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Posts Tagged ‘SW Asia’

This is a link to a video of what is happening in Tehran today. It is not as graphic as some others I’ve heard about. I can only say that because I cannot bear to watch them.

Here are some articles:

پخش زنده برنامه های تلويزيونی فائزه هاشمی آزاد شد “ده کشته” و “یکصد زخمی” در درگیری های دیروز تهران چه کسانی پس از اعلام نتایج انتخابات بازداشت شده اند؟ درخواست موسوی از مردم حین درگیری های تهران

Oh my. You don’t read Farsi, do you? How about this? Try the Google Translator. Remember to copy the text you want to translate, then click on Google translator.

Here is the link to the article and video from BBC news. I like the way the protesters back down the monsters who are doing the killing. Animals.

UPDATE: This just in from Winston. The title of this is “Iran Street Clashes Despite ‘Several Deaths’”, but I call it “Afraid No More!” (Video by MiddleEastNews from SkyNews tv.)

Do you think maybe they’ve been watching too many American news reports? Agh. So what! They have had it with their oppressors, and I’m glad. Let us pray for their safety, success, freedom, Liberty, and sense of responsibility. Let them truly enter the community of the world with peace. Amen.

PS. If you disagree, I don’t care. I understand the risks. What if someone worse comes along, right? I do not believe they will stand for it. Not after being oppressed for 30 years. Ask the Iraqis.

PSS. I do care. What I meant by what I said is that I’ve been following Iran for many years now, and I’ve also been praying for them. Are you aware there are over one million Christians in Iran and several Jews? Yes. This is a fact. So do I care about the Muslims? Not the ones who are doing all the murdering but yes, I do. God did not make just some of us. When He sent His Son to earth as our Saviour, He sent Him for everyone. Not just you and me. We should all care. That’s all.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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Today the riots are continuing. It is fierce. Soon there will be cracks in the upper-class echelon of mullahs, ministries, and even the ayatollah will shake in his boots. GOOD. It’s about time. Now if only America had a leader…

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

More than 1.5 million protesters took to the streets of Tehran on Monday, marking the largest anti-regime demonstration Iran has seen since the final days of the shah in early 1979.

Seven people were killed by anti-riot police and roving bands of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supporters. Many of those supporters shielded their faces from surveillance videos that plainclothes police were shooting.

The protesters included some unlikely participants: 16 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers pledged to join the people’s movement, according to initial reports from Tehran. That signaled that the once-solid support of the guard corps for Ahmadinejad is beginning to crack.

The 16 officers were arrested after meeting secretly with top regular army officers on Monday night. [Continue reading.]

Prayers are needed for these people. I can’t stand Mousavi, but I am not supporting him. I am supporting the Iranian people. Please stand together with the rest of us who know that it is time the Iranian people tasted freedom by their own choice. Thank you.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts.

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ISAF Public Information Office

KABUL, Afghanistan (June 15, 2009) – Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal arrived in Afghanistan Sunday to assume command of the International Security Assistance Force.

McChrystal will lead the international community’s efforts to bring security to Afghanistan, in partnership with Afghan national security forces, to create the conditions for governance, reconstruction and development to flourish.

McChrystal commented that intelligence-driven precision operations, subordinate to efforts protecting development projects and Afghanistan’s population, will win the support of the Afghan people. “The measure of effectiveness will not be [the number of] enemy killed, it will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence,” he said.

McChrystal entered the Army in 1976, graduating with a Bachelors Degree from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He also holds Masters degrees in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and in International Relations from the Salve Regina University. He is also a Senior Service College Fellow of Harvard University and a Military Fellow of the Council of Foreign Relations in New York.

During his early career, McChrystal served in Airborne, Special Forces, and Ranger units. After command and staff courses, he saw service in Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Operations Command and regimental appointments.

He then served as assistant divisional commander (operations) of the 82nd Airborne Division, and the Chief of Staff of XVIII Airborne Corps, including duty in Afghanistan as the COS of Combined Joint Task Force-180 on Operation Enduring Freedom in 2002.

McChrystal was the vice director for operations on the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C., before assuming command of the Joint Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C. He has just left his position as the director of the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C., to assume command here at HQ ISAF.

