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The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread September 2008

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New batch of Canadian mentors to begin training Afghan soldiers
CP, Sept. 13

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A larger team of Canadian Forces mentors are arriving in Afghanistan with plans to step up the training of Afghan soldiers in a variety of combat specialties, the new commander said Saturday following an evening change of command ceremony.

Col. Joseph Shipley has officially assumed command of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) as members of the fifth rotation of troops in Afghanistan wrap up their tour and head home.

His 250-strong sixth rotation of troops from Petawawa, Ont., will, for the first time, have complete coverage of all the Afghan army brigade's capabilities - including its artillery, engineering and reconnaissance companies [emphasis added], he said.

Up until now, Afghan forces have largely relied on the coalition for support in such areas.

"What we have to do is we have to take them so they're not just fighting in partnership with coalition forces but that they're doing it by themselves," he said.

"That they have the ability to sustain their own operations in the field and be able to bring in all the enablers that they need that they're relying on the coalition for right now."

It's a "significant step," he said, that won't be completed over the next six months. His rotation's job will be to "sow the seeds" for the future.

Building up the Afghan army and police is key to Canada's 2011 exit strategy.

"They're trying to grow an army while fighting a war. It's extremely difficult," Shipley said.

"I can't say how long that's going to take. It could take generations [emphasis added]."..

"There has to be a fine balance struck between how much do we push in the field and how much effort we put on building those leaders, building those enablers that are required so they can eventually become autonomous."

During the last rotation, he said, both the number of Canadian mentors increased as did the number of Afghan troops.

The next rotations, he added, can look forward to even more Afghan troops as a new battalion comes online in the spring. Over the next three to four months, the Afghan army will also see its equipment improved with the addition of armoured humvees and more modern weapons as part of the NATO small arms program [emphasis added].

Shipley added he's also having discussions with other coalition partners in the hopes they'll be able to take part in different training initiatives and take some of the burden off the Canadians.

With White House Push, U.S. Arms Sales Jump
NY Times, Sept. 13
Over the past three years, the United States government, separately, has agreed to buy more than $10 billion in military equipment and weapons on behalf of Afghanistan, according to Defense Department records, including M-16 rifles and C-27 military transport aircraft [emphasis added]...

Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
150730EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"Martyrdom Operation 8 foreigner invaders in Kandahar "
Sunday morning 14-09-2008 at approximately 10:15 am local , a courageous Mujahid of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Abdul Salam said "Allahu Akbar" and rammed his booby-trapped car into a convoy of foreigner invaders in Zanjber area of of Boldak district of Kandahahar province, in which 2 vehicles were completely destroyed and 8 foreigner terrorists  were killed  few wounded.. We ask Allah to accept our brother among martyrs in Eelleyeen (high rank in the paradise). All praise and gratitude are due to Allah.Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

"11 puppet  police killed in Kandahar"
Saturday midnight 13-09-2008 at approximately 12:00 am local , Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ambushed a patrolling unit  of puppet police in Lao Wiala area of KAndhar city. In the attack 11 puppet soldiers were killed few wounded and their arms were mujahideen booty.Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf


Petraeus: more than troops needed in Afghanistan
AP, Sept. 15

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that experience in Iraq shows it will take political and economic progress as well as military action to tackle increased violence in Afghanistan.

"You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strength insurgency," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

His comments come as a debate over the need to redeploy troops from Iraq to Afghanistan has become a central issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

Petraeus, who is widely credited with pulling Iraq back from the brink of civil war, is taking over as chief of U.S. Central Command, the headquarters overseeing U.S. military involvement throughout the Middle East, as well as Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia...

It will be a delicate balancing act to tackle a resurgent Taliban enjoying refuge in the lawless border areas of Pakistan without losing ground in Iraq.

"We've got a situation in Afghanistan where clearly there have been trends headed in the wrong direction," Petraeus said. "Military action is absolutely necessary but it is not sufficient."

"Political, economic and diplomatic activity is critical to capitalize on gains in the security arena," he said...

Petraeus stressed it was premature to discuss strategy but suggested he will carry over lessons from his playbook in Iraq — including possible outreach to try to bring hostile players into the political process.

Petraeus, however, stressed the ultimate decision to reach out to militants would be up to the Afghan government.

"We did reaffirm in Iraq the recognition that you don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial-strength insurgency," he said.

"Clearly there are so-called irreconcilables who must be killed or captured or run out of the country," he added. "But reconciliation with some of those who are currently part of the problem and making them part of the solution is something that I know is being examined as an option."

Bush announced last week that one Marine battalion and one Army brigade would be shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan this fall and winter — far fewer than the 10,000 troops U.S. commanders there had requested. Meanwhile, about 8,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by February.

George Friedman, the head of Stratfor, an independent intelligence risk assessment agency based in Austin, Texas, said Petraeus faces a more organized enemy in Afghanistan with the Taliban and must consider reaching out to them along with tribal chiefs.

"He's struggling with the question of limited forces and a political climate that's much different than Iraq," he said. "But it's impossible to imagine how the United States can create an Iraqi-style solution without the Taliban because they're getting stronger every day."..

Afghanistan Is in Its Worst Shape Since 2001, European Diplomat Says
NY Times, Sept. 14

One of the most experienced Western envoys in Afghanistan said Sunday that conditions there had become the worst since 2001. He urged a concerted American and foreign response, even before a new American administration took office, to avoid “a very hot winter for all of us.”

The envoy, Francesc Vendrell, a Spanish diplomat with eight years’ experience in Afghanistan, especially criticized the growing number of civilian deaths in attacks by American and international forces.

Those deaths have created “a great deal of antipathy” and widened the distance between the Afghan government and citizens, he said here at an annual review of global strategy organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. Mr. Vendrell recently stepped down as the European Union envoy in Kabul...

Mr. Vendrell warned that the situation was precarious among the Pashtun tribes who live mainly in southern Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. He also said that the Taliban-led insurgency had spread not only to the east but also close to Kabul and, in pockets, to the north and west, hitherto relatively peaceful.

While only a minority of Pashtuns actively support the Taliban, he said, most Pashtuns “are sitting on the fence to see who is going to be the winner.”

Because the country faces a number of problems — the rising cost of food and fuel, the deterioration in security and what Mr. Vendrell called the international community’s failure to engage either the Taliban or regional powers like Pakistan, Iran and India in the search for solutions — Afghanistan could be facing “a very cold winter” that threatened to become “a very hot winter for all of us,” he said.

He urged that Afghan authorities and foreign agencies follow up any military successes against the Taliban with concrete assistance to convince local citizens that Westerners and the Kabul government can deliver security and at least some well-being.

Mr. Vendrell bluntly recited what he called a long series of foreign mistakes in Afghanistan. While he played a leading role in the conference in Bonn, Germany, that set up the post-Taliban government, he said Sunday that the “first great mistake” made in 2001 was holding that conference. By the time the Bonn talks took place, he said, Northern Alliance warlords and their allies already controlled two-thirds of Afghanistan, making their rule a “fait accompli.”

In addition, he said, the United States and its allies placed too much faith in President Hamid Karzai and did too little to ensure that his government had a monopoly of force, with a strong police force and other institutions...

Mr. Vendrell said that nevertheless it was time not to abandon Afghanistan but to redouble efforts there, both military efforts and those to build up civilian institutions and ensure that elections are held next year. In particular, he said, the United States must develop clear standards to govern the detention of hundreds of Afghans it holds without trial.

“This is not the time to leave; we are not destined to fail, but we are far from succeeding,” he concluded.

In The Guardian: Lauryn Oates Patiently Explains The Folly Of Taliban-Appeasing
Terry Glavin, Sept. 14 [links at post]

In a debate between the Guardianista (and my occasional correspondent) Conor Foley and Lauryn Oates (one of my co-founders with the Canada Afghanistan Solidarity Committee), Conor attempted to make the same case that serves as the basis of the New Democratic Party's entire Afghanistan policy. Of course Lauryn won, but the debate vividly illustrates how the Let's-Talk-With-The-Taliban approach collapses like a house of cards the instant it's subjected to proper scrutiny.

