Friday, June 29, 2007

News of Afghanistan - The Return IV (Edition 60)

I am grappling with some sort of minor aliment, so this one will be brief, and maybe a little different. I'm still waiting for the Dayquil and Alokozay Tea to work their magic, you see...

Who to look at for information? By category, I will give you some sources:


CENTCOM is the best, on scene, major organization with significant web-based availability. Subcommand websites like this are a good source.
Example: This story about a foiled IED. Or this story about fighting in Nangahar.

Task Force Phoenix has gone ahead and set up their own site: here. This is an excellent example of an organizational site at the TF level.
Example: Their newsletter.

"We are far too glum to have a good website! Morale sucks!!"
Afghan Media:
There is simply no comparison to Pajhwok Afghan News. Part of the site is subscription only, but it is the best there is, period.
Example: Pakistan yaps at Afghans about drugs.
Afghan Islamic Press - subscription only, so no joy unless you shell out.
Kabul Press - does not show much activity lately. Drat.
Bakhtar News Agency - first and famous!
Related - South Asian Media Net. Sketchy, yet useful. A paper out of the UAE that is very useful. [If you are really hardcore - try this newspaper. Heh heh.]
News Aggregators:
E-Ariana is simply the best. They also have original editorial cartoons and original opinion pieces.
Example: What's going on twixt Afghanistan and Pakistan anyways?
Second place honors must go to Afghan Daily. They are part of the WN Network.
Example: Karzai talkin' it!
EIN News, Big News Network, and Afgha are good resources too.
Official Sources, non-military:
Humanitarian/UN news at IRIN. Radio Free Afghanistan here.
Specialized Sites:
The Afghanistan Analyst - quite useful!
Afghanistanica - I just found this site not long ago. Impressive.
Mind you, this is not a complete list by any means. You can always scan the wire services to pick out something, and you can visit the site of milbloggers who are in country now. I just try to help a little around the edges now and again.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Medicine in Khost

This photo is from AKO (Army Knowledge Online) a great source. I noticed it because it is from a medical clinic in Khost provence (where my base is).

While I was there (in the 'Stan as it were) the 3/3 Marines Civil/Military Affairs Officer (an Army officer btw) asked if they could build a medical clinic just outside our outer perimeter (the outer perimeter was manned by the KPF (Khost Provincial Force) while our inner perimeter was manned by the Marines). We told them sure and we would help as we could. From the looks of it this photo is not of that clinic.

EDIT: While editing this I found this article. If you scan down to the last paragraph you will find the medical clinic I am talking about. This article does not make it clear that the medical clinic is enitrely outside the actual base and run strictly by local doctors with only temporary help from our docs. One of the advantages of this clinic is that although US military doctors can treat local nationals if they are in danger of losing "life, limb or eyesight," they cannot house them for recovery. This close local clinic allows some of the best doctors in the world to fix the folks up and keep them close for recovery.

Also, I wanted to point out that all the women I saw in the town of Khost looked just like that, but our base backed up against some people's homes and we sometimes saw women out washing clothes and such in just dresses and a simple head scarf.

EDIT: The second part of this post has been removed by the author because he is a dope.

Overheard at work

"The Building Emergency has ended, an all clear has been given, It is now safe to resume your normal activities. Thank you for your cooperation."

Uh, OK. Next time I'll stay in the building to stick it to the Man? FIGHT THE POWER, BURN TO DEATH IN YOUR CUBICLE!!11!1

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A disappointing aspect of my local paper

My local paper is a good one, when it comes to local issues. When it comes to the rest of the nation and the world, they simply paste in AP wire stuff such as this story. This tends to draw one of two reactions from me - eye rolling disregard or sore awful furious angriness. The above did the later.

When I read the AP piece, and check the data, more data and even more data - I start to get the kind of feeling that the unnamed AP writer is expressing an oinion more than reporting facts. Mix anecdote in with lots of assumptions, a few jumbled quotes (never mind the contradictory reasoning either - the war is unpopular so blacks aren't joining! Wait, no, it's the economy offering more choices - uh, er, it's a time of war and the casual recruit is now missing from recent numbers). A sloppy attempt to browse amongst a bunch of talking points and tropes and then mix them all up in a hash of an article.

The "dramatic" drop in recruiting of blacks has them plummeting to....the actual percentages representated in the population as a whole. Hispanic recruiting is up, as that demographic group is rising in numbers. Overall, the DoD is making its numbers and retaining its people at a better than anyone expected rate.

