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, October 6, 2007

War News for Saturday, October 06, 2007


Photo: File photo of Ciara Durkin who was found dead Thursday, September 27th, in the middle of the sprawling Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. There is as much speculation as there is confusion over her death. The final verdict from the investigation of her death will likely take months which may or may not be released to the public. Following are a number of articles surrounding her death which we have saved. I refuse to speculate on the incedent but you can make up your own opinion. I just wish the best for her family and friends through these hard times.
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Sunday, September 30, 2007 8:52 AM - Massachusetts media are reporting that a member of the Army National Guard from Quincy has been killed in action in Afghanistan. Specialist Ciara Durkin, 29, was killed Thursday, September 27th. She was assigned to Task Force Diamond, with the 726th Finance Unit of the Massachusetts National Guard, and had deployed to Afghanistan in February. According to the Boston Herald, Durkin moved to Quincy a few years ago, and she previously lived in Dorchester, Massachusetts.
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Sunday, September 30, 2007 2:16 PM - UPDATE The Irish public broadcasting service, RTÉ, is identifying the Massachusetts National Guard soldier who died in Afghanistan as an Irish national, serving in the US Army National Guard. RTÉ says Ciara Durkin was 30 years old, originally from Eanach Mheáin in Connemara, in western Ireland. RTÉ is confirming that she died on Thursday, September 27th, but the details of how she was killed have not yet been released to her family. She had been living in Boston, having moved there with her family in 1986.
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Sunday, September 30, 2007 2:16 PM - UPDATE -
The Irish public broadcasting service, RTÉ, is reporting that the family of a Massachusetts National Guard soldier who died in Afghanistan has appealed to the Irish Government to participate in the inquiry into her death. Ciara Durkin died as a result of a single gunshot wound to the head within a secure area on the Bagram airbase, according to information the military has released to the Durkin Family. Speaking on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning Pádraig Ó Conghaile, Ms. Durkin's brother-in-law, appealed to the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to participate in the investigation into her death. The Durkin family have been informed that the investigation, which is being conducted by the military in the US, will take up to eight weeks to complete. Because this event took place on the Bagram airbase, USWarWatch is reclassifiying this death as "non-hostile - weapon discharge", although there is not enough information at this time to conclude suicide, accident or homicide.
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Sunday, September 30, 2007 3:53 PM - UPDATE - The DoD released today the official announcement of the death of a soldier in Afghanistan. Spc. Ciara M. Durkin, 30, of Quincy, Mass., died Sept. 28th (not on the 27th as some media reports indicated) at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident. She was assigned to the 726th Finance Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard, West Newton, Mass. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
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Wednesday, October 3, 2007 2:40 PM - UPDATE - In an excellent investigative piece, The Boston Globe has revealed a few new twists in the case of Ciara Durkin, a Massachusetts National Guardswoman who died in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances on September 28th. The military first reported that Durkin had been killed in combat, then changed their classification to "non-combat", and told family members that she was found with a single bullet in her head, lying near the church where she worshipped on the secure Bagram Airfield. Durkin had warned her family that if anything happened to her, they should push for a thorough investigation. Durkin served in a financial unit, and may have found some improprieties that put her at risk. She was also gay, and may have been the victim of a hate crime. The family rejects any possibility of suicide, and suspects friendly fire or murder. Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy are pushing for immediate answers from the Army, and Durkin's family in Ireland is urging the Irish media and military to push for an independent investigation. The Globe reports that “Kerry said the Durkin family desperately needs answers to three questions: Why has the Army not responded to the Durkin family's request for an independent autopsy? Why, after not responding to the family's request for an independent autopsy, did the Army fail to contact the Durkin family with the Army's autopsy results? The family was told to be available to receive a phone call between 1 and 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, and the Army never called. Why has the Army refused to make Durkin's will and paperwork available to her family, so they can respect her wishes as they plan her funeral and burial?”
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The Massachusetts National Guard issued a release that Durkin "died inaction" in Afghanistan. That was a mistake, and it's regrettable, says Maj.Jack McKenna, speaking for the Massachusetts Guard.McKenna said a guardsman on weekend duty - new to the job - got the firstsketchy details about Durkin's death in Afghanistan. The guardsman assumedDurkin had died in combat and drafted a news release that said so. McKennasaid there's been a lot of turnover at the public affairs office of theMassachusetts National Guard. "We all are relatively new to this position . because all of our publicaffairs folks are actually serving in Iraq," he said.
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Here are some good new links. It's all over out there now:
(MemoryStone) Excellent news video coverage (I captured most of the pics from here.)
(Michael Moore) How did Specialist Durkin Die?
(Brilliant At Breakfast) Who Killed Ciara Durkin?
(GoTV) Who Killed Ciara Durkin?
(Boston.com) Ciara and I
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#1: MNF-Iraq is reporting the death of a Multi-National Corps - Iraq soldier in a roadside bombing near Bayji in Salah ad Din Province on Friday, October 5th. Three other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

