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June 7, 2008

Operation Longest Mile. Flexible, not limp.

080511_A_4619A_567.jpg

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (May 30, 2008) – Service members from the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Policemen and Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment air assaulted into the Watapoor valley under the cover of darkness May 10 to start Operation Longest Mile in Kunar province, Afghanistan.

The Afghan National Security Forces took the lead in the search-and-clear mission of the village of Kur Baugh to search for weapons, ammunition, explosives and other contraband. They were also there to find and question three local Afghan men designated as “high-value targets,” which were believed to be assisting enemy fighters. Service members from the 2-503rd, also known as Task Force Rock, maintained supporting positions.

“We have had a lot of intelligence, both collected by us, and brought in by locals, saying that the enemy is in the village of Kur Baugh,” said 1st Lt. Brandon M. Kennedy, 24, from Shelton, Conn., platoon leader for 3rd Platoon, Able Company.

In three different waves, CH-47 Chinooks and UH-60 Blackhawks flew approximately 150 Afghan and American Soldiers from Forward Operating Base Honaker-Miracle to the west of Kur Baugh.

After the elements landed and diligently navigated through the darkness down 200 meters of steep, rocky and unkind mountainous terrain, the mission changed.

One of the Blackhawk started experiencing mechanical problems and had to make a hard landing after dropping off the service members of 1st platoon. The pilots and crew were picked up by one of the other helicopters and flown back to Jalalabad Airfield.

Immediately, Operation Longest Mile changed from search and clear Kur Bagh to secure and rescue a disabled aircraft. While the service members from 2nd platoon, 3rd platoon, and HHC were moved by air to the disabled helicopter, a Chosen platoon quick reaction force was activated.

“That’s the good thing about Able Company, no matter what the operation is, no matter what the operation requires, Able Company will adapt, overcome and complete the mission,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah K. Smith, 32, from Lewistown, Pa., platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon.

The QRF air assaulted to the disabled Blackhawk to reinforce 1st Platoon after reports that the enemy knew a helicopter was down and was going to attack. The remaining elements landed shortly afterwards and set up a defensive perimeter.

“When we first arrived at the downed helicopter the focus was executing quickly, making sure we had a good perimeter, getting the dominant terrain, establishing secure fighting positions on the high ground to make it harder for the enemy to attack us, and determining probable avenues of approach. It was a lot of planning,” said Senior Airman Gabriel O. Bird, 28, 122nd Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, from the Louisiana Air National Guard. “We all worked through the night to make sure that if we got attacked we could speedily and effectively counter-attack.”

Task Force Rock called for a Downed Aircraft Rescue Team (DART), which after arriving, was able to make necessary repairs to the disabled helicopter.

Early the next morning, the pilots and crew were flown in and were able to get the helicopter safely off the ground and fly it out. Now with a very defendable position, and with the extraction helicopters not scheduled until the evening, the mission changed to disrupt any enemy activity in the northern Watapoor Valley.

Flex and adapt. For that part - hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jun 07, 2008 | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2008

Operation Mountain Highway II deals blow to insurgents

Army Capt. John Williams (left to right), commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), observes the hill top while Army Staff Sgt. William Randall, HHT, directs Army Sgt. Shawn Seymour,a M-240B machine gun operator in HHT, during Operation Mountain Highway II April 27 in Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

Army Capt. John Williams (left to right), commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), observes the hill top while Army Staff Sgt. William Randall, HHT, directs Army Sgt. Shawn Seymour,a M-240B machine gun operator in HHT, during Operation Mountain Highway II April 27 in Nuristan province, Afghanistan.
By Army Staff Sgt. Brandon Aird

173rd ABCT Public Affairs

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) and Legion Company, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), teamed with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Border Police to conduct Operation Mountain Highway II in eastern Nuristan province, Afghanistan recently.

Operation Mountain Highway II started April 22 when Soldiers from International Security Assistance Force and the ANA simultaneously air-assaulted at night onto three mountains above Gowerdesh Bridge.

Afghan and American Soldiers created Observation Posts Mace, Hatchet and Brick, which enabled the ABP and ANA to drive up from the south and seize the Gowerdesh Bridge April 26.

“It was very in deft synchronized air-assault to get everybody in,” said Army Capt. John Williams, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne). “Over four months of planning was put into this operation.”

During the four-month planning phase, ABP were retrained on weapons, vehicle searches, first aid and reacting to contact, said Army Capt. Kafi Gwira, an ABP embedded tactical trainer from Chicago. The ABP were also issued new uniforms, weapons, ammunition and equipment for the operation.

“We got them ready to seize the bridge for good this time,” said Gwira. “The ABP will now maintain a presence at the bridge at all times.”

The ANA built three local observation posts near the bridge during the first few days of the operation, which were handed over to the ABP a few days later.

“The reason why this bridge is so critical is that its one of the last ones left for insurgents to use,” said Williams. “If they can’t use the Gowerdesh Bridge, this severely limits their capabilities in this area.”

According to Williams the bridge is part of a route used by insurgents to travel from Pakistan into the interior of Afghanistan.

Last summer, insurgents drove off the ABP and destroyed their security check point. The Gowerdesh Bridge has been a key altercation point between insurgents and Afghan forces over the last year. Numerous fire fights between ISAF and insurgents have occurred near the bridge.

“They need strong positions, which is why we provided the engineers to build the bunker positions at the bridge,” said Williams. “They also needed local OP’s, which we’re building near the bridge. So now, we can see all the area around us. The enemy can’t come here unimpeded like they have been.”

ISAF will continue to operate two of three larger observation posts to support the ABP, but once the bunkers and fighting positions are built the ABP will take over operations at Gowedesh Bridge.

According to Williams, Operation Mountain Highway II is an ongoing operation, but it’s already considered a great success.

“Since we have secured this bridge, we can now bring development to this region,” said Williams. “We can fix the road and bring economic and government development here. The insurgents have lost the upper hand in this area.”

An Afghan National Army soldier carrying a PK machine gun pulls security near the Gowedesh Bridge during Operation Mountain Highway II in Nuristan province, Afghanistan April 27. The ANA, Afghan Border Patrol, U.S. Army and Marines worked together during the operation to rebuild an ABP check point at the Gowedesh Bridge, which was partially destroyed by insurgents last summer.