ISAF was created in accordance with the Bonn Conference in December 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime. NATO took command of ISAF in August 2003 and is NATO’s first mission outside the Euro-Atlantic area ISAF operates under a United Nations mandate to support, and at the invitation of, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and works in close cooperation with the International Community, Non-Governmental Organizations and Operation Enduring Freedom. Today, ISAF consists of approximately 65,000 troops from 42 countries, including non-NATO members

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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Background: The last sham election was boycotted by many people, so there was a low turnout. Possibly 20%, but I do not remember. Since Ahmadinejad ‘won’, the people of Iran have suffered greatly, especially the young and the women. He has strictly enforced Sharia law, no women can leave the house without their head covered, no alcohol, no music, no dancing, no affection in public ie. holding hands etc, no disrespect (speaking the truth about Ahmadinejad) about Ahmadinejad or the ‘Supreme Leader’, and many more rules. Also, many people in Iran believe (know) the only vote that counts, yes it is only one, is that of ‘Supreme Leader’ Khomenei. All other votes do not count, so elections in Iran are not as we know them here. They are a sham to appease the appeasable.

That being said, Ahmadinejad did not win this election. Do I have the facts, the ballots? No, I do not. Have I seen the documentation? No, I haven’t. So how can I make such a statement? I am an American and we have a little thing called “FREE SPEECH” which, unfortunately, many people take for granted. They do not understand how rare God-given rights are. This way, governments cannot take these rights away, because they are not the ones from whence they came.

Back to the point. It was reported that 70%+ of the people showed up to vote on June 12, 2009. Would that many people show up to vote for someone they do not like? Would they show up for the same-old same-old, or would they show up for change? That is why I believe Moussavi won. When you refer to the first paragraph, would you vote for that? Neither would many Iranians, although some would I imagine. The mullahs (think of union bosses) and the intimidated.

There is an Iranian blogger who I follow, and he has written much about this. There are now riots in the streets, 20,000 people at last estimate, and the phone services have been cut off to the outside world. Please read these two articles of his: Infighting and Clashing. You may also follow him at Twitter: Winston80. That is what I will be doing shortly.

After you read those two articles, you may understand why I titled this post, ‘war for peace inside Iran?’. The police (militias) have orders to shoot to kill the protesters. DO YOU NOW BELIEVE YOU ARE LUCKY AS ALL GET-OUT TO LIVE HERE? Can you imagine if President Bush gave those orders? I would have changed sides in an instant flat. No kidding. Government didn’t give us the right to free speech, God did. Anyway, let me back off this rant.

Iranians protesting against election results 2009 – Part 02
by PasargadNewsAgency, June 13, 2009.

Hat tip: Winston.

I am very worried for the Iranian people right now. They are in grave danger. If you are a believing person (in God), please send up your prayers for these protesters and Iran along with me. There are many Christians in Iran, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are also Jewish people in Iran who are suffering very much. There are even people in Iran who do not believe in anything at all because of what they see. How can they believe when all they see is evil, desperation, hunger, etc? Pray for them as well to know God. Many organizations are sending Bibles and praying with them and for them. Thank you.

PS. Winston has written another post while I was writing this one. The title of it is Iran on Fire. Then Michael Ledeen: The Iranian Circus III and MSNBC are also covering this now. (Michael has been covering this for decades.)

The chanting you hear in that video above is the Iranian people saying, “Death to the Dictator!” [Update: Today, the 14, they are chanting 'We Want Freedom' as well!] They are even fighting with the police to get their friends back from their custody. This time, the air is different. The people are no longer afraid of the police, and the IRG and other militias have not shown up so far. Could this be the beginning of the end of the cruelty Iran has suffered by its own politicians? Time will tell, my dear friends. Let us pray.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Talon, TCU, SGP and Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Sgt. Rob Frazier
5th MPAD

WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan (June 12, 2009) – Every summer, the Kuchi tribe migrates through the Daymardad district of this central-Afghanistan province, allowing their animals to graze in the open pastures belonging to the Hazara tribe. This frequently has sparked violent territorial disputes.