#2: MNF-Iraq is also reporting the deaths of two Multi-National Division - Baghdad soldiers in an improvised explosive device attack in a southeastern neighborhood of Baghdad on Friday, October 5th. Two other soldiers were wounded in the incident.
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#3: The DoD has announced a new death, not previously reported by CENTCOM: U.S. Navy Seaman Apprentice Shayna Ann Schnell, 19, of Tell City, Indiana. The DoD release did not give a date or place of death. However, The Perry County (Indiana) News is running an article that provides more details. Schnell was apparently assigned to security as a master-at-arms at the port of Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates, but was visiting the city of Dubai on September 24th when she was involved in a vehicle accident. The taxi she was in blew a tire, causing the vehicle to crash into a brick wall, which then collapsed on the car. Schnell suffered severe brain injuries. Her father, stepmother, her sister and two brothers all flew to Dubai when they received word and were with her when she died on Monday morning, October 1st. Schnell had enlisted in the Navy straight out of high school in 2006.
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#4: MNF-Iraq is reporting the deaths of a Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier in an improvised explosive device attack in a southern neighborhood of Baghdad on Saturday, October 6th. Three other soldiers were wounded in the incident.
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#5: The British Ministry of Defense is announcing the death of British Army Major Alexis Roberts, 32, of Kent, England, in a roadside bombing west of Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Thursday, October 4th. Roberts had been commissioned into the Royal Gurkha Rifles in December of 2000, and since then had served with both the 1st and 2nd Battalions on exersizes in Brunei, Australia and Canada, and also deployment to Bosnia and Afghanistan. He had also spent a period of time as an instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. On October 4th, Roberts was in command of a convoy that had traveled deep into Helmand Province. The convoy was on the final leg of its return to base in Kandahar when the bombing occurred. Roberts was married and had a family.
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#6: CENTCOM is reporting the death of a coalition soldier from the U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan from a suicide car bombing in Kabul on Saturday, October 6th. The attack came in a heavily populated area of the city, killing and injuring an unknown number of Afghani civilians. Although the dead soldier's nationality was not given, we are assuming he was an American.
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Security incidents:
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Baghdad:
#1: U.S. forces killed six gunmen and detained 18 others in operations targeting Sunni Islamist militants in central and northern Iraq, U.S. military said.

#2: Clashes erupted between Mahdi Army militiamen and Iraqi army in Al Washash area, Iraqi police said. The clashes started on the background of building a separating wall in the area. Two people were injured.

#3: A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier was killed and three others were wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations in the southern region of the Iraqi capital Oct. 6.


Diyala Prv:
Khalis:
#1: An explosive charge went off near al-Mujaddad village, on the main road in al-Salm area, Khalis district, wounding five people: two women and three men," an official security source in Diala Operations Command told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#2: He said one hour later a second explosive charge went off in the same place, wounding two people

Balad Ruz:
#1: U.S. military aircrafts bombed several al-Qaeda positions in Baldroz villages, but no casualties have been reported thus far, Col. al-Omiri added. No comment was available from the U.S. army on the incident.


Mahaweel:
#1: Gunmen killed an off-duty member of the Iraqi special forces in Mahaweel, 75 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.


Madaen:
#1: Around 10 a.m. Three mortar shells slammed into Madaen south of Baghdad and hit a residential house. One resident was killed and 4 others were injured.


Hilla:
#1: Unknown gunmen attacked and killed a soldier assigned to the Iraqi Scorpion forces near his house in Barnon village, 5 km north of Hilla," a source from Babel police told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#2: The body of a Jarf al-Sakhr Awakening Council member was found beheaded on a main road about 60 km northwest of Hilla


Mussayab:
#1: Body of a child with gunshot wounds was found in Mussayab, 60 km (40 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.
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Basra:
#1: Three British soldiers were wounded along with an Iraqi national working with the British forces when their base came under a Katyusha attack in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, a British military spokesman said on Saturday. "Katyusha rockets fell onto the British base at Basra international airport, last night, wounding three British soldiers and an Iraqi working with the forces," Major Mathew Bird told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#2: Basra police told VOI "the Katyusha rocket attack set a building in Basra international airport ablaze." "The British forces returned fire with six artillery shells toward the direction of the attack, landing in al-Garma area, 20 km north of Basra," the police source added.