An Afghan National Army soldier carrying a PK machine gun pulls security near the Gowedesh Bridge during Operation Mountain Highway II in Nuristan province, Afghanistan April 27. The ANA, Afghan Border Patrol, U.S. Army and Marines worked together during the operation to rebuild an ABP check point at the Gowedesh Bridge, which was partially destroyed by insurgents last summer.

One of the dilemmas of this kind of warfare. The bad guys only have to get lucky once, you have to be good (and lucky) all the time. And in terrain as cross-compartmented (Army-speak for lots of ridgelines cutting the area into "compartments") as Afghanistan, knocking out bridges can effectively isolate an area, creating a safer (nowhere is *safe* in an era of airplanes and thermal sights) environment for the insurgent to work on the population.

What's key now is - can the Afghan government hold and protect it - with their own troops and police... i.e., will the locals have enough confidence to have the courage to rat out the terrs?

That's the hard, slow work of counter-insurgency.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on May 10, 2008

April 29, 2008

Afghans conducting their own aero-medevac.

080429-A-9217P-002 - U.S. service members prepare to move casualties from an Afghan National Air Corps MEDEVAC helicopter April 29 at Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. This MEDEVAC mission followed a suicide bomber attack at in Nangarhar’s Koghyani District. It is the first point-of-injury MEDEVAC conducted by the ANAC’s 377th Helicopter Kandak. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Perez, 173rd ABCT)

080429-A-9217P-002 - U.S. service members prepare to move casualties from an Afghan National Air Corps MEDEVAC helicopter April 29 at Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan. This MEDEVAC mission followed a suicide bomber attack at in Nangarhar’s Koghyani District. It is the first point-of-injury MEDEVAC conducted by the ANAC’s 377th Helicopter Kandak. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Roberto Perez, 173rd ABCT)

Leaving aside the necessity - it's important to note the capability.

by John on Apr 29, 2008

Like all things associated with Nation Building and culture-shaping...

...there's progress, lack of progress, and frustration.

But this meeting wouldn't have happened under Taliban rule.

Bagram PRT host women’s affair meeting

By Capt. Toni Tones

455 Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Eight influential Afghan women met for a women affairs seminar hosted by the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team at Bagram Air Field.

Business owners, government leaders, educators, multi-media and non-governmental organization representatives from Kabul, Kapisa and Parwan provinces met with Suzie Schwartz, wife of Gen. Norton Schwartz, U.S. Transportation Command commander, and openly discussed women affairs in Afghanistan. Education, employment and security were the common themes addressed by representatives at the seminar.

“Kate,” a Kabul multi-media representative, who lived in the Unites States and recently returned to Afghanistan, said that health is a primary concern with education being secondary.

“There are 85,000 widows trying to do everything for their families, but there is no money,” said Kate. “What can they do if they can’t feed themselves and their children?”

“Mary,” another Kabul multi-media representative, who has lived in Afghanistan her entire life, disagreed stating security is the primary concern for Afghan women.

“Where there’s no security, there is no education, no health, and no employment,” said Mary. “The Afghan women are used by politicians to get foreign aid money, but our conditions have not improved.”

“Jan,” an up-and-coming non-governmental organization representative echoed both women’s comments, but said all three are equally important and must be addressed.

“It’s circular-education, employment and security-each problem feeds itself,” said Jan. “If you have no work, you can’t get medicine. If you have no education, you can’t get work. Without security, you can’t have anything. We (Afghans) have bad neighbors, and if the United States leaves, we won’t have any security.”

In 2001, the Taliban was removed from power as a result of U.S.-led operations.

“Three issues resulted from the Taliban era – terrorism, narcotics and women’s oppression,” said Mary. “Since then, measures have been taken to decrease terrorism and narcotics, but very little change has occurred for women’s rights.”

“Lots of promises were made--to include some by the U.S.,” added “Sally,” a refugee and women’s issues advocate who lived in the United States. “Among them was the promise to free Afghan women- that’s a big statement. There was an expectation of political and social liberation. Yes, we now have representation in parliament and other governmental agencies, but there’s been little change in the economic and education arenas. There needs to be a dramatic change in agenda by the international community.”

Although Afghanistan is a male-dominated society, the women are sick of the conflict and want to see change, said Lt. Col. Bill Andersen, Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team commander.

“I spoke to the governors of Parwan and Kapisa provinces about my plans to be personally involved in women affairs and it seemed to be well accepted,” said Andersen. “My team will ensure female contractors have the opportunity to compete for projects, female entrepreneurs have access to small business opportunities, and females have the opportunity to get an education through the development of dorms and schools, and book purchases.

“This is their society and culture, and they will address theses issues at their own time and pace,” added Andersen. “In the meantime, we are here to help facilitate the development of a stable and secure environment for all Afghans-men and women.”

by John on Apr 29, 2008

April 28, 2008

And now, for the rest of the story.

From a CJTF-82 press release:

UAV makes hard landing in Sarobi District Written by Bagram Media Center Saturday, 22 March 2008

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – A Combined Joint Task Force-82 unmanned-aerial vehicle made a hard landing in Sarobi District, Kabul Province, March 22.

The UAV landed in a remote, unpopulated area. There are no reports of injuries to civilians or damage to property.

“There is no indication that the UAV was shot down by enemy forces,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Coalition forces spokesman. “Initial reports are that the UAV suffered a mechanical failure. In the event of a mechanical failure, UAVs are pre-programmed to guide themselves to an uninhabited location to minimize the risk to civilians.”
The cause of the mishap is under investigation

And now we have... the rest of the story. From The Sun:

A £50MILLION British spy plane was deliberately blown to bits after crash landing in Afghanistan – so the Taliban couldn’t find its secrets.

The unmanned Reaper robot aircraft came down during a special forces mission.

A team of SBS men was dropped in to the crash site by helicopter to salvage top secret gear, including a high-intensity camera and computer memory chips.

Then an RAF Harrier jet was scrambled to blow up the Reaper with a laser-guided 1,000lb bomb.



[Cue Paul Harvey]

"And now you know the rest of the story. Good day!"

