War on Terrorism

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Keep Focus on Troops, Mullen Tells Joint Forces Command

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today praised the members of U.S. Joint Forces Command for their efforts on behalf of the nation’s warfighters while urging them to maintain that focus going forward.

In a ceremony near the command’s Norfolk, Va., headquarters, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen presided as Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno assumed command of the organization.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in August his plans to close Joint Forces Command next year as part of his initiative throughout the department to cut costs through efficiencies. Gates has said the command’s role in supporting joint forces can be absorbed in other areas. Though Mullen didn’t specifically address the possible closure in his remarks, he did thank the command’s military and civilian employees for their dedication amid the uncertainty.

“For most who serve, life is rarely easy and very little is guaranteed,” he said. “Particularly at this time in history, our focus cannot be here at this time. It needs to be about the young Americans over there, fighting for us. They are risking it all. And when we think about their sacrifice and service, the challenges we face in Washington, D.C. -- while serious -- are far less profound than what they, their families, and the families of the fallen have gone through.

“Thank you for keeping things in perspective as we meet the challenges before us,” he added.

The command’s military personnel and civilian employees haven’t lost focus, Mullen said, noting that they developed and implemented the relief plan that has sent more than 20 million pounds of supplies to Pakistan’s flood victims; completed another annual Empire Challenge multinational, interoperability exercise; completed seven major exercises involving four combatant commanders; and assisted three staff visits to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Today in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless other places overseas, we can all take pride in the fact that our young men and women in uniform represent the finest and most combat-hardened and most joint military in our history,” Mullen said, “and everyone here at Joint Forces Command can take pride in the role you’ve played in their support, and in their development.

“You have lived up to your commitment to always go to support warfighters in the field, rather than making them come to you,” he added.

Mullen said he can’t think of a better person to lead Joint Forces Command than Odierno, citing the general’s long history of high-level joint and interagency commands. Odierno and his wife, Linda, the chairman added, have “served nobly and endured profound sacrifices” while the general served 55 months commanding troops in Iraq, noting that Odierno has not been home for the past five Christmases.

“Thanks to Ray’s leadership and grit, and the determination of our forces, we see the dawn of a new era for more than 29 million Iraqis,” Mullen said.

The chairman said he expects Odierno will bring the same hands-on leadership style to Joint Forces Command that he used in Iraq.

“During times of great change, leadership is all the more essential,” Mullen said. “Ray Odierno was the right leader at the right time in Iraq, and he’s the right leader here today. Ray understands you can’t manage a war or any other endeavor from an office or command center. He leads from the front.”

The chairman also praised Army Lt. Gen. Keith M. Huber, who has been Joint Forces Command’s acting commander since Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis left in August to assume command of U.S. Central Command in August.

“In every sense of the concept, he’s lived up to the timeless military value and tradition that the next senior person takes charge when a leader departs,” Mullen said of Huber. “Quite simply, we are all lucky we had a person of Keith’s character and temperament to fill the very, very big shoes of General Mattis.”

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Spc. Pedro A. Maldonado, 20, of Houston, Texas, died Oct. 29 in Kandalay, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office at 270-798-3025.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Adam L. Dickmyer, 26, of Winston Salem, N.C., died Oct. 28 near Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Campbell Public Affairs Office at 270-798-3025.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Terry E. Honeycutt Jr., 19, of Waldorf, Md., died Oct. 27 from wounds received Oct. 21 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the 2nd Marine Division public affairs office at 910-449-9925 or http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndmardiv/Pages/Media/default.aspx.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Air Strike Targets Haqqani Leader

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2010 – Coalition forces conducted a precision air strike in Afghanistan’s Khost province today targeting a senior Haqqani terrorist leader who directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and reports directly to Haqqani Network senior leadership, military officials reported.

The targeted man also established enemy positions to target coalition aircraft, officials said.

Based on intelligence reports, coalition forces tracked the senior leader to a remote area in the province’s Nadir Shah Kot district. After verifying insurgent activity and ensuring no civilians were present, coalition forces conducted the precision air strike, killing one insurgent.

International Security Assistance Force officials are gathering information to assess the results of the strike.

