09 Sep 2009 @ 11:43 AM 

The Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan is growing, and its role in propagating the doctrine of counterinsurgency, or COIN, across many organizations is growing. Students of counterinsurgency from every branch of the United States Military, all of our NATO and Coalition allies, and most importantly Afghans from government, the Afghan Military, Afghan National Police and even non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are being trained in counterinsurgency every week. Some of this training is conducted on site at the CTC-A, while other training is carried directly to the units and organizations in the field.

The curriculum is reviewed each month in a constant process of refining the presentation of materials to keep the training relevant to the current conditions in the theater. New tools are reviewed carefully for applicability. Pathways to better integration with civilian and military organizations and capabilities are sought, examined carefully, and advice is given on implementation. Partners are discovered, encouraged, educated and assisted. Relationships are cemented and expanded to include new organizations and capabilities. Lastly, through discussion and interface during training including diverse groups, personal contacts are forged that continue to drive productive partnership development.

Innovative doctrinally-based approaches to counterinsurgency training and implementation are being developed and fielded in conjunction with other organizations. Methods for operationalizing doctrinal frameworks and concepts are being sought, developed, tested and fielded. The CTC-A is a center for COIN thought that does not depend on solutions being pushed forward by offices in the United States, with solutions tuned to the specific environment of Afghanistan. The staff at the CTC-A are constantly learning, acquiring as much knowledge as possible to drive insights into such developments.

In that spirit of continuous education and professional development, an Honorary Library has been established at the CTC-A. Donations of books are sought which will be available to students and staff alike to spur further learning about counterinsurgency, history (especially Afghan and Central Asian history) and related topics. It is very easy to donate and become a part of this learning. Simply follow this link and the name of the wish list is “COIN Library – Kabul.” Donations of used books from the wish list can be mailed to:

COIN Library
c/o Scott Kesterson
CTC-A
Camp Phoenix
APO AE 09320

Your contributions will help to keep the minds of the counterinsurgent trainers and students bright as they work together to resolve a very complex insurgency. This is a way that you can support forwarding counterinsurgency doctrine, training and implementation in Afghanistan and have a direct impact on the success of the mission here. Please consider making a contribution to the fight and arming counterinsurgents with knowledge. Sometimes, a counterinsurgent’s best weapons do not shoot.

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Categories: Afghanistan, COIN, COINdinistas, development, doctrine
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 09 Sep 2009 @ 11 49 AM

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 04 Sep 2009 @ 10:51 AM 

The Associated Press did something absolutely heinous today, but before that a photographer did something absolutely heinous. Without either one of them, the fiasco of today would never have happened. Today the AP decided to publish a photograph showing a mortally wounded Marine struggling for his life on the battlefield.
they claim high-minded purpose.

NEW YORK — The Associated Press is distributing a photo of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.

Bullshit.

It’s about money, folks. Pure and simple. The same thing for Julie Jacobson, the photographer who was embedded with the Marines the day that LCpl Bernard was mortally wounded. Let’s see how she justifies this:

Later, when she learned he had died, Jacobson thought about the pictures she had taken.

“To ignore a moment like that simply … would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before walking the point in the bazaar,” she said. “Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn’t that why we’re here? To document for now and for history the events of this war?”

Bullshit.

She thought of the pictures she had taken and “$” came to mind immediately. “Jackpot!” her mind screamed instantly. She got paid for that picture, and she will continue to get paid for it for some time, especially after the furor that erupts. What would have been wrong for her was to set aside her money and an imagined chance for a Pulitzer. Such selfishness and what a ridiculous attempt to couch it in ethical terms. Personally, she better hope that she never, ever runs into me or the most lightly she will come off from it will be ringing eardrums. Those poor Marines who saw her pictures later had no idea that she would be part of dishonoring LCpl Bernard’s father’s wishes, against DoD policy.

The young Marine’s father had asked not once, but twice, for the picture of his mortally wounded son not to be whored out for money. But his pleas fell on the deaf ears of whores who heard only the ringing of registers and saw the sparkle of money. In the information age the press is hurting for money, and this was a jackpot.

Bernard’s father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son’s memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.

“We understand Mr. Bernard’s anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice,” said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.