This is me connecting dots. They may not be the same event... but I'm thinking they probably are. H/t, JimC for the Sun article.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 28, 2008

What's a fella to do, when nation-building from scratch?

...and facing a fanatically persistent and destabilizing Insurgency?

Hosting provided by FotoTime

SGM Curtis L. Regan CJTF-82, CJ-3 Bagram, Afghanistan, has some thoughts. (Cue angst-ridden Homo Neanderthalensis)

Counter-Insurgency - so easy a caveman could do it. Okay, maybe not that easy. Admittedly, Counter-insurgency operations are inherently complex and place great demands on everyone involved. Nation Building is equally difficult – the complexities even greater when insurgents are allowed to meet political and ideological objectives. Historically U.S. Forces have supported insurgents in toppling oppressive governments, and given the historical success of insurgencies, the task of executing a well-planned counter-insurgency strategy takes on greater significance.

These somewhat unconventional military operations are designed to establish law and order in unstable areas outside of the US and its territories. However, the mere presence of armed forces certainly does not guarantee stability. Political and military unity is necessary to defeat enemies who oppose a stable and secure environment. The ability of Armed forces to
win this Counterinsurgency is directly related to America’s perceived will to deploy its troops as long as necessary to achieve our political objectives. Our Congressional and Legislative bodies must enhance the capabilities and legitimacy of the Nation’s military efforts and leverage interagency and multinational cooperation toward these collective goals.

The Nation is best served when Congress remains focused toward concrete resolution of all armed conflict. The effectiveness of the Military’s collective efforts overseas speaks well for the institutional soul of today’s Armed Forces. Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our honesty, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from terrorists, insurgents, and other lawless factions. The ultimate success of this Counter-Insurgency Operation depends on maintaining the obligatory value systems in all that we do, and that we continue to occupy the moral high ground, be it with prisoners of war, suspected enemy personnel, or our own countrymen.

The necessity and required outcome of this conflict remain unchanged. Strong resolute men must remain steadfast in the prosecution of terrorists and insurgent forces and a strong, capable, self-reliant Nation must follow in the wake of fanatical tyranny. Evil must be eradicated, and ideology must be constrained to lawful and legitimate means of debate. Free people must be endowed with the choice of personal religious practices, the pursuit of happiness, and the rewards that come with hard work, creative thinking, and personal expressions of excellence. Coercion, abuse of power, and tyrannical submission of individual rights and liberties cannot go unchecked.

So where are we?

If you want to find out where the Sergeant Major thinks we are - you'll have to click here. I will say that when the staff at CJTF-82 decide to editorialize, they're not shy. Here we've got the Sergeant Major offering instruction to Congress, and a little earlier this year, we had a fella telling Dutch politician Geert Wilders that he shouldn't oughta go showing his film about Islam, which struck a spark with Uncle Jimbo over at Blackfive (and I would note that BCR chimed in with the hallelujah chorus - hey, BCR - more *ahem* flaunting!). That op-ed, btw, has been moved inside their firewall and is no longer available. SFCMac over at The Foxhole has goodly chunks of it excerpted.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 28, 2008

April 27, 2008

Commandos initiated through operation

Members of the Afghan National Army's 207th Commando Kandak move toward their objective during a pre-graduation mission, in Kapisa province, April 21-24. During the operation, the Commandos, supported by Coalition forces, captured one insurgent, killed one other who tried to mount an attack against them and recovered weapons, IED material and rockets. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Corey T. Dennis)


Members of the Afghan National Army's 207th Commando Kandak move toward their objective during a pre-graduation mission, in Kapisa province, April 21-24. During the operation, the Commandos, supported by Coalition forces, captured one insurgent, killed one other who tried to mount an attack against them and recovered weapons, IED material and rockets. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Corey T. Dennis)

COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE- 101 COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN APO AE 09354

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (April 27, 2008) – Afghan National Army Commando students captured an insurgent and thwarted an insurgent attack, in Kapisa province, April 21.

Members of the newly minted 207th Commando Kandak performed a number of night-time air assault missions, resulting in the capture of one insurgent, numerous small weapons caches and IED materials.

“The Company air assaulted into the target area, occupied blocking positions and cleared the objective utilizing speed, surprise and violence of action,” said the Coalition Team Leader in charge of the Commando training.

Prior to their graduation, the Commandos trained for, planned and executed their own mission to demonstrate their ability to perform competently in combat.

“I feel that there is continual improvement due to the growing capability of the Commando training company, the Afghan cadre, as well as the attention that the program receives from key leaders in the Afghan National Army and the Ministry of Defense,” said a Special Forces commander.

“We do this for the people of Afghanistan, and my Commandos did well during training and working with [Coalition forces],” said the 207th Kandak first sergeant, after the mission.

Next, the Commandos will graduate training and perform strategic strikes against insurgents, with the support of Coalition forces.

“The capabilities of the Commando force enhance the security of the Afghan people, thus creating the opportunity for stability operations,” said the Special Forces commander. This will create an atmosphere for other organizations to initiate development projects, such as the opening of schools and government offices.

(Editors Note: It is Special Forces policy to not identify members below the rank of lieutenant colonel.)

Hmmm. Izzat a radio control box in that stuff in the cache above (linked pic)?

One of the interesting things about the press releases regarding weapons caches... is what you find in the caches. Such as the pic below, from a seizure on April 3. Anybody wanna guess what I found interesting in this picture? This is the best pic there is, I asked for a better one, and they don't have any.

Coalition forces seized a weapons cache April 3 in Garmsir District, Helmand Province, during an operation targeting a Taliban insurgent associated with weapons facilitations operations. The items were destroyed to prevent their use by extremist forces and protect innocent civilians from inadvertent harm. (U.S. Army courtesy photo)

Coalition forces seized a weapons cache April 3 in Garmsir District, Helmand Province, during an operation targeting a Taliban insurgent associated with weapons facilitations operations. The items were destroyed to prevent their use by extremist forces and protect innocent civilians from inadvertent harm. (U.S. Army courtesy photo)
Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Apr 27, 2008

March 27, 2008

Meanwhile, over in Afghanistan, local soldier Specialist Jonas Turner makes the news...