I simply have to learn to turn the flippin' page of the paper when I see "Associated Press" as a byline of a "news" article.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

1-178 Infantry 33rd BCT "Cold Steel"

10km Walk into Post after 10 days

Just returned from an aggressive two week annual training period with our Battalion at Ft. McCoy, Wis. MOUT, Close Quarter Marksmanship, Base defense and Convoy live fire , 60,81, and 120 mm mortar HE and WP live fire supporting the infantry training lanes. Our Forward observers worked with an 155 Paladin Battalion bringing fire to the impact area. It is always good to hear friendly rounds going over your heads, outgoing of course. Shot my first 1000 meter target with our award winning Snipers M24 rifles. My weapons Company did live fire with their M2, Mk 19, and TOW systems. We were also supported by the best Support Company in the Brigade, E/634th FSC. Like it or not, they have been adopted into our Battalion. We also had guests from the German Army training within our Companies. SSG Heinrich from an Alpine Battalion in Mittenwald. MSG Wenzl from a long range RECON Commando, and CPT Kauffman from the Special Forces. All veterans of Feyzabad, Afghanistan. Hard work, Comradship, getting ready to move back to the sound of the guns.

I have found my niche "Cold Steel"

Friday, June 22, 2007

News of Afghanistan - The Return III (Edition 59)

I still have smoke pouring out of my ears from a lovely 4 1/2 hour meeting with a room full of lawyers and other insurance people... but here is the News, such as I can find!

Herat - Afghanistan's Second City (and I don't mean the comedy troupe!)

Found at

No words minced here.

An Afghan drug addict, Abdul Ahad, smokes heroin in Lashkargah, on Tuesday, June 19, 2007. Drugs and violence remain major problems in the war ravaged country. (AP Photo/Abdul Khaleq)
Not to be outdone, here is Parwan's entry in the druggie category. Abdul "Snoopdog" Satur.
$ for the "tribal areas".
Schools? (remember, this is the BBC...)
The Taliban are not making friends.
The farm report.
You think your town has housing space issues - try this.
In photo art news.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Catching up on my Scalzi

I am a big fan of John Scalzi; Old Man's War, Agent to the Stars (how often do you finish a book and tell yourself, "that was fun.") and The Ghost Brigades. I had fallen behind, and recently caught up on a couple of titles - The Last Colony and The Android's Dream.

The Last Colony is the conclusion of the set started by Old Man's War. It is very well done and the best part of it (to me) doesn't have anything to do with interstellar intrigue, plot twists, and some good, meaty Science's more a psychological/sociological aspect. The Jane Sagan character is so perfectly handled, that it took the prize with this book. How would a person "born" in a fully formed body, with pre-set knowledge, skills and abilities - as well as being constantly in mental contact with her comrades - do when leaving the life of a highly designed and enhanced soldier? I won't spoil any of the book for you - just look for those parts and enjoy.

The Android's Dream is not part of the Old Man's War series - but you will see some of the same ideas present. I think from the ending, that Mr. Scalzi is leaving open the possibility of expanding upon this work as well. Heh.

As for Mr. Scalzi - go read his blog, "Whatever". He is an interesting man tobe sure.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Afghan Dads

A protective father in Shaka, Parwan Province - Fall 2004

Father in Deh-e-Hazara, Parwan, Spring 2005

Friday, June 15, 2007

Give Drudge his Props on this one...

[Photo is not of editor Matt Drudge getting ready for '08]

The Drudge Report is sometimes maddening, often featuring headlines that are misleading - all to get you to follow the link. But it is an excellent gateway to many newswires, and apparently Matt Drudge does have a bit of a sense of humor, as the above photo and text from his site does show.

Tempus, the squirrels are attacking Germans!

Sure, it looks all cute and harmless - but its a killer I tells ya!

News of Afghanistan - The Return II (Edition 58)

Getting back into the Friday routine... Let us go to the News, shall we?

It's getting hot down South - for the bad guys.

More bravery and noble resistance from the Taliban. C'mon, drive by shooting at a girl's school. There is your "resurgent" Taliban for ya.

Oh boy, the resolution of this is going to be something to see. I should have known that patronage would be lurking in the background of this one.

photo: US Army file/SSG Kyle Davis

So the vaunted Taliban "Spring Offensive" didn't pan out, eh? Also note where "Taliban fighters" are often poppy farmers reacting to perceived threats to their crop.

CSM Bones and I might end up having a part in this, someday down the road. 'nuff said.

A blast of pessimism from the Independent.

Photo: Freshta Dunya/UNAMA

UN to Afghanistan: "say, could you get some of that 'lawlessness' under control?" I don't know whether to laugh or cry at that one...

See also. I remember how highly sought our trainers were... The Germans do a good job, but at a glacial pace. Sounds like they need a Task Force Phoenix for the police, as well as the Army.

Photo: Ali Mohammad Khushal/IRIN
Hamdullah, a government vaccinator, was beaten up by the Taliban who threatened to kill him if continued to vaccinate children against polio

A new bank - 20+ branches to serve you.

I was quite happy to see my friend Dr. Qasim has a better facility to help get the job done!

In sport related news - hiking. Training in the Italian Alps. OK, I am jealous here.

Yea Netherlands!

