men, aged between 25 and 44, have been in custody for nearly four years, since they and four others were arrested in south-west Sydney in 2005.

The five didn't react when the verdict was handed down today but it sparked angry scenes outside the purpose-built high-security court at Parramatta, in western Sydney, when supporters shouted and swore while watching on a screen outside.

During the 10-month trial, the court heard the five jihadists wanted to terrify and intimidate the Australian public and Government in retaliation for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."...

The trial was almost derailed when it was revealed a relative of one of the accused had been coming to court, following the jurors to their cars and allegedly taking down detailed descriptions.

The defence called for the jury to be dismissed and the trial aborted over the young woman's surveillance.

But the jurors said the revelation would not affect their deliberations and the judge gave the green light for the trial to continue.

The woman told police she had acted entirely on her own.

The 23-day deliberation period was one of the longest in Australian legal history.

There were eight months of pre-trial arguments even before the trial got under way.

A raft of applications by the Crown and defence meant Justice Whealy had to deliver 65 judgements before a jury was even empanelled, including a raft of non-publication and suppression orders. He wrote 100 in total.

[bth: note the entire article and not a single name of a defendant or target location]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hydrogen-Powered Military Aircraft Achieves Record - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News -

Hydrogen-Powered Military Aircraft Achieves Record - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News - "The U.S. Navy has developed a hydrogen-powered aircraft that can fly for nearly an entire day without refueling.

During a test flight last week, the Ion Tiger, an unmanned air vehicle (UAV), stayed airborne for approximately 23 hours and 17 minutes, setting an unofficial endurance record for a flight powered by fuel-cell technology.

Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen, with only water and heat as byproducts. The electric fuel cell propulsion system onboard the aircraft features a 550-Watt (0.75 horsepower) fuel cell that researchers say is 4 times more efficient than a comparable internal combustion engine. The Ion Tiger weighs approximately 37 pounds and carries a 4- to 5-pound payload.

Small UAVs such as the Ion Tiger have the advantage of being nearly undetectable from the ground, allowing Navy officials to deploy the machines for a variety of specialized missions ranging from surveillance collection to communication links"...

Defence of the Realm: We have been there before

Defence of the Realm: We have been there before: "With Pakistani forces poised to launch a major military offensive deep into the heartlands of the Waziristan tribal region – once more to tackle the growing threat of Taleban and al Qaeda fighters - it is fair to ask whether they will be any more successful than last time, and the time before that, and the time before that.

This is by no means the first time they have attempted to suppress the tribal regions of Waziristan. They have been there before and, before them, British armed forces have tried repeatedly to do the same thing, with absolutely no success. We need to learn from history and, in particular, from the little known campaign on the eve of and during the Second World War."

During that period, Waziri tribesmen, the ancestors of the group we currently call the Taleban, were mounting what amounts to exactly the same campaign against the British occupiers. And, in case anyone believes there is anything at all new about the current situation, they too were following a fundamentalist Muslim leader. The only difference is that he went by the name of the Faqir of Ipi.

The story is told in fascinating detail by historian Milan Hauner, originally published in the Journal of Contemporary History in January 1981 and since reproduced on

During the period, the Faqir of Ipi (pictured) evaded upwards of 40,000 British and Indian Army troops, in a campaign which has eerie similarities with current events. So striking are the parallels that it should be compulsory reading for everyone engaged in the military campaign in Afghanistan, up to and including president Obama.

The Faqir writes Huaner, was the most determined, implacable single adversary the British had to face. As a guerrilla leader he was uncompromising, unyielding, obstinate and unscrupulous in the choice of combat methods against his opponents. These included traditional methods of tribal warfare such as ambush, kidnapping and mutilation.

The decision to attack was always his own; like the truces which he decided when his casualties had passed the accepted norm and it became necessary for him to retreat once again into the inaccessible hideouts of Waziristan. There he would wait for another opportunity to open hostilities, thus keeping the British army on the North-West Frontier fully mobilized.

At one point nearly 40,000 British and Indian troops were reported to be in the field trying to capture him, while he remained elusive as ever, always succeeding in evading the tight net put around him.

And yet, his own force of armed tribesmen probably never exceeded one thousand men, armed with rifles and a few machine-guns, and occasionally one or two pieces of antiquated cannon; he was always short of ammunition, had no radio communication, and relied for all his intelligence on the traditional network of informants and messengers. The British on the other hand had modern artillery, tanks and aircraft.

Huaner's account, written at the time of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in his own terms, "opens the back door to an amazing story of guerrilla activities against a major power" against the background of events from which the Second World War emerged – in which the agents of fascist Germany played a small part.