Here are the best bits:

The elected Afghan government has indeed reached out to the Taliban – and the Taliban wholly rejected the overture, except under conditions which the government could only reject. That strategy has been attempted more than once before; it's time to move on. Your proposal failed with the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the seven long years between 1994 and 2001, when the UN and the "international community" wasted everyone's time brokering truces that never lasted, all in aid of bringing the "warring factions" to the table around a negotiated solution. If there is any lesson at all in any of this, it is that talking truce with fascists is a failed idea.

. . .In the same vein, the term "anti-government insurgents" is ludicrous in the specific context of the failed "power-sharing" approach that you say should be revived and imposed upon the Afghan people with the collusion of Iran and Pakistan, with the "international community" serving as some sort of head waiter to the proceedings. The ludicrousness stems from deftly avoiding the ahistorical and illogical core of your proposal. It obscures what the Taliban really are, and what they really want. They want to plunge Afghanistan back into a nightmarish seventh century dystopia, and to slaughter everyone who has stood in the way of their savage vision these past seven years.

. . .I'll close with one last bit of evidence for the ahistorical folly of Taliban-appeasing which comes in your presumption that "some elements" of the Taliban "may one day sign up for talks." The evidence is twofold. The first is that more than 50,000 "insurgents" have already been reconciled with the Afghan government. They surrendered and participated in rehabilitation and reintegration programs under the UN – this has been going on for years. The second is that if there are elements of the remaining hardcore Taliban leadership that may one day "sign up for talks," it will only be because the alternative they face is death, either at the hands of Afghan or ISAF troops.

In the meantime, the only thing to negotiate with the Taliban is their surrender.

To be fair to Conor, while his argument here collapses under the wieght of its own absurdity, he doesn't always ride horses this ludicrous. Following this post a while back, Conor recently brought to my attention a Guardian column he'd written, which I hadn't noticed at the time, and it still stands up stoutly: "Pipe Dreamers: It's time the conspiracy theorists accepted that oil had nothing to do with the US invasion of Afghanistan."

Articles found September 15, 2008

U.S. choppers turned back by gunfire from Pakistan
ZEESHAN HAIDER Reuters September 15, 2008 at 6:26 AM EDT
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ISLAMABAD — Gunfire from Pakistan forced U.S. military helicopters to turn back to Afghanistan after they crossed into Pakistani territory in the early hours of Monday, Pakistani security officials said.

The incident took place near Angor Adda, a village in the tribal region of South Waziristan where U.S. commandos in helicopters raided a suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban camp earlier this month.

"The U.S. choppers came into Pakistan by just 100 to 150 metres at Angor Adda. Even then our troops did not spare them, opened fire on them and they turned away," said one security official.

Pakistan is a crucial U.S. ally in its war on terrorism, and its support is key to the success of Western forces trying to stabilize Afghanistan. But Washington has become impatient over Islamabad's response to the threat from al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters in Pakistan's tribal regions on the border.
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Taliban attacks kill Afghan doctors, police
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KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Taliban has claimed responsibility for two separate attacks in Afghanistan over the weekend that killed doctors and police officers.

A suicide bomber in a vehicle attacked a United Nations convoy in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan Sunday, killing two Afghan doctors.

The blast in the main market of Spin Boldak district also wounded three Afghan officials and 12 civilians, said Matiullah Khan, the province's police chief.

The doctors were conducting a health survey in the district, police said.

The Taliban, in a statement posted on their Web site, said one of their members carried out the attack.
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US firm ambushed in Afghanistan, 23 killed
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KABUL: At least 23 people were killed when Taliban ambushed a United States security firm convoy in southwestern Afghanistan on Friday. Provincial officials said it was the second attack on the firm in recent days. Provincial Police Chief Khalilullah Rahmani said 15 of the dead were Taliban killed in the fighting that broke out following the ambush.

Rahmani said US Protection and Investigations, a firm involved in escorting supplies for coalition forces, also suffered casualties, but gave no details. “The Taliban attacked the convoy with machineguns. Four vehicles were set on fire,” said a provincial official requesting anonymity. He said four Afghan guards and four civilians had been killed in the ambush that took place when the convoy was passing through Bakwa district in Farah province. Another convoy of the security firm had been attacked on Thursday in Kandahar city. Two people had been killed in the attack. In another incident, the US military said coalition forces had killed more than 10 Taliban and had detained two more during operations in eastern Afghanistan targeting the network of Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.
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AFGHANISTAN: Two more Navy SEALs die 'taking the fight to the enemy'
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By institutional culture, the Navy SEALs don't let out much information about their combat missions. But recent death announcements suggest the SEALs are playing a major role in the increasing battle against the resurgent Taliban and their allies in Afghanistan.

On Sept. 3, the SEALs announced the death of Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Harris, who drowned during a combat operation in Afghanistan.

And on Saturday, the SEALs announced the deaths of Senior Chief Petty Officer John Wayne Marcum (pictured above) and Chief Petty Officer-select Jason Richard Freiwald (pictured below). Both died Friday of wounds incurred a day earlier during a firefight with "heavily armed militants."

Marcum, 34, was from Flushing, Mich.; Freiwald, 30, from Armada, Mich. Both were decorated veterans from previous combat tours and were attached to a SEAL unit in Virginia when they deployed to Afghanistan. Each is survived by a wife and daughter.

"They died while taking the fight to the enemy, going in harm's way with the selflessness that resonated in their character and  made them giants among men," said Capt. Scott Moore, commanding officer of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group.
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Quispamsis native works at Tim Hortons in Kandahar, gets taste of Afghan life
ANDREW MCGILLIGAN Canadaeast News Service
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SAINT JOHN - Stepping off the plane at Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan was similar to waking up and cooking for Quispamsis resident Tim Thompson.

He describes having the sunlight hit his face as blinding, just like turning on the lights in the morning after a good night's rest. Then there's the heat. Thompson compared it to opening the oven door and having the heat wash over his face.

"Your first instinct is to get a bottle of ice water FAST," wrote Thompson in an e-mail to Canadaeast News Service. "The temperature is very hot, but eventually you become climatized to the point where the eating facilities are kept at a constant 32 degrees -- which actually feels cool."

Thompson is in Afghanistan not as a soldier, but as a worker in the Tim Hortons restaurant located at the airfield. The 21-year-old is a veteran of the coffee franchise as he worked for the company during high school -- he graduated from Kennebecasis Valley High School in 2005 -- and again while attending New Brunswick Community College in Miramichi. Thompson is currently on leave from studying criminology at St. Thomas University.

He'd been interested in working in Afghanistan for a while and when a friend got a job in the country, Thompson decided it was time to apply for a position through the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agencies website.

He had a phone interview and received confirmation he was one of 100 applicants out of 2,300 chosen to attend a two-week training course at Canadian Forces Base Kingston. Three days after the training session, he received a call giving him a tentative start date.

He left home on June 4 and arrived at Kandahar Airfield on June 7. He said the opportunity is a chance to determine if a military career is in his future.
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Afghanistan governor killed in explosion
Saturday, 13 Sep 2008 12:32
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The attack took place in the village of Paghman, west of Kabul Printer friendly version The governor of Afghanistan's Logar province and three others have been killed in an explosion near his home.

Abdullah Wardak, a former cabinet minister, his two bodyguards and the driver of the vehicle all died when the car was hit by a roadside explosion in the village of Paghman, west of the country's capital Kabul.

The AFP news agency reports that the Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Speaking about the death of the top official in the provincial government, Kabul police chief General Alishah Paktiawal said: "It was a remote-controlled bomb. This is the work of terrorism, the terrorists who want to kill Afghanistan's people," he said.

