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

Saturday, August 25, 2007

War News for Saturday, August 25, 2007

Deutche Press-Agentur is citing a "U.S. military statement" as stating that two soldiers from the U.S. led coalition in Afghanistan were killed in a vehicle roll-over in the Kajaki district of the western province of Herat on Friday, August 24th. Two other soldiers were injured in the accident. For the time being, we are assuming these soldiers to be Americans.

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Security incidents:

Baghdad:
#1: A car bomb exploded in northern Baghdad on Saturday, killing seven passers-by and wounding dozens of others in an apparent sectarian attack near the capital's most important Shiite shrine. Just after noon, a bomb hidden in a parked car exploded in busy Oruba Square about 500 yards from the shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim, another revered Shiite figure. A medic at the local hospital said seven people were killed in the explosion and 30 others were wounded.

#2: Gunmen attacked an Iraqi army patrol, killing one soldier and wounding two others in Mansour district in western Baghdad on Friday, police said.

#3: Police found nine bodies in different districts in Baghdad on Friday, police said.

#4: A U.S. helicopter-backed force raided a neighborhood in Sadr City, eastern Baghdad, during the early hours of Saturday and arrested four members of a family after killing a civilian in clashes, local residents said. "U.S. choppers hovered in the air for three hours after clashes broke out between the raiding force and gunmen," an eyewitness told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq


Najaf:
#1: Gunmen killed a man in a drive-by shooting in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, on Friday, police said.


Kut:
#1: "Gunmen belonging to Mahdi Army foiled an operation to have U.S. soldiers landed in the area of al-Tameem during the late hours of Friday," local residents from al-Jihad neighborhood, southwestern Kut, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI). "Four U.S. soldiers were landed by a helicopter in al-Jihad but took them back after coming under thick ground fire by some Mahdi Army fighters," an eyewitness said, adding the chopper "fired back at the gunmen, killing two civilians." No comment was made by the U.S. army or the Multi-National Force (MNF) on the incidents so far.


Hawija:
#1: Unidentified gunmen opened fire at a soldier in the Iraqi army's 6th Brigade in al-Aaskari neighborhood, Huweija district, 70 km southwestern Kirkuk, wounding him, the source said, adding the injured soldier was rushed to a nearby hospital.


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

#2: another armed group kidnapped a soldier from the Oil Facilities Protection Force in the area of 1 Azar, southern Kirkuk, the same source said. Kirkuk lies 250 km northeast of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.


Mosul:
#1: An explosive charge went off near an Iraqi police patrol in al-Masarif area, northern Mosul, wounding three policemen and damaging two vehicles," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

#2: A second explosive charge, which went a short while after the first, was detonated near a U.S. patrol in the neighborhood of al-Baath, eastern Mosul, wounding one man and destroying a civilian vehicle parked nearby," the same source said.

#3: A third one (explosion) in al-Maarid area, also in eastern Mosul, capital of Ninewa province, wounded another civilian, he added.


Kurdistan:
#1: Turkish artillery anew shelled areas inside Iraqi territories with no reports of casualties, an official source from the Kurdistan Democratic Party said on Saturday. "Nearly 25 artillery shells fell near villages of Kashan, Afiyliyah, and Ghali Basaqa of Zakho district and villages of Karah, Spindar and Baloka of al-Imadiyah district on Friday evening," the source, who declined to be named, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq



Afghanistan:
#1: Pro-Taliban militants kidnapped an army officer, two guards and a government official near an army base in northwestern Pakistan, officials said Saturday. The four men were seized late Friday in Ladha, a town in the troubled South Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, where Pakistani forces have carried out scores of operations against foreign and local militants in recent years.
#2: A roadside bomb killed two Afghans guarding a convoy carrying supplies for NATO-led forces. Insurgents attacked the logistics convoy in southern Kandahar province, a former Taliban stronghold, with a remote controlled bomb, said provincial police chief Sayed Aqa Saqib. Two guards were killed instantly, while three others were wounded, he said.

#3: Afghan soldiers in neighboring Helmand province shot and killed two suspected Taliban fighters as they attempted to plant a roadside bomb, said police officer Ghulam Wali. The bomb was later defused, he said.

#4: A rocket landed inside a hospital compound in the Afghan capital Kabul, but caused no casualties or damage, hospital officials said on Saturday.

#5: A suicide car bomber attacked a convoy carrying foreigners near the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday, a police officer said. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The attack occurred on the main road out of Kabul leading to the city of Jalalabad, said Ali Shah Paktaiwal, chief of criminal investigations in the city.