Yet, writes Hauner, from the Faqir's Islamic fundamentalist view of the world, terms like fascism and anti-fascism must have been utterly irrelevant. The Pathan tribesmen in Waziristan simply occupied "one of the few regions in the world whose inhabitants have cherished a strange anarchic independence from the constraints of 'civilized' governments."...

[bth: fascinating and worth a full read. I wish he would explain why the rebellion petered out in the 1950s]

10,000-15,000 more troops needed in Afghan south: ISAF general

The Raw Story | 10,000-15,000 more troops needed in Afghan south: ISAF general: "Between 10,000 and 15,000 more troops are needed to maintain security in restive southern Afghanistan, NATO's commander in the region told AFP in an interview Thursday.

'In RC (regional command) south, to really complete the 'shape, clear, hold, build,' we need at least two additional brigades of coalition forces, somewhere between 10,000 or 15,000 troops,' said Major General Mart de Kruif.

The additional troops include support units for the brigades, the Dutch officer added.

'Since we deployed the US forces, at the regional level, it's very clear that the initiative switched to our side,' said de Kruif, commander of almost 40,000 International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers in the south.

But he said 'we absolutely need additional forces' to clear other areas in the south, such as troubled Helmand province."...
Danger Room

Our uniform camo scored worse than the Syrians?

Photosimulation Camouflage Detection Test

Iraq's oil squabble heats up again -

Iraq's oil squabble heats up again - "On Oct. 9 the semiautonomous Kurdistan Regional Government declared it was halting all oil exports from the Kurdish region in northern Iraq until Baghdad pays the international companies operating there.

This was a blatant challenge to the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, which insists it is the only authority that can sign oil deals in Iraq and that all revenue goes through Baghdad before being distributed to regional governates.

'We have jointly agreed that no free oil will be pumped for export, and payments have to be made,' Ashti Hawrami, the KRG minister for natural resources, announced on the KRG Web site. 'We will only resume exports with guaranteed payments.'

The Kurds, whose ultimate objective appears to be full independence for their enclave, have signed two dozen contracts with foreign oil companies, none of them majors, over the last two years in defiance of the central government.

However, the KRG needs the state-owned pipelines to neighboring Turkey to get its oil to market. This gives Baghdad a strong hand to rein in the Kurds and fend off their ambition of setting up their own state....

[bth: with a pipeline it looks like everyone has a veto which will force a compromise solution]

Iraq Cabinet approves $67 billion budget for 2010 - Yahoo! News

Iraq Cabinet approves $67 billion budget for 2010 - Yahoo! News: "BAGHDAD – Iraq's Cabinet has signed off on a $67 billion draft budget for 2010 that is well below what officials have said is needed, raising concerns that the shortfall will derail the progress of Iraqi security forces just as they are taking over from withdrawing American troops.

Low oil prices have forced Iraq to curtail spending for the second year, complicating efforts to rebuild the country after years of war and construct a military capable of self-defense.

The proposed budget has a $15 billion shortfall that Iraq plans to cover by issuing bonds and asking for loans from international banking organizations, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in a statement released late Tuesday.

Parliament must still approve the budget. It was unclear when lawmakers would schedule a vote.

Last year's budget suffered deep cuts as oil prices fell from record levels of nearly $150 per barrel, forcing officials to twice slash this year's spending plans from $79 billion to $58.6 billion. The budget was based on an average oil price of $50 a barrel.

Next year's budget is based on an average oil price of $60 per barrel. On Wednesday, the November benchmark crude oil contract was up to $74.88 per barrel in Asia on electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.....

[bth: this is stil over twice the budget and for that matter GDP they used to have, so where is the money going? Graft?]

French troops were killed after Italy hushed up ‘bribes’ to Taleban - Times Online

French troops were killed after Italy hushed up ‘bribes’ to Taleban - Times Online: "When ten French soldiers were killed last year in an ambush by Afghan insurgents in what had seemed a relatively peaceful area, the French public were horrified.

Their revulsion increased with the news that many of the dead soldiers had been mutilated — and with the publication of photographs showing the militants triumphantly sporting their victims’ flak jackets and weapons. The French had been in charge of the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, for only a month, taking over from the Italians; it was one of the biggest single losses of life by Nato forces in Afghanistan.

What the grieving nation did not know was that in the months before the French soldiers arrived in mid-2008, the Italian secret service had been paying tens of thousands of dollars to Taleban commanders and local warlords to keep the area quiet, The Times has learnt. The clandestine payments, whose existence was hidden from the incoming French forces, were disclosed by Western military officials."

US intelligence officials were flabbergasted when they found out through intercepted telephone conversations that the Italians had also been buying off militants, notably in Herat province in the far west. In June 2008, several weeks before the ambush, the US Ambassador in Rome made a démarche, or diplomatic protest, to the Berlusconi Government over allegations concerning the tactic.