I’m going to state right now and unequivocally that I do not want for any pictures of me published that show me in any condition other than upright and breathing normally. All else is punishable by whatever violence I can visit upon you in whatever condition I am in. I want to write the most vile curses I can at this moment in my anger for a man who justifies going against the wishes of the family. I want that man fired, and I want for him to never work in his chosen field ever again. I want that photographer fired, and I want every individual who was in the chain all the way up to Daniszewski fired as well. There is one simple rule; your wishes mean nothing compared to the wishes of the family. Period. They make the sacrifices, not you. Their sacrifices and how they wish them to be dealt with are theirs, and not yours to make whatever statement (along with your money and a name for yourself) you care to claim to be making. I curse all you who were involved with this and I am your sworn enemy for life. I will never forget you and it will never be safe for any of you to be within range of me.

There is also complicit shame for the newspapers and other outlets that were the Johns in this case, paying a little to get the thrill of providing “news.” Bullshit, bullshit and triple bullshit. It’s really hard to convey how pissed off at journalists I am right now.

This week a journalist was overlooked in a briefing that contained some slides marked “secret.” Immediately following the briefing it was realized that not only had she been present, but had taken careful notes. She was asked not to publish any of the information… but that was worth money to her, so she fought tooth and nail over it. What she saw was not a revelation, but to her, it was a scoop. The red letters at the bottom of the slide meant not responsibility to her, but dollars and reputation. It didn’t matter one whit to her about the security of her country, Afghanistan or any other NATO or Coalition country. Not a bit. She wanted to make a name for herself and make some money. Had she been concerned for security, there would have been no question whatsoever… but that wasn’t her attitude. It was all about her, not about anyone else’s needs.

So it’s not just one lousy self-justifying photographer and one grubbing AP manager. No, this is bigger than them. If 95% of journalists in Afghanistan got their hands on the plans for a war-winning operation, it would be in the New York Times the very next morning.

You see, this war is all about them. It’s not about the truth. It’s not about considerations for decency or ethics or honest reporting. Most of them don’t even know what they’re looking at. Most of them don’t care. They look at it through their ignorant eyes and report as if they were children explaining a physics experiment. They don’t know what right looks like, and so everything’s a mess even if it isn’t.

God help your family if they get a shot of you in extremis. God help your father or mother, your wife, brother or sister if they want to protect your dignity and the privacy of your family, because the press itself is just that damned important, and so is their precious money. I don’t care who did it; every single journalist is now dogshit in my book. Every one. I wasn’t too fond of the media whores this morning when I got up, but now I hate every one of the bastards.

Keep the hell away from me. There are only two in this whole country that I want within a mile of me, and neither one of them would dare to take my picture if I was that messed up. They have respect and decency. Make that three. CJ Chivers would probably not do it. The two I know who would not are Scott Kesterson and Michael Yon. The rest, including and especially Julie Jacobson can go straight to Hell. If I was injured and that bitch tried to take my picture, if I had the strength I’d shoot her before I died. We could both explain our actions seconds later to the Almighty.

Profiting from the death of another human being at the expense of that man’s dignity and against the wishes of his own family… hmmmm.

I think I’d soon be on my way to Fiddler’s Green, but she’d be on her way to Hell; and so I’ll end this post with a wish to her and her boss for Godspeed on their way there.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 04 Sep 2009 @ 10 51 AM

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 24 May 2009 @ 5:34 PM 

I’ve been waiting for months to review Scott Kesterson and David Leeson’s film, “At War.” I finally received a copy for review purposes and took awhile this afternoon to sit down and screen it all by myself.

I’m glad that I was alone.

I have permission to share it with family, which I will do, at least with my immediate family and my older children. I am still glad that the first time I saw it, I saw it alone. I’ve read that when it was screened at the Milblogging Conference, many Afghan vets were deeply affected by the film. I was immediately engaged by “At War,” but about a third of the way through it, I was wondering what was different about me that it wasn’t affecting me so deeply.

At the end of it, I sat there stunned; a tear rolling slowly down my left cheek, glad to be alone. It’s that good, that powerful.

