Employed as a Counterterrorism Analyst, But Think Your Bosses Are Misunderstanding the Problem?
Quit your DoD post and write a book! Offer it for free, on the Web. Oh, and do it anonymously. Reddit AMA here
Last year, the unofficial Dean of the White House Press Corps, Helen Thomas,
spoke about the State of Israel on camera. (Previously)
: "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,"
and that the Jews "can go home"
to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else,"
sparked media outrage,
prompted her to issue an apology and retire
. After months of being out of the the public spotlight, she has now given her first long-form interview, which will appear in the April issue of Playboy Magazine
. In it, she explains what she meant, tells us how she would like to be remembered and expands upon her positions regarding Israel, Jewish political influence, Presidents Bush and Obama, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How two American kids became big-time weapons traders
- "Working with nothing but an Internet connection, a couple of cellphones and a steady supply of weed, the two friends — one with a few college credits, the other a high school dropout — had beaten out Fortune 500 giants like General Dynamics to score the huge arms contract. With a single deal, two stoners from Miami Beach had turned themselves into the least likely merchants of death in history." (via
; previously on arms contractors
] is an experimental media project, tracking the deployment of 1/8
– 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines, throughout the duration of their
deployment to southern Afghanistan. A small team of mobile media
operators is embedded with the battalion, transmitting their reports
and reflections from Helmand province as they travel across the
battalion’s area of operations.
The U.S. governmental Commission on Wartime Contracting held hearings today
regarding the corruption, mismanagement, massive financial waste and lack of oversight among private defense contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. [more inside]
The Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Celexa, Effexor, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan, Restoril, Xanax, Adderall, Ritalin, Haldol, Risperdal, Seroquel, Ambien, Lunesta, Elavil, Trazodone War
New York Magazine's Jennifer Senior writes on prescription drug (ab)use among soldiers and veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. [more inside]
Rafaela Persson photographed
female drug addicts and their children in Afghanistan
. [more inside]
With Air Force's Gorgon Drone 'we can see everything.'
"In ancient times, Gorgon
was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military's most valuable new tools. This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare
, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town."
Since the spring of 2010
, all-volunteer units called Female Engagement Teams
have been doing what male soldiers can't: speak with women and children in rural Afghani communities
, both to gain information and to foster trust. These soldiers may carry M4 rifles, but their toolkit includes sidewalk chalk and jump ropes
, too. The FETs, trained for this specific mission grew out of more ad hoc programs like the Lioness program for traffic checkpoints in Iraq
. "The FET mission to me is so critical that if I had to exchange blood for it, I would," said Sgt. 1st Class Sawyer Alberi
, an FET team leader for the National Guard. "The FET mission is nested very closely in the COIN mission, and unless you do it, you're not doing the whole COIN mission." First Lieutenant Quincy Washa, platoon commander for the Female Engagement Team with Regimental Combat Team 1, describes the teams' role
. Despite the apparent importance of the FETs' work, the program is still an experiment; it is unclear whether it will continue after the current teams' deployment
...if all these neocons who worship the Ancient Greeks, like Victor Davis Hanson, really want to know what their precious Greeks were like, those boy-fucking, throat-slitting, 400-verse war-song reciting founders of our glorious civilization and all that, they should go live in a Pashtun village.... Well, the Pashtun are sensible people too. They don’t have much to lose, and they’re not that scared of dying.... They’ve got nothing coming from the whole Thomas Friedman world, and they’d be fools to think they do.
from The War Nerd: Market Lessons from the Pashtun [more inside]
It may take years, but some researcher will travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas and produce a definitive study on what it’s been like to live amidst an aerial bombardment from American pilotless aircraft. When that account inevitably comes out, it’s likely to find that 2010 — and especially the final quarter of 2010 — marked a turning point in how civilians coped with a drone war that turned relentless
. (previously: 1,2)
Restrepo is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan's Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, "Restrepo," named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90-minute deployment. This is war, full stop. The conclusions are up to you. (previously) [more inside]
"Hann sells his Afghanistan tours as a chance to see the country's rugged outback while sleeping on dirty teahouse floors and tackling the country's roads in minibuses that buck like mechanical bulls
... Obviously, Hann's tours attract adventurous travelers, but they're not adrenaline freaks or war junkies. Most are past middle age, unmarried, fairly mild-mannered, and childless," Damon Tabor on tourism in Afghanistan.