However, a number of high-ranking officers in Nato have told The Times that payments were subsequently discovered to have been made in the Sarobi area as well.

Western officials say that because the French knew nothing of the payments they made a catastrophically incorrect threat assessment.

“One cannot be too doctrinaire about these things,” a senior Nato officer in Kabul said. “It might well make sense to buy off local groups and use non-violence to keep violence down. But it is madness to do so and not inform your allies.”

On August 18, a month after the Italian force departed, a lightly armed French patrol moved into the mountains north of Sarobi town, in the district of the same name, 65km (40 miles) east of Kabul. They had little reason to suspect that they were walking into the costliest battle for the French in a quarter of a century.

Operating in an arc of territory north and east of the Afghan capital, the French apparently believed that they were serving in a relatively benign district. The Italians they had replaced in July had suffered only one combat death in the previous year. For months the Nato headquarters in Kabul had praised Italian reconstruction projects under way around Sarobi. When an estimated 170 insurgents ambushed the force in the Uzbin Valley the upshot was a disaster. “They took us by surprise,” one French troop commander said after the attack.

A Nato post-operations assessment would sharply criticise the French force for its lack of preparation. “They went in with two platoons [approximately 60 men],” said one senior Nato officer. “They had no heavy weapons, no pre-arranged air support, no artillery support and not enough radios.”

Had it not been for the chance presence of some US special forces in the area who were able to call in air support for them, they would have been in an even worse situation. “The French were carrying just two medium machine guns and 100 rounds of ammunition per man. They were asking for trouble and the insurgents managed to get among them.”

A force from the 8th Marine Parachute Regiment took an hour and a half to reach the French over the mountains. “We couldn’t see the enemy and we didn’t know how many of them there were,” said another French officer. “After 20 minutes we started coming under fire from the rear. We were surrounded.”

The force was trapped until airstrikes forced the insurgents to retreat the next morning. By then ten French soldiers were dead and 21 injured.

The French public were appalled when it emerged that many of the dead had been mutilated by the insurgents— a mixed force including Taleban members and fighters from Hizb e-Islami.

A few weeks later French journalists photographed insurgents carrying French assault rifles and wearing French army flak jackets, helmets and, in one case, a dead soldier’s watch....

Missile commander ousted at ND Air Force base - Yahoo! News

Missile commander ousted at ND Air Force base - Yahoo! News: ..."During his tenure, three ballistic missile crew members fell asleep holding launch codes in July 2008 and were discharged a year later.

Also in July 2008, a vehicle carrying a rocket booster for an unarmed Minuteman III ballistic missile overturned while being transported from the base to a launch facility in northwestern North Dakota. The military estimated it spent about $5.6 million to recover the rocket from a ditch. And this August, a semitrailer carrying rocket engine parts from the base overturned when the driver became distracted by an insect that flew in a window and landed on the driver's back, the military said.

A court-martial also is pending for a Minot officer accused of stealing a missile launch control device, allegedly because he wanted a souvenir.

Minot Air Force Base's 5th Bomb Wing was recertified in the handling of nuclear weapons last year after months of retraining in the wake of a 2007 mix-up in which a bomber mistakenly flew to Louisiana armed with nuclear missiles. Base commander Col. Bruce Emig was ousted following B-52's flight to Barksdale Air Force Base and replaced by Col. Joel Westa."...

U.S. troop funds diverted to pet projects - Washington Times

U.S. troop funds diverted to pet projects - Washington Times: "Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Among the 778 such projects, known as earmarks, packed into the bill: $25 million for a new World War II museum at the University of New Orleans and $20 million to launch an educational institute named after the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat."...

Photos of Military Deaths in Afghanistan Banned

Photos of Military Deaths in Afghanistan Banned: "NEW YORK The U.S. military in eastern Afghanistan recently changed its media embed rules to ban pictures of troops killed in the war.

“Media will not be allowed to photograph or record video of U.S. personnel killed in action,” says a ground rules document issued Sept. 15 by Regional Command East at Bagram Air Field.

This language is new. A version of the same document dated July 23 says, “Media will not be prohibited from covering casualties” as long as a series of conditions are met.

Pictures of American military deaths are rare, but until now they have not been officially banned during either of the ongoing wars."...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

85,000 Iraqis killed in almost 5 years of war

85,000 Iraqis killed in almost 5 years of war: ..."According to the ministry's report, the dead included 1,279 children and 2,334 women. At least 263 university professors, 21 judges, 95 lawyers and 269 journalists were killed – professions which were specifically targeted as the country descended into chaos.

According to the report, 2006 was the deadliest year with 32,622 killed or found dead. The toll for 2004 was 11,313, rising to 15,817 the next year. The second deadliest year in the period covered was 2007 with 19,155 killed or found dead. The toll fell to 6,787 in 2008, the lowest yearly count for the period.

The count also included 15,000 unidentified bodies that were buried after going unclaimed by families. An additional 10,000 people were also listed as missing although Human Rights Ministry official Kamail Amin said it was not known whether there was overlap between the missing and unidentified counts.

Amin said the missing figures were based on people who came to the ministry to report a missing relative, something that many Iraqis, who feared reprisals and were hesitant to draw attention to themselves, were loathe to do.

Significantly the report does not contain figures from 2003, a period during which there was no functioning Iraqi government."...

[bth: these numbers are much lower than the politically timed numbers released by Nature magazine a few years ago.]

Afghan presidential runoff would face challenges

Afghan presidential runoff would face challenges: "KABUL — Afghan officials would face a daunting task in organizing a runoff presidential election before the arrival of winter – including hiring unbiased staff and securing polling stations in areas under threat of Taliban attack.

The problems are unlikely to end there. Even if the Afghans were to pull it off, there's no guarantee that another ballot – which seems increasingly probable – would produce a reliable partner for the U.S. and its allies in confronting the Taliban-led insurgency.

Election officials are expected to rule within days on fraud allegations over the Aug. 20 election. The vote was marred by charges of ballot-stuffing and voter coercion, mostly to the benefit of the incumbent, President Hamid Karzai.

Preliminary results show Karzai won with about 54 percent. But if the U.N.-backed Electoral Complaints Commission discards enough of the votes for Karzai, it could drop the president's total below 50 percent. That would force a runoff with the top challenger, Abdullah Abdullah."....

[bth: this is now just being contrived and timed to eliminate a runoff in a stolen election. We now fight for Karzai who is a fraud. Too bad. He had potential. He just isn't worth it.]

CRS calculates cost of U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room

CRS calculates cost of U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan - The Hill's Blog Briefing Room:... "The cost of sending one U.S. soldier in Afghanistan for one year is $1 million versus an estimated $12,000 for an Afghani soldier, according to Steve Daggett, a specialist with the Congressional Research Service. Those numbers fall within the calculations that the Obama administration has been using. The Obama administration is calculating $1 billion per 1,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan."

Britain's Brown pledges more Afghanistan troops

Britain's Brown pledges more Afghanistan troops: "LONDON — British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged Wednesday to send more troops to Afghanistan but only if NATO and the Afghan government do more to help fight the Taliban.

Brown said his government would increase British troop levels to 9,500 – an increase of about 500 – on the condition that President Hamid Karzai reduce corruption and improve his government's performance. Brown also pledged to send troops only if he can provide them with the proper equipment, and if NATO allies increase their contributions to the war effort."...

[bth: 500? you've got to be kidding. What a hollow shell of itself - all the UK can do is add 500. Don't bother.]

Media Channel 2.0 — Blog — For the First Time, Afghanistan Tops the Week’s News

Media Channel 2.0 — Blog — For the First Time, Afghanistan Tops the Week’s News: "Amid signs of disagreement over war strategy within the Obama administration, Afghanistan led the news last week, the first time since the News Coverage Index began in January 2007 that the eight-year-old war has emerged as the top story."

From October 5-11, Afghanistan accounted for 20% of the newshole, according to the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, double the previous high-water mark for coverage of the country.

It may mark an emphatic end to the sense of Afghanistan as a low-level conflict occurring largely out of public view and could change the political backdrop against which the impending Obama decision on how to prosecute the war will have to be made. The media attention last week was at a level that accompanied the politically explosive domestic debate over Iraq strategy several years ago.

Afghanistan was even more heavily a television story last week. It filled 30% of the airtime studied on network news and 25% on cable news....

[bth: McChrystal's discussion has done one thing very well; it put Afghanistan back in the news and is forcing politicians and military leaders alike to have a public discussion about our objectives, goals and resource commitments. If it does nothing else, it accomplishes what nothing else has for 8 years - give us a public debate on this important topic]

Report: Russia to allow pre-emptive nukes

Report: Russia to allow pre-emptive nukes: "MOSCOW (AP) - A top Russian security official says Moscow reserves the right to conduct pre-emptive nuclear strikes to safeguard the country against aggression on both a large and a local scale, according to a newspaper interview published Wednesday.

Presidential Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev also singled out the U.S. and NATO, saying Moscow's Cold War foes still pose potential threats to Russia despite what he called a global trend toward local conflicts.

The interview appeared in the daily Izvestia during a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, as U.S. and Russian negotiators try to hammer out a nuclear arms reduction treaty by December. It also came amid grumbling in Moscow over U.S. moves to modify plans for a missile shield near Russia's borders rather than ditch the idea outright."...

