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, February 13, 2010

War News for Saturday, February 13, 2010

The DND/CF is reporting the death of a Canadian ISAF soldier in a training accident on a range located approximately 4 km northeast of Kandahar City, Afghanistan on Friday, February 12th. Four additional soldiers were wounded in the incident.

NATO is reporting the deaths of three American ISAF soldiers in an IED attack in an undisclosed location in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, February 13th.

Iraq election officials confirm Sunni candidate ban:

Special forces ‘killed or captured 4,000 in Iraq’

Nato's mission control at Kandahar Airbase, Afghanistan:

US soldier killed in Afghan suicide bombing: army:

Five 48th members hurt in Afghan suicide attack:

Coalition Begins Major Afghan Offensive:

A breakdown of NATO forces in Afghan offensive:
An estimated 7,500 troops are fighting in Marjah and the neighboring Nad Ali district:
- About 3,500 U.S. Marines
- 2,000 British troops
- About 1,500 Afghan Army troops
- 500 Strykers
A few Canadian and French advisers to the Afghan military.
The remaining 7,500 troops are involved in support and logistics operations.

Reported security incidents

#1: An Iraqi interior ministry policeman was wounded when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in central Baghdad on Saturday, according to a police source. “The IED, which was attached to a ministry Ford vehicle, went off while driving by on Haifa street, central Baghdad, wounding the policeman on board and damaging the car severely,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#1: A blast took place on the Najaf-Kufa road used by pilgrims heading to commemorate the anniversary of the death of the Prophet Muhammad but there is no word on casualties yet, Najaf’s information chief said on Friday. “A gas cylinder went off on the road used by hundreds of pilgrims going on foot to Imam Ali shrine to revive the memory of the death of the Prophet Muhammad,” Haytham Shabaa told Aswat al-Iraq news agency. Eyewitnesses in the area told Aswat al-Iraq correspondent that ambulances rushed to the scene that was sealed off by policemen.

#2: A female suicide bomber with an explosive belt blew herself up near a convoy of pilgrims in central al-Kufa on Friday, leaving four people killed and 10 others wounded, a local security source and eyewitnesses said. “The woman bomber’s attack targeted a convoy of pilgrims heading for Najaf to revive the memory of the death of the Prophet Muhammad,” the security source told Aswat Iraq news agency. He did not give details about casualties but eyewitnesses said the attack left 14 people killed or wounded. “Four women were killed and 10 others, including men and children, were wounded in the explosion,” an eyewitness told Aswat al-Iraq.

#1: The U.S. military says a barrage of rockets has struck a joint American-Iraqi base south of Baghdad, injuring at least two people and damaging equipment. The military says about 10 rockets struck Camp Sparrowhawk, near the town of Amarrah. It says the attack began early Saturday morning. Maj. Myles Caggins, a military spokesman, says the rockets have injured two Iraqi soldiers. He also says there was minor damage to equipment.

#1: Policemen seized a rocket that was ready for firing in southwestern Kirkuk on Friday, according to a source from the city’s Joint Coordination Center. “Police patrol found an anti-armor rocket with its pad in the area of al-Wassiti neighborhood in southwestern Kirkuk,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#1: An unidentified body of a civilian man was found west of Mosul city, according to a police source in Ninewa province on Saturday. “The body, found on Friday night in the village of al-Ashiq, Talafar district, (60 km) west of Mosul, showed signs of having been shot in the chest, back and neck,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Afghanistan: "The Forgotten War"
#1: BRITISH troops were today engaged in fierce fighting with the Taleban in southern Afghanistan as Operation Moshtarak got under way. US-led air strikes began as dawn broke in the Taleban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand Province, where up to 1,000 insurgents are believed to be holed up. A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said 1,200 British troops were involved in Operation Moshtarak, which is being led by the US Marine Corps.Reports from Marjah suggested a helicopter attack began just before dawn. Operation Moshtarak involves 15,000 International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Army troops.

#2: A Taliban spokesman says the Afghan insurgents are still in control of the southern town of Marjah amid ongoing fighting with NATO and Afghan forces. Spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi told The Associated Press by phone Saturday that Taliban fighters are holding their ground in the town, a longtime Taliban stronghold and drug-processing area. Ahmadi said Afghan government claims of 20 dead Taliban fighters were exaggerated. He said two Taliban fighters have been killed and two wounded. He declined to say how many fighters the Taliban have in the area.

#3: Thousands of U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers stormed the Taliban stronghold of Marjah before dawn Saturday, sweeping by air and ground against scattered resistance into the biggest southern town under militant control. The massive offensive was aimed at breaking the Taliban grip over a wide area of their southern heartland. Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, NATO commander of forces in southern Afghanistan, said Afghan and coalition troops, aided by 60 helicopters, made a "successful insertion" into Marjah in southern Helmand province without incurring any casualties. He said the operation was going "without a hitch." Thousands of British, U.S. and Canadian troops swept into Taliban areas to the north of Marjah. At least 20 insurgents have been killed in the Helmand operation, said Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai, the commander of Afghan forces in the region. Troops have recovered Kalashnikov rifles, heavy machine guns and grenades from 11 insurgents captured so far.

In Kabul, Defense Minister Rahim Wardak told reporters at midafternoon that most of the resistance was centered around the main market district of Marjah. The ground advance into Marjah was slowed by extensive fields of mines, homemade bombs and booby traps as Marine infantry crossed a major canal into the town's northern entrance. The town's canals were built by the U.S. in the 1950s and 1960s.

#4: In separate incidents, two Australian soldiers have also been wounded in three separate road side bomb attacks in the Mirabad Valley region. One soldier suffered minor injuries, and another has been taken to a US medical facility at Bagram airbase in a serious condition.There were no casualties in the third attack.

#5: A suicide bomber attacked a convoy of NATO-led troops in Kandahar province, south of Afghanistan, killing two persons including a soldier and a civilian and wounding seven others on Saturday, a local Afghan army officer Captain Abdul Rahman said. "A man riding a motorbike blew up himself next to a joint patrol of Afghan and international soldiers this morning as a result two persons including one soldier and one passerby were killed," Rahman told journalists at the site of the blast. He said that seven more persons including three foreign soldiers and four civilians were injured. All the killed and injured soldiers are Americans, Rahman said. Meantime, the NATO-led troops have yet to make comment.

#6: NATO troops say they have gained a small foothold in part of a Taliban-controlled town Saturday, a day after they launched their biggest war offensive in southern Afghanistan. By early Saturday, at least one military company said it had gained a small foothold in the town of Marjah, a place thought to be the last Taliban stronghold in the southern Afghanistan province of Helmand. But as the company of about 200 U.S. Marines moved to increase its foothold in Marjah, insurgents fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at them. At the same time in another part of Marjah, soldiers were in a fierce gunbattle with insurgents, military officials said.

#7: A Taliban rocket attack on NATO's main base in southern Afghanistan has killed one civilian and wounded six others, a senior official with the military alliance said today. The attack on Kandahar Airfield happened Friday evening and the death of the unidentified contractor is the first fatality in over three years of what has become routine bombardment.

MoD: Lance Corporal Darren Hicks

DoD: Sgt. Adam J. Ray

DoD: Pfc. Adriana Alvarez

DND/CF Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker