Archived posts from category ‘Zach Rosenberg’

Zach’s Things with Wings

India Buys AH-64s
India, now among the world’s largest and most lucrative defense markets, has ordered 22 new AH-64D Apaches, among the most technologically advanced helicopters in the world. The sale, one of several high profile U.S.-India aircraft deals, is one more indication of closer military/security cooperation as India updates its military. India has turned down several prospective deals involving U.S. technology, having not forgotten the military embargo imposed by the U.S. after India’s nuclear tests. Of particular note are the Pakistani and Chinese responses to the sale, which have thus far consisted largely of silence. Two U.S. companies are among others bidding on a highly lucrative deal for 126 advanced fighter aircraft.

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Zach’s Things with Wings

Afghanistan is an Air War
Airborne weapons are back in fashion amongst ISAF troops in Afghanistan. In a trend followed closely by Wired’s Danger Room, the number of air attack missions has gone up substantially to levels not seen since the 2001 invasion. Though former commander General Stanley McChrystal greatly restricted the use of air strikes in Afghanistan, ISAF under General David Petraeus is now reporting an average of 28 bombings a day. Air strikes were previously restricted in an attempt to gain popular support from the Afghan populace, which generally sees air strikes as misguided and dangerous; previous air strikes have killed large numbers of civilians. The dramatic uptick in air strikes is symptomatic of ISAF’s more aggressive approach as troops move into Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan and of Taliban inroads into previously-safe parts of the north.

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Zach’s Things with Wings

USMC Unmanned Rotary Contract Divided
The U.S. Navy announced on Thursday that a large contract for unmanned rotary airlift services would be split between the two main competitors. Kaman will receive nearly $46 million to provide unmanned airlift to the Marine Corps in Afghanistan, while Boeing gets roughly $29 million. Kaman will provide an unmanned version of the venerable K-Max, an aging design originally designed for piloted heavy lifting. Boeing will send their new A160 Hummingbird, a new multipurpose design. Both manufacturers will send two aircraft and three ground stations to Afghanistan, where they will be tested operationally. The challenge of deployment is intended to verify the unmanned concept as much as the systems themselves; the U.S. military, which has long operated unmanned aircraft for reconnaissance and airstrikes, is slowly exploring new capabilities for unmanned aircraft. The U.S. Navy has previously used the manned K-Max for ship-to-ship transfers, whereas the A160 has been quietly in development for use by Special Forces, but this represents the first public deployment of either aircraft to a war zone. The success or failure of these new systems is virtually certain to be a prelude to more extensive roles for unmanned aircraft.


Zach in Afghanistan: NATO Accident Sparks Kabul Riot

A blackened scorch now marks the spot where a U.S. embassy vehicle, one of two torched by rioters yesterday, came to rest. The vehicle, one of the ubiquitous SUVs that ferry foreigners all over the Kabul area, ran a civilian car off the road and into the median, killing four Afghan civilians. It is not uncommon to see NGO workers, contractors and even uniformed military personnel using the armored vehicles; the four DynCorp employees in the car fled under the protection of the Afghan National Police (ANP). Almost instantly after the accident an angry mob formed, composed, according to press reports, of hundreds furious Afghans.

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Zach in Afghanistan: The Afghan Kabubble

Kabul has perhaps the world’s worst tasting, but best guarded KFC rip-off, the notorious Afghan Fried Chicken. To eat this poor excuse for food and sip warm soda, one must pass by two AK-toting Afghan guards and step through a metal detector, possibly followed by a hand search. But AFC is among the more inclusive foreign-oriented
restaurants – at least they allow Afghans to eat there. It is worth noting that some of the most expensive cities in the world for expatriates are in the developing world. Much of this cost is undoubtedly due to the massive costs required to separate the expats from, well, the developing city around them.

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Zach in Afghanistan: Recent Developments in Afghan Corruption

First, it’s worth noting just where Afghanistan stands, and the Failed States Index is a good place to start. Note Afghanistan’s overall position as the sixth-most failed state in the world. The relevant measurement of corruption is “Delegitimization of the State,” in which category Afghanistan gets a score of 10 out of 10, the same score as Somalia, and just ahead of Chad and Sudan.

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Zach in Afghanistan: The Gizab Good Guys

In May, a group of irate villagers in Gizab, Daikundi Province, an area largely left alone by NATO forces, banded together to take on the local Taliban head first — and won. This is the local turnaround we’ve all been looking for: a spontaneous locally-inspired, -organized and -led revolt against the heavy hand of the Taliban. And people said Iraq’s Anbar Awakening couldn’t work in Afghanistan, the fools! Foreign government and military personnel greeted the news with unabashed optimism.

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Zach in Afghanistan: Losing Faith

On a calm April night at Combat Outpost Baraki Barak, a survivor is recalling the bomb that nearly killed him a couple of days before. He was in his MRAP when a command-wire IED blew it up; he pulled people out of the burning truck, got them onto litters, and picked up his weapon, ready to kill, but as in many of these attacks there was no clear target to shoot. The seriously wounded were airlifted and the surrounding Afghan population yielded no intelligence; the unit circled their remaining trucks and watched the stricken truck burn. He was sent to the hospital for a nasty cut on his head, only six stitches wide but down to the bone.


Zach in Afghanistan: So Your Enemy is an Idiot …

On a combat outpost in Logar Province, a group of young American soldiers sit around on guard duty, bored to tears, swapping stories about the Afghan National Army (ANA). Between drags of his cigarette, one soldier tells a story of his time guarding the COP’s senior medic. One day, it seems, a senior ANA officer came to the clinic complaining of an infection to his penis; after some time and much sheepishness, it emerged that the ANA officer likely contracted the infection when he had sex with a donkey. He was given antibiotics. Around the guard post, the other soldiers nod; they have similar stories.

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Zach in Afghanistan: America’s Kandahar Conundrum

As the U.S. and Afghan armies gear up for the offensive in Kandahar (or not — in rumor-rich Kabul, various sources have it beginning anytime from tomorrow through the winter) the U.S. is increasingly in a political conundrum. On one hand, there’s no good to come from allowing the Taliban a free hand in Kandahar, and that whatever happens has to work, or else. While few suggest the Taliban can take the city over completely, they currently do enough to keep the population from conclusively siding with the national government. On the other hand, it is increasingly apparent that the U.S. may not possess the necessary political resources to win the population.

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Automobile: Battle Buggy — Riding into Battle in the Pentagon’s Newest Armored Truck

by DAVID AXE and ZACH ROSENBERG The Taliban had them surrounded. It was a clear moonlit night on March 28 in Dangam district, in the Kunar River valley in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. Army patrol, from Battle Company, Second Battalion, 503rd Infantry, was caught on a narrow road between two mountain peaks teeming with Taliban [...]


Zach in Afghanistan: The Justice/Peace Divide

Sidiqua, 18 years old, cries gently as she talks about her life. At the age of three, Hezb-i-Islami rocketed her home while assaulting Kabul; the first put a piece of shrapnel in her back that the local hospital had no capacity to remove. The second rocket killed her mother, brothers and aunt. Her father, bearing permanent mental scars, cannot bear the pain of seeing her; though he has a home in Kabul, she is not allowed inside it and he often sleeps in the streets. Without family, a crucial part of Afghan social life, Sidiqua is adrift. She is unemployed and broke. The government, which gives her 8,000 Afghanis a year — about $160, well below the cost of living — denied her request for land, Sidiqua says, because she is a woman and cannot build a house. To survive, she moves between the houses of her neighbors. “I need my mother,” she weeps, “where is my mother now?”