It wasn’t a single moment that took me there. It was the entirety of it. There was so much of my experience in it. Scott Kesterson and his collaborators have captured the unique experience of what was like to be there, especially as an ETT or PMT. The only thing missing was the gritty taste of the Afghan dust and the distinct smell of cooking fires in the villages.

Kesterson’s ground-level visuals are more than just documentary. He captures the impressions. He captures those moments that I think that all of us who have served as advisors have had. He captures the simple truths about working with Afghans. He captures the frustration and even the humor of dealing with the Afghan personality as advisors work to convert the raw warrior into a soldier. He captures the drawbacks and the small joys; finding your influence making little differences in the way that these men, whose fierceness cannot be denied but whose disorganization is just as marked, do their jobs.

“At War” also captures the sense of caring that develops between an advisor and his charges. You can see the duality of the cat herder and the brother-at-arms who speaks only a few words of his brother’s language yet gets the intent of so many communications. As one advisor goes “grocery shopping” for hamburger on the hoof for his men, you see the paternal aspect of the mentor.

The soundtrack is unique and, I thought, very well done. This is not a soundtrack done twenty years later, seeking to evoke a sense of period via aural memories; it is a distinct soundtrack made for this movie. At times folksy, at times the edgy metallic background that draws one more deeply into the tension of the moments when death can suddenly materialize like an entity in your midst, this soundtrack adds shading to the color. It is not an attempt to shoehorn popular culture into what is not a popular experience. It is seasoning, adding to a flavor so few have tasted. It gives this film a flavor as distinctly different from the standard American experience as kabuli pilau is different from McDonalds.

Kesterson captures the Canadians doing a fantastic job as well. He captures Canadians advising and as maneuver forces, showing that the Afghan experience is the Afghan experience, not just an American Afghan experience. The Canadians do themselves proud, and Scott Kesterson’s videography captures it.

Kesterson’s triumph transcends the excellent capture of the moments that bring the Afghan experience home. It’s also what this film is missing. While the editing carries the veteran viewer like the current of the deployment, you cannot edit some things in or out. Kesterson is a participant, and he’s accepted. He’s just like another rifleman, grenadier, or gunner… except his weapon system is a camera. There is no friction between the journalist and those he is with. You can just tell that he is accepted as a professional in a soldierly sense. It’s hard to explain how you can accept someone as a professional and still feel burdened by them when you have to carry them along with you operationally. There is no sense that Kesterson is viewed in this light by those with whom he embeds. He’s another combat system operator. This comes out not only in the way that he operates around teams of men under fire, but also in the way that they speak as if they are not talking to a camera. They aren’t. They are speaking to Scott Kesterson, a guy they know and accept, who just happens to have a camera on.

It’s hard to explain how rare, and therefore how brilliant, that is.

“At War” is a film that I can point to and say, “That’s it. That’s what it was like. That’s a sample of my experience in Afghanistan.” There is a total lack of judgment in “At War.” It’s not a morality play or a political message; it’s an experience captured.

Afghan veterans, beware; this film may kick your ass. For those who want to get a sense of what it’s like, “At War” is the best you can do without deploying.

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Categories: "At War", Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 21 Jun 2009 @ 03 59 AM

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Ariana Huffington asked Scott Kesterson to gather the impressions of soldiers for The Huffington Post. He did it. Personally, I wish that he hadn’t. If he had politely declined, I would have been spared discovering how what appears to be more than half of my country feels about soldiers and our political thought.

This blog has maintained a largely apolitical stance. I do not address those issues, preferring to simply address the issues that I have something unique to add to. Political campaigns have even sought my approval, but I have maintained my stance as best I can. I encourage everyone to vote. If you did not vote when you could have, shame on you. If you give up on the process, you deserve what you get.

That being said, there is a disturbing trend out there that I have addressed before, as when in February of this year Lizette Alvarez of The New York Times posted her second in a series of articles that painted returning veterans as dangerous victims of war, something that is akin to the feeling of having my teeth etched with a razor blade.