In other news from Afghanistan:

-- A partnered Afghan and coalition security force targeting the Taliban shadow governor for Kandahar province detained numerous suspected insurgents today. Intelligence tips led the combined force to a series of compounds in the Spin Boldak district to search for the shadow governor. A group of suspected insurgents, some armed and wearing masks, tried to escape, and the security force pursued and detained them peacefully. The security force found 500 pounds of marijuana, bomb-making materials, automatic weapons, grenades, rocket-propelled grenade boosters and a significant amount of assault-rifle ammunition at the scene and detained more than 10 suspected insurgents.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force today captured a Taliban leader responsible for mortar attacks on Forward Operating Base Shank and direct-fire attacks on coalition forces operating in Logar province’s Baraki Barak district, along with two of his associates. The security force also found and destroyed a rocket-propelled grenade and booster during the intelligence-driven operation.

-- An Afghan and coalition security force targeting a Taliban leader who handles reconnaissance for the Taliban network operating in Paktika province’s Yahya Khel district detained several suspected insurgents in an intelligence-driven operation today.

—-- In Khost province’s Shamul district today, a combined security force acting on intelligence information detained numerous suspected insurgents while searching for a Haqqani facilitator responsible for moving supplies and bomb-making materials for distribution to foreign fighters and Haqqani-affiliated networks.

-- Afghan and coalition forces today detained two suspected insurgents during a multi-day clearing operation aimed at disrupting the Taliban’s freedom of movement in Kandahar province’s Khakrez district. The operation began Oct. 26 and ended today.

-- In Kandahar province’s Zharay district today, a local civilian brought six 155 mm empty shell casings to an ISAF compound and told coalition forces the location of additional weapons. Afghan and coalition forces went to the location and recovered three roadside bombs, a grenade, hundreds of 7.62 mm rounds, two mortar rounds and a voltage meter.

-- Also in Zharay today, Afghan and coalition forces found about 30 pressure plates and charges. Exploitation of that site continues, officials said. Elsewhere in the district, an Afghan and coalition patrol found three 100-pound bags of homemade explosives.

-- In Kandahar’s Arghandab district, coalition forces found three jugs of homemade explosives, three rocket-propelled grenades, numerous 7.62 mm rounds and a blasting cap.

Officials said Afghan and coalition forces protected any women and children present during the operations.

Forces Target Insurgents in Southeastern Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – Coalition and Afghan forces continued their assault on the insurgency in southeastern Afghanistan yesterday, killing nearly two dozen enemy fighters and capturing at least one Taliban leader, military officials reported.

The most widespread operation occurred in the Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province, where a large group of insurgents fired with small arms and machine guns on a coalition air weapons team. The team returned fire with rockets and the aircraft’s 30 mm cannon, killing more than 20 insurgents.

Initial operational reports indicated that no civilian casualties resulted from the engagement, officials said.

Afghan and coalition forces on the ground later found 20 roadside bombs and four machine guns at the scene, and confiscated a vehicle and 17 motorcycles.

In a separate operation in Kandahar’s Zharay district, dismounted combined patrol found a large stockpile of anti-aircraft rounds, including six mortar rounds and 50 cases that each contained 200 machine-gun rounds.

In other operations yesterday:

-- Coalition forces conducted a precision air strike on a vehicle believed to be carrying a senior Taliban leader who plans attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, moves foreign fighters in Afghanistan, and is believed to harbor high-level Taliban leaders. Intelligence sources tracked the senior leader to the vehicle carrying a heavy anti-aircraft gun in a remote area of Zabul province’s Shah Joy district. After verifying insurgent activity and ensuring no civilians were present, coalition forces destroyed the vehicle, killing its two occupants. International Security Assistance Force officials said they’re gathering information to confirm the targeted man was killed.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban leader who commands fighters involved in bombing attacks, ambushes and enemy weapons and ammunition trafficking during an overnight operation in Paktika province. He is the seventh insurgent leader captured or killed in Paktika province this month, officials said. Intelligence reports led the force to a compound in the Yahya Khel district, where they identified and detained the targeted man and an associate. During the operation, the force shot and killed several insurgents who maneuvered toward them with machine guns and automatic weapons. The force found and destroyed multiple automatic weapons, grenades, anti-personnel mines, pressure-plate bombs, detonation wire and rocket-propelled grenades with launchers.

-- A senior Taliban leader surrendered to a combined force of Afghan special operations forces and border police in Paktia province’s Dand Patan district. Assisted by U.S. Special Forces soldiers, the Afghan team received information that a known Taliban senior leader was in a store. The Afghan soldiers coordinated with the local border police chief, who sent an officer to the store to confirm the leader’s presence. The combined force secured the store’s perimeter, and the Taliban leader surrendered.

In other news from Afghanistan, ISAF officials confirmed the Oct. 26 capture of a Taliban leader who operated in Zabul province’s Qalat district during an intelligence-driven operation in the province’s Shah Joy district. The force also detained a suspected associate for further questioning.

