by KYLE MIZOKAMI * U.S. test fires Trident missile in drill with Saudi Arabia * Dutch consider post-Afghanistan military missions, forces, costs * Retired general apologizes for comments linking gay soldiers, Srebrenica massacre * Iranian special forces free diplomat held in Pakistan * Confusion, contradictions surround Cheonan sinking
Archive of Mar 2010
A pair of Afghan helicopters swoop down onto a farmer’s field in Mahageer, outside the city of Bagram, and disgorge squads of Afghan commandos carrying free radios and school supplies for local residents. It’s only a training event, with a small humanitarian component, but its narrow scope belies the mission’s importance — it is one of the first times that Afghan soldiers and pilots have worked together on an operation planned by Afghan officers, with no NATO input.
You can cram five M-ATV blast-proof trucks into the cargo hold of a chartered 747 freighter. But getting them out ain’t easy, as the aerial porters at Bagram Air Field can attest. It took then 90 minutes to download one 747 on March 21. The M-ATVs are bound for combat units across Afghanistan.
Compared to the opaque nature of meetings between UN representatives and members of the Taliban (meetings the UN has confirmed but the Taliban still deny ever took place), the Hezb-i-Islami talks are comparatively transparent –but only in relative terms. Journalists have struggled to wrest details afterward, and civil society has been shut out, angering progressive elements in Afghan society. Even most Afghan politicians have been forced to rely on the international media for updates.
he two Russian-made helicopters swooped low over the village of Mahageer, pushing a stinging swirl of dust over the vineyards and pastures. The Mi-17 transports from the Afghan National Army Air Corps’ Kabul Wing touched down in close formation, their rotors just yards apart. Squads of Afghan National Army commandos leaped from the choppers and fanned out, aiming their M-16 rifles. With the perimeter secure, the commandos pulled cardboard boxes from the helicopters. When their holds were empty, the Mi-17s lifted off, blasting the fields with a fresh wave of grit.
There’s a new Afghanistan war plan. Last fall, NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal rolled out more restrictive rules of engagement, heralding a “population-centric” approach to the war. U.S. President Barack Obama announced more U.S. troops. While U.S.-led forces in eastern Afghanistan doubled their efforts to prop up faltering local governance, troops in the south identified [...]
During the first half of Afghanistan’s civil war in the 1990’s, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s forces committed atrocities that elsewhere in the world are met with international arrest warrants and indictments for war crimes and crimes against humanity –not hints of future inclusion in government.
Kyle’s Links 3/29/10
by KYLE MIZOKAMI * U.S. troops prep for Afghanistan with cultural training * Up to 25% of Afghan National Police may be non-existent * Area 51 vets describe life at secret base (spoiler: no aliens) * Russia to buy only one Mistral amphibious ship after all * Chinese helicopters bought by Kenya not flown 3 [...]
Afghan commandos give out watercolor comic books to illiterate villagers when they drop in for missions, all in an effort to help explain to everyday Afghans what their security forces are for. We snagged a copy during a commando air assault mission in Bagram.
The Air Force is expanding its security responsibilities in and around Bagram, taking over from the Army. Air Force security forces have begun patrolling “outside the wire.”
“This video shows a U.S. Air Force F-16 identifying two individuals acting suspiciously in early December, 2009,” according to NATO. “The pilot, in support of the Air Force observer on the ground, known as a ‘JTAC,’ watched overhead providing constant support to nearby coalition ground forces.”
The news came as a surprise to most people. In 2008, the BBC revealed that the United Arab Emirates had maintained a small military presence in Afghanistan for five years. The UAE troops worked alongside U.S. and NATO soldiers and helped bridge the religious divide. “At first I thought these were American soldiers and I wanted them to leave,” an Afghan told BBC reporter Frank Gardner, “but when they said they were Muslims I knew they were our brothers.”