An elder with the Kuchi tribe explains his situation to Ali Khashe, the deputy governor for Wardak province (center in gray jacket), June 8.  The Kuchi have asked for water and veterinarian supplies for their livestock as a condition to stop the fighting with the Hazara tribe in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

An elder with the Kuchi tribe explains his situation to Ali Khashe, the deputy governor for Wardak province (center in gray jacket), June 8. The Kuchi have asked for water and veterinarian supplies for their livestock as a condition to stop the fighting with the Hazara tribe in Wardak province, Afghanistan.

After hearing of the conflict, U.S. forces at Forward Operating Base Airborne approached Wardak Gov. Mohammad Halim Fidai about a peaceful way to resolve the fighting between the two tribes.

“The mission was inspired from the age-old conflict between the Kuchi nomads and the Hazara,” said Army Maj. Joe Asher, deputy civil affairs officer for the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team. “Three weeks ago, we went to Daymardad, and it was a very positive step for us. The Kuchi elders said they would not migrate if they were given food, water and vaccination supplies for their animals.”

Once learning of a possible solution, soldiers from 4th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, delivered the first installment of humanitarian aid to the Daymardad people.

“We hope this demonstrates that we’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re taking the steps to alleviate your problems,’” Asher said. “Although this is funded by us, it’s important for the Kuchi and Hazara to know this is enacted by the Afghan government.”

The first delivery included sacks of beans, sugar, flour, rice and boxes of cooking oil. Asher added that a second shipment of humanitarian aid likely would be made within the next week.

“We plan to follow this up with water, tents and veterinarian supplies,” Asher said. “This way, the Kuchi won’t have to move their livestock, because they will have what they need.”

Ali Khashe, deputy governor of Wardak province, was on hand to greet the soldiers and meet with the Kuchi tribesmen prior to handing out the food. Inside the district center, Khashe fielded questions from the elders regarding water and vaccination requests for their livestock. Khashe told them he knows their issues cannot be solved all at once, but that he hopes they understand the leaders are working as hard as possible to meet their needs.

“The governor’s office is trying to solve their problems,” Khashe said. “It’s our priority to convince the two tribes to live like brothers.”

The deputy governor said the humanitarian aid is a step in the right direction, and another example of coalition efforts to help the Afghan people.

“The district center and the people here all know the U.S. comes to help,” he said. “They are very happy, because everyone knows the U.S. forces came to help rebuild Afghanistan. We are very grateful for their assistance.”

Asher said that with U.S. assistance and cooperation from the Wardak government, the humanitarian aid will signal the start of a change for the Kuchi and Hazara tribes in the Daymardad region.

“Hopefully, this will result in the first nonviolent summer between them in a long time,” he said.

Source: CENTCOM.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (June 11, 2009) – The commander of U.S. Central Command Thursday praised the Pakistani army for operations it is waging against insurgents near the country’s border with Afghanistan. “These have been quite impressive operations and I think Pakistan deserves some significant credit for it,” Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said of operations in Pakistan’s Northwest Province.

Petraeus spoke today at the Center for a New American Security about the so-called “Af-Pak” strategy President Barack Obama’s administration laid out in March. One of the key features of the plan to change course in Afghanistan is to broaden the operation to include Pakistan.

The Pakistani military’s initiative against extremists within their borders reflects Pakistan’s belief that the insurgents represent a major threat to the country, the general said.

“There is no question at this point that the Pakistanis see very clearly the existential threat that is posed to their country by the extremists, particularly by the Pakistani Taliban,” he said.

“As these operations go forward, it is obvious that there is a clear recognition of the need not just to clear miscreants — as the Pakistanis term them — from Swat Valley and from the others in which they have challenged the writ of government,” he said. “But there is also a recognition of the need to hold those areas and then of course to rebuild them because there has been significant damage in some of those areas as well.”

Petraeus said the current operations represent the first time Pakistani people have risen up against the insurgents in the tribal areas, aligning themselves against the Taliban with so-called ‘tribal Lashkars.’

“You see all of the political leadership united,” he said, adding that the government in Islamabad is also working to relieve the people displaced by conflict. Petraeus reaffirmed the U.S. support of military logistics and Pakistani relief operations.