Well, the news as reported by Castle Argghhh! at any rate! Staff Sergeant Roberts certainly talks the talk... and it looks like his guys can walk the walk.

PSD Soldiers make a difference at FOB Sharana
By Army Capt. Ashley Dellavalle

TF Rugged Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan -- “We are the best section in this company. My Soldiers think we are, I think we are,” said Staff Sgt. Ian Roberts, the noncommissioned officer in charge of Task Force Rugged’s commander and command sergeant major’s Personal Security Detachment.

The 10-Soldier element in Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 36th Engineer Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, does far more than escort the senior leadership around the battlefield.

“They are my go-to guys,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Frank C. Busch, of TF Rugged.

The Soldiers of the “Rugged” PSD are on the road quite a bit. They have conducted more than 40 convoy patrols throughout Regional-Command East, from Jaji, Northern Afghanistan, to Forward Operating Base Warrior in the southern Ghanzni Province, Afghanistan, in the one year that they have been here.

As a true testament to the Soldier’s ability to help support any mission, the team of Soldiers assisted the 70th Engineer Battalion, of Fort Riley, Kan., in building a 110-foot bridge in support of operations in the area.

Roberts taught his Soldiers to be meticulous in their planning and execution of convoy operations.

“My guys know their weapons,” Roberts said.

The PSD’s dedication to mission success is apparent in all the team does. When Roberts quizzes his gunners and drivers on their techniques, tactics and procedures prior to a mission, Soldiers spout off answers as if they knew exactly what question Roberts was going to ask next.

When the Soldiers are not on the road conducting their primary mission, they work hard to better the FOB. As the “go-to” guys, the section has built everything on FOB Sharana -- from a trophy case complete with sliding doors for the Brigade Headquarters’ conference room, to a full B-Hut that houses the contractors responsible for screening and badging local Afghans who work on the base.

Sgt. Michael Creed, of Masuary, Ohio, took the lead building the wooden B-Hut structure.

“Creed is one of our master carpenters,” said Roberts. “He knows his stuff when it comes to carpentry.”

Creed was closely assisted by Sgt. Duniel Mirabal, of Hialeah, Fla., And Spc. Marcelanni Jongoy, of Queens, N.Y.

Spc. Marshall Newman from Royston, Ga., and Spc. James Linton from Port Deposit, Md., showed their construction expertise while the detachment of combat engineers constructed two new offices, one for the combat stress team and one for the TF Rugged public affairs officer. They also built counters and shelves for the Post Exchange and Post Office on base, as well as three living spaces for the medical team.

Spc. Jonas Turner of Kansas City, Kan., and Spc. Andrew Davis of East Orange, N.J., greatly assisted with the plumbing and electrical work while adding a bathroom and decking for the commander and command sergeant major’s living area.

The rest is below the fold in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

by John on Mar 27, 2008

March 5, 2008

A bad time for Murphy’s Law

For reasons which will become obvious, the Armorer approves of this story whole-heartedly.

"I’d rather fire at the enemy than to have the enemy fire at me.”"

Indeed.

080301-A-XXXXX-001  Sgt. Jonas Jerome Allen, a Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division's Long Range Surveillance, poses for a photo in front of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter. During a battle in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, Allen repaired a fellow gunner's MK-19 grenade launcher while under fire, Sept. 9, 2007. (U.S. Army photo)

Story by Sgt. Jim Wilt

CJTF-82 Public Affairs Office

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – It’s a simple law: “If it can go wrong, it will.” Murphy’s Law is known and experienced by people all over the world.

Sometimes the law is followed by a special clause: “At the worst possible time.”
Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s Long Range Surveillance Detachment are no strangers to the law or the clause that often follows it.

During a fire fight Sept. 9, 2007, near the village of Qaleh Saleh, Tag Ab District, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan, Army Sgt. Jonas Jerome Allen and Spc. Charles Villasenor had a little run in with Murphy’s Law.

Fortunately for the two Paratroopers and their fellow Soldiers, a second law came into effect after the first. This time the law wasn’t named after Murphy; it was named after Sir Isaac Newton.

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” is Newton’s third law of motion.
Paratroopers from the LRSD, along with a Marine Corps Embedded Training Team and soldiers with the Afghan National Army’s 3rd Kandak, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps, were on a mission to assess damage from an earlier engagement when the unit began taking enemy fire.

Allen was manning a .50 caliber machine gun in one vehicle while Villasenor was behind a MK-19 grenade launcher when the fighting began.

“When we began taking fire, I began suppressive/terrain denial bursts at a low wall about 130 meters (429 feet) to my front,” Villasenor, a native of Santee, Calif., said.

Soon after the fighting began, Murphy’s Law came into effect.

For the rest of the story - click the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry button.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows �

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 05, 2008

March 1, 2008

Afghanistan’s elite fighting force neutralize Taliban insurgents

Sure, it's simply publishing a CJTF-82 press release, just like news outlets publish AP press releases. At least with this - I'm clear on the biases of the local "stringers" feeding me the news - and it's obvious in the article, too. It may only be "one side of the story" but *whose* side is obvious, eh?

Besides, it's just kinda fun reading about Afghan National Army commando Specialist Mohammed Ali. At least for those of us of an age.

080219-A0045H-0035 Afghanistan-Afghan National Army 201ST Commando Kandak prepare to deploy on first mission in Southern Afghanistan, February, 19, 2008. Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan photo by U.S. Army Spc. Rhett Hillard.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – As he approached the aircraft in the darkness, the rotor wash whipped dust and dirt across his face. However, amid the noise of the rotor, Afghan National Army Spc. Mohammed Ali said all he could hear was his upcoming responsibilities whirling in his head, ‘Run from the aircraft towards the target, breach the door, and clear my sector.’

Ali, an ANA Commando with the 201st Commando Kandak was deployed to Helmand Province by the Afghan Ministry of Defense in response to the increasing attempts by Taliban extremists to terrorize Afghan citizens.

The commandos’ mission was to develop intelligence and conduct a surgical strike against key Taliban leadership and control in Helmand Province. In preparation for their mission, the troops conducted specialized training such as day and night live-fire maneuvers and multiple insertion techniques. Commando leaders examined the most recent intelligence and targeted key individuals for capture.