Salman Pak:
#1: Three mortar bombs killed a civilian and wounded four others in Salman Pak, 45 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.


Iskandariya:
#1: Beheaded body with signs of torture, belonging to a member of a Sunni Arab tribe working with U.S. forces, was found in Iskandariya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said.


Samarra:
#1: Iraqi army, police and local groups working with U.S. forces known as "concerned citizens" killed eight gunmen, detained 37 and liberated 27 truck drivers held hostage during an operation on Thursday southwest of Samarra, 100 km (62 miles) north of Baghdad. Four members of the Iraqi security forces and four concerned citizens were killed, U.S. military said.


Hawija:
#1: Gunmen killed a police lieutenant and wounded a civilian when they shot at their car outside Hawija, 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Kirkuk, police said.


Kirkuk:
#1: a parked car laden with explosives was detonated as a police patrol passed near a fuel station in north-eastern Kirkuk, 250 kilometres north of Baghdad, senior police officer Mahmoud Jassem told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The blast killed a civilian and wounded 11 others, including four policemen.

#2: a police officer was killed and a civilian wounded when a group of gunmen opened fire on their vehicle as it traveled in Seda village, 50 kilometres west of Kirkuk.

#3: A car bomb targeting a police patrol wounded four policemen and a civilian in southern Kirkuk, police said.

#4: A roadside bomb wounded two people in central Kirkuk.

#5: Another roadside bomb wounded a policeman when it targeted a police patrol in northern Kirkuk, 250 km (155 miles) north of Baghdad, police said.


Kurdistan:
#1: Turkish forces shelled cross-border regions in Kurdistan's province of Duhuk, an official source from the border guard forces in the province said on Saturday. "Turkish artillery fired four missiles at regions near Deshta Takh village, but no casualties were reported," the source, who asked his name not be mentioned, told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq


Al Anbar Prv:
Fallujah:
#1: Iraqi police killed a gunman and detained 12 others in an operation on Friday in Falluja, 50 km (32 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.



Afghanistan:
#1: A suicide car bomb struck a US-led coalition convoy near the Kabul airport Saturday, killing one soldier and five Afghans in the latest in a string of attacks by the extremist Taliban, officials said.
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Casualty Reports:
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Marine Cpl. Raymond Hennagir, 21, lost both his legs and four fingers on his left hand in Iraq this summer, it's been a hero's welcome home. Hennagir, who served as a combat engineer in the 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force. Hennagir was injured June 17 while on foot patrol in Zaidon, Iraq. He stepped on an improvised explosive device and was so badly injured, he "shouldn't have lived," said Mia English, Hennagir's sister.

Terry Fleming, 25, was severely burned on his arms and legs in a May 12 roadside bomb blast in Iraq. He has spent the past five months in the medical center's intensive care unit for burn patients. Doctors at Brooke will not give the Fleming family a long-term outlook for their sergeant's recovery. Because burn patients are extremely susceptible to infections, it's impossible to predict whether he will survive and, if so, how long it might take him to return to good health. Fleming has undergone multiple skin grafts and blood transfusions. He can't lift his arms and is missing tips of his fingers. The burns on his left arm have not healed. He has tried to stand and walk, but even two steps cause horrible pain where his skin is tight from grafts and surgery, Bennett said. The heat from the explosion singed his face but did not disfigure it, Bennett said. "You can tell he had on his helmet because he's not burned on top of his head," she said. "But you can see the imprint of the strap on his chin and face."

Christopher Braley, 23, a Navy medic with a Marine battalion in Iraq, continues to recover at a Maryland military hospital following an ambush attack on Sept. 16. A piece of shrapnel from an improvised explosive device struck the right side of his face, taking out his eye and lodging in his brain, his grandfather Larry Braley said. Braley's cheek bones are crushed, his nose is broken and a part of his skull is still open as doctors continue to work on reducing the swelling in his brain, Mendosa said, adding that Christopher'smother Debbie says they're trying to reconstruct his face by building up his cheekbones. He was placed in an induced coma for the 12-hour flight that took him from a hospital in Germany to Bethesda, Md., grandmother Jane Braley said. He had been in Iraq for about two months.