In September 2006, another high-profile politician, governor of eastern Paktia province Hakim Taniwal was also killed in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
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Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
160750EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"Taliban cheer Harper's pledge to withdraw troops by 2011"
"It's a step that will help save Canadian civilians and soldiers," said Mullah Jalil Akhund about the Conservative election promise. "We want foreign troops out of our country, and those that insist on staying, we will carry on fighting.".... (more on link)

"The Afghan War Will Be Won And Lost On Media Propaganda"
"....all we'll hear about from our national media are the constant failures of this mission, the killing of civilians, and our inability to oust the Taliban from their mountainous caverns. One is always quick to hear about the mistakes....." (more on link)

" 4 supplying truck of  American destroyed  in Kandahar"
Today afternoon 15-09-2008 at approximately 5 pm local  , Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ambushed a supplying convoy of American occupation army and its puppet police who were providing security for the convoy  which was travelling on Kandahar Herat highway in Sangber area of Mewand district of Kandahar province. In the attack 4 supplying vehicles which were carried weapons to  American base were destroyed.    Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

" 3 oil tankers of  American invaders destroyed in Helmand"
Today afternoon 15-09-2008, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ambushed a supplying convoy of American occupation army and its puppet police who were providing security for the convoy  which was travelling  in Mermandab area of Grishk district of Helmand province. In the attack 3 oil tankers of American occupation army  were destroyed and one mujahideen booty. Also Mujahideen with a remote controlled landmine blew up a vehicle of puppet police in which the vehicle was destroyed and 7 police in it were killed. Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

"1 tank of Australian invaders blew up  in  Uruzgan"
Tuesday noon 16-09-2008 at approximately 11:15am local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,with remote controlled landmine blew up a military tank of Astrlian occupation army when it was travelling Njben area near TarenKot city of Uruzgan province. In the  explosion the tank was completely destroyed and 4 occupation terrorists in it were killed.Reported by Qari Muhammad Yoisuf

Articles found September 16, 2008

Patrick Cockburn: The US strategy for Afghanistan won't work
Covert operations only succeed when they have strong local allies who want outside support
Monday, 15 September 2008
Article Link

Covert action is frequently a substitute for policy," was an aphorism first coined by the former director of the CIA Richard Helms. Its truth is exemplified by the decision of President Bush in July to secretly give orders that US special forces will in future carry out raids against ground targets inside Pakistan, without getting the approval of the Pakistani government.

Mr Bush's order is fraught with peril for the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. In one respect, it is a recognition at long last by Mr Bush that the Taliban and their al-Qa'ida allies could not stay in business without the backing of Pakistan. This is hardly surprising, since it was Pakistani military intelligence which largely created them in the first place.

It was always absurd for the White House and the Pentagon to pour praise on the former Pakistani leader General Pervez Musharraf as their greater ally against terrorism, despite the clearest evidence that it was the Pakistani army which has been keeping the Taliban going since 2001.

True to Helms's nostrum, Mr Bush has not adopted a new policy, but is resorting to covert operations, the political disadvantages of which are obvious, and military benefits dubious. A good example of this is the first of these operations undertaken under the new dispensation. On 3 September, two dozen US Navy Seals were helicoptered in to South Waziristan in Pakistan, where they attacked a compound, aided by an AC-130 gunship. When they retreated, they said they had killed many al-Qa'ida fighters, though a senior Pakistani official later said that the true casualty figures were four Taliban and al-Qa'ida "foot soldiers" and 16 civilians, including women and children.
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Taliban strike UN aid workers, RCMP training in Kandahar
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As the cowardly taliban show us once again they are attacking and killing the Doctors and other Staffers who  DO NOT CARRY ARMS  and are in Afghanistan simply to give aid to the poor.

The deliberate killing of UN workers is more despicable than one can imagine.

Our prayers and condolences to the three British Soldiers also killed this past week,as well as to their families,loved ones, and brothers in arms. God Bless them one and all.

This article is from the ISAF news with regard to the great job our mounties are doing in Afghanistan
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MacKay staunch defender of troops — sometimes
By SCOTT TAYLOR On Target Mon. Sep 15 - 5:40 AM
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ON SUNDAY, Sept. 5, after the formality of meeting with Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean to request that she dissolve Parliament, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the assembled press corps at Rideau Hall that he expected this election campaign to become a battleground of personal attack ads.

Not waiting to retain the moral high ground, the Conservative party struck first with an Internet parody of federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion being crapped on repeatedly by a puffin.

In a more local effort, Defence Minister Peter MacKay took aim a week ago Sunday at Halifax West NDP candidate Tamara Lorincz, going so far as to suggest that party leader Jack Layton "should pull that woman’s nomination papers."

What set MacKay ablaze was an incident that occurred the previous Friday outside the DEFSEC Atlantic trade show at Halifax’s Cunard Centre. In addition to being an NDP candidate, Lorincz is a founding member of the Halifax Peace Coalition.

This organization staged a small vigil in protest against U.S. defence companies that were exhibiting at DEFSEC. According to published accounts and confirmed by Lorincz, when a carload of senior brass drove by, Lorincz shouted: "This is a racket and it should be shut down. We need a peace economy, not a military economy."

MacKay was not present at this encounter, but when he read those words in a news report the following day, he told reporters, he "felt physically ill" and that it was "one of the most disgusting things I’ve heard in a long time." In fact, MacKay went so far as to claim that Lorincz’s comments render her "unfit for public office."

In the interest of full disclosure, I must state that I have known Lorincz for the past five years, and I consider her a personal friend. On a number of occasions, I have accepted her invitation to participate in presentations sponsored by the Halifax Peace Coalition.

While I have some fundamental ideological differences with her, I have always known Lorincz to be well-informed on defence issues and eager to examine all sides of any contentious topic.
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Afghanistan's provincial governor killed in bomb blast
9/13/2008 4:14 AM ET
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The governor of Afghanistan's southern Logar province and three of his bodyguards have been killed as the car in which they were traveling was blown up by a roadside bomb near the capital Kabul, reports quoting the interior ministry said.

Afghan police blamed the bombing on the "enemies of Afghanistan," a term often used by them to describe Taliban militants.

Abullah Wardak, who is also a former minister, was nearing his home at Logar Saturday morning, when the bomb was remotely detonated. Logar is situated about 40 kilometers south of Kabul city.
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Progress in Afghanistan gets rockier
By James Kitfield National Journal September 15, 2008 HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan
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The CH-47 helicopter carrying Gen. John Craddock and his aides banks sharply, and the machine gunner positioned by the open rear door strains in his harness. The kaleidoscope below rolls from the verdant greens of the Helmand River basin to brown scrublands and then the bleached-white desert. Soon, the CH-47's shadow is joined by those of a Marine Cobra gunship and an armed Huey helicopter. They are escorting the supreme commander of the NATO alliance into one of the most isolated outposts in the global war on terrorism. It is the very heart of Taliban territory.
The helicopters touch down in a stinging swirl of sand and dust at Forward Operating Base Dwyer. The compound is little more than an encirclement of concrete barriers and concertina wire serving as a firebase and ground-combat headquarters for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Helmand province. Craddock emerges from the chopper to shake hands with marines clad in full body armor, their faces dripping with sweat. They seek relief from the 120-degree heat in the shade of their lean-tos. Inside the mess tent, where visitors are briefed, dust chokes the air.
Isolated and forlorn, FOB Dwyer sits west of the crossroads town of Garmsir. Though life may be miserable on this flat patch of land, the location has this to recommend it: unobstructed fields of fire separate it from the Taliban insurgents who are using rocket-propelled grenades, suicide bombers, and massed infantry in increasingly bold attacks on U.S. and NATO outposts and bases. At FOB Dwyer, there is no sneaking up on Lt. Col. Anthony Henderson and the rest of the men of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
The soldiers of the U.S. Army's 503rd Infantry Regiment were not so lucky. On the night of July 13, an estimated 200 Taliban insurgents nearly overran their outpost in mountainous east Afghanistan; the assault left nine U.S. paratroopers dead and many more wounded. On August 18, Camp Salerno near the Pakistan border repulsed an attack by as many as 10 suicide bombers backed by infantry. On the same day, a force of approximately 100 Taliban insurgents ambushed an elite French-led reconnaissance patrol, killing 10 paratroopers. It was the deadliest day for French troops in 25 years.
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Afghan war costs could be thorny election issue
Mike Blanchfield, Canwest News Service Published: Monday, September 15, 2008
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OTTAWA - Canada's new parliamentary budget officer says federal politicians, including those in the opposition, should be told the overall cost of the six-year war in Afghanistan.

In an interview with Global National, Kevin Page says he is nearing the end of a special probe that tallies Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. However, he said that he believes all-party consent is required to allow him to release the report during a federal election campaign.