The mission was ambitious: conduct a night air assault against multiple Taliban command and control centers to capture or kill Taliban leadership targets deep within the Kajaki region. The commandos named the operation, “Say’Laab,” meaning “flood.”

Buses containing nearly 100 ANA troops clad in black body armor and specialized weapons made their way from the 205th ANA camp to Kandahar Airfield where numerous Coalition aircraft awaited with rotor blades churning.

As Ali boarded the aircraft, he said his pre-mission prayers as the high-pitched whine of the engines gave way to the formidable thumping of the rotor blades above. Moments later, a massive formation of transport and attack helicopters lifted off the runway together toward their targets.

As the strike force approached its objectives, Coalition helicopters dropped to just above ground level and increased their speed. Commandos pulled their night vision goggles over their eyes bringing the black ground to green life. In spite of the intense training and mission preparation, the Commandos understood the risks associated with this operation.

Pilots relayed their final checkpoints to the Commandos over radio communications, informed them to ready their weapons, and remove their seatbelts. Seconds later, the helos pitched into multiple landing zones. The Commandos quickly disembarked from their helicopters and quickly closed on their target compounds. As the roar of departing rotor blades filled the sky, Commando assaulters cleared four separate compounds in search of their elusive quarry.

Within minutes of insertion, Commando assaulters seized their intended targets and secured a foothold deep within the city. Despite the advantage of tactical surprise, a fierce battle ensued. The report of multiple weapon systems rang out as insurgents put up a futile defense against the elite Afghan force. Commandos quickly and accurately eliminated threats with small-arms and machine gun fire.

The speed, surprise and tenacity of the assault not only caught the enemy insurgents off guard, but also prevented the escape of a senior Taliban commander.

Throughout the operation, intense anti-aircraft fire filled the night sky. Attack helicopters swarmed over their targets, placing precision-guided munitions and intense machine gun fire on enemy fighting positions. Coalition aircraft flew in support of the Afghan troops aiding in the elimination of enemy caches and drug processing facility.

At mission’s end, multiple enemy fighters were eliminated. The Commandos quickly boarded their aircraft with 11 combatants in custody. On the ground, six enemy vehicles containing thousands of pounds of weapons and munitions, as well as nearly $8 million of illegal narcotics, was destroyed.

As the helicopter assault force lifted off toward Kandahar, Ali shook the hands of his brothers-in-arms with an undeniable certainty that the people of Afghanistan were safer this night

“The daring and complex operation highlighted the capacity of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to strategically deploy elite commando forces across the country to conduct surgical strikes in support of their national objectives,” said Army Capt. Vanessa R. Bowman, a Coalition spokesperson. “The success of Operation Say’Laab reinforced the esprit de corps and operational reach of the nation’s most dedicated warriors. Commandos continue to ensure no safe haven exists for the enemies of freedom and prosperity, and that a brighter future lies ahead for the people of Afghanistan.”

Afghan National Army 201st Commando Kandak prepare to deploy on first mission in Southern Afghanistan, February, 19, 2008. Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan photo by U.S. Air Force Capt. Joseph Coslett.

And it's no diss on the boxer Muhammed Ali, either. He took a stand and took his lumps and didn't run off to Canada or Sweden, etc. I can live with that.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Mar 01, 2008

February 28, 2008

Task Force King, ANA conduct joint artillery training in Nuristan

Peek-a-boo, I see you!

080128-A-4619A-109 - An Afghan National Army artilleryman peers through the gun tube as part of a hands-on training session on the M198 Howitzer Jan. 28 at Forward Operating Base Kalagush in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. Paratroopers from 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment conducted the joint training session.

When I saw that pic, it just made me laugh, because all us Redlegs have done that, peered up the tube... Then I saw this one, and it made me curious:

080128-A-4619A-178 - An Afghanistan National Army artilleryman looks through the direct fire sight of the M198 Howitzer while receiving training on its operation from U.S. Army artillerymen from 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment Jan. 28 at Forward Operating Base Kalagush in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

After all, that elevation seems pretty high to be using a direct fire sight, though of course the guy could have simply been looking at the photographer, who was clearly standing on something nearby. But it was all made clear in the last photo - which is below the article.

Story and photos by Spc. Gregory J. Argentieri
173rd ABCT Public Affairs

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Paratroopers from 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, recently began training their Afghanistan National Army artillery counterparts in February at Forward Operating Base Kalagush in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

Approximately 30 ANA artillerymen assigned to the Field Artillery Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 201st Corps for will be learning to operate and fire the modern M198 155mm Howitzer the next several weeks from their U.S. Army artillery counterparts from 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4-319th AFAR.

One important area of focus for the ANA artillery training will be to come away fully capable and proficient at indirect fire in support of their troops on the ground. Indirect artillery fire is critical to success while fighting in the mountainous terrain of Afghanistan.

The Afghan Soldiers are excited about the opportunity to train with U.S. Soldiers.
“Everybody knows the ANA soldiers volunteer, so these soldiers are very interested in artillery, and are determined to use this opportunity to learn from the U.S. Soldiers and gain more knowledge,” said Field Artillery Company Commander 1st Lt. Abdul Nasir Ahmadi, from Kabul, “These are not new soldiers. They have been working for the ANA for four or five years, and have had lots of training.”

“The difference now is we have cooperation with the U.S. Soldiers,” said Ahmadi. “It is very important because hopefully in the future we will have a M198 Howitzer.”

Currently the ANA uses the D-30 Russian Howitzer.
“I really enjoyed shooting, and I want to have lots of training on the modern Howitzer,” said ANA Artillery Crew Chief, Sgt. 1st Class Falak Naz, from Jalalabad. “I have learned lots of things, different kinds of ammunitions, rounds, fuses, and how to direct fire for the modern Howitzer.”

Working side-by-side with the ANA provides the U.S. Soldiers with more than just a training opportunity, it also gives them a better understanding of the overall mission and the importance of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“When I first started working with them I wasn’t sure exactly what they would know and with the language barrier how difficult it would be to communicate with them, but since they came with interpreters and after I have been working with them, I have come to find out across the board artillery is artillery. So I think it’s just a matter of going from one gun to another,” said Staff Sgt. James F. Natiello, Section Chief, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4-319th AFAR.