Many soldiers have expressed that we do not like being portrayed as victims. It suits a particular agenda to paint us as such. It makes for gripping theater, to be sure. There’s more to it than that, though. This nation has been trying to “support the troops” consciously; to avoid making the same horrible mistake that was made with the treatment of Viet Nam veterans. While to some supporting the troops means bringing us home as quickly as possible whether the job is done or not, there are those for whom discrediting the troops while appearing to support us is really what’s on the agenda. Why would someone do that? I think that the answer to that is complex, because I’m not sure that the motivation is the same for everyone.

For the commenters on The Huffington Post, the answer seems to be that soldiers have become a voice of dissension in the current political climate. They must be crazy, right? The explanations they come up with range from latent Nazism to the effects of military training brainwashing our minds, removing the capacity for independent thought. The vigor with which the the soldiers are attacked for their opinions was stunning.

Why the consistent art (films) portraying warriors as aberrant beings? Why are people sinking millions of dollars into cinematic depictions of soldiers as less than stellar persons?

Hey, I’m open to suggestions. How about some comments on this? What are your ideas as to what their motivations are? Another query; can anyone cite a movie that portrays veterans of the GWOT in a positive light?

What was Lizette Alvarez’s motivation in portraying, in a calculated series of articles, returning veterans as dangerous victims; a bunch of abused children who are actually hazardous to your health to be in proximity to? Her depiction was shown to be false; it turns out that you are actually less likely to be murdered by a war veteran than by a non-veteran. Still, her articles would leave you looking at your own veteran relative out of the corner of your eye, wondering what the telltale sign may be that he was going to snap and viciously attack you with murderous intent.

Some muggings are less stylish. Nick Meo’s character assassination of Easyrider was clumsy and full of easily disproven lies. The thing is that it’s not an isolated event. Meo’s screed was a symptom of a larger illness. Hey, I can recognize Information Operations when I see them. Not all propaganda is government-issue.

I’m not the only one who sees this; evidence this well-written article by Andrew Klavan which appears in City Journal. Klavan, author of several novels (at least one of which has been made into a movie,) sees things from the viewpoint of someone who has been exposed to Hollywood close-up. His point remains that even the movies of today portray soldiers in general and combat veterans in particular as either pawns victimized by a heinous conspiratorial government or as sociopathic rapist-killers (as in DePalma’s recent effort.)

Klavan did a short embed in one of my old stomping grounds; FOB Kalagush in Nuristan. He does a good job of depicting the challenges of the PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) in Nuristan, and how spooky Nuristan can be to operate in. This article highlights many things that I would like to address as far as helping to make progress in Afghanistan, but one thing that stands out is his refusal to take the low road dramatically.

Take the time to read his article. It’s a good snapshot of a little-known area and the struggle to make incremental progress there. If he hasn’t been replaced, I knew the Police Chief who is making the mumbled promises to investigate those who ambushed the PRT. The fact is that he hasn’t had mentorship since my team left there. There hasn’t been the manpower to provide it to him. Any progress that we ever made with his district has long since evaporated. With a hostile police chief just up the road in a neighboring district facilitating the anti-government forces, our guy is out in the breeze.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up to Veteran’s Day. I can tell you that reading the comments on HuffPo has taken any muted sense of pride in my veteran status and turned it into a smoldering sense of discontentment with my fellow citizens. The heinous remarks about the men in that little FOB near the Pakistan border, the fact that a political difference can bring out those prejudices, means that the contempt that we are held in is barely concealed.

This is a trend. It’s disturbing to see it happening; it’s sometimes subtle, sometimes not so subtle. It is becoming acceptable to portray us as an underclass, to hold us in contempt either as idiot victims or as sociopaths. Where is the backlash?

When IO goes uncontested, many will accept it as fact.

There will be a special Veterans Day Show on Blog Talk Radio’s You Served radio show Tuesday, November 11th from 9-11pm. Guests will include two Medal of Honor recipients and the last surviving officer from WW-II’s Marine Combat Team 28. It promises to be a very special show, with veterans of WW-II, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, and the GWOT. You can find it at Blog Talk Radio or download it later from the same site as a podcast. Go see my friend Bouhammer for more details on the guests.

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Categories: Uncategorized
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 10 Nov 2008 @ 07 43 PM

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 06 Sep 2008 @ 8:59 PM 

The latest post, below and made only early this morning, is significant news. It is news from a small valley in Afghanistan which is both a microcosm of the Global War on Terror and a crucial battle in establishing a secure, democratic, and independent Afghanistan.