Page, who was appointed in March, had hoped to release a preliminary estimate on the cost of keeping Canada's 2,500 troops in Afghanistan this month, when the House of Commons was due to reconvene.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper's decision to call a federal election has effectively delayed the release of that figure.

"Certainly for parliamentarians and opposition, they have an important oversight role. They should know what those costs are ... It would be important to get the kind of transparency we need going forward," Page told Global News.

Releasing that figure now, during a federal election campaign, could be a thorny issue.

The mission in Afghanistan has had a low profile during the first nine days of the federal campaign, but if the cost of the war were revealed, it could cause headaches for the governing Conservatives, as well as the opposition Liberals, who originally committed Canadian troops to Kandahar while they were in power in 2005.
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Afghanistan frees son of alleged ally of Al Qaeda
From the Associated Press September 16, 2008
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ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Afghanistan freed a 12-year-old boy and sent him to his family in Pakistan, two months after it says he was detained with his mother, who is suspected of links to Al Qaeda and faces charges in New York.

Officials say the boy, Ali Hassan, and his mother, Aafia Siddiqui, were detained outside the governor's house in Afghanistan's Ghazni province in July. The American-educated Pakistani woman was then handed over to U.S. custody and flown to New York.

A U.S. indictment alleges that during Siddiqui's interrogation in Ghazni, she picked up a rifle and fired at U.S. soldiers and FBI agents.

A spokesman for Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry, Sultan Ahmed Baheen, said Ali was a dual American-Pakistani citizen because he was born in the United States.
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Father of children accidentally shot by Canadians faces Taliban threats
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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The father of two children accidentally killed by Canadian troops in Afghanistan says he's been forced to flee his home in the Panjwaii district after being threatened by the Taliban.

Ruzi Mohammed says he was threatened by insurgents for speaking with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Canadians from the Provincial Reconstruction Team about compensation for the mistaken shooting last July.

Now jobless and living in a small rented house in Kandahar city for 4,000 afghanis, or US$80 a month, the frustrated 31-year-old said he's still anxiously awaiting compensation.

"Karzai said 'Sorry' on behalf of Canadians and promised me that he will send me to pilgrimage and provide me a house in Kandahar city, but I'm still waiting for that," he said.

"Canadians promised me compensation but I'm not sure what the amount is."

Told it could take four weeks for the cash to flow, Mohammed said he needs it now.

"lf Canadians will not support me now, I am compelled to join the Taliban and to take revenge for my two innocent children," he said.
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The Liberals blew it on the Afghanistan file
Vancouver Sun, Sept. 16, by Barbara Jaffe
Afghanistan could have been a defining issue for Liberals. They had a winning position on it that was in keeping with the views of a majority of Canadians.

Dion reasoned that Canada had done its share in the dangerous Kandahar region since July 2005, that it was time to move troops to a more stable region where they could focus on reconstruction and development work. Some 2,500 soldiers now are in Kandahar.

Dion's position reflected the fact that Canada had suffered a disproportionate number of casualties and deaths in relation to other NATO countries. Several European countries have given their troops mandates preventing combat engagement, resulting in light casualties.

Harper has never explained to Canadians why Canada should be making such an outsized contribution to the war effort.

A Harris/Decima poll in August showed 61 per cent of respondents believe the cost to Canada "in lives and money has been unacceptable." An Angus Reid poll last week revealed 75 per cent of Canadians believe Canada is bearing too much of the burden of NATO's mission in Afghanistan. Nearly 60 per cent oppose it.

Conservatives are aware of their political vulnerability on the issue.

To mitigate damage, Harper has announced his government wouldn't renew the mission beyond 2011. Never mind that previously Harper said it would be irresponsible to advertise an end date to the enemy.

In response to Harper's statement, Steven Staples [mega-hurl, only "expert" quoted], president of the Ottawa-based Rideau Institute [see the second part of this post], pointed out that "continuing until December 2011 will mean another 40 months of combat in Kandahar.

"A lot can happen in that time, including, ironically, a potential escalation of our commitment there in the next year following the U.S. elections."

With the Kandahar death toll approaching 100, the military assignment has become a visceral issue for many voters.

Further, the Taliban has warned it plans to escalate attacks during Canada's election campaign; more casualties could weigh heavily on the dynamics of the current political contest.

Last February, the Liberals relinquished their political edge on Afghanistan, agreeing to a plan to keep Canadian soldiers in Kandahar until the date set by the Harper government, 2011.

The philosophical flip-flop was prompted by a pending vote on a Commons resolution on the mission. Dion feared triggering an election if the party opposed it.

The compromise the party reached was a phony one based on political expediency.

Liberals agreed to support the resolution because Canadians would remain in Kandahar to train the Afghan army and provide security for reconstruction and development.

But the party had to know that keeping troops in Kandahar meant a continuation of the dynamic whereby Canadians were doing a disproportionate share of NATO's heavy lifting.

Thus Liberals lost a chance to stand up for fairness and oppose the Conservatives on an issue where opposition was and continues to be warranted. Their unfortunate capitulation has come back to haunt them in the current campaign.

Willing To Win in Afghanistan?
Washington Post, Sept, 16, by Anne Applebaum

URUZGAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- From the top of Cemetery Hill, just outside town, the village of Chura looks like a thin green ribbon winding along the bottom of a narrow valley. To the east, the west and the north are dry, uninhabitable mountains. To the south, through a gap in the mountains, it is just possible to see the next narrow valley.

For the Dutch captain whose soldiers graciously invited me along on their patrol up that hill, this geography means a great deal. The green valley of Chura, he explains, is "secure": That means that when his Charlie Tiger Company patrols the one-street bazaar, nobody shoots at the soldiers. It also means that the Dutch "provincial reconstruction team" -- NATO's name for troops who deliver aid, and the central focus of the Netherland's mission here -- can keep up their work on Chura's small health clinic, bring better seeds to Chura's farmers, build Chura's schools. During the patrol, villagers come out to shake hands with the reconstruction team leader who is walking with us and to ask the medic for advice. Children put their thumbs up and shout "Alles Gut," the rough Dutch equivalent of "okay."

It is a positive, happy story: Not just a success for the Dutch but for NATO, which also works with French [emphasis added], Australian, American and Afghan troops in Uruzgan, and which sponsored my trip there. It is an important story, too: Uruzgan, in the Pashto-speaking south of Afghanistan, is the birthplace of Mohammad Omar, the Taliban's founder.

Unfortunately, this story is not complete without explaining that the next valley, the one visible through the gap in the mountains, is "insecure." There is no Dutch base there, and when Charlie Tiger Company goes on patrol in that direction, the soldiers don't take journalists. "Insecure" means that there are snipers and roadside bombs, such as the one that recently blew up a Dutch vehicle near here; it means the tribal leaders there are rivals of the tribal leaders here; it also means that a German aid group has indefinitely postponed plans to build a road to Chura, and that Chura's doctor doesn't feel safe far from his clinic. Not all Taliban, he explains in a low voice, approve of medicine.

And this, in a microcosm, is the dilemma we face in Afghanistan, well understood on the ground but occasionally worth restating for outsiders: Where there is a real military presence, it is possible to bring peace and development to Afghanistan. But where there are no foreign troops, there is often anarchy. Though European governments like to draw a line between bringing "security' and engaging in counter-terrorism in Afghanistan, on the ground those missions blur.

Though Americans like to talk about "winning" and "losing" the war in Afghanistan, on the ground it's clear that those categories aren't relevant. Of course we can "win": The real question is whether we are willing to pay the high cost of victory...

...No government with troops in Afghanistan has explained to its voters that the troops' achievements are so fragile, that safety established in one valley does not imply safety in the next, and that the task of "reconstruction" is so integrally linked to military work.

The nearly 5,000 new troops promised last week by President Bush represent the beginning of a recognition of the scale of the challenge, but only that.

Other resources are needed, too, as widespread use of the newly fashionable word "surge" indicates. A NATO official in Kabul spoke of the need for a "civilian surge," meaning an increase in the already high levels of aid; a U.N. official wants a "political surge," meaning greater attention to the negotiations that will ultimately bring insurgents in from the cold. They are right, but so is the U.S. military, which has quietly invested billions in training the Afghan army: Joint missions are now the norm. At a gleaming new air base outside Kabul, I watched an American colonel, a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon, proudly show off the embryonic Afghan air force, created with American mentors, refurbished Soviet helicopters and older Afghan pilots with Russian training. "I am out fighting Taliban, even in my dreams," one of them told me.