Afghan and coalition forces protect any women and children present during their operations, officials said.

Trainers in Afghanistan Work to Develop NCOs

By Christen McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – Leaders in Afghanistan are working with the country’s security forces and NATO trainers and advisors to develop noncommissioned officers.

“There is nothing more important to the professionalization of the Afghan national security force than the development of its leaders,” Army Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph R. Beam of NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan, said during an Oct. 21 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable.

Beam said that the development and growth of the security force will ensure advances will be sustainable and enduring. One of the biggest challenges, he said, is personnel management and the ability to sustain a professional corps of skilled and qualified NCOs.

“Developing NCOs is a time-consuming, intensive process that requires education, skilled Afghan and coalition trainers, leader development and operational experience,” he said. “Poorly trained NCOs have a direct impact on mission accomplishment and effectiveness of the force, and in the end, it impacts on morale, welfare, and the confidence of subordinates.”

The training begins with a four-week team leader course after basic training. The next level is the One Uniform Course, which fast-tracks Afghans from civilian to the equivalent of a U.S. Army staff sergeant in a 12-week block of training. Beam said first sergeant and sergeant major courses also are available, and that at any given time 4,000 Afghan NCOs are in training.

Still, the security force has a shortfall of about 12,000 NCOs, Beam said, based on training capacity, retention and soldiers being wounded or killed in action.

“We project -- based on what we recruit, and based on what we are able to put through and train -- that by October 2011, he shortage will probably be down to about 7,300,” he said.

One of the major factors in the shortage, he said, is literacy. The Afghans placed a literacy requirement on certain courses, he explained, and that’s preventing some people from being able to take them.

He added that one of the biggest successes with the training program is that most of it is Afghan-led.

“You do have NATO instructors there,” he said. “But, in most cases on the NCO side of it, it's Afghans in the lead, and they're doing pretty well at it.”

Beam said he is optimistic that the Afghan forces and the NATO training mission will achieve their shared vision for the future, having Afghanistan secured by trained Afghan leaders.

“We have to train our way out of the conflict,” he said. “That's what we're trying to do right now, and I think we're doing pretty good at it.”

Counterinsurgency Success in Afghan Village

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NAWA, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2010 – Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeff Holt was showing Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III the lay of the land of this village in Helmand province from atop the district government center today.

“We’re going to walk you to the east side for a better look at the future,” the colonel said.

While the colonel was talking only about Nawa, it may be a look at what the future could hold for the whole country. Lynn’s view from the roof was the culmination of a visit that began with a walk through the town.

Operations in Nawa showed the power of integrating security, development, and governance issues, Lynn said. “It’s a place where the Marines are providing security, you have a pretty vibrant local government that’s fully engaged, and you have a provincial reconstruction team that’s experienced and deep, and all three are working together,” he said.

Local Afghan leaders reached out beyond their tribes. The Marines were proactive not only in their security mission, but their governance and engagement mission, as well, Lynn said. “They know and understand from the young lance corporal all the way up that the counterinsurgency is more than the kinetic side,” he said. “It involves the protection of the population and the nurturing of the population, and they did a great job in that.”

Two years ago, more than 1,000 Marines assaulted into this area. The town was deserted, the fields were planted with poppies, and drug traffickers were in cahoots with the Taliban. The Marines won a tough fight, then started to put the counterinsurgency strategy into practice.

First, the Marines provided security in Nawa. They disarmed improvised explosive devices, patrolled the streets, and killed or captured Taliban hard liners. Then they put the word out that the area was open for business. Soon people were moving back to the area.

The Marines and Helmand provincial reconstruction team members identified tribal and natural leaders in the community and they connected those people to the provincial government.

The Marines also sponsored small projects from the commanders’ emergency response program. They hired people to clean the canal that runs through the middle of town and for others to repair the bridges connecting the two sides of the city. It was money in the villagers’ pockets, and soon they had places to spend it as shop owners moved into a dilapidated garage-looking structure that lined both sides of the canal.

And still more people came back. The Marines and PRT members worked with Helmand Gov. Ghulab Mangal to eradicate poppies and opium production as a livelihood in the area. Local farmers planted their fields with wheat in the summer and corn as a winter crop. They brought back livestock and began growing silage and building places to store it.

District Governor Haji Abdul Manaf rose to the top of the district council and started working with his neighbors to aid the Marines and complete the security job. The Afghan government sent the army and national police to work alongside the Marines.