The Tag Ab Valley is relatively close to Kabul. It follows a generally north-south axis starting near the town of Surobi (sometimes spelled “Sarobi,”) and runs north to Nijrab. The districts of Kapisa Province north of the Nijrab District are peaceful and contrast strongly with the southern districts of Nijrab, Tag Ab, and Ala Say (sometimes spelled “Ala Sai” or Alah Say.”)

In the spring of 2007, the Tag Ab Valley was an area that experienced occasional encroachments by American Special Forces and Afghan National Army troops. The major operations that had been conducted in the valley to that point had been clearing operations followed by an absence of any stay-behind forces, save for a Special Forces camp at what was known at the time as Firebase Nijrab. An ANA force in approximately company strength could also be found at Firebase Nijrab, now known as Firebase Morales-Frazier.

The Taliban and HiG controlled the southern half of the Nijrab District, nearly all of Tag Ab District and all of Ala Say District. The only island of IRoA (Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) control in Tag Ag was a tiny area around the District Center. The Taliban would occasionally surround the District Center and besiege the local ANP for an entire day, just to show them who was boss. In May of 2007, the Taliban publicly hung an Afghan official in the town square. He was an official in the Afghan intelligence agency.

The Tag Ab Valley, with its large HiG (larger, in fact, than the Taliban) presence, was full of opium. It is an historic smuggling route, circumventing passage through Kabul by bypassing to the north at Surobi.

Surobi is a lovely little town on the Naghlu Reservoir. Nestled into the rising terrain south of the reservoir and straddling the strategic J-bad Highway which connects Kabul and Jalalabad, Surobi seems almost Mediterranean in its charm. It is also the site of last month’s ambush on French forces that left 10 dead and 21 wounded.

It’s a beautiful, strategic, dangerous little town anchoring the southern end of this historic smuggling route.

Surobi is also a key link in another kind of smuggling; the smuggling of suicide bombers into Kabul.

Suicide bombers, either wearing explosive vests or driving VBIED’s (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices,) are the biggest threat to security in Kabul. Tag Ab has been a traditional staging area for such attacks. It has been a place where attacks on Kabul can be planned, organized, and the forces marshaled.

Tag Ab is a key valley. It is the closest hardcore Taliban stronghold to Kabul, and the terminus for the infiltration of weapons, explosives, foreign fighters and money.

It is not the only key valley in Afghanistan, but it one with which I am personally intimate. To me, right now, it is the symbol of how woefully ignorant our own press is; and by extension, the American people, of the situation on the ground in Afghanistan.

Confirmation was released by CJTF 101 just a couple of days ago that one of the key Taliban commanders in Tag Ab was killed on August 5th near the town of Tag Ab in this strategic valley. Qari Nejat was a key thorn in our side for the entire time I was in Afghanistan. He was the most effective and active Taliban commander in the valley.

We didn’t even know what he looked like. This guy was like Pancho Villa, Geronimo, and Osama bin Ladin all wrapped up into one. He was ethereal; a vicious ghost who glided through the valley and was always a step ahead of us. Evidence of his actions against the coalition, IRoA forces (both ANA and ANP,) and the local populace was as consistent as the tides; from ambushes to burning Police checkpoints to summary beheadings, Qari Nejat was credited with a lot of violence.

He was a key player in a key battle in a key valley; and the only Americans who ever heard his name were either there or read this blog. That is patently ridiculous. I’m sure that this isn’t the only instance of this. Beyond sure, I am absolutely positive. This is part of what I wrote about in my post called “Information Operations.”

Since my return home, I’ve been stunned by the lack of knowledge, concern, and investment that many, the greatest perecentage actually, of my fellow citizens have towards the war. Because of its nature, and because the privations of the war are only acutely felt by service members, it is easy for the average Joe and Jane to continue their daily lives as if we weren’t in any kind of serious struggle. The delusion of incontrovertible safety, apparently cracked but not shattered by 9/11, has once again settled on the Land of the Free.

