The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Friday, August 31, 2007

War News for Friday, August 31, 2007

(1) MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldier from enemy action in a western section of Baghdad on Thursday, August 30th. One other soldier was wounded in the incident.

(2) MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of a Marine and a Soldier in two separate incidents of hostile fire in Al Anbar Province on Wednesday, August 29th.

(3) The British Ministry of Defense is announcing the death of a Gunner from 51 Squadron, the Royal Air Force Regiment on Thursday, August 30th. The gunner was on a routine security patrol around the perimenter of Kandahar Air Field when his vehicle was caught in an explosion. The civilian interpreter who was with him also died. Two other British military personnel received minor injuried in the incident. The NATO/ISAF release on the death can be found here.


Security incidents:

#1: A U.S. military plane with three U.S. senators and a U.S. House member onboard came under rocket fire while leaving Baghdad, Iraq, for Amman, Jordan, Thursday night and had to take evasive maneuvers. The rockets were "near misses," he told CNN affiliate WVTM in Birmingham, Alabama.

#2: Police found five bodies in different districts of Baghdad on Thursday, police said.

#3: One civilian was killed and two others wounded when an explosive device went off near a fuel station in central Baghdad, Iraqi police said. "The blast, which occurred in the area of Bab al-Muaazzam, also caused damage to a number of nearby vehicles," a security source, who asked not to have his name mentioned out of security concerns, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on Thursday evening.

#4: Another explosive charge targeted a U.S. convoy in al-Bayyaa area but the losses could not be known due to the security cordon imposed by U.S. forces on the scene, the same source said.

#1: Gunmen killed a civilian on Thursday in a drive-by shooting in Kut, 170 km (108 miles) southeast of Baghdad, police said.

Unidentified gunmen killed an interpreter working with the Multi-National Forces (MNF) in an area in central Kut, capital of Wassit province, police said on Friday. "Hussein Aziz, who was an interpreter working for the MNF, was attacked by unidentified gunmen in al-Haura area near Wassit University in Kut. The assailants shot down Aziz and escaped to an unknown place," a source from Wassit police, who refused to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#1: A suicide car bomb killed four police commandos and wounded seven others when it targeted their patrol in al-Jallam village near Samarra 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#1: Gunmen killed an employee of the customs office in in Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.

#1: Police found two bodies with gunshot wounds and torture signs near the town of Riyadh, southwest of the northern city of Kirkuk on Thursday, police said.

#1: Gunmen killed a barber in a drive-by shooting in central Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

#2: An IED exploded in front of a house in central Kirkuk in Al Musala area yesterday. One civilian was injured and one house was damaged.

#1: Gunmen killed an engineering student on Thursday in a drive-by shooting in Mosul, 390 km (240 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.

Al Anbar Prv:
#1: A Marine and a Soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died Aug. 29 in separate in attacks while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province.

#1: A Coalition-contracted helicopter was damaged Aug. 29 when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade while flying over the Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province. The helicopter sustained minor damage. The aircraft was able to land safely and none of the crew was hurt in the incident.

#2: Pakistani authorities on Friday sent tribal elders and clerics to negotiate with militants who are believed to have captured more than 100 soldiers in a north-western region on the Afghan border. The soldiers disappeared on Thursday while travelling in trucks to the town of Ladha, 40 km north of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan.

#3: militants attacked a police post with rocket-propelled grenades and rifles in the Swat region of North West Frontier Province, killing two policemen and wounding six, the region's police chief said.

#4: In another incident in the same region, a passer-by was killed and another wounded when a roadside bomb blew up near a police vehicle. The vehicle was damaged but the policemen were not hurt, said police chief Mohammad Iqbal.

#5: A suicide bomber in a car targeting a patrol of German soldiers blew himself up outside the gates of the Afghan capital's airport Friday, killing an Afghan soldier and wounding four Belgian troops, officials and witnesses said. The blast missed its intended target and tore into a group of Afghan soldiers waiting at a checkpoint outside the military wing of Kabul International airport, witnesses said. The German Defense Ministry said that the blast damaged two of their vehicles, but that no German troops were hurt. Belgian Defense Minister Andre Flahaut said four Belgian soldiers were slightly wounded in the attack, with one suffering minor burns. Others suffered hearing damage.

A German soldier was slightly hurt in a suicide attack in the Afghan capital early Friday morning, according to a German official. A German military convoy, en route from Kabul airport to the German military base, was targeted in the suicide attack, deputy defense ministry spokesperson Bernd Hellstern said at a routine weekly press briefing.
#6: Five Turkish citizens who work for Turkish construction firm ZDM in Afghanistan were taken hostage yesterday. The Turkish firm reportedly had a dispute with a firm owned by Afghan businessman Abdulfettah Zengerzade. Machine engineer Ercan Ketene was among those first taken hostage, but was released and taken to the hospital when a blow to his head resulted in injury.