[bth: one wonders what in the world Russia intends to accomplish with a statement like this especially just after we drop our plans on the missile shield in Poland?]

Afghanistan - the proxy war - The Boston Globe

Afghanistan - the proxy war - The Boston Globe: "NO SERIOUS person thinks that Afghanistan - remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state - seriously matters to the United States. Yet with the war in its ninth year, the passions raised by the debate over how to proceed there are serious indeed. Afghanistan elicits such passions because people understand that in rendering his decision on Afghanistan, President Obama will declare himself on several much larger issues. In this sense, Afghanistan is a classic proxy war, with the main protagonists here in the United States."

The question of the moment, framed by the prowar camp, goes like this: Will the president approve the Afghanistan strategy proposed by his handpicked commander General Stanley McChrystal? Or will he reject that plan and accept defeat, thereby inviting the recurrence of 9/11 on an even larger scale? Yet within this camp the appeal of the McChrystal plan lies less in its intrinsic merits, which are exceedingly dubious, than in its implications.

If the president approves the McChrystal plan he will implicitly:

■ Anoint counterinsurgency - protracted campaigns of armed nation-building - as the new American way of war.

■ Embrace George W. Bush’s concept of open-ended war as the essential response to violent jihadism (even if the Obama White House has jettisoned the label “global war on terror’’).

■ Affirm that military might will remain the principal instrument for exercising American global leadership, as has been the case for decades.

Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy: maintaining a global military presence, configuring US forces for global power projection, and employing those forces to intervene on a global basis. The McChrystal plan modestly updates these fundamentals to account for the lessons of 9/11 and Iraq, cultural awareness and sensitivity nudging aside advanced technology as the signature of American military power, for example. Yet at its core, the McChrystal plan aims to avert change. Its purpose - despite 9/11 and despite the failures of Iraq - is to preserve the status quo.

Hawks understand this. That’s why they are intent on framing the debate so narrowly - it’s either give McChrystal what he wants or accept abject defeat. It’s also why they insist that Obama needs to decide immediately.

Yet people in the antiwar camp also understand the stakes. Obama ran for the presidency promising change. The doves sense correctly that Obama’s decision on Afghanistan may well determine how much - if any - substantive change is in the offing.

If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths - costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.

As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That “keeping Americans safe’’ obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.

If the Afghan war then becomes the consuming issue of Obama’s presidency - as Iraq became for his predecessor, as Vietnam did for Lyndon Johnson, and as Korea did for Harry Truman - the inevitable effect will be to compromise the prospects of reform more broadly.

At home and abroad, the president who advertised himself as an agent of change will instead have inadvertently erected barriers to change. As for the American people, they will be left to foot the bill.

This is a pivotal moment in US history. Americans owe it to themselves to be clear about what is at issue. That issue relates only tangentially relates to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or the well-being of the Afghan people. The real question is whether “change’’ remains possible.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His new book “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War’’ is forthcoming.

cost of paying off the taliban or fighting them

Daily Kos: State of the Nation: ..."Let's say that '12 months' equals 12 months. So, McChrystal's window is between now and next October.

Let's say that 'next summer at the earliest' equals June.

We're in October now, so June is eight months away."

That means that for 2/3 of McChrystal's window that will "probably determine" whether we "win" or "lose" in Afghanistan, the 40,000 troops that Obama is being pressured to approve will be mostly irrelevant.

There is no crisis demanding a quick decision on McChrystal's troop request, and plenty of time to explore alternatives, including dramatically reducing our list of enemies, and dramatically increasing the role of diplomacy, negotiations, and deal-making, in Afghanistan and in the region.

In particular, if it's true that 70% of the insurgency consists of "$10-a-day Taliban," as a Senate report estimates, that suggests that we could make deals with (at least) 70% of the insurgency. Suppose that these deals cost us $20 per day, per fighter, and that there are 15,000 Taliban fighters overall. Then a deal with 70% of the insurgency would cost $210,000 per day. The war, on the other hand, costs $165 million per day.

If you assume that fighting this 70% of the insurgency has average cost, then fighting these 70% of Taliban fighters costs $115.5 million per day. So, if we made a deal with them, instead of fighting them, we'd save $115.3 million dollars, every day, for an annual savings of $42 billion dollars. By comparison, if the 10 year cost of health reform is a trillion dollars, then the annual cost is $100 billion. So making a deal with 70% of the Afghan insurgency would pay for roughly half of the cost of health care reform...