"Regardless of political stance,
no one can deny the joy felt upon seeing your loved ones return home safely -- WelcomeHomeBlog.com
is a site celebrating that amazing feeling. Visit daily for heartwarming stories, videos and pictures of members of our courageous armed forces returning home to their families and friends..."
Is it wise to negotiate with the Taliban? Probably not without first checking credentials.
Apparently the "Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour," very senior commander in the Taliban movement, who has been engaged in talks to end the Afghanistan war, is no such person. Whoever he was, and whoever sent him, he also walked away with "a lot of money." (SLNYT)
The U.S. military is sending a contingent of heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war... Although the officer acknowledged that the use of tanks this many years into the war could be seen as a sign of desperation by some Afghans and Americans, he said they will provide the Marines with an important new tool in missions to flush out pockets of insurgent fighters. [more inside]
The Soviet Collapse
"The document which effectively concluded the history of the Soviet Union was a letter from the Vneshekonombank in November 1991 to the Soviet leadership, informing them that the Soviet state had not a cent in its coffers."
'This is the very odd story of the events that led to a horrific mass killing of Afghan civilians by coalition forces in August 2008.'
'It is the story of the Americans and the British striding into the fairy wood only to find themselves spun around so much by the Afghans that they do not know who is the enemy and who is a friend any longer. And they come out with a donkey's head. But on the way they kill 90 innocent people.' [more inside]
Skateistan - To Live and Skate in Kabul
(9:16) is a short documentary based on the work of the NGO Skateistan
), who provide lessons in skateboarding, environmental health, information technology, art and language to hundreds of boys and girls in Kabul, Afghanistan. (via
) [more inside]
A Year at War:
One Battalion's Wrenching Deployment to Afghanistan
: "Some 30,000 American soldiers are taking part in the Afghanistan surge. Here are the stories of the men and women of First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division" out of Fort Drum, NY., based in Kunduz Province
, Afghanistan. Over the next year, The New York Times will follow their journey, chronicling the battalion’s part in the surge in northern Afghanistan and the impact of war on individual soldiers and their families back home. (First link is an interactive feature containing images and autoplaying video, and requires flash. Second link is a standard-style article.) [more inside]
Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding close to each other in houses in northwest Pakistan, but are not together, a senior NATO official said. ... al Qaeda's top leadership is believed to be living in relative comfort, protected by locals and some members of the Pakistani intelligence services... The official would not discuss how the coalition has come to know any of this information, but he has access to some of the most sensitive information in the NATO alliance. [more inside]
On 12 February 2009, soldiers from the ADF 1st Commando regiment
crept through the dark near the village of Surkh Morghab
, in southern Afghanistan. What happened next will be closely scrutinised, however grenades were used and five children were killed. [more inside]
Last Wednesday, October 6, a panel of speakers from a variety of political positions met antiwar activists at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in San Francisco to discuss how to build a consensus to end the war in Afghanistan. The speakers included Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, Antiwar.com’s Angela Keaton, Republican congressional candidate John Dennis, labor leader Michael Eisenscher, and radio talk show host Karel. The moderator was Jeff Johnson of PeacePundit.com, and included remarks by Unitarian Church leaders Dolores Perez Priem, Sandra Schwartz, Jeremiah Halliday, and Louis Vitale, and Anthony Gregory of the Independent Institute. (via) Daniel Ellsberg - part I - part II - part III [more inside]
"For a lot of soldiers, there are two kinds of people: those who serve, and those who expect to be served, and those who serve are pretty noble.'' The U.S. Army now begins its 10th continuous year in combat, the first time in its history the United States has excused the vast majority of its citizens from service and engaged in a major, decade-long conflict instead with an Army manned entirely by professional warriors.
is an open letter written by Noman Benotman, a former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a former associate of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In al Qaeda strategy meetings in Kandahar in 2000, Benotman warned the al-Qaeda leadership of ‘total failure' to realise their aims and called on bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to abandon violence. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, he distanced himself from al-Qaeda and later resigned from his own jihadist organisation. He has more recently been instrumental in negotiations with Libya's government to free former LIFG leaders, and in persuading these leaders to formally renounce terrorism. He also recently joined the London-based Quilliam Foundation as a Senior Analyst.