The war has become a bother, and it has finally caused pain for the average American, who several years in the past howled for vengeance for 9/11, demanded that the government fulfill its mandate to provide for the common defense, and cried out in near unison for the blood of not just Osama but of Saddam Hussein as well. Revise your personal history if you will, but I lived those days here in the States, surrounded by my fellow citizens, and I heard the cries and received the emails full of belligerent jokes and vitriolic cartoons. I watched in slow motion as the nation whipped itself into a frenzy and the UN agreed that Saddam had a deadline to completely submit or face action.

Now it has hurt the economy. Now it has driven (among such factors as a surging Chinese middle class with a new found ability to operate vehicles with internal combustion engines) the price of oil up. Now it has reversed the trend and piled up a significant debt.

Wars are expensive. The war became tedious on television news and the sensationalization of the American death toll became a daily litany that constantly reminded the American public that we were decisively engaged in a protracted effort. The initial love affair between the press and the military, expressed through embedded reporting, was brief. The reporting, of dubious quality in many cases, trickled off; and there were altercations. Reporters don’t like OPSEC.

What was supposed to be, in the minds of the public whose minds had been informed by their press, a brief and surgical beheading of the government of Iraq followed by a joyous resurgence of democratic principles became an insurgency. Roadside bombings fed with the artillery shells we had left laying around in our blitz to Baghdad became daily fair in the news as the soldiers struggled to stay on top of the new gun/armor spiral.

Concurrently, in Afghanistan, we began to train a new Afghan National Army. Afghanistan held their first elections and successfully negotiated the forming of a new Constitution. The Taliban and their ilk, still reeling from the loss, were still making a game of it.

The American press retired to the Green Zone and to Kabul. They hired local stringers and reported only on death and destruction. Of particular interest were the wrongs that inevitably become part of the landscape of war. Abu Ghraib, dead civilians, the overreactions of young soldiers and Marines in stressful situations all grabbed headlines.

If it bleeds, it leads. If it stinks, it’s ink.

Americans were hungry to understand what was occurring. As the most clearly articulated reason for the invasion, WMD’s, were not discovered America sat shocked and felt lied to. The hugest failure of the American government was in not backing up their reasoning with the stated policy that governments who sponsored terror were subject to being held accountable to the point of regime change; but that policy was not cited until well afterwards and weakly at that.

The efforts in Afghanistan languished in near-obscurity while the national interest was drawn to the spectacle in Iraq, and news of both amounted primarily to journalists citing stringers and editorializing on what was being presented to them.

There were rare instances of journalists who actually did their jobs. Many, like Michael Yon and Scott Kesterson were independents. Some, like Michael, had military backgrounds and reported what they saw fairly and through the glasses of understanding the military from the inside. While not sugar-coating the war or those who were fighting it, neither did he sensationalize the image of a brutal occupation of some “peace-loving country” by a bunch of jack-booted thugs or paint our soldiers as pitiful victims of imperialist desires gone horribly awry.

Some did.

Michael Yon and Scott Kesterson were not published widely in mainstream outlets.

Our media has not done their job in this war. They have not been the “go-to” source for information on what has been happening, on what has been done. While they have learned to spell the word “insurgency,” and later to spell “counterinsurgency,” they have not educated themselves to any degree in what these actually are. They couldn’t recognize a decent counterinsurgent if they sat on his lap. They have had no grip on the flow of fighting nor have they had, on other than a very simplistic level, an idea of what was and was not strategically important.

All the while, they’ve been informing the average American. It would be more accurate to say that they have been misinforming, disinforming, and uninforming the average American, who has a tendency to trust powerhouses like the major networks, CNN, and the major print outlets to actually do their jobs.

It’s been pretty hit or miss. I would contend, and I will cite the example of Tag Ab, that it’s been more miss than hit. I would also contend that Americans do not understand the truth about the investment that they have been making in national security, and that perhaps if they had a feeling of sacrifice for something they could understand, the massive resentment that is currently felt would be somewhat ameliorated.

It’s not that the information isn’t available. It is. The truest picture of what’s going on in the two theaters of this war is not available on the US MSM, though. It’s not likely to be the person who reads this post who is woefully ill-informed as a citizen of the United States; it’s the millions who don’t even know it exists.