James Fair, 25, of Coraopolis, was injured by a makeshift bomb in Fallujah in November 2003. Fair lost his eyesight and both hands in the blast. He also suffered a brain injury and a severe injury to his right leg.

It was a full hour before Sgt. Brenda G. Hernandez -- a 2002 Ysleta High School graduate -- realized she had been wounded when a particularly deadly type of roadside bomb blasted the Humvee in which she was serving as gunner a year ago. Part of a Fort Hood battalion that supported medical units in Iraq, Hernandez, 23, was working on a "flatbed detail," helping to break down a camp in Iraq and move it to another location. Sept. 5, 2006, her Humvee was in a convoy moving items including buildings and razor wire to the new camp, named Kalsu, south of Baghdad. The device that exploded near her Humvee is known as an "explosively formed penetrator." The EFPs -- which U.S. military officials say come from Iran -- use a copper plate to penetrate thick armor. "The fire was outside," Hernandez said. "The actual copper passed behind my legs because I was gunning." Smoke engulfed the vehicle and Hernandez, trained as a combat medic, said she couldn't see anything for a few moments. "I couldn't feel my left leg," she said, "but I checked myself and I didn't have any major fractures or obvious bleeding, so I continued my mission." Most of the damage was on her left side. She had shrapnel in her ankle and hip, a bruise on her foot and third-degree burns on her knee. She also received cuts in her hamstrings.

In September, Sergeant Brian Schar was on patrol in Iraq when a homemade bomb blast tore through his vehicle, seriously injuring his legs, arm, and colon. The injuries to Sgt. Schar's legs were more severe than originally thought, and doctors amputated both legs above the knee. Since that attack, he has endured a half-dozen surgeries. The attack was the second IED blast Schar survived and occurred just two weeks before he was set to leave Baghdad. He survived the first attack in February with a concussion. He was awarded a Purple Heart and quickly returned to combat.

Edward Pietrzyk was transported to a specialist clinic in Gryfice from the US military base hospital in Ramstein, Germany where he was evacuated after the terrorist attack. According to the Polish medical staff the most serious problem are internal burns sustained by ambassador Pietrzyk in the blast. The condition of the Polish ambassador to Iraq who was wounded in a bomb attack in Baghdad last Wednesday is reported to be serious, but stable. He is kept in a state of pharmacological coma for treatment and remains hooked up to a respirator.
The patient is unable to breathe and was put on respirator. He is suffering from burns of upper airways and some 20 percent of his body’s surface is burnt,” doctor Krajewski informed. His state is very serious and prognosis is very cautious,” said Andrzej Krajewski, head of the hospital in Gryfice, northern Poland where the ambassador was transported on Friday night.

Craig Lundberg was badly injured when he was blown up by a grenade on March 22. The 21-year-old lance corporal’s arm was almost severed, his nose broken and he lost his left eye and most of his teeth. Amazingly, Craig, from Aintree, fought on and helped injured colleagues despite his terrible wounds. He has amazed doctors with his recovery and is preparing for one of his biggest challenges.

Army Spc. Jacob Castro, 23, went to Iraq in September 2006 and he began the nightly job of patrolling the streets around Tikrit, clearing the roads of the hidden bombs that have killed and wounded so many U.S. soldiers. on Jan. 30, Jacob's vehicle was leading the patrol and slowly approaching a bomb crater at the roadside not far from FOB Speicher. "The last thing I remember was my sergeant (in the right seat) telling me to drive on slowly and then there was the blast," he said. The explosion ripped apart the front end of the RG-31, knocking the gunner out of his position and sending minor shrapnel into the sergeant's arm and leg. The soldier didn't realize it, but his left knee had been destroyed, both legs broken and riddled with shrapnel. The vehicle gunner, who was shaken but unhurt, threw a tourniquet around Jacob's left leg to stop the bleeding and then the patrol called for the helicopters to come and get him.

Army Pfc Rick Zimmerman, 22, son of William Zimmerman of Mt. Pleasant and Karen Brown of Florida, suffered a head injury, skull and jaw fractures and was hit with numerous pieces of shrapnel when he was injured in Baghdad, his uncle, Dennis Epler, said. Zimmerman was serving on road patrol in a HumVee when a bomb exploded, injuring him and three others. He was taken to Germany where he underwent several surgeries and was expected to be flown to Walter Reed Hospital, his brother Andrew said. His brother also said that Zimmerman has shown improvement. His brain had become swollen, but the family was told the pressure had been relieved and the swelling had gone down. Last Andrew knew, however, his brother was still on a respirator.

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