#7: At least ten people have been killed in a mortar attack aimed at a US base in Afghanistan. It hit a residential area close to the compound in the eastern province of Kunar. Women and children are among the dead according to local reports.


Casualty Reports:

(1) The Canadian Globe and Mail has identified the Canadian soldier who died of a gunshot wound in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, August 29th: Major Raymond Ruckpaul, 41. Hostile fire has been ruled out as Ruckpaul was found in his barracks room in an ISAF secure compound. However, an investigation is ongoing into whether his death was accidental, murder or suicide. Ruckpaul was an armoured officer who had recently been based at the NATO Allied Land Component Command Headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. (The original statement on Ruckpaul from the Canadian Department of National Defense can be found here.)

(2) The DoD has confirmed the identities of the three American servicemen who were killed in an ambush in the northeastern province of Kunar, Afghanistan, on Monday, August 27th, when insurgents hit them with small arms fire and RPGs:

Major Henry S. Ofeciar, 37, of Agana, Guam (1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS)
Master Sergeant Scott R. Ball, 38, of Mount Holly Springs, Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Army National Guard)
Sergeant Jan M. Argonish, 26, of Peckville, Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Army National Guard)

We believe that the DoD release may be in error in some respects. The original statement from CJTF-82, plus all media statements at the time, give the place of death as Kunar Province. FOB Naray is one of the most isolated American outposts in that Province. It is probable that the ambush happened near there ... and that the surviving casualties were later flown to the well established Jalalabad Airfield in Nangarhar Province south of Kunar for medical treatment.

Guam's Pacific Daily News is carrying a brief article on Ofeciar, as is Guam station KUAM. Ofeciar was reportedly a Talofofo native who graduated from the University of Guam's U.S. Army Reserve Officers Training Corps in 1993, receiving his commission as an army officer at that time. He had been deployed to Afghanistan where he was "embedded with the Afghan police, helping them and the Afghan army on matters of security." The governor of Guam has declared an official state of mourning for Ofeciar, and has ordered that all Guam flags be lowered to half staff until his body is returned to Guam and laid to rest there.

(3) The DoD has identified the Task Force Lightning soldier who was severely injured in an explosion in Muqdadiyah in Diyala Province and who died in a Balad medical facility on Wednesday, August 29th: Captain Erick M. Foster, 29, of Wexford, Pennsylvania. According to an article in the Oil City (Pennsylvania) Derrick, Foster was actually born and raised in Oil City where his grandparents still live. He moved to Wexford, just north of Pittsburgh as a teenager when his father received a job transfer. Graduating from high school in 1996, he went on to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, earning his degree in 2000 and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Foster had previously been deployed to Iraq in 2004 where he served as a scout platoon leader in the area around Ba'qubah in Diyala Province. He had just returned home on leave three weeks ago at the mid-way point on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Foster was his parents' only son ... and is survived by his parents and two sisters.

(4) The DoD has identified the Marine who died from enemy action in Al Anbar Province on Wednesday, August 29th: Corporal John C. Tanner, 21, of Columbus, GA. He was assigned to the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion of the 1st Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, CA.

(5) The DoD has also identified the soldier who died from an improvised explosive device blast in the vicinity of Ramadi in Al Anbar Province on Wednesday, August 29th: Specialist Edward L. Brooks, 25, of Dayton, Ohio. According to an article in the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, insurgents apparently threw a suicide vest at a group of soldiers, killing Brooks and wounding another soldier. Brooks was very active in Junior ROTC in high school. In fact, he was selected as "cadet colonel" for the national champion ROTC drill team for the school ... and was a "spin master" in precision rifle drills, twirling his 9-pound rifle like a baton. He graduated in 2000 and enlisted in the Army as a tank driver. In his subsequent career, he was wounded three times before his death in Ramadi. His mother is travelling from Tennessee to Dayton for the funeral. His wife and infant child will be coming from Germany where he was currently based with the 1st Infantry Division. Every one of his high school ROTC drill team members is also expected to be in attendance at the funeral to pay their respects.

(6) The British Ministry of Defense has identified the British Royal Air Force member who was killed in an explosion while on patrol in the vicinity of Kandahar Air Field in Afghanistan on Thursday, August 30th: Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge, 20, of Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. Bridge had originally enlisted in the RAF in June of 2005 and was trained as a gunner. Between January and June, 2006, he was deployed to Iraq where he helped to provide force protection for Basra International Airport. Since April 2007, Bridge had been on deployment to Afghanistan where he was providing security for the Kandahar Air Field. His colleagues described him as "immensely dependable and hard working" ... and all remarked on his dry, witty sense of humor "which always had us in fits".