A check up on media in Afghanistan - I love the talk radio format beinga puzzler, initially.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hey?! Where is my slice?

Army and Congressional leaders honor the Army's 232nd birthday with a ceremonial birthday cake cutting during the U.S. House of Representatives Army Caucus Breakfast. (Photo by Jerome Howard, Department of Defense)
OK, fine. Where's mine?!

Serenity NOW!

I got this nifty little fountain for my desk at work. Working for a Swiss Insurance Behemoth can sometimes be stressful...but since my family got me this for my birthday, I can say...Serenity Now!

Friday, June 08, 2007

News of Afghanistan - The Return (Edition 57)

OK, the month off was lovely, but you are back to being stuck with me. Raise your cup of Alokozay Tea to the World's Greatest Military Contractor as he recovers from a spot o' medical difficulty and read on:

L'Atmosphere vs the Afghan Tax Authorities - when French food and Afghan bureaucracy collide!

Awful news. Double Plus Ungood... she was a great person, a great journalist, and an advocate for a better Afghanistan.

Speaking of women - and speaking of volleyball, as the Inner Prop did in last week's installment. Mull over the chances of this happening under the Taliban. See also.

Bagpiper of Bagram

Photo by Sgt. Jim Wilt June 05, 2007 Sgt. John M. Savery plays a Great Highland Bagpipe in the parking lot of the joint operations center on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, May 21. He said this is a good way to relax.

Photo: Akmal Dawi/IRIN
Parents waiting in a mosque, used as a vaccination centre, to immunise their children against measles in Kabul

The above photo (and this article) stand out as a significant contrast with Pakistan and Nigeria which have seen fundamentalist imams preaching that vaccines were part of a Western/infidel/Zionist plot.

I hope the answer to this request is "yes".

A possible change of heart by the French?

Gee, I wish the editorial cartoonists at would cut loose a little. Heh.

Plus Ungood.

Now this is how you resolve disputes - courts, parliaments and the press. Wolesi Jirga Speaker Younus Qanuni is all the loyal opposition that Karzai can handle. Good.

Another reminder of who the enemy is, and what they are about.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Chicago Blues Fest 2007

Begins today in Grant Park. It is our music, go back to our shared roots.

Koko Taylor.....Queen of Blues

Junior Wells and Buddy Guy......The Princes

Muddy Waters...The King

Charlie Don't Surf!!!!!!.......or Swim!!!!!

Bad day for the Taliban during their water crossings. Didn't they go through drown proofing? Where are their risk assesments?
Clue #1 Cross after dark.

Col. Kilgore says.......

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bewildering Prop

I've a new story up on Bewildering Stories! It had been a contest story that didn't fly, but with a little help from the good people at BS, er, I mean Bewildering Stories I got it published.
It's a horror story that sort of follows my Bellwether's Asteroid universe.

Go ahead and read it. Go ahead. Then go to Illini6!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The return of a spectre of the past....The Russian Empire

Me and my new ride 2007
Drawsko pommerski

Putin continues to make noise about pointing Russian missiles at western Europe again. I just returned from Poland, a new NATO partner and their Soldiers and citizens are always saying this was coming. The Left already has blamed us for wanting to place early warning radar in Poland and the Czech Republic. Interesting.... Cold War part II? Fulda is too far west now, I have to find a decent choke point east of the Vistula.

Friday, June 01, 2007

News From Afghanistan (Sort Of)

I don't know if this will be useful at all, but I'll try and you let me know if you want me to continue. Major John hasn't posted yet so I'm going to post some links on Afghanistan.

Here are a couple of stories about the helicopter that crashed near my old base this week in Afghanistan. This one has a nice photo, but the helicopter in the back is a Blackhawk, not a Chinook (looks like a medivac too).

This one happened in RC North. That region isn't US controlled so I know even less about up there. Maybe Major John can tell us more.

You probably want to hear about something good. Well this one shows up in several sections of the Pajhwok Afghan News and I think it could be good.

This one is good too. I'll betcha they're kicking butt in volleyball and takin' names there.

GEN Hayden says things are good, but they will take time to get better. I can tell you, whatever the CIA is doing over there, they don't like to even tell the Army so we'll just have to take his word for it. They're so sneaky that I can't figure out from this article what rank Mr. Hayden is. He is alternately referred to as LTG and GEN as well as being described as wearing four stars. I'm going to guess in his favor.

Finally, they grabbed some bad guys in Khost Provence. If the Americans question them I'm betting they'll bring them to Salerno and question them in the RIF (Regional Interrogation Facility) we built. It's a really cool place with two way glass and stuff. It was also the only place in Salerno where you could go to the bathroom without leaving the place you were (building or tent) and going to another building. Talk about luxury, you can't beat indoor plumbing with porcelain Turkish toilets.
I couldn't take any photos in there, but here is one of the guys who built it. It was taken from the inside looking out.

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