And someday he may be able to do that, even without our help. But in the meantime, that extraordinary, multimillion-dollar air base, just like the blond Dutchmen patrolling Mullah Omar's province, serves as a reminder that we haven't exactly "neglected" Afghanistan, as Barack Obama and others often say. It's just that we haven't yet faced up to what we have undertaken to do here. Afghanistan is bigger than Iraq, more rugged, more impoverished and vastly more complicated, with more languages, more ethnic groups, more tribes and more-lethal neighbors. It has only begun to test our stamina.

Articles found September 17, 2008

Pakistan Army will retaliate against U.S. attacks
The announcement comes at a time when the US is taking a more aggressive stance toward the rising insurgency along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
By David Montero from the September 18, 2008 edition
Article Link

Further escalating a diplomatic row, Pakistan's Army says it will fire on US troops and drones that attempt to penetrate Pakistani territory in pursuit of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The heightened tension drew Pentagon officials to Islamabad and Kabul to calm rattled nerves.

"We reserve the right to retaliate for any aggression in self-defense and to protect our territory, civilians and soldiers," Major Murad Khan, a Pakistani military spokesman said, referring to US attacks on Pakistani soil, according to Bloomberg. The major added that "soldiers have instructions" to stop border violations.

That call was echoed by both Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani as well as the newly inaugurated president, Asif Ali Zadari. But both men urged a diplomatic solution, according to the Daily Times, a leading English-language daily in Pakistan.

"We do not jump to conclusions and will solve the issue through talks," said Mr. Gilani.

Moving quickly to de-escalate the flap, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, arrived on an unannounced visit to Islamabad on Tuesday, The New York Times reports.

The visit by the chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, came as an uproar continued to grow in Pakistan about the incursion on Sept. 3, which severely strained relations between the United States and Pakistan, its top Muslim ally in the war against terrorism. The visit also coincided with conflicting accounts about a possible second American raid on Monday....

A Pakistani military spokesman, Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, said the army reserved the right to use force to defend the country and its people, but he said there was "no change in policy."

Asked what the Pakistan military would do if there was a future incursion by American troops, he said: "There is a big if involved. We will see to it when such a situation arises."

The Christian Science Monitor recently reported that the US is adopting a more aggressive stance toward the escalating insurgency along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

The increased frequency of American strikes suggests that the US believes it must ramp up operations on both sides of the border as a stopgap. The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the number of missile attacks in Pakistan has jumped from three in 2007 to 11 so far this year.
More on link

WHO says Afghan polio campaign to go ahead despite killings
Article Link

GENEVA (AFP) — The World Health Organisation said Wednesday that a polio vaccination campaign in southern Afghanistan would go ahead despite the killing of two doctors in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.

"Today, the country and Kandahar team has finally decided to continue the campaign to take forward the mission of polio eradication for which our two colleagues sacrificed their lives," Kabul-based WHO official Tahir Mir said.

The WHO had said on Tuesday that the campaign targeting 1.2 million children under five in Afghanistan's southern regions, due to start on September 21, had been cancelled following the attack.

But Mir said on Wednesday that the WHO's staff in Afghanistan are "totally committed to this noble cause and do not feel defeated due to this recent sabotage activity."

The campaign "will be carried out in all the planned areas on the scheduled dates, September 21-23," he added.

Two Afghan doctors working for the WHO were killed in a suicide car bombing in southeastern Afghanistan Sunday that was claimed by the Taliban.

The WHO said earlier this week that a similar campaign in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman was still likely to go ahead, as were future campaigns in the south in October and November.
More on link

France says European defence neglect hurting Afghanistan
Article Link

CANBERRA (AFP) — French Defence Minister Herve Morin on Wednesday said years of under-investment in defence by European countries was to blame for a critical shortage of international forces in Afghanistan.

Morin warned during a visit to Australia that the world could not afford to lose the increasingly brutal conflict in Afghanistan and urged nations involved to stay the course to avoid a greater threat of terror.

"Europe, apart from France and Britain, decided a long time ago to disarm. They have not provided enough money for their defence and their security," he told reporters after talks with Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.

"Most European countries have decided to leave their defence up to NATO," he said when asked whether he agreed with Australia's view that some nations in the continent were not pulling their weight in the escalating Afghan conflict.

"This weakness of Europe is also evident in Afghanistan," he said.

Morin, who visited Afghanistan last week after the deaths of 10 French soldiers, invited Fitzgibbon to accompany him and German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung there in early December.
More on link

Who wants to scare people on their way to the polls?
By COLIN KENNY Wed. Sep 17 - 6:09 AM
Article Link

IF YOU are one of those Canadians who believe that all human conflict is stupid and that military and police spending just drain money from far more worthy causes, this election campaign is for you.

You can be pretty sure that when you tune in to the national debates, no journalist will ask questions about Canadian security and defence, even though there are plenty of questions to be asked of all parties – including the incumbent Conservatives.

Given that any national government’s primary job is the physical protection of its citizens, you would think that defence and security would be important issues. But they are largely ignored. The votes lie elsewhere.

Here are a few relevant questions that journalists and debate moderators should ask, but won’t. (If any of these questions intrigue you, you might consider keeping them handy in case a politician knocks on your door.)

Everybody knows that the Great Lakes are a haven to smugglers and porous to would-be terrorists. The U.S. Coast Guard patrols the lakes with 2,200 officers and Canada does it with 14 Mounties. Make sense?

Everybody knows that Canada’s ports are riddled with criminal activity, but only a handful of Mounties are delegated to police them. Overall, the Senate Committee on Security and Defence estimates the Mounties are short-staffed by more than 5,000 officers (the committee’s most recent report on Emergency Preparedness argues for 5,300-6,500 new RCMP officers), yet the current government’s commitment to hiring new police across Canada doesn’t mention the Mounties. Make sense?
More on link

US coalition troops killed in Afghanistan
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A roadside blast Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan killed four U.S. coalition soldiers and an Afghan, the coalition said.

It did not identify the nationalities of all the victims, but the majority of troops in eastern Afghanistan are American.

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan in 2008 have already surpassed the record 111 deaths the U.S. suffered last year, as insurgent attacks have increased.

The number of attacks on U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan has risen by around 30 percent this year compared with 2007, U.S. military officials say.

The coalition did not say where the Wednesday attack took place or provide any other details.

The deaths came the same day U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates held meetings in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai and other officials.

The mountainous eastern region borders Pakistan's tribal areas, where militants train, recruit and arm, and where Afghan and U.S. officials allege that al-Qaida has managed to reconstitute itself after being driven out of Afghanistan following the 2001 invasion that ousted the Taliban from power.
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US commander holds Pakistan talks 
  Article Link

Adm Mullen wants new tactics to help beat the Taleban
America's top military commander, Adm Michael Mullen, has met Pakistani officials to discuss operations along the troubled border with Afghanistan.

Adm Mullen met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani "to defuse tension", the state news agency APP said. Army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani was also present.

The visit comes after Pakistan's army said it would not tolerate incursions.

Tension has been rising in Pakistan over an increase in US attacks along the border with Afghanistan.

'Comprehensive strategy'

Adm Mullen arrived on his unannounced visit to Islamabad on Tuesday evening and met Prime Minister Gilani on Wednesday.

The men discussed "measures to defuse tension between the two countries, following a spate of air and ground violations along the Pakistan-Afghan border", APP said.
More on link

Tories Well Placed to Take Military Votes
Experts say equipment purchases, reassurances of importance are key to gaining soldiers' support.
By Jeff Davis
Article Link

After being elected to office in January 2006, the Conservatives came out strong and bought the military plenty of expensive and much-needed equipment. Even more important, they reassured Canada's airmen, soldiers and sailors of the important role they play in Canadian society.

Now, despite extending the Afghan mission till 2011, military watchers say, soldiers are not unhappy with the government and predict they will continue to vote Conservative this time around.