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Casualty Reports:

(1) The DoD has identified a soldier who died "near Baghdad" of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit on Tuesday, August 21st: Staff Sergeant Sandy R. Britt, 30, of Apopka, Florida. CENTCOM has not released a notice for a death like this on the 21st. However, they have released nearly identical notices (here and here) for single deaths "west of Baghdad" on August 22nd. Britt's unit, the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment (82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, NC), has been operating in the western Baghdad district of Hurriyah with its command headquarters based at Camp Taji northwest of Baghdad. At this point, we believe that CENTCOM may have misdated one of their news releases. Thus, we are currently assuming that Britt was one of these two deaths, but died on Tuesday, August 21st per the DoD release. An article has been published on Britt in the Orlando (Florida) Sentinel. Britt had graduated from high school in 1994 and had gone on to serve four years in the Navy with an underwater-demolition unit that was sent to Afghanistan and other places around the world on special missions. After his Navy stint, he joined the Army, and was currently an infantry paratrooper. He returned home for a short leave last June. After the blast, Britt was able to leave one last message with a fellow soldier who was also injured in the explosion: "Tell my wife and son, Taylor, and mom I love them." The wounded soldier's wife was able to personally relay Britt's last words to his wife on August 23rd.

(2) The DoD has also released the identity of a soldier who died in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit on Wednesday, August 22nd: Private 1st Class Omar E. Torres, 20, of Chicago, Illinois. His unit, the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Cavalry Regiment (1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas) was known to be operating in the area of Abu Ghraib just to the west of Baghdad. Two articles have appeared in the media about Torres, one from the Associated Press and one from Chicago station WLS-TV. The son of a Chicago firefighter, Torres had dreams of going into politics and "changing the world". After graduation from De La Salle High School, he received a full scholarship to Ohio State University. Last December, after a year in college, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Iraq in May.

(3) The Wilmington (North Carolina) Star News has published a feature on Chief Warrant Officer Paul "Josh" Flynn, 28, from Gibsonville, North Carolina, who died in the Blackhawk chopper crash near Kirkuk on August 22nd. Flynn, who had been in the Army for 10 years, had completed his aviator training in 2003 and was one of the two pilots flying the helicopter at the time it experienced mechanical problems and crashed. According to his father, this was his first tour of duty in Iraq. Flynn has a 6-year-old son who lives in Clarksville, Tennessee.

(4) The Fond du Lac (Wisconsin) Reporter has an article out on Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, who died in the August 22nd crash of a Blackhawk chopper. He was a passenger on the flight along with 9 other soldiers from his unit. Dobogai attended high school at the Winnebago Lutheran Academy where he not only excelled as a student, but also was captain of the cross-country team and a track runner. In fact, he continued to participate in running events and triathlons in recent years. He was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corps while studying at the Western Illinois University, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in December of 2003. Dobogai was promoted to captain's rank earlier this year.

(5) The Fayetteville (Arkansas) Northwest Arkansas Times has a lengthy piece out on Army Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, 20, of Lincoln, Arkansas, who died August 22nd in the crash of a Blackhawk helicopter near Kirkuk in Iraq. His friends describe him as a very outgoing, charming and popular young man who played Daddy Warbucks in his high school's presentation of the play "Annie". Seideman was also described as a good student who excelled as an athlete as well, playing football and basketball. And he enjoyed anything that had to do with the outdoors, especially fishing, hunting and camping. After high school graduation in 2004, he went on to attend the University of Arkansas for a time before deciding to enlist in the Army. Seideman was a sniper who had been in Iraq for the past year and who was slated to finish his deployment in October.

(6) Canada's Globe and Mail has now published more details on the two Canadian soldiers who died in a roadside bomb blast in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Wednesday, August 22nd. Master Warrant Officer Mario Mercier, 43, was a veteran of 19 years with the Royal 22nd Regiment, and had planned to retire after his current deployment to Afghanistan was complete. A fitness buff, he would run the 12 kilometers to the Valcartier base from his home outside of Quebec City. Master Corporal Christian Duchesne, 34, who was also a career soldier, began his enlistment in artillery, then switched to the medical services where he specialized in treating front line wounded. Both men were originally from Quebec. And both had done two tours of duty in the former Yugoslavia. In addition, Mercier had seen duty in Haiti. Between them, they left six children behind. Mercier's children are now teenaged ... Duchesne's three daughters are aged 3, 5 and 9.

(7) An article published by San Diego (California) station KNSD, and also a longer piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune, are devoted to Army Staff Sergeant Jason Paton, 25, of Poway, California, who died aboard the Blackhawk chopper that crashed west of Kirkuk on August 22nd. Both stories describe Paton as someone who never let war, including a tour of Afghanistan and two tours of Iraq, get in the way of his dreams ... rebuilding an old Mustang, surfing ... and getting married. He had graduated from Poway High School in 2000 and shortly afterward decided to enlist in the Army, a decision that seemed to suit him well. A hard worker, he graduated from Airborne School and Ranger training and quickly made rank. His fiance was a catcher last season for the Univeristy of California San Diego softball team ... and in typical fashion, Paton proposed to her at a game one night over the PA system. They had planned to marry this November. Paton would have returned home last month except that his current deployment had been extended to support the "surge".

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