“Those people have to be enabled to get home. These are proud hill people, now down in the lowlands in camps and they desperately need to get back there and so the conditions must be established and achieved to enable them to do just that,” he said of the refugees.

“Of course what we’re trying to do there is provide assistance but not direct tactical or operational assistance, but rather logistical assistance, coalition support funding, funding to support the internally displaced persons,” he said of the $300 million pledged by the U.S. to aid the humanitarian relief.

Meanwhile, the United States delivered four Mi-17 cargo helicopters to the Pakistani army yesterday to support Pakistan’s counterinsurgency as well as humanitarian efforts, officials at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad announced.

Petraeus praised the speed in which the delivery was made. “Within two or three weeks of [the] request from them for helicopter support, we wheeled four Mi-17s just refurbished out of the back of a Colt [military aircraft] yesterday,” he said.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

CHATEAU ST. GERLACH, Netherlands (June 10, 2009) – Additional forces in southern Afghanistan will allow the coalition to better protect the people there from the Taliban, the commander of Regional Command South told Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other defense leaders here Wednesay.

“It is fair to say that the last seven months have been tough,” said Dutch army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, who has been in command of the region since November.

Dutch army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, commander of NATO's Regional Command South in Afghanistan, briefed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other defense leaders gathered for meetings in the Netherlands, June 10.

Dutch army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, commander of NATO's Regional Command South in Afghanistan, briefed Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other defense leaders gathered for meetings in the Netherlands, June 10.

Southern Afghanistan is a Taliban stronghold. Nine of the most violent provinces are in the south, and a significant U.S. troop increase is changing the nature of the fight. Meanwhile, security has deepened and expanded in the areas the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force control, especially in Oruzgan, central Helmand and elements of Zabol provinces, de Kruif said.

The influx of American troops in the region has doubled the numbers available for operations, and most already have started operations. The 2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade is to move into the area in July and complete the build-up in time for Afghan elections in August.

The new forces will allow the command to deliver three effects, de Kruif said. “First, they will put more boots on the ground” to consistently and persistently deliver security for the Afghan people of the region, he explained. The Taliban rely on a tactic of terrorizing the people of the region. “That means that we cannot come into a village at 8 in the morning and leave at 5 in the evening,” the general said. “We need to have 24/7 presence to deliver more security.”

The second effect comes from additional helicopters in the region, giving the command more capability to project where it wants to go when it wants to go there, the general said. “So we will go to areas we never were before and disrupt the enemy leadership and logistics,” he said.

Finally, he said, the additional forces will give the command the ability to go after the networks setting roadside bombs.

De Kruif applauded the decision to add more civilian capability to the region along with additional military forces. American civilians are being integrated completely into the provincial reconstruction teams in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.

“Overall, I am absolutely sure we got the concept right of shape, clear, hold and build,” he said. “We are starting to resource the concept now, and I believe we will see our first effects in the next couple of months.”

The additional troops will allow the command to break what ISAF commander Army Gen. David D. McKiernan called a stalemate. Before the buildup, the command had roughly 20,000 troops providing security around the clock for 60 percent of the area’s population. The troops were arrayed throughout the provinces, making a map charting their activity look like ink spots. The additional troops will “connect those ink spots” and bring security to 90 to 95 percent of the people, de Kruif said.

The command also will be able to pay more attention to its border with Pakistan, which de Kruif said is “completely open.” Insurgents have had freedom of movement between sanctuaries in Pakistan and the battlefields of Afghanistan, he said.

“That will change with the new forces we have now,” he said. “We have the ability to interdict these lines of communications much more.”

The command also is conducting other operations against Taliban fighters seeking to use the border area to hide. “We are investing now in training and mentoring the Afghan Border Police,” de Kruif said, noting that a border police unit completed eight weeks of focused training this week.

The general also stressed the importance of cooperation with Pakistan. “We will open a Joint Border Control Center with the Pakistani armed forces as soon as possible,” he said. “We have increased cooperation with the Pakistani armed forces to get more control along the border. “Nevertheless,” he added, “we have to realize we will not close this border completely.”