Recycling Atomic Waste: Nuclear Materials Stored In Siberian Parking Lots - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Recycling Atomic Waste: Nuclear Materials Stored In Siberian Parking Lots - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "A French documentary has revealed that radioactive materials from nuclear power plants are being being stored in containers in a Siberian parking lot. Meanwhile the largest power company in Europe, France's EDF, which sent the materials there, says it is not responsible.

The largest utility company in Europe, Électricité de France, has been accused of storing nuclear waste in an open air car park in Siberia. An investigative documentary called the 'Nuclear Nightmare' that screened on Tuesday in Germany and France accuses the company of sending nuclear waste to a town in Siberia where it is then stored in metal containers in a parking lot.... French nuclear reactors: France is highly dependent on nuclear energy for its power needs. But a new documentary film is unleashing a new debate about the issue of nuclear waste.

Al-Qaeda number two lashes out at Pakistani military - Monsters and Critics

Al-Qaeda number two lashes out at Pakistani military - Monsters and Critics: "Islamabad - The Pakistan Army has become a tool in the hands of the 'crusaders' to save American and NATO troops from certain defeat in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda's second-in-command said in a new video message on Tuesday.

'At this moment Pakistani forces are playing the central role in this crusade that has been imposed on Islam and Muslims,' Ayman al-Zawahiri said in a 26-minute video posted on Muslim extremist websites.

'And this [Pakistan Army] has completely become a tool for the crusaders against its own public, neighbouring countries and the Islamic world,' he added in the message that was recorded some time between July 23 and August 21.

The message was posted only on Tuesday, three days after 10 terrorists with suspected links with al-Qaeda and Taliban raided Pakistan's military headquarters and held more than 40 people hostage for around 22 hours.

In a pre-dawn raid Sunday, Pakistani commandos ended the hostage drama, but the attack and following siege left 23 people dead. Among them were 11 soldiers, including a lieutenant colonel and a brigadier, three hostages and nine attackers.

Al-Zawahiri criticized Pakistan's military over a planned offensive in the tribal South Waziristan district, a rugged and moun"....

Ilyas Kashmiri survived last month's airstrike in Pakistan - The Long War Journal

Ilyas Kashmiri survived last month's airstrike in Pakistan - The Long War Journal: "A senior al Qaeda leader and longtime Pakistani jihadi with strong ties to Pakistan's military and intelligence services who was thought to have been killed in a US airstrike in the tribal areas has surfaced.

Ilyas Kashmiri, the operational chief of the Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HuJI) and al Qaeda's Brigade 313, survived the Sept. 14 airstrike in the village of Turikhel near the town of Mir Ali in Taliban-controlled North Waziristan. Kashmiri was thought to have been killed with Najmuddin Jalolov, the leader of the Islamic Jihad Group, an Uzbek terror group based in Pakistan's tribal areas. Pakistani and US intelligence officials were certain Kashmiri was killed in the attack.

Kashmiri was recently confirmed to be alive by Syed Saleem Shahzad, a reporter for the Asia Times. Kashmiri granted an interview to Shahzad, which will be published on Oct. 14. In the interview, Kashmiri 'outlines al Qaeda's master plan to combat the US and its proxies.'"...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Danger Room

Danger Room: ..."Here’s the key paragraph:

State Department officials also said they were close to their target of having 974 aid workers in Afghanistan by year’s end as part of what they called Mr. Obama’s civilian “surge.” They said 575 civilians were on the ground now.

“Close?” Uh, not exactly. The president’s plan to renew focus on governance and local development in Afghanistan was announced back in March. At the time, senior officials in the White House and the Pentagon told Danger Room that the civilian surge — not any extra troops — would be the key to turning the war’s tide. But Henry Crumpton, a former Foggy Bottom bigwig who now advises General McChrystal, tells the Times that the effort is falling short. “Right now, the overwhelming majority of civilians are in Kabul, and the overwhelming majority never leave their compounds.” Sure, there are still 75 days left in the year; but the progress made so far doesn’t exactly inspire."...

[bth: we've been in Afghanistan 8 years and all they can get is 575 civilians on the ground and almost all on main bases.]

Danger Room - iRobot's soft morphing blob bot

Danger Room

[bth: fascinating]

Obama's Gay Dodge - The Daily Beast

Obama's Gay Dodge - The Daily Beast:... "But my response to this speech and my message to the gay community is this: Stop rewarding the president’s speeches. Because for me, that’s all it is—pretty words delivered by a beautiful orator."...

Ultra Slow Motion Video Of Bullet Impacts (VIDEO)

Ultra Slow Motion Video Of Bullet Impacts (VIDEO)

Bleak U.S. job market boosts military recruitment | Reuters

Bleak U.S. job market boosts military recruitment | Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Aided by a bleak job market, the U.S. military met all of its recruitment goals in the past year for the first time since it became an all-volunteer force in 1973, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Military services have been stretched thin by conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, giving added weight to recruitment efforts as President Barack Obama considers sending another 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.