As much as I celebrate those who surf the blogosphere in search of enlightenment, I don’t blame Joe Sixpack for not doing so. Joe’s got a life, a job, a family, and concerns. He may only have time for his nightly shot of news on the MSM outlet of his choice.

I shouldn’t be a source of news. I should be where some interesting stories are told; some additional information shared. The added touch.

As near as I can tell, there are only four “outlets” in the United States who have reported on the (above detailed as significant) death of Qari Nejat. One is me and the others are The Long War Journal, Battlefield Tourist, and The Thunder Run. Four blogs.

And that, my friends, is ridiculous.

A reporter should know what is significant in the country in which he is stationed; period. For the MSM reporters in Afghanistan to not understand the significance of Tag Ab, and for them to therefore be ignorant of the significance of the death of one such as Nejat is inexcusable. It shouldn’t have necessarily been front-page news, but it should have been newsworthy.

It’s in a near-vacuum of real information that our nation’s citizens are asked to sacrifice economically to follow this effort through to completion. We view ourselves as being an information-driven nation, but Joe is being treated like a mushroom.

He’s being kept in the dark and fed shit.

Is it any surprise that the number one concern of Americans is to bring home the troops within one year? Joe doesn’t even really know what has been going on over there. What’s worse is that he thinks he does. It’s not like it doesn’t get mention; but that mention paints nothing of the real picture. Tag Ab is a perfect example.

Guess what? The French media may actually be doing their jobs. Dig this:

US-led Coalition forces in Afghanistan have killed five Taliban subcommanders in recent weeks, including a bomb-maker and two behind the August 18 attack that left 10 French soldiers dead, they said.

“Coalition forces have positively identified five Taliban subcommanders killed during operations over the past month in Kapisa province,” the Coalition said in a statement from Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, and released in Washington.

Among the five were Ahmad Shah and Mullah Rohoullah, killed with six others by airstrikes in Nijrab district on August 30 after coalition forces ran into armed resistance while searching a compound.

Both were heavily involved in helping move weapons and foreign fighters into Afghanistan, the statement said, as well as facilitating Taliban operations, including the August 18 ambush on the French patrol.

Ten French soldiers were killed and another 21 injured in the attack by about 100 Taliban in Sarobi, 50 kilometres (30 miles) east of Kabul.

It was the deadliest ground battle for international soldiers in the country since they toppled the Taliban regime in 2001.

Coalition forces said that on August 23 they killed subcommanders Khairullah Nezami and Qari Ezmarai in Tag Ab district.

Nezami, they said, helped to arrange the making and planting of bombs and coordinated the movement of suicide bombers in the Taliban network.

A fifth subcommander, Qari Nejat, was killed together with four additional insurgents in an operation in Nijrab district on August 5.

The Coalition linked Nejat with the July 21 suicide bombing in the Tag Ab bazaar that injured six Afghans, the July 16 kidnapping of three Afghan policemen in Jalokhel, and the torture and beheading of an Afghan on June 30.

It’s not just about killing Taliban. There is so much more being done than killing. There is a deeper story behind the killing of Nejat that speaks volumes to the efficacy of what we’re doing in Afghanistan and by extension in Iraq. I’ll address this soon, as it’s a topic in its own right.

The worst thing that could possibly happen to the people of Afghanistan would be if we killed Osama bin Laden tomorrow. Joe Sixpack, thinking that this whole effort has been simply to hunt down Osama, will suddenly start wondering what the hell we’re doing in Afghanistan and in the information vacuum that is our MSM will come to the conclusion that its not much. He in his millions will demand the immediate cessation of all efforts and return to within our borders.

And the fledgling dream that is Afghanistan will surely die.

On August 5th, 2008, the people of the very strategic Tag Ab Valley in Kapisa Province got a present; their own little Osama personified in Qari Nejat went to meet his maker. On September 4th, the news of positive identification was released to all media by CJTF 101, and on September 5th it was widely reported in the French media and even the Chinese media; and by four blogs in the United States.

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Categories: Afghanistan
Posted By: Old Blue
Last Edit: 06 Sep 2008 @ 08 59 PM

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