"In most cases, when a book that deals with potentially classified military information is due to be published, one of the United States's many government divisions inspect it, redact sensitive parts, and either let publication continue or stop it entirely. But a clash in opinion between the U.S. Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency may lead to the DIA buying up all 10,000 copies of [a] new memoir's first printing
-- and promptly pulping the books." "The publication of Operation Dark Heart
, by Anthony A. Shaffer
, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, has divided military security reviewers and highlighted the uncertainty about what information poses a genuine threat to security."* [more inside]
Troops from nearly 50 lands dine on combat meals in Afghanistan — each reminding them of where they’d rather be.
More about military rations from around the world. [more inside]
EA's new Medal of Honor
video game allows players to take the role of Taliban insurgents
killing American troops. In response, the US military has banned sales of the game
on all military bases, including in privately run businesses (such as GameStop) present on bases. Military members (who game) don't seem too happy about the decision here
. (More military member comments, some pro, some against, can be found here
.) You can watch someone playing as a Taliban insurgent here
. (Warning: MoH gameplay is rated 'M' for mature.)
Photographer Luke Powell captures the beauty and dignity of Afghanistan from the cities in the news to remote villages reachable only on horseback. He photographed the country extensively throughout the 1970s as a tourist and again from 2000 – 2003 in the employ of the United Nations to document minefields, mine victims, and demining efforts.
Glimpses: Boys in the Bazaar
l Koochie Tents
). [more inside]
"If you spend 72 hours in a place you’ve never been, talking to people whose language you don’t speak about social, political, and economic complexities you don’t understand, and you come back as the world’s biggest know-it-all, you’re a reporter." - PJ O'Rourke visits Kabul
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted by the Swedish police, for a rape charge, according to the BBC
WikiLeaks has, of course, been highly controversial, since it published 91,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan
. [more inside]
While most of the attention in the war on drugs has been focused on Mexico of late, the opium trade in Afghanistan is still alive. Though perhaps not as well this year, as Tajikistan reports far less opium crossing the border
, attributed to more use within Afghanistan
as well as an unexplained poppy blight
. With yields dropping and prices rising, US-backed efforts to encourage farmers to grow alternate crops
) may be derailed, despite a trade agreement with Pakistan
which promises to open the country's borders to more trade in legitimate consumer goods with India. Meanwhile, people are looking into ways
to turn the poppy fields into biofuels
Dr. Karen Woo, one of the 10 medical aid workers slain in Afghanistan, kept a blog
of her experiences. I've spent the last two days doing Afghan medicals - en masse I have been terrifying Afghan men with my femaleness and daring use of the stethoscope. [more inside]
Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video
have come forward to tell their story
. [more inside]
"I showed it to my two young sons, 9 and 12, who both immediately felt sorry for Aisha and asked why anyone would have done such harm to her." [WARNING: Graphic image.]
Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time
magazine, on why he chose to run on the magazine's cover a photo of a young woman whose nose and ears had been cut off at the insistence of the Taliban. It accompanies the article "Afghan Women and the Return of the Taliban
The New York Times
, The Guardian
, and Der Spiegel
have been given access to approximately 92,000 classified Afghanistan war documents provided to WikiLeaks.
"I have just got my hands on something wonderful and precious. It is five computer drives containing the unedited rushes of everything shot by the BBC in Afghanistan over the last thirty years
." [more inside]
Was Obama's decision to invade Afghanistan a mistake?
Michael Steele, chair of the RNC seems to think so. Republicans and Democrats alike are irked and confused by his comments.
"Sixteen-year-old Sabera, with a pretty yellow head scarf, frets that she is missing school. 'I was about to get engaged, and the boy came to ask me himself, before sending his parents. A lady in our neighbourhood saw us, and called the police,' she explains. She was sentenced to three years but, in an act of mercy, it was shortened to 18 months . . ." The BBC reports from an Afghan women's prison. [more inside]
The Karzai government is crumbling before our eyes, and if we delude ourselves that this is not the case, we could yet face a replay of 1842.
Why the Taliban is winning in Afghanistan
- William Dalrymple. (1
A long in- depth article with historical overtones, which leads to the question: Why Are We in Afghanistan? (2006