"I would suggest that most of the members of the Canadian Forces would probably vote Conservative in this election," said retired colonel Alain Pellerin, executive director of the Conference of Defence Associations. "I think the message from the current Conservative government probably resonates more with the troops."

In the last election, the Conservatives succeeded in winning many ridings that are home to soldiers and their families. There are some 62,000 registered military voters in Canada.

Embassy examined the top 10 ridings in which military ballots were cast in the last election. Nine of these ridings contain major military bases. The Conservatives won five of the top ten, the Liberals three, the Bloc Québécois two and one went to independent Quebec MP André Arthur.

Canadian military historian and senior research fellow with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute Jack Granatstein expected similar results this time around.

"I suspect [the military vote] will stay heavily Conservative," he said. "They essentially gave the Afghan force everything it could possibly want, except for helicopters. My guess is that the Tories have earned the vote."

In the same vein, the executive director of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, retired colonel Chris Corrigan, said the Conservatives should net the soldier vote for the "very obvious reason that they have rebuilt the military."
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Harper says Yes to release of Afghan war cost report
Martin O'Hanlon, The Canadian Press, 17 Sept 08
Article link

Stephen Harper has given his blessing to the release of a report on the cost of the Afghan war - a document that could sway Conservative fortunes in the vital electoral battleground of Quebec, where the mission is highly unpopular.

Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page has tallied the full cost of the mission - past and future - and said he would like to release it. But he was worried about interfering with the federal election and asked for all-party consent.

All opposition parties gave their blessing Tuesday, and the prime minister agreed Wednesday.

The minority Conservative government has estimated the cost of the six-year mission at under $8 billion. If the new figures are much higher, it could be bad news for Harper ....

More on link
Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
171435EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"1 intelligence  officer killed in  Kandahar"
Tuesday night 16-09-2008 at approximately 11:20 pm local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in a guerilla attack killed a puppet intelligence   officer Torjan in Kabul Drwaza area of Kandahar city. In attack  the arm of killed officer was mujahideen booty.Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

"1 tank of British invaders blew up in Helmand"
Wednesday morning 17-09-2008 at approximately 6:35am local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,with remote controlled landmine blew up a military tank of British occupation army when it was travelling in Baspand area of Marja district of Helman province. In the  explosion the tank was completely destroyed and 5 occupation terrorists in it were killed. Reported by Zabihullah Mujahid

"17 puppet  police killed in  Helmand"
Wednesday morning 17-09-2008 at approximately 9:30 am local , Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with a remote controlled landmine blew up a patrolling unit  of puppet police in Nahri Saraj area of Grishek district of Helmand province. In the explosion  17 puppet soldiers were killed few wounded .Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
180710EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

Weekly commentary:  "The frightened battalions in Iraq, what will be brought  to Afghanistan?" 
NOTE:  The earlier post containing just this item has been removed, but I'm sharing it here again so you still have access to it.
.... If Bush and his allies want to withdraw the frightened forces form Iraq, plan sending to Afghanistan, and struggle to sophisticate their anti-Islam policy there, we think it is nothing without an untrue propaganda to cover up the true historical defeat and implement their false propaganda through the extreme media, because if Bush have got any victory by these frightened troops in Iraq, heard anything without gradually defeats, ironical and disgrace in the past five years then how Bush think of victory from these forces in Afghanistan.  .... (more on link)

"Two explosions in Kandahar have led to victims among enemies" (GoogEng)" - Original in Arabic
In the two explosions carried out by independent Mujahid Islamic Emirate morning 17-9-2008 at soldiers in the internal areas of the Directorate Meondboulayh Kandahar, the expectations of those killed and wounded in enemy ranks.
Testimonies news that the first explosion happened at a car of the army's kind of hip PE in ten o'clock in the market Directorate, which Asafaran destroying the car, killing five soldiers.   The second carried out in ten o'clock also on the type of car Saraf of Assaker house in the Kach Juppin Directorate itself on the road to Kandahar, Herat resulted in the destruction of the car and also killed five soldiers and wounding two others severely injured.  After two explosions cordoned off the area by the enemy, and they were sustain losses in the guise Center Directorate.

"10 supplying truck of American destroyed in Kandahar"
Wednesday afternoon 17-09-2008 at approximately 2:20 pm local  , Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, ambushed a supplying convoy of American occupation army and its puppet police who were providing security for the convoy  which was travelling on Kandahar Herat highway in Sanzari area of Zhari district of Kandahar province. In the attack 10 supplying vehicles which were carried weapons to  American bases and 4 vehicles of puppet army were destroyed and 11 puppet police in its were killed.Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

"2 tanks of Australian invaders destroyed in Uruzgan"
Wednesday17-09-2008 at approximately 3:30pm local ,Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up 2 tanks of Australian occupation army convoys when they were traveling  in Sana Ghond area of near Tharen Kot city capital of Uruzga province. In the explosions the tanks were completely destroyed and 7 the invader terrorists in it were killed and few wounded.  Also Wednesday evening 17-09-2008 at approximately 7:10 pm local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up a patrolling unit of Holandian invaders army in Najben area of same city. In explosion 4 soldiers terrorists were killed and few wounded.. Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

"Battle with puppet army in Zabul"  (GoogEng) - Original in Arabic
The occurrence of deaths and casualties in enemy ranks in the balance and Arngab mandate Zabul
Continental / Yusuf Ahmadi
According to details, destroyed the car of the type of customer Rnger Army at 10:20 am today in a battle 17-9-2008 direct face-to-face between the Mujahidin and the Islamic Emirate Assaker puppet army, in the Directorate of Shikan balance the state Zabul., Killing seven soldiers And injuring another number.  In the battle which lasted for one hour, Athens was also the Taliban, mujahideen weapons of the dead sheep.  In the context of an independent, yesterday morning, targeting tanks of the enemy occupier Bar grenades in a similar battle in the field of the directorate Arngab mandate itself, killing seven soldiers and wounded five others severely wounded.  Thank God in these battles did not suffer any damage to the Mujahideen.

"Embed With the Taliban"
.... The film maker Mehran Bozorgnia travels south from the Afghan capital Kabul to Taliban regional headquarters near Kandahar ....


Nato must transform to beat Taliban - Browne
The Guardian, Sept. 18

Britain is engaged in a "generational struggle" to defeat the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, Des Browne, the defence secretary, warned yesterday.

Speaking to the Guardian before a meeting of Nato defence ministers in London today, he called for an "honest discussion" about the problems facing the alliance, notably its inability to deploy adequate forces and failure to invest in needed equipment, and the need to "transform" Nato. It was the most successful military alliance the world had ever seen, he said. But it was set up to fight the cold war-type conflicts rather than the expeditionary type operations currently being fought in Afghanistan, and that was something the 26 defence ministers needed to address.

Just 10% of the infrastructure of Nato headquarters in Brussels was devoted to actual military operations, Browne said. And most European countries possessed "static non-deployable forces".

British commanders in Afghanistan have for years asked for more helicopters to move soldiers around relatively safely, and aircraft to supply them with equipment more quickly. Browne said there were many hundreds of helicopters in Europe, but they were not deployable. They didn't have adequate protection and their crews were not trained to special forces levels. He was discussing with other European countries, in particular France, ways to share helicopter resources.

Officials and military commanders in Afghanistan say the Taliban and other insurgent groups are in control of more and more territory and that at best the battle against them has reached stalemate. Browne said: "In Helmand province the Afghan government has a significant presence and a degree of control in every single part of where the people live in any concentration. What people who talk about stalemate mean is that we control that area now ... we have to concentrate on holding and maintaining what we have achieved. We will never be able to expand beyond that unless we can, as it were, backfill with a combination of the Afghan army and their own governance and economic development." ..

US seeking sole command of Nato's war against the Taliban
Western allies risk public backlash if Washington commands troops

The Independent, Sept. 18

The Bush administration is pushing for sweeping changes to the military command structure in Afghanistan, so that the head of international forces would report directly to US Central Command instead of Nato.

The changes would have huge repercussions for Nato, whose officials have stated that Afghanistan is a "defining moment" for the organisation's ability to conduct large-scale operations abroad.