Soon Manaf presided over a civil council with more than 50 elders who gathered every two weeks to work together for Nawa. The council includes all tribes who live in the area and follows the traditional consensus-building approach that Afghans have used for generations.

More shops opened in old buildings along the canal. They built a school, hired teachers and began instruction. The town started a civic improvements effort to build new shops. An animal bazaar opened that soon attracted 5,000 people every Friday.

And the security mission has changed as well. Holt’s task Force 33 – built around the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines from Hawaii – now has only about 100 Marines near the city. The rest have eased out to smaller villages in the region, extending the security perimeter and thus bringing development to more people.

Afghan security forces – including police recruited from Nawa, trained at nearby Camp Leatherneck, and now patrolling their hometown streets – have taken the place of the Marines.

The future for Nawa that Lynn saw included a new police station, and cranes raised over construction sites that included a courthouse and a meeting center.

The future also includes a new elementary school with children eager to learn. As Mangel and Lynn approached the school, children came out and threw rose petals on them and presented them with bouquets.

In Washington last week, Lynn approved funds for building a paved highway between Nawa and Helmand’s capital of Lashkar Gah. When the civil leaders learned that the deputy secretary was the man who approved their request, they showered him with thanks and told him the name of the connection would be
Marine Highway
.

Lynn also saw the site of a grand mosque; farmers tending their fields and bringing in the corn crop; and orchards planted with pomegranate, apple and other fruit trees.

Nawa is not perfect. The canal – once dredged – is full of plastic garbage, and reeds have taken new growth. The town council would like to make the canal walls cement, but there is no money for it. Any extra will have to be spend on equipment and projects that have not been properly maintained.

There still are those who want the old days back. The old powerbrokers, drug traffickers, and Taliban would slip back in if they could. The interfaces between the district, provincial and national governments are weak, and still rely on the personalities of leaders.

The village proves that “the strategy can succeed if it’s implemented as well as it has been in Nawa,” Lynn said. “That doesn’t suggest it’s easy. This is tough work, and you do need all three legs of that stool – security, governance, and development.”

And success in Nawa is being replicated. There are whole provinces in Regional Command—East that may soon be turned over to Afghan forces. There are areas of Helmand where the Afghans have taken the lead and coalition forces are in support. Other operations in Helmand took lessons from the Nawa experience and Now Zad, Lashkar Gah, Marja and others have followed, the deputy secretary said. Again, it is not easy, but it is being accomplished.

Helmand Gov. Mangel – who traveled with Lynn to Kabul after the visit – thinks the process can take root in the Sangin River valley in the northern part of the province. “It’s a much tougher environment right now, but he was talking about a shura he held in Sangin last week that drew 900 to 1,000 people,” the deputy secretary said.

Nawa is the proof of concept for the counterinsurgency strategy, said officials traveling with Lynn. “What we want to do now is maintain the momentum, maintain the progress,” Col. Holt said.

District Governor Manaf told Lynn through a translator just how Nawa became peaceful. “We work together all the time, we depend on each other and we listen to all,” he said.

To American ears, what he said next is a cliché. “There is no ‘I’ in team,” he told the deputy secretary. But it sounded new and sincere -- and exciting coming from Afghan lips.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Elders Could Fuel Stability in Kandahar, General Says

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2010 – Elders who fled Taliban intimidation in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province have started to return home and could be catalysts for lasting stability, the commander of NATO forces in southern Afghanistan said today.

The returning elders might begin to work in support of their district governors through community councils, Maj. Gen. Nick Carter of the British army, commander of Regional Command South, told Pentagon reporters in a video teleconference.

“And with that,” he added, “you begin to provide stability that is necessary for an enduring solution.”

Kandahar City, the provincial capital and spiritual home of the Taliban, was disorganized before coalition operations began in April, Carter said. The city’s 1,500 Afghan police officers were not aligned with the International Security Assistance Force, he explained, and a “mob rule” atmosphere made the city vulnerable to insurgents.

“We've worked extremely hard, first of all, to build the security of the structure, through which five companies of U.S. [military police] are now working in partnership with Afghan uniformed policemen,” he said. At the same time, Carter said, he and his troops are attempting to develop governance at the municipal and provincial levels.

A security ring that comprises numerous police stations and checkpoints on key routes into and out of the city were designed as bases to protect the population in rural areas, the general said. The design also provides a “filter,” Carter said, as insurgents try to move in and out of the city.