Gates is here for meetings about Regional Command South on his way to a NATO defense ministers conference.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Jim Garamone
Armed Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (June 8, 2009) – The investigation into a May 4 close-air support incident in Afghanistan’s Farah province that caused civilian casualties has pointed to some deviations from established tactics, techniques and procedures, but those involved showed extraordinary care in the incident, the Pentagon’s press secretary said Monday.

Geoff Morrell said Army Brig. Gen. Raymond Thomas conducted the review and briefed Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on the recommendations of his report.

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell responds to questions posed by members of the news media during a June 8, 2009, Pentagon press conference.  DoD photo by R. D. Ward  (Released)

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell responds to questions posed by members of the news media during a June 8, 2009, Pentagon press conference. DoD photo by R. D. Ward (Released)

Thomas conducted the investigation on orders from U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. David H. Petraeus. The full report will be released later this week.

“It appeared to me … that the personnel involved took extraordinary care in tracking the militants that they had come under attack from,” said Morrell, who attended Thomas’s briefing.

An Afghan unit had come in contact with Taliban militants and asked for back-up from U.S. Marines. “That unit came in, and over the next several hours beat back this attack, killing several dozen Taliban in the process, and required some close air support to ultimately prevail,” Morrell said.

The investigation found some problems with the way in which close-air support was used. A B-1 bomber, because of the way the aircraft makes its approach, had to break away from positive identification of its targets, Morrell said.

“There’s no way to determine whether or not that had anything to do with the fact that civilian casualties did incur in this incident, but they did note that as one of the problems associated with how this all took place,” the press secretary said.

Between 20 and 30 Afghan civilians died in the incident, U.S. officials have said. “I’m going to let [Central Command] speak to the final numbers,” Morrell said. “But they were greatly outnumbered by the Taliban killed in this incident.”

Morrell called the Thomas report “exhaustive” and said that the Americans on the ground went to great lengths to limit civilian casualties.

American forces already have tightened rules for close-air support, Morrell said, and there will be a further review of procedures. Since the beginning of the year, civilian casualties in Afghanistan are down 40 percent, he noted. Meanwhile, he added, “American casualties and that of our coalition partners and Afghan security forces have shot up 75 percent.”

Morrell said coalition officials want to reduce civilian casualties to zero, but that it’s impossible to do so. “I would be foolish to stand up here and say that we’ll ultimately eliminate civilian casualties, but we are going to make every effort we can to reduce them,” he said.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (June 5, 2009) – Success in Afghanistan and Pakistan will require an intimate local knowledge of the tribal culture and a small coalition footprint, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command said here Friday.

Navy Adm. Eric Olson told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on terrorism, unconventional threats and capabilities that the United States stands ready to do whatever it can to help Pakistan combat extremists, but “I think that we can’t help Pakistan more than they want to be helped,” he added.

The situation in Pakistan is complicated, the admiral said, and the United States will not force help on people who don’t want it.

“One of the filters on sort of their willingness to be helped is how the Pakistan military is perceived within Pakistan,” the admiral said. “It is the strongest element of Pakistan, historically. It is the element of government upon which the people depend.”

Pakistan is a proud country with a proud military tradition, and America cannot take actions that would cause the Pakistani military to appear to be an extension of the U.S. military, Olson said. “We can only help them in a way that truly helps them, and they are much more expert in that than we are,” he told the subcommittee.

The Pakistanis also have never forgotten the cut-off of military contacts in 1990 as a result of the Pressler Amendment, which sought to pressure Pakistan into not developing nuclear weapons. Even though full relations were re-established between the countries in 2003, Olson said, a full generation of Pakistani officers did not work with their American counterparts.

“I think the best thing that we can do is develop the relationships that will erode whatever atmosphere of distrust exists, help the Pakistani people understand that our interests there are theirs and that our commitment is a long term commitment for the good of Pakistan and the stability of the region,” Olson said.

The admiral called the environment in Afghanistan uniquely complex. “It is really a village-by-village, valley-by-valley counterinsurgency,” he said. “One of the things that I’m finding myself saying more often is that presence without value is perceived as occupation.” Afghans have a long history of mistrust toward outsiders, he noted, and they will resist outside influence.