The Independent has learnt that the proposal to streamline the complex chain of command, enabling US General David McKiernan to be answerable to superiors at Centcom in Tampa, Florida, rather than Nato, is before Robert Gates, the American Defence Secretary.

Mr Gates is due in the UK today after a visit to Afghanistan where he spoke about the deteriorating security situation with senior Western officers and Afghan ministers. At the same time, in a mark of the seriousness with which the Americans view the situation, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, flew to Pakistan from where Taliban fighters are mounting cross-border raids.

Any move to make the Afghan war an American-run operation would be controversial in some Nato countries. There is already public disquiet in countries such as Italy, Germany and Canada over the conflict.

Nevertheless, altering the command structure is an option in a wide-ranging plan by Washington to acquire greater control of the mission in Afghanistan. A violent Taliban resurgence has made the past three months the most lethal for Western forces. President George Bush has recently announced that several thousand troops will be moved from Iraq to Afghanistan, and General David Petraeus, who led the "surge" in Iraq, credited with reducing the violence there, is returning to the US in overall charge of both missions.

But it is the proposed change to the command structure in Afghanistan which is seen by the Americans as crucial to whether or not the Afghan mission succeeds. Officials point out that in Iraq, General Petraeus was in sole command, which allowed him to carry out his counter-insurgency plan. In Afghanistan, however, different Nato countries are in charge of different regions, often with different rules. Forty nations ranging from Albania and Iceland to the US and Britain are involved in Afghan operations. The force in southern Afghanistan, the main theatre of combat, includes troops from Britain, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Australia, Romania and nine other nations...

The two separate missions in Afghanistan – the Nato-led Isaf (International Security and Assistance Force), and Operation Enduring Freedom, by the Americans in the border regions with Pakistan – are due be merged under General McKiernan. This, say some US officers, needs a streamlined structure unencumbered by countless Nato caveats on rules of engagement. The Americans are said to be "acutely aware" of the sensitivity of Nato allies on the issue of command structure. Mr Gates recently said: "The command structure is a sensitive matter in terms of the eyes of our allies. And so if there were to be any changes it would require some pretty intensive consultations with our allies."

One avenue under consideration is for Nato to continue to be in charge of matters such as logistics, force protection and public affairs while direct counter-insurgency operations would be run from Centcom by General Petraeus [emphasis added].

Major General Julian Thompson, former commander of the Royal Marines, raised doubts about the viability of changing the command structure from Nato to Centcom. "It seems to me that this will make the command structure in Afghanistan even more complicated. What will be the position of Nato soldiers from other countries? It would be a bit like a British commander saying he would report directly to the MoD in London rather than Nato."

However, General Thompson acknowledged: "To my knowledge there are certainly some difficulties with so many nationalities in Afghanistan. In Helmand, for instance, some of the troops from other Nato countries have had to refer back home on orders issued by the British."

Gates: US reviewing its Afghanistan war strategy
AP, Sept. 18

The Bush administration is looking at possible changes in its war strategy in Afghanistan in light of rising levels of violence and an increasingly complex insurgent threat, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged Thursday.

''You have an overall approach, an overall strategy, but you adjust it continually based on the circumstances that you find,'' Gates said in an interview with a group of reporters at a London hotel. ''We did that in Iraq. We made a change in strategy in Iraq and we are going to continue to look at the situation in Afghanistan.''

Pressed for more details about the review of Afghan strategy, Gates would say only, ''We're looking at it.''

Gates visited Afghanistan on Wednesday and flew to London for NATO consultations.

He did not reveal whether the White House has launched a formal review of its war strategy [emphasis added]. But his remarks indicated that the administration sees a need to make some adjustments as progress there remains slow.

The Joint Chiefs chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, told a House committee last week that he had commissioned a study of Afghan strategy to incorporate the complexities presented by rising unrest and insurgent activity in Pakistan. Mullen also publicly questioned whether the United States is winning in Afghanistan.

Gates also said that at a NATO meeting here Thursday and Friday he would raise the issue of how to share the cost of a planned doubling in the size of the Afghan national army. He said building up the capacity and effectiveness of Afghanistan's own security forces is ''ultimately the exit strategy for all of us.''

The United States has about 33,000 troops in Afghanistan, and President Bush has ordered an Army brigade of about 3,700 soldiers that had been preparing to deploy to Iraq to instead go to Afghanistan in January.

Bush also announced last April at a NATO summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania, that the United States would send even more troops to Afghanistan later in 2009, beyond his term in office, when ends in January.

Gates mentioned that Bush pledge on Thursday and said, ''I expect his successor will meet that commitment.''

Gates noted that violence has been on the rise in Afghanistan for the past two years, in part because of cross-border attacks from al-Qaida, Taliban and other extremist elements that find refuge in neighboring Pakistan. And he said the nature of the insurgency in Afghanistan has changed, with a wider variety of extremist groups that, while not centrally coordinated, pose an evolving challenge...

New breed of Taliban replaces old guard
Money and a hatred of foreigners are motivating a new generation of Afghan fighters

Daily Telegraph, Sept. 17

Mehran Bozorgnia, a cameraman working for Channel 4 News, spent time with the Taliban in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan to discover this new breed...

...there was no evidence here of hordes crossing the frontier from Pakistan. To a man they were Afghan. The sole foreigner, Aftab Panjabi, a former Pakistan Army officer, took a dozen Talibs through the art of firing an AK47 accurately.

They were candid about their motives. There was no chat of Mullah Omar - the old Taliban leader - nor Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. Their fight is both modern - and yet traditional.

In modern terms they feel nothing has changed. They see a country mired in corruption. They know there is a government of sorts in distant Kabul but it has no writ here. Haji Hyatullah, in his twenties, may have his face covered in black turban - but talks openly about getting far more money fighting with the Taliban than any other job around. Assuming for a second that there were any jobs. "People are getting fed up with the lies the government has told them.

There is no work for people. They do this because they need a piece of bread to eat," he said.

But surely someone has got to negotiate eventually with the government? President Hamid Karzai himself wants that, even if the Americans are lukewarm.

"No, no, no," he laughed, genuinely amused by the concept of negotiation with Kabul.

"We don't see any need for talks with this government. Actually there is no such thing as the government. The issue here is foreign countries and we deal with them by fighting like this. Jihad is the only way for us. Our Jihad."

And that is the second, timeless motive. Talk to them about fighting the British and they don't do "war on terror". Instead, they left the compound to visit a nearby graveyard, a resting place for Afghans who fought against the British over a century ago. Haji said: "People want to defend their independence, Islam and Afghan national pride. That's why they come and support the Taliban."

They were nonplussed that President Karzai says it is "un-Afghan" to attack Nato troops. And they have no lack of support.

Hamidullah Khan explained how arms and ammunition come in from both Pakistan and Iran. Asked where the general finance comes for all this, war being nothing if not expensive, he said: "The money's coming in from all Islamic countries. All over the world.

"But in particular we are getting plenty of money from Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia."

During the visit, the fighters talked more like old-time Mujahideen, discussing the Russian invaders, than the unsmiling students of Mullah Omar.

By night they liked nothing more than a drop (or three) of whisky - though did not drink in front of a camera.

By day they encouraged locals to bet on the local sport of ram-fighting, laying money on which horned headbutter stuns its opponent the quickest. The Taliban who overtook this country more than a decade ago would have blanched...

...They happily showed off their stash of Afghan police and army uniforms. They discussed how they infiltrate local security forces. So they know when, where and how they will move. It's all about intelligence, ambush technology - not the costly frontal assaults of old.

As if to prove that, they supplied a video of them using the main Kabul-Kandahar highway as cover for rocketing a nearby compound. Daylight, brazen, confident - they moved almost leisurely, firing from the road. The traffic barely slowed. And what can Nato do - strafe Afghanistan's equivalent of the M1 motorway?

I remember when officials in Kabul pointed to that road as a shining symbol of "New Afghanistan". Nowadays any Afghan will advise you to do anything you want on that road - except drive along it.

In all of this, an urgent lesson for Nato: these local, Afghan fighters enjoy real support. It is simply wrong to say it is just coercion and terror. Just like the Mujahideen did. Indeed, on this evidence the so-called Taliban might be changing into something far more like the Mujahideen than the madrassa-produced Pakistani Taliban.