“It’s good to know these guys are here and they have experience. It gives us Americans confidence in people here to take care of themselves after we leave,” said Natiello, from Aston, Pa.

The Alpha Battery Soldiers are happy to share their experience with their Afghan counterparts.
“We are helping them learn better techniques on handling and loading ammunition, and our safety requirements and the things we do to be safe,” said Staff Sgt. Trenton R. Farris from Abilene, Texas, 1st Section Chief for 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4-319th AFAR. “Their motivation and attention to detail is much higher than we anticipated, and their discipline is much better than the ANA I’ve seen in the past. It gives me more hope for the future as far as them being able to take over in their role as artillery for their country.”

Artillery Section Chief, Sgt. 1st Class Wade A. Hunter, from Queens, N.Y., 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4-319th AFAR agrees that the training is important for the Afghans to properly defend their own country.

“As an artilleryman, artillery is the ‘King of Battle,’ and if these guys are proficient at artillery, and are looking at defending their nation and their citizens, this is something you want to be skilled at, something you want to invest in,” said Hunter, “It has been proven that artillery is an effective means of defending yourself from the bad guys.”

“For me this training is pretty exciting. It’s exciting enough training fellow Americans, but to do partnership training with someone from a different nationality, and see how they do business, you feel like you’re making a difference,” said Hunter, “The impact, the camaraderie, being exposed to another culture, and getting a chance to impart your skills and knowledge, it’s hard to explain, but it’s a good feeling.”

No matter what country you are from, artillerymen share a unique love for their job.
“When we were briefed on this mission, command told us these are our artillery brothers that are coming to train with us. I did not understand what that really meant until these guys got here. Just through this training alone, no matter what nationality you’re from, no matter what your cultural background, artillerymen are pretty much the same,” said Hunter, “The artillery company shows the same kind of attitude when it comes to shooting a round or motivation, their excitement for the mission, it’s just like looking at another American group, and that’s good to see. They do speak a different language but when it comes to body language and attitude, artillerymen are the same.”

“The plan is to have one-on-one training, to impart our knowledge to these guys. For a chief to learn a chief’s job or how he does business you talk to another chief. For a gunner to learn a gunner’s job the best person to talk to is a gunner, and these guys are hands-on and excited,” said Hunter. “The mission is to get these guys to a point where we all can be on the same sheet of music.”

No matter what country you are from, artillerymen share a unique love for their job.

Word! As for the use of the direct fire sight... well, they may well be shooting direct fire at those elevations in the mountains of Afghanistan.

080128-A-4619A-666 - Staff Sgt. Trenton R. Farris (left), 1st Section Chief, 2nd Platoon, Alpha Battery, 4th Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment plugs his ears during joint live-fire training on the M198 Howitzer as an Afghan National Army artilleryman assigned to Field Artillery Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Brigade pulls the lanyard Jan. 28 at Forward Operating Base Kalagush in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

If you'd like to see a larger version of that last pic - click here.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 28, 2008

February 26, 2008

Technical Sergeant Dean, someone you should know.

Just another day at the office, honey, honest!

When an American convoy in southern Afghanistan suddenly came under small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire, Sergeant Dean immediately made contact with a flight of two US Air Force, F-15 Strike Eagle aircraft overhead. After the planes made their first strafing run, Sergeant Dean announced calmly over the radio that he’d been shot by insurgents in the stomach below his body armor. Despite his injury, Sergeant Dean continued to direct the aircraft, calling for battle damage assessments and additional strikes against the attacking insurgents. His parting words over the radio as the MEDEVAC helicopter came in were “make sure my guys get out of here.”

This is an odd war (well, since WWII), where the Air Force enlisted airmen have been suffering as many, and probably more, casualties than the officers who fly the aircraft.

And TSGT Dean is an outstanding exemplar of his service.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Feb 26, 2008

January 2, 2008

News from Afghanistan.

Specialist Nicholas Barron, Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team, pulls security in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Private First Class. Daniel M. Rangel.  Photo courtesy the DoD.
Specialist Nicholas Barron, Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team, pulls security in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Private First Class. Daniel M. Rangel. Photo courtesy the DoD.

Meanwhile, in other news... click on the pictures to read the stories! These guys are getting their Information Operations (IO) act together. From both a passive and active perspective.

071227-A-2133A-004 - An Afghan girl cherishes a new toy while wearing a new jacket she received from an Afghan National Army soldier, Dec. 27. The ANA handed out toys and jackets to Afghan villagers after they processed through a medical clinic staffed by ANA, Ministry of Health and Coalition doctors. The clinic, conducted near Farah, Farah Province, provided medical care for more than 175 villagers from throughout the province. (U.S. Army photo)

If you'd like a larger version of that picture - click here.

This one is a not-so-passive IO.

Within hours of the brutal assassination of Benazir Bhutto officials in Pakistan and the US released news of intelligence intercepts linking Al Qaeda to the killing.  The Asia Times Online quoted “al-Qaeda’s top commander for Afghanistan operations and spokesperson Mustafa Abu al-Yazid” who proclaimed in a telephone interview, 'We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat mujahidin.  This is our first major victory against those [eg, Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf] who have been siding with infidels [the West] in a fight against al-Qaeda and declared a war against mujahidin.'

And make no mistake - this is an IO, too.

ANA Mortar team conducts React to Contact Battle Drill on rugged terrain in FOB Wilderness


Of course, this whole *post* is my own little IO, conducted with the assistance of CJTF-82, but under no one's direction but my own.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Jan 02, 2008

December 24, 2007

Coalition forces save newborn.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Coalition forces medical personnel work to save an 11-day-old baby boy suffering from severe blood loss. Family members brought the newborn to an Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and Coalition forces outpost in Shahidi Hasas District, Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan. Coalition medics provided a blood transfusion and report the baby is improving and should return home with his father in the next day or two. (Photo by Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (CJTF-82 Public Affairs) – Coalition forces gave an 11-day-old baby boy a blood transfusion at a military treatment facility in Tarin Kowt district, Oruzgan Province yesterday saving his life.