The United States already has 67,000 troops in Afghanistan and about 119,000 in Iraq.

Pentagon officials said recruitment gains were fueled by the deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression and an unemployment rate nearing 10 percent.

'For the first time since the advent of the all-volunteer force, all of the military components, active and reserve, met their number as well as their quality goals,' said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy."...

[bth: the stimulus to the economy is the military industrial complex. This is world class America. It isn't making cars or electronics or textiles. We make weapons and war. That is the growth sector of our economy]

Pakistan bombs Taliban hideouts after week of carnage

The Raw Story | Pakistan bombs Taliban hideouts after week of carnage: ..."Local media have reported that the threat to army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi was known in advance by police, and have questioned why the siege which left 23 people dead was not thwarted.

On October 5, The News published extracts of a correspondence between the interior ministry and Punjab authorities, warning that militants in army uniforms were planning to target the HQ -- exactly what happened days later.

'Don't blame intelligence agencies, they have foiled several planned attacks, we foiled at least a hundred attacks before they were carried out,' Malik told reporters."...

[bth: That's very specific intel]

Charge of vote fraud 'totally fabricated': Karzai

The Raw Story | Charge of vote fraud 'totally fabricated': Karzai: "Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday rejected as 'totally fabricated' allegations that widespread irregularities marred as much as 30 percent of balloting in August's election.

'There were irregularities. There must have been also fraud committed, no doubt,' he said in an interview with ABC television.

'But the election was good and fair and worthy of praise, not of scorn, which the election received from the international media.'

Asked about UN reports that as much as 30 percent of the vote was tainted, Karzai replied: 'That was totally fabricated.'

'That wasn't true,' he said, calling the charges a 'politically instigated statement.'

'The election, as I mentioned earlier, had difficulties. There were instances of fraud, no doubt. There were irregularities. But the nation as a whole, was good and free and democratic,' he said."...

[bth: if its the word of Ambassador Galbraith or President Karzai, I'm betting on Galbraith who was fired for declaring the fraud.]

Official: Taliban Better Financed Than Al-Qaida - ABC News

Official: Taliban Better Financed Than Al-Qaida - ABC News: "The Taliban are in much stronger financial shape than al-Qaida and rely on a wide range of criminal activities to pay for attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, a senior Treasury Department official said Monday.

David Cohen, the department's assistant secretary for terrorist financing, said the extremist group extorts money from poppy farmers and heroin traffickers involved in Afghanistan's booming drug trade. The Taliban also demand protection payments from legitimate Afghan businesses, he said during a speech at a conference on money laundering enforcement."...

'Embarrassing' Incident in Gulf of Suez: German Ship Transporting Arms for Iran - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

'Embarrassing' Incident in Gulf of Suez: German Ship Transporting Arms for Iran - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International: "US troops boarded a German-owned freighter in early October and found eight containers full of ammunition, allegedly headed to Syria from Iran. The shipment is in violation of a UN weapons embargo and has become a source of chagrin in Berlin.

An 'embarrassing affair,' is how one German diplomat described it. The official could also have added: potentially damaging to trans-Atlantic relations.

In an operation reported on by SPIEGEL over the weekend, US soldiers entered the freighter Hansa India in the Gulf of Suez at the beginning of October and discovered seven containers full of 7.62 millimeter ammunition suitable for Kalashnikov rifles. An eighth container was full of cartridges suitable for the manufacture of additional rounds. The incident is particularly awkward for Berlin as the Hansa India is registered to the Hamburg-based shipping company Leonhardt & Blumberg."...

Petraeus for President? - Page 1 - The Daily Beast

Petraeus for President? - Page 1 - The Daily Beast: "The GOP, torn apart by extremists, needs a hero to step up and lead the party. Peter Beinart thinks General David Petraeus is a lot like Ike."

Remember last winter, when liberals were complaining that Barack Obama had kept Bush family consigliere Robert Gates as his secretary of Defense and named a John McCain buddy, General James Jones, as his National Security Adviser? They're not complaining now. Today, Gates and Jones are MoveOn's best friends, because they provide the political cover that Obama needs to reject General Stanley McChrystal's call for more troops in Afghanistan. Imagine if Richard Danzig was Defense secretary and Susan Rice was NSC adviser, as many had expected. Obama would have never dared send them out to publicly slap down McChrystal, as both Gates and Jones have done. With liberal civilians in key posts, Obama’s administration would have appeared more dovish, which, ironically, would have made it harder for Obama to actually do the dovish thing....

[bth: figures. this has been a long time in coming and largely explains why Petraeus has been quiet on the Afghan build-up. He will claim he won Iraq and Obama lost Afghanistan.]

