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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

War News for Thursday, February 18, 2010

NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier from a small arms fire attack in an undisclosed area of southern Afghanistan related to Operation Moshtarak on Wednesday, February 18th.

NATO is reporting the death of an ISAF soldier from a small arms fire attack in an undisclosed area of southern Afghanistan related to Operation Moshtarak on Thursday, February 19th.

Snipers Imperil U.S.-Led Forces in Afghan Offensive:

U.S. troops in Iraq drop to lowest level since 2003: We have approximately 98,000 service members here at this time, " a military spokesman said.

Reported security incidents

#1: Unknown gunmen on Wednesday kidnapped a civil servant in the south of Kirkuk city. “The victim works at the Technical College in Kirkuk,” a local security source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

#1: Two civilians were wounded by a sticky bomb in south of Mosul, a source from the Ninewa operations command said on Thursday. “A bomb, stuck to the vehicle of former police Colonel, Zuheir al-Din Attiya, went off on Wednesday evening (Feb. 17) in al-Qayara district, south of Mosul, injuring him along with his companion Jassem Daham, a chieftain of the al-Jubur tribes,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.

Al Anbar Prv:
#1: A suicide car bomb exploded Thursday outside the gate the main government compound in the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, killing at least 12 people, including four police, a security official said. The attacker blew up his explosive-packed car outside the gate of a compound housing the governor's office, police headquarters and courts, the security official said. The blast also wounded at least 20 people, he added, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Afghanistan: "The Forgotten War"
#1: A government official says the death toll in a bomb blast in northwest Pakistan's tribal belt has reached 29. Jawed Khan says the attack occurred at a mosque in the Aka Khel area of Khyber tribal region. More than 50 people were wounded. Earlier reports said the Thursday explosion occurred in the Orakzai area at a cattle market. The two areas border one another, and the market is apparently near the mosque.

A suicide bombing near a mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber region killed at least eight people, including a militant commander, and wounded 50 others.

#2: U.S. Marines pummeled insurgents with mortars, sniper fire and missiles as fighting intensified Thursday in two areas of the Taliban southern stronghold of Marjah, where U.S. and Afghan forces are facing stubborn resistance in an operation now in its sixth day. Marines traded machine-gun fire after coming under attack by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades. One Marine company attacked Taliban positions surrounding them at dawn. Marines and Afghan troops continued to battle "stiff resistance" in different parts of town, a Marine spokesman said Thursday.

#3: Five NATO service members and one Afghan soldier have been killed since the attack on Marjah, the hub of the Taliban's southern logistics and drug-smuggling network, began Saturday. About 40 insurgents have been killed, Helmand Gov. Gulab Mangal said.
NATO had previously reported six deaths, but said Thursday that one death had mistakenly been reported twice.

#4: But in a sign of the difficulty that NATO faces in trying to reverse the rise of militants, eight members of the Afghan National Police on Wednesday night defected to the Taliban, a police official said Thursday. Eight policemen in Wardak province's Chak district abandoned their posts and joined with Taliban militants in the area late Wednesday, said Mirza Khan, deputy provincial police chief. Khan said one of the policemen had previous ties with the Taliban. The incident is under investigation.

About 25 police officers left their posts in the remote Chalk District of Wardak just before midnight Wednesday, and on Thursday morning a Taliban spokesman claimed they had surrendered to them. “They left with all their weapons, two trucks and machine guns and heavy weapons,” said Maj. Abdul Khalil, the police chief in Jalrez District, about 25 miles from Chalk. He said there had been some sort of pay dispute. “We don’t know if they have gone over to the Taliban, or they just ran away or what has happened,” Major Khalil said. At about the same time Maj. Khalil was speaking, a Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in a telephone interview that 24 policemen in Chalk surrendered to the Taliban along with their weapons and two trucks. “They are safe now and will not be harmed and will be treated well under our code of conduct,” Mr. Mujahid said.

#5: Afghan troops, during operation against Taliban militants in northern Kunduz province, eliminated their commander and detained three militants, a local newspaper reported Thursday. "A Taliban commander called Mullah Zabihullah was killed and three of his armed were arrested," Daily Afghanistan reported. Quoting the provincial governor Mohammad Omar, the newspaper added that security forces raided Taliban hideout in Chardara district Wednesday night as a result Mullah Zabihullah was killed and three of his men were caught.

#6: A Nato supply tanker was partly damaged and its driver received minor injuries when a roadside bomb went off in the Baghbana area of Khuzdar district on Thursday. According to police, the vehicle containing goods for allied forces in Afghanistan was headed towards Chaman from Karachi on the RCD highway when the incident took place.

#7: In five days of fighting, the Taliban have shown a side not often seen in nearly a decade of American military action in Afghanistan: the use of snipers, both working alone and integrated into guerrilla-style ambushes. Five Marines and two Afghan soldiers have been struck here in recent days by bullets fired at long range. That includes one Marine fatally shot and two others wounded in the opening hour of a four-hour clash on Wednesday, when a platoon with Company K of the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, was ambushed while moving on foot across a barren expanse of flat ground between the clusters of low-slung mud buildings.

#8: Meanwhile, a bomb blast at a cattle market killed at least 26 people and wounded dozens of others in Pakistan's Orakzai tribal region where many Taliban militants are believed to hide, officials said.

#9: More than 40 Taliban insurgents have been killed during a massive operation in Marja district of southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, a local official said Wednesday.

#10: A Danish soldier was Wednesday morning, Danish time injured as a result of an explosion from an improvised explosive device. It happened south of the advance base Budwan - formerly known as Armadillo. The soldier is from Ingeniørdetachementet in Skive, and was with Charlie Company on a dismounted patrol CIMIC.

DoD: Lance Cpl. Noah M. Pier