Family members initially brought the newborn, suffering from severe blood loss, to an Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition forces outpost in Shahidi Hasas district. Coalition medical personnel say the baby’s umbilical cord was cut too short following his birth.

“The baby was bleeding from the belly button. By the time he came to our clinic, the bleeding had stopped, but he had a low body temperature of only 94 degrees,” a Coalition forces soldier explained. “We provided a transfusion, and now the child is doing very well.”

“I’m just glad we were nearby and the family could bring the baby to us,” a Coalition forces soldier said.
This is the second time in less than a month that Coalition medical personnel have saved the life of an Afghan child in Oruzgan.

On Nov. 30, an unresponsive 18-month-old child was brought to a combat outpost near Cahar Cineh by an Afghan doctor and family members. According to the child’s father the baby would not sleep, so its mother gave the child a hashish pill to help it sleep, an accepted custom in Afghanistan.

Coalition medics worked throughout the night with the Afghan doctor to treat the child. The family was able to take the child home two days later.

The baby who nearly bled to death, and his father, is expected to return home in the next day or two.

by John on Dec 24, 2007

December 15, 2007

In other news you probably haven't seen much of (unless you're in Indiana)

They always look so young. Heh. I look at pictures of young Lieutenant Donovan in Germany and wonder why anyone ever did what I told them. Oh, sure, the football player/wrestler physique might have had something to do with it... but man, that baby-face! (No, those pics will ne'er see the light of day in *this* space unless SWWBO figures out where I have them stashed).

U.S. Army Spc. Deryk Hutton carries his duffle bags after unloading them at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind., Dec. 13, 2007. More than 3,400 U.S. Army Soldiers from 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Indiana Army National Guard will take part in the state\'s largest deployment to Iraq. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika, U.S. Army.

U.S. Army Spc. Deryk Hutton carries his duffle bags after unloading them at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Edinburgh, Ind., Dec. 13, 2007. More than 3,400 U.S. Army Soldiers from 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Indiana Army National Guard will take part in the state\'s largest deployment to Iraq. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika, U.S. Army.

Meanwhile, off in the Land of Pirates...

merchant vessel Golden Nori refuels with dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) in the Gulf of Aden Dec. 13, 2007. Somalia-based pirates seized the Panamanian-flagged vessel Oct. 28, 2007, holding the 23-man crew hostage in Somali territorial waters until Dec. 12. Whidbey Island, as a part of coalition forces, is conducting maritime security operations to ensure security and safety in international waters so commercial shipping can operate freely. DoD photo by Seaman David Brown, U.S. Navy.

The merchant vessel Golden Nori refuels with dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) in the Gulf of Aden Dec. 13, 2007. Somalia-based pirates seized the Panamanian-flagged vessel Oct. 28, 2007, holding the 23-man crew hostage in Somali territorial waters until Dec. 12. Whidbey Island, as a part of coalition forces, is conducting maritime security operations to ensure security and safety in international waters so commercial shipping can operate freely. DoD photo by Seaman David Brown, U.S. Navy.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 15, 2007

ANSF, Coalition forces declare a victory in Helmand

An Afghan man raises Afghanistan\'s national flag in Musa Qalah in the Helmand province of Afghanistan Dec. 12, 2007, to signify the city\'s victory over recent combat operations with Taliban forces. DoD photo by Cpl. Wayne K. Pitsenberger, U.S. Army.

An Afghan man raises Afghanistan\'s national flag in Musa Qalah in the Helmand province of Afghanistan Dec. 12, 2007, to signify the city\'s victory over recent combat operations with Taliban forces. DoD photo by Cpl. Wayne K. Pitsenberger, U.S. Army.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces from the 205th Corps, under the leadership of Afghan National Army Brig. Gen. Muyaiden, raised the Afghan national flag high above the Musa Qalah District Center Dec. 12 as part of the largest operation in years to remove insurgents from Musa Qalah, Helmand Province, Dec. 5 to Dec. 12.

“These insurgent leaders have placed a stranglehold on Musa Qalah since February, hurting the economy and harming Afghan citizens,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesman. “The ANSF were able to drive the insurgents out of the area. Now the Afghan people in this district will be free of Taliban tyranny.”

The fighting began Dec. 5 when ANSF Kandaks, advised by Coalition forces, conducted a reconnaissance patrol in Now Zad. Taliban insurgents attempted to stop the ANSF-led force by firing from established fighting positions. Enemy fighters fired on the ANSF using small-arms, rockets and mortar fire. ANSF returned fire with small-arms and machine gun fire, quickly putting the Taliban on the defensive.

The Taliban moved to different fighting positions in an attempt to flank friendly forces as the battle escalated. ANSF identified the enemy’s hardened fighting positions and engaged them by calling in precision munitions strikes. The bombs hit their target and destroyed the threat. The enemy radioed for reinforcements from positions south of the fighting when they realized their defensive fighting positions were being destroyed.

The Taliban tried to take refuge in local villager’s homes and use the remaining civilians as protection and the ANA advanced. However, the Afghan civilians resisted Taliban efforts to take over their homes.

“The enemy attempted to take advantage of the Pashto code of hospitality by using civilian homes as fighting positions,” Muyaiden explained. “The villagers recognized the Taliban were abusing the code and refused. It is a testament to their courage and resolve to help end this conflict quickly.”

Concurrently, Coalition forces identified a prominent Taliban leader providing instructions to a large number of insurgents. ANSF quickly manuevered to engage the insurgents by first using small-arms and machine gun fire, then calling in precision munitions, ultimately destroying the enemy.

After a short consolidation and reorganization of men and munitions, the ANSF-led force resumed their effort to drive out the Taliban.

“The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan will not stand for the Taliban insurgency any longer and will drive the Taliban out of Musa Qalah if they ever attempt to return,” Belcher said. “The Taliban saw, first-hand, ANSF defeating them at every turn.”

“With the first phases of the operation complete, it is safe to say that our training and preparation have proven successful,” Muyaiden stated.

The Taliban continue to make false claims on the Internet about the battle in Musa Qalah. In one report, the Taliban claimed to have killed several Coalition forces and captured two abandoned tanks in the Musa Qalah District of Helmand Province. They also claimed to have captured large amounts of ammunition and military equipment.

Another Internet posting claims Coalition forces dropped leaflets telling Afghan civilians to leave their homes or Coalition bombs would destroy them.

“These claims couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Belcher said. “The leaflets requested residents of Musa Qalah stay safely in their homes during the operation and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan would defeat the insurgents. We know the Taliban set up fighting positions in civilian homes. We also found suicide vests, improvised explosive device-making materials, and stockpiles of munitions stored in civilian homes; however, we have a standing policy to mitigate damage to civilian property.”

ANA soldiers from the 205th Corps, assisted by Coalition forces, successfully secured the center of Musa Qalah after several days of fighting.

The hundreds of ANA troops that moved into the town center met very little resistance.
“ANA forces will continue to focus on providing a safe and secure environment for the people of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in their effort to foster the rule of law, reconstruction and economic development; all while the Afghan national flag once again flies over the district center of Musa Qalah,” Belcher said.

by John on Dec 15, 2007

December 7, 2007

A firefight in Afstan

071205-A-3749Z-043: Afghan National Army and Coalition forces return fire during an engagement with Taliban in Farah Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 5. The operation was conducted to disrupt Taliban activity in Farah Province and surrounding areas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Zuk)

071205-A-3749Z-043: Afghan National Army and Coalition forces return fire during an engagement with Taliban in Farah Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 5. The operation was conducted to disrupt Taliban activity in Farah Province and surrounding areas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Zuk)
ANSF foil Taliban ambush in Farah

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Afghan National Security Forces and Coalition soldiers foiled a Taliban ambush in Kariz-e Sadeqin, Farah Province, Dec. 5.

The combined force was conducting a reconnaissance mission for a weapons cache when two squad-size elements of insurgents ambushed them with small-arms, rocket and indirect fire. ANSF returned small-arms and mortar fire, which allowed them to out-maneuver the insurgent forces and engage them with close air support.

The combined forces overwhelmed the insurgents with superior firepower, despite the arrival of enemy reinforcements. "The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan's efforts to increase security in this region will positively affect the establishment of conditions necessary to facilitate future reconstruction and development," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force-82 spokesman. "The insurgents tried to successfully ambush the ANSF patrol. But the results speak for themselves - another failure for the Taliban."

071205-A-3749Z-029: Afghan National Army and Coalition forces return fire during an engagement with Taliban in Farah Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 5. The operation was conducted to disrupt Taliban activity in Farah Province and surrounding areas. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Zuk)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 07, 2007

December 5, 2007

Sucks to be you, dude.

And the game of whack-a-mole continues, with another one gone.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 5, 2007 RELEASE # 019

Taliban commander killed in precision strike positively identified BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Coalition forces positively identified one of the militants killed in a Dec. 2 precision munitions strike in the Musa Qaleh district of Helmand Province as former Taliban senior commander Mullah Ikhalas.

Mullah Ikhalas was a senior Taliban commander active in the Musa Qaleh district. He is reported to be responsible for the March 5 kidnapping of Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo, his interpreter, and his driver. Mastrogiacomo's interpreter and driver were executed by Taliban insurgents. Reports also indicated Ikhalas was responsible for a number
of mortar attacks on coalition bases as well as several IED attacks.

During the course of the Dec. 2 operations, Coalition forces targeted a vehicle in the Musa Qaleh district containing Mullah Ikhalas and three other unidentified militants. A supporting aircraft employed a precision-guided munition, destroying the vehicle and killing the
occupants.

There were no immediate indications of injuries or deaths to civilians not taking part in hostilities.

"The death of Mullah Ikhalas is a significant blow to the Taliban command structure in Afghanistan," said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Force 82 spokesperson.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Dec 05, 2007

November 25, 2007

Afghan commandos in action.

071113-A-XXXXX-002 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak stormed the compound of a well-know Taliban leader in the Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 14.  (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071113-A-XXXXX-002 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak stormed the compound of a well-know Taliban leader in the Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 14. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

Elite Afghan force continues to neutralize Taliban insurgents

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – The Afghan 3rd Company, 1st Commando Kandak, conducted an air-assault raid at dawn on the compound of a high-level Taliban facilitator, kicking off a four-day offensive operation named Commando Fury in the Tag Ab Valley, Kapisa Province, Nov. 10-14.

Upon receiving credible intelligence, the Commandos quickly mobilized and launched on a flight of five Coalition helicopters. As the sun broke over the Sur Ghar Mountains, the Taliban knew the unit was upon them. Within moments, dust swirled as the helicopters set down within feet of their target building. Taliban fled in every direction as the Commandos leapt from the aircraft. Through the tumult, emerged 30 plus Commandos. Seconds later, the assaulters breached the entrance and cleared the first of many enemy compounds.

“The valley has long been plagued with insurgent activity, people living in fear of violence at the hands of Taliban extremists,” said Army Maj. Chris Belcher, Combined Joint Task Forces-82 spokesman. “The Afghan Commandos sent a message that there will be no refuge for extremists in Kapisa.”

The Taliban scurried to escape the pursuit, but a convoy of more than 30 Afghan Commando vehicles sped toward the objective to block the enemy retreat. A joint effort by the Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army assisted the Commando battalion in disrupting the Taliban hold on the Tag Ab Valley as Commandos hit target after target. Taliban were met at every turn by the combined Afghan force.

“The 3rd Company reinforced the sterling reputation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s most elite fighting force. The fact is there will be no safe haven for Taliban or place where these elite warriors will not pursue the enemies of freedom and stability,” Belcher said. “The company took no time for celebration. They refitted and rearmed. They are always vigilant, always ready to respond, at a moments notice, to the call of freedom.”

071113-A-XXXXX-003 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Battalion, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force, dismount a Coalition forces aircraft, as the sun broke over the Sur Ghar mountains, during the operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

071113-A-XXXXX-003 - Commandos from the 3rd Company, 1st Commando Battalion, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s elite fighting force, dismount a Coalition forces aircraft, as the sun broke over the Sur Ghar mountains, during the operation Commando Fury in Tag Ab Valley, Nov. 13. (U.S. Army photo by CJSOTF-A Combat Camera)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! �

by John on Nov 25, 2007