Former UN envoy to Afghanistan blows whistle on ex-boss | Raw Story

Former UN envoy to Afghanistan blows whistle on ex-boss | Raw Story: "A former top United Nations official assigned to Afghanistan said Monday that his ex-boss must be fired for long denying the widespread fraud that plagued Afghanistan's last presidential election.

Speaking with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Peter Galbraith, who was fired for claiming the United Nations helped cover-up the fraudulent votes, said that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was the primary beneficiary of the stolen election.

'I worked for the United Nations,' Galbraith said. 'And certainly, the United Nations could have done something to prevent the fraud before it took place. I tried to do that. But my boss, Kai Eide, stopped me.'"...

[bth: we do not want or need to be complicit in this fraud. Obama needs to strap on a pair and speak up.]

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pakistani Police Had Warned Military About a Raid -

Pakistani Police Had Warned Military About a Raid - "ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The mastermind of the militant assault on Saturday that shook the heart of the Pakistani military was behind two other major attacks in the last two years, and the police had specifically warned the military in July that such an audacious raid was being planned, police and intelligence officials said Sunday."...

[bth: one wonders if they knew this, why they didn't stop it]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pakistan plotted Kabul embassy attack: Afghanistan

DAWN.COM | World | Pakistan plotted Kabul embassy attack: Afghanistan: "WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI was behind the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul which killed 17 people and wounded more than 60 others, the Afghan envoy to the US has claimed.

‘Yes, we do,’ Afghan Ambassador to the US Said T Jawad told the PBS news channel in an interview when asked if he was pointing the finger at Pakistan for the suicide bombing that took place on Thursday."...

We do not have enough troops to win an Afghan counter insurgency campaign

..."Al Jazeera reported today a few details of a new US intelligence report that found the Taliban in Afghanistan have grown from about 7,000 fighters to over 25,000 fighters. This is the first strength figure for the Taliban reported by a government agency in the public domain.

Comment: In the NightWatch data base, more than 200 of the 400 districts in Afghanistan have Taliban fighting groups in them. The NightWatch rule of thumb for estimation is 100 fighters per district, usually not in a single force, but divided into smaller cells that might work together for some operations.

Some districts will have many more than 100, and some will have only a small cell. Thus NightWatch has estimated during 2009 that the number of fighters in the many anti-government fighting groups, including Taliban, totaled at least 20,000 fighters. Equally important as the total of regular fighters is the ability of the Taliban to merge fighting groups and enlist local tribal fighters for specific operations that can swell the numbers in an engagement to 1,000 or more. Thus, the addition of part time fighters could double or treble the numbers of anti-government fighters.

In the two recent successful counterinsurgency operations in Asia, that by India in Kashmir and by Sri Lanka against the Tamils, the force ratios ranged from 40 security forces for every Tami"fighter in Sri Lanka to 250 Indian security forces for every Kashmiri separatist. Neither relied on nation building programs.

Applying the Kashmir and Sri Lanka models to Afghanistan, the number of US reinforcements mentioned in the US press is about a tenth the minimum requirement to create a reasonable probability of suppressing the Pashtun insurrection. As for nation building, its effects will only become manifest if a predictably stable security situation can be created and after at least one generation dies. See Max Weber’s writings....

[bth: So let's assume we could get western troop levels to 100-200K range, that would mean that we'd need between 400 and 1.5 million Afghan troops? The highest Afghan training figure I've seen batted around has been 240K which is less than 1/2 the minimum required. .... bottom line we do not have enough troops without a US draft which isn't going to happen.]

Obama HRC Speech: "I Will End Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Says President Obama

Obama HRC Speech: "I Will End Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Says President Obama: "WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama reaffirmed his campaign pledge to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in a speech Saturday, but offered no timetable or specifics for acting on that promise.

He acknowledged to a cheering crowd that some policy changes he promised on the campaign trail are not coming as quickly as they expected.

'I will end 'don't ask-don't tell,'' Obama said to a standing ovation from the crowd of about 3,000 at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group."...

[bth: it takes congress to repeal it, but he as the executive could block enforcement. Yet he does not.]

President Warren Harding's lover Carrie Phillips spied for Kaiser - Times Online

President Warren Harding's lover Carrie Phillips spied for Kaiser - Times Online: "Despite being prone to verbal gaffes and political scandal, Warren Harding routinely tops polls of America’s dullest presidents. Now a new biography has added unexpected spice.

An Ohio lawyer has unearthed documents suggesting that Harding’s mistress while he was a senator during the first world war was a German spy whose network helped sink British ships.

Carrie Phillips was a famous beauty with whom Harding conducted a 15-year affair while both were married. Their romance ended shortly before he became president in 1921"...