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

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

War News for Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of ongoing research of deaths among veterans of both wars, obtained exclusively by The AP, found that Guard or Reserve members were 53 percent of the veteran suicides from 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, through the end of 2005.

The research, conducted by the agency's Office of Environmental Epidemiology, provides the first demographic look at suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who left the military - a situation that veterans and mental health advocates worry might worsen as the wars drag on.

Military leaders have leaned heavily on Guard and Reserve troops in the wars. At certain times in 2005, members of the Guard and Reserve made up nearly half the troops fighting in Iraq.

Overall, they were nearly 28 percent of all U.S. military forces deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or in support of the operations, according to data from the Defense Department through the end of 2007.

Security incidents:

#1: Two civilians were killed and eight others wounded in a mortar attack in southern Baghdad on Tuesday, an Interior Ministry source said. Two mortar rounds landed before noon on houses in the Kafa'at neighborhood in Doura district, damaging several houses, killing two people and wounding eight others," the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

#2: Earlier, three roadside bombs targeting Iraqi police and U.S. patrols rocked the Iraqi capital, injuring a policeman, the source said. But he didn't know whether the U.S. patrols suffered any casualties, as the U.S. troops immediately cordoned off the scenes.

A roadside bomb damaged a police vehicle and wounded a policeman aboard near a commercial compound in Baghdad's central district of Karrada, Xinhua reported.

#3: The source added that another roadside bomb struck a US patrol in the al-Qanat Street near eastern neighborhood of Baghdad al-Jadida.

#4: A third roadside bomb detonated near another US patrol in the Baladiyat neighborhood in eastern Baghdad, he noted.

#5: Policemen found the body of an Iraqi journalist two days after he disappeared in central Baghdad, the chief of the young journalists league said on Tuesday."The body of journalist Hisham Majout Hamdan was removed to a morgue on Tuesday morning after being found by Iraqi policemen in the area of Bab al-Sheikh, central Baghdad," Haider Hassoun told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#6: Police found 3 unidentified dead bodies in Baghdad: Two were found in Risafa bank; one was found in Binouk neighborhood and one was found in Zayuna .While the third one was found in Yarmouk neighborhood in Karkh bank.

Diyala Prv:
gunmen opened fire on a school bus in the volatile Diyala province, killing two girls and a boy and wounding the driver and two other pupils, police said. The attack happened as the bus traveled between the predominantly Sunni town of Kanaan and the mainly Shiite town of Balad Ruz.

#1: Police forces found seven unidentified bodies during a search campaign launched, today at dawn, in some villages near Baaquba," the source, who requested anonymity, told Aswat al-Iraq- Voices of Iraq- (VOI).The source added that the bodies had gunshot wounds to different parts of the body.

#2: Around 9 a.m., a girl of nine years old was killed by a roadside bomb at Al-Abara area (10 km south of Baquba)

#1: U.S. forces have found the bodies of 13 men in a mass grave in Iraq's restive Diyala province northeast of Baghdad, police said on Tuesday, the latest such grisly find in recent months. The unidentified bodies were found dumped in a hole in the town of Muqdadiya, 90 km (55 miles) northeast of Baghdad. All were handcuffed, had gunshot wounds in the head and showed evidence of being tortured, police said. The bodies were discovered in an orchard during a U.S.-led operation in the area on Monday, police said.

Capt. Stephen Bomar, a U.S. spokesman in northern Iraq, said in an e-mail that "no conventional coalition forces" were involved in such a discovery and "the claim currently appears to be false."

#1: Karbala policemen killed three members of al-Qaeda, captured 11 others and seized a car bomb in clashes west of Karbala during the early hours of Tuesday, a security official said.

#1: A policeman was killed and two others wounded in an armed attack in southern Basra province on Tuesday morning, an official police source said. Unidentified gunmen in a vehicle opened drive-by fire at a police car on the Muhaijaran-Bahadriya highway, (10 km) southern Basra, killing one policeman and injuring two others," the source, who did not want to be named, told Aswat al-Iraq – Voices of Iraq

#2: Around 10 a.m., gunmen killed a policeman while he was riding his motor bike at Ibn Al-Jawzi area ( 2 km south of Basra) .

#3: British troops at Basra Air Station were attacked 400 times by rockets last year, Defence Secretary Des Browne said. Mr Browne, who released the figures in a written parliamentary answer, said the total number of attacks on the base in southern Iraq was 406 in 2007. The numbers peaked in April, May, June and July in which there were at least two rocket attacks a day on average, at 64, 77, 76 and 74 respectively.

#1: Three Katyusha rockets landed near a checkpoint of the Awakening Council fighters in Jowezrat village in western Balad without causing any casualties," the source told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq

#1: Around afternoon, clashes took place between police and gunmen at Sheikh Hamad at the left bank of Shurqat (south of Mosul). One policeman was killed in addition to 7 gunmen.

#2: One civilian was killed on Tuesday in an explosive charge explosion targeting a U.S. vehicle patrol in western Mosul, a security source said. "An improvised explosive device went off targeting a U.S. vehicle patrol in al-Islaah al-Zeraaei region in western Mosul, killing a passing civilian," the source told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI) on condition of anonymity.