“Much of Afghanistan has not felt … the impact of a central government in Kabul, ever,” Olson said. “I think a large part of our goal there is to encourage the people who are now deciding where their allegiance will be … to decide to place their bet with a legitimate government, at whatever level that is.”

Whether Afghans pledge loyalty to tribal, local, regional or federal government, “it will come down to ultimately where they place their bet,” the admiral said. “I think in the absence of solid metrics, it will be our sense of where the people are beginning to place their bets that will lead us to understand whether or not our efforts are successful in the hinterlands of Afghanistan.”

Any effort in the country will require a careful U.S. approach, and “it will require as small a footprint as we can get away with in the places we go with the capability and the security considerations as part of that,” he said.

“It will require … a shift towards true local regional knowledge, however that is obtained,” the admiral said. “We have to get beyond generalizations in Afghanistan into true deep knowledge of tribal relationships, family histories, the nuances of the terrain and the weather and how that affects how business is done, how money is made, how their world operates.”

Leaders have to be able to assess what impact American operations and just mere presence will have in remote regions of Afghanistan, Olson said.

“I think this is a long-term commitment for us, in order to build that depth of knowledge and then allow it to have the impact in the places where that needs to occur,” he said. “This will not be people deciding overnight where their allegiance is, it’s going to have to be convincing them over a long period of time that they are better off placing their bet with the local regional governments than with the illegitimate power players in the region.

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON (June 2, 2009) – Conditions in eastern Afghanistan have been challenging, but coalition efforts have paid off with improved security and development, the commander of Regional Command – East said Tuesday.

One major challenge that remains is the Taliban targeting innocent civilians, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser said during a videoconference with reporters at the Pentagon. While there is a growing realization among the Afghan people that the Taliban deliberately target civilians, it still doesn’t elicit the outrage as when coalition forces accidentally kill civilians, he noted.

Schloesser, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force 101, turns over command for Regional Command – East to Army Maj. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, tomorrow.

The Taliban and their allies continue to target and launch attacks on the Afghan people every day, the general said. “Where the enemy is attacking, they are clearly aiming for softer targets, like civilians, as well as Afghan institutions, like district centers, that represent governance at the lowest levels,” Schloesser said.

He said he has been surprised by the willingness of the Taliban to attack innocent civilians, including killing women and children.

While there is clearly outrage in many areas of Afghanistan when ISAF mistakenly kill civilians, “I don’t see the level of moral outrage” when insurgents kill civilians, he said. “The deliberate targeting of [them] is incredible to me, and I would have thought that the world would find it despicable.”

Roughly 75 percent of the attacks in eastern Afghanistan occur in just 25 percent of the 158 districts. “We have a lot of districts in eastern Afghanistan where the level of violence just does not affect the people,” he said.

Still, there has been an increase in violence in the region for the past three years, Schloesser said. This year so far, the level of violence is up about 25 percent over last year.

“Unlike last year, most of that violence I attribute to the operations that we’re conducting with our Afghan partners, as well as those new forces,” he said. “The bottom line is we’re in areas that we were not before. We’ve increased forces sometimes tenfold in those areas, and it’s making a heck of a difference to the insurgents, and I know eventually it will make a difference to the Afghan people in those areas.”

The command has grown from two brigade combat teams to five, Schloesser said. There are more Afghan army and national police units in the region. The command has worked hard on the counterinsurgency campaign that highlights security and development at the district level. “We try to do all this with and by and through our Afghan partners,” he said.

There is more development aid and growing Afghan government capabilities to help the people, the general added. “There’s no doubt in my mind there’s been substantial improvement across the board with some of these resources or all of these resources,” he said. “But I do want to highlight that we’re nowhere near the tipping point yet, and I also will say that progress is fragile.”

The progress has been tough and not without sacrifice. “We’ve lost 178 soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and civilians killed in action up till this afternoon, and 810 wounded – some of them grievously,” Schloesser said. “There’s no way we can bring them back; there’s no way that we can express enough grief to their loved ones. But I do want them to know that there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t think about their sacrifices or the sacrifices of their families.”

Source: CENTCOM.

May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary’s Thoughts. Digg! Digg!

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