Have Nato allowed themselves to become the new Russians? Many an Afghan would say yes.

• Alex Thomson is presenter and chief correspondent for ITN's Channel 4 News. His report will be shown on Wednesday Sept 17 at 7pm. 


(More from a longer version of the AP story above)

Gates Says U.S. Is Reviewing Afghanistan Strategy
Gates also told reporters that he believes Britain intends to add more troops in Afghanistan, but he offered no numbers and said he was not sure the government here had made a final decision.

Fog of war and all that but a setback all the same....

AUSTRALIAN special forces troops in Afghanistan have accidentally killed a district governor and two of his bodyguards in a botched raid that will pose a further setback to the battle against the Taliban insurgency.
Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
190615EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

Taliban Denies Responsibility for Killing of K'Har Infrastructure Deputy (GoogEng) - Original in Arabic
Taliban kills not consider Mohammed Agha
Continental / Yusuf Ahmadi
Strongly denied the official spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in his speech this morning 13-9-2008 page with the Principality by Mujahideen Islamic Emirate in the killing of Haji Mohammad Agha consideration, assistant chief presidency electricity and water in the state of Kandahar.  He said: mentioned did not kill the Taliban.  The Assistant Chief of the presidency of electricity and water Kandahar / consideration Mohammed Agha, was killed yesterday by unidentified persons in an attack by surprise when he was mentioned heading towards the mosque for prayer.

"Killed local commander and 5 soldiers in Uruzgan" (GoogEng) - Original in Arabic
With a local commander killed five soldiers in an explosion mandate Arosjan
Continental / Yusuf Ahmadi
Mujahid Islamic Emirate killed at 9:00 am today (1892008) local commander of the Army's (came) with five soldiers from his security detail, when his car exploded by the Mujahedeen charge after dominating from the village (Susan) near the city centre Trenkot mandate Arosjan.  The explosion destroyed an enemy vehicle, killing five soldiers with the commander.  As a result strong explosion scattered members of soldiers in the distance of half a kilometre from the scene of the explosion.

Afghan killed when Canadian troops fire on vehicle
Updated Fri. Sep. 19 2008 6:20 AM ET The Canadian Press
Article Link

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Canadian soldiers have fired on a civilian vehicle that was driving toward a military convoy Thursday evening, killing one of the occupants.

Military officials say soldiers were travelling through Kandahar City at about 8:30 p.m. when a civilian truck began to drive toward their convoy.

Neither signals to head off, nor a warning shot was obeyed, and two subsequent shots finally stopped the truck.

An investigation revealed that one of the occupants was killed.

The shooting is under investigation by Canadian and Afghan officials.

Civilian deaths caused by NATO forces are a growing concern among Afghans.

More on link

Escalation of Force in Kandahar province
ISAF news release PR# 2008-490, 19 Sept 08
News release link

At approximately 8.30p.m. 18 September an ISAF convoy was approached, head on, by a jingle truck in the vicinity of Kandahar City.

The vehicle failed to respond to warning signals, of flashing lights and vehicle horn, and failed to stop. Following approved escalation of force procedures, one warning shot was fired, the vehicle still failed to stop. A further two shots were fired directly at the vehicle, killing one civilian.

No further details are available at this time as the incident is being investigated.

ISAF soldiers are trained to take appropriate steps to minimize civilian casualties, whilst at the same time taking action to protect themselves when threatened. Incidents such as this are very regrettable, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of the casualty.

ISAF runs frequent public service announcements and advertising campaigns aimed at keeping the local population informed about the need to maintain a safe distance from ISAF convoys as they travel throughout the region.


'No plans' to boost Afghan troops
BBC, Sept 19

Defence Secretary Des Browne has said he has "no plans" to announce more British troops for Afghanistan, after reports they could be increased.

He told the BBC he had made it clear in June that troops numbers would increase by 230 to more than 8,000 next spring.

He said military commanders had not asked for any more troops.

The Daily Telegraph reported that US defence secretary Robert Gates had said UK troops might increase to deal with the threat from the Taleban.

In an interview with the newspaper Mr Gates said: "My understanding is that the UK may increase the size of its force there." He suggested an additional 4,000 soldiers might be sent to Afghanistan [emphasis added] to reinforce troops.

'Carefully increase'

But Mr Browne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "As far as our contribution is concerned, I think I have made our commitment in terms of troop levels very clear.

"I last told Parliament on June 16 that we would carefully increase the number of troops by a few hundred to about 8,000 over the period from October [emphasis added], going forward.

We all know the long term answer to Afghanistan depends on building governments and creating economic opportunity

"I have no plans to announce, or I am not planning, I have not been asked by military commanders for additional troops."

But he said he and Mr Gates agreed that a greater commitment from Nato was needed, not just troops but getting the "capabilities, equipment and support" for existing forces...

Asked about US cross-border raids against suspected militant targets in Pakistani territory, Mr Browne said he had been discussing "operational tactics" with Mr Gates who had made it clear that "they need to work with Pakistan".

"Building the capacity of the Pakistanis to be able to hold security their side of the border is the only sustainable answer to the problems we all face around that area," he said.

U.S. military advisors may soon head to Pakistan
The U.S. and Pakistan have cleared remaining obstacles, so the long-delayed team may arrive within weeks, Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen says.

LA Times, Sept. 18

A long-delayed plan to send dozens of U.S. military advisors to Pakistan to train its army in counterinsurgency could begin in a matter of weeks under a new agreement on a training base, according to the top U.S. military officer.

Washington for months has urged the Pakistani military to accept the training team. Pakistan has resisted, asking for additional weaponry and equipment some U.S. officials believe is best suited for its standoff with regional rival India.

But Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the primary stumbling block had been the fact that Pakistan could not build the training site, near the western town of Peshawar, quickly enough. The two sides have agreed to use an alternative base north of the capital.

"We're still going through some administrative delays, but I do see it happening," Mullen said in an interview en route from Washington to his hometown of Los Angeles, where he plans a series of talks in coming days. "I think it's in the next few weeks."

Mullen's remarks were his first since returning Wednesday from an unannounced trip to Pakistan, his fifth since becoming chairman last year.

He said he made the latest visit because of accusations that the U.S. had violated Pakistan's sovereignty in a special operations raid this month near the Afghan border.

Pakistani officials have warned they might open fire on foreign troops that cross into Pakistani territory.

Mullen said he believed Pakistani officials were insisting on their right "to defend their country, which I understand, which anybody understands."

He added: "Clearly we have no desire to get into any kind of engagement with the Pakistani military."..

Afghanistan: master and commander
Conference of Defence Associations media round-up, Sept 19

Taliban Propaganda Watch (RC South)
201000EDT Sept 08

.pdf version attached at bottom of message

NOTE:  The following material is from web pages and forums carrying statements attributed to the Taliban, Taliban spokespersons or supporters of the Taliban, or analysis thereof.  Posting of this material neither confirms nor endorses any of its content - it is shared for information only.  When material translated into English is not available, Google Translate is used to translate the original (indicated by "GoogEng") - this is only a machine translation, NOT an official one.

"2 tanks of Canadian invaders destroyed in Kandahar"
Saturday morning 20-09-2008 at approximately 9:15am local time, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up 2 tanks of Canadian occupation army convoys when they were traveling  in on Kandahar Herat highway in Kolak area of Zhari district of Kandahar province. In the explosions the tanks were completely destroyed and 7 the invader terrorists in it were killed.  Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

"1 vehicle of  puppet army  blew up in   Kandahar"
Friday morning 19-09-2008 at approximately 9:30 am local, Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmines blew up a vehicles of puppet army in Qahla Jaded area of Kandahar city. The landmines completely destroyed the vehicles and  7 puppet terrorists in it were killed .  Reported by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi

"1 tank of Australian invaders destroyed in Uruzgan"
Saturday 20-09-2008 at approximately 7:10am local ,Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, with remote controlled landmine blew up 1 tank of Australian occupation army convoys when they were traveling  in Sana Najben area near Tharen Kot city capital of Uruzga province. In the explosions the tank was completely destroyed and 3 the invader terrorists in it were killed .Reported by Qari Muhammad Yousuf

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