Al Anbar Prv:
#1: At least four members of Iraq's US-backed Awakening Council were wounded Tuesday when militants launched an attack in the city of al-Ramady, some 110 kilometres west of Baghdad, media reports said. Security sources told the Iraqi News Agency Voices of Iraq VOI that militants attacked a leader of the Awakening Council in the main road northern al-Khalidiya, some 20 kilometres east of al-Ramady. The attack also injured three of the chief's security guards. Clashes between elements of the Awakening Council and security forces were reported to have lasted for 10 minutes prior to the attack.

A member of the Anbar awakening council, Ahmed Mahmoud al-Nattah, survived an assassination attempt when gunmen opened fire and wounded two of his guards near Ramadi, 110 km (68 miles) west of Baghdad, police said.

#2: Police forces killed a gunman from al-Qaeda's the Islamic State of Iraq during a security operation waged this afternoon in al-Tharthar region in northern Ramadi," the source, who asked to remain anonymous, told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq

#1: A suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of NATO forces in western Afghanistan on Tuesday, wounding a NATO soldier, officials said. The attacker detonated his explosives-filled vehicle near the convoy in the Delaram district of western Farah province, provincial governor Ghulam Muahidin Baluch told AFP. "One ISAF soldier was wounded. It was a suicide car bomb attack," an ISAF spokesman told AFP. The police spokesman for western Afghanistan, Abdul Raof Ahmadi, said the attack took place on the main highway from the southern city of Kandahar to the main western city of Herat.

#2: Separately, Afghan police clashed with Taliban insurgents in the same area on Monday, killing one Taliban fighter and wounding two Taliban and two policemen, said the governor.

#3: Two Pakistani nuclear energy officials have been abducted by masked men from a troubled northwestern area near the Afghan border, police said on Tuesday. The kidnappers bundled the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) workers and their driver into a vehicle in Sheikh Badin, a town in militancy-hit Dera Ismail Khan district, local police chief Akbar Nasir said. "They were technicians from the PAEC, they were whisked away early Monday morning," Nasir said.

#4: Taliban militants kidnapped about 20 Arabs and Afghans in western Afghanistan and were holding six captive. The hostages were in the western province of Farah to hunt for rare birds when they were taken hostage by Taliban militants approximately two days ago, said Younis Rassouli, Farah's deputy provincial governor. They were robbed of their money, weapons and personal belongings, he said. Four Afghans and two people from Qatar were still being held Tuesday, Rassouli said. The rest had been released.

Casualty Reports:

Spc. Rory Dunn lay in Bed 32, Ward 58, on the fifth floor of Walter Reed Army Medical Center, recovering after a roadside bomb in Iraq exploded and crushed his forehead from ear to ear. he lay in the neuroscience unit, struggling to recover from one of the worst traumatic brain injuries doctors had seen. " Dude, you look good,” said Dr. Stephen Rouse, who restored Dunn’s skull using a plastic insert designed by a 3-D computer program. He wears an eye patch to cover the socket that was left empty when one of his eyes was blown out. He has a hearing aid in one ear and is profoundly deaf in the other. He has no sense of smell. He still has pieces of shrapnel in his brain.

Jamie Cooper, 19, was hit by two mortar bombs in Basra which "blew out" his stomach and paralysed one leg. But despite changes to compensation rules this month, the Royal Green Jackets private will get only a £57,587 lump sum plus £9,000 a year.

Staff Sgt. Charley Bucklin was injured Sept. 20, 2005, while in the Kirkuk province in north-central Iraq. As a mechanic with Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 163rd Infantry Regiment, Bucklin had spent the two previous days scouring the hillsides to assist infantry. He said he was in his housing unit when a mortar shell exploded nearby. Bucklin walked outside with his flack jacket and vest open and went behind the unit. After rounding the corner, another shell exploded 10 to 15 meters from him. As a result of the explosion, Bucklin has shrapnel lodged in his nose, neck and chest and lost 94 percent of the hearing in his left ear.

Caleb Martin, 22, was injured last Friday after an underground explosive went off and hit his Army vehicle. Caleb suffered a spinal injury

Maj. Dominique Dionne, who was wounded in Iraq while patrolling the outer cordon of the Khalis township, a primarily Shia village in Diyala province, Iraq, Dionne, his radio operator and an interpreter kept a close eye on the Iraqi police as they searched homes in the area. As their supervision continued, Dionne and his men were engaged with small-arms fire pelting and ricocheting around them. “Up until that point, all the rounds had been hitting at our feet, so I didn’t want to dive on the ground,” he continued. “I took my chances and stood still, hoping it might hit me in the leg, but the round hit me right in the jaw. “It shattered the right-side of my jaw into four pieces and spun me to the ground,” he said. “I couldn’t talk because of the shattered jaw so I started kicking the ground to signal to my [guys] that I had been hit. “When I woke up, my jaw was wired and I was in Landstuhl, Germany. “My throat is a little offset to the left because when the bullet hit, it fragmented and I still have some of the pieces in there,” Dionne continued. “Three pieces of the bullet are still in my face. It would cause more damage to my face to pull them out.” Dionne, who now has a titanium plate in his face.

Eric Hall, 24, was severely wounded by a roadside bomb three years ago when he was on patrol in Fallujah. The explosion tore a piece of flesh the size of a basketball from his left hip, broke the upper bone in his leg and caused nerve damage to his right arm. It also killed a friend in his unit.
After extensive treatment, including hospitalization and numerous surgeries at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., his son was making good progress physically, Kevin Hall said.