Regional Command South also has focused attention on the Pakistan border-crossing point of Wesh-Chaman and on trying to remove mid- and low-level Taliban leaders from the battlefield at night, Carter said.

“So a combination of all of this is coming together now with the third phase,” he said, “which is predominantly focused on the districts of Zari and Panjwayi to the west of Kandahar City.”
While still a work in progress, Carter said, the picture of Kandahar is encouraging. The number of Afghans who are returning to their communities and their ability to “move freely” on roads in their districts is a measure of success, he added.

But a tough road still lies ahead, Carter said, to get the Afghan people to take on district leadership and to join police and army forces. The people must take responsibility to make decisions, he said, to “underpin what we’re doing here.”

With winter approaching – enemy activity historically has diminished under the season’s harsh conditions – the general warned that the next few months may not be particularly telling.

“I would tell you that you, in Afghanistan, have to be very careful about not measuring progress until you match it to the appropriate season and the appropriate time of year,” he said. “And I sense it won't be until June next year that we'll be sure that the advances we've made during the course of the last few months are genuine success.”

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. Michael D. Kirspel Jr., 23, of Hopatcong, N.J., died Oct. 27 near the village of Khwaja Kinti (approximately 25 km south of Ghormach), Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery (Strike), 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

For more information, the media may contact the 10th Mountain Division public affairs office at 315-772-8286.

Insurgents Lose Momentum in Helmand, NATO General Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – Insurgents in Afghanistan’s Helmand province have lost the momentum to NATO and Afghan forces, and those forces will continue to take on the Taliban all through the winter, the commander of NATO’s Regional Command Southwest said today.

Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills said NATO and Afghan forces already are seeing a reduction in violence, but that the plan is to give the Taliban no rest.

Historically, fighting in Afghanistan dies down during the tough winters and insurgent groups use the time to rest and refit, but Afghan and NATO forces plan to weigh in on that matter, the general said.

“The ‘off-season’ takes two to tango,” he said during an interview at his headquarters. “[The enemy is] not going to get an off-season. He’s not going to get to go home and relax. He’s not getting two weeks in Florida.”

The general said he wants forces to continue to go after the insurgents in his region, which encompasses Helmand and Nimruz provinces. Most of the action in the regional command follows the Helmand River valley and the Ring Road.

“[The enemy] is going to be pounded,” he said. “We are going to break his supply lines, [and] we are going to hunt him down where he stays. When his leadership leaves because they are afraid, we’re going to pressure him all winter.”

At the same time, he said, NATO forces will work to ensure Afghan army and police units are bulked up and have more capabilities. The Afghans already are operating independently in the region, and Mills said he wants new tricks in their bags by the spring.

“When the fighting season begins in April, it isn’t going to be the same stadium – it’ll be a different playing field,” he said.

Mills said no one has given him a timeline on operations in Helmand, but he thinks the enemy has a timeline.

“I think he’s losing the population, I think he’s lost the momentum, and I think he’s losing resources,” Mills said. “And I think he’s playing the only card left in his deck, which is murder and intimidation, and we’re going to solve that as well.”

The province still is dangerous, but it has pockets of security and stability. Mills described three levels of the Taliban threat in the region with the first and largest being locally based insurgents who work for a variety of reasons, being most often for money.

“There is a large unemployment problem,” the general said, “and a lot of them are recruited by their elders to go out and serve the insurgency really as a job.”

The next level of the threat is middle managers, Mills said. These insurgents typically were local warlords who earned their power through the poppy trade.

“They see their power – which was based on poppy, based on opium, based on corruption – waning,” he said. “They are loathe to give up that power to the government of Afghanistan. They are fighting and struggling to maintain that power.”

Finally, the general said, there is a professional cadre of Taliban who come to Afghanistan from Pakistan to train and give overall strategic guidance to the insurgency, he said. The border area is porous, and Pashtu tribes live on both sides. “The tribes don’t necessarily recognize the boundaries,” Mills said.

The tribes are important, but in a way that’s different from the effect tribes have had in Iraq, the general said. In Iraq, individual leaders made decisions and the tribes would follow. The dynamic is different in Afghanistan, he said.

“Here, there is more group leadership among the tribes,” he explained. “There is more discussion and more consensus building in the tribes.

“We are able to deal with the elders in some places very well,” he continued. “In other places, they are on the fence, waiting to see who wins this thing, and in some areas they are openly hostile. It’s all dependent on how long we’ve been there and how much interaction they’ve had with us, and how much we’ve been able to show them the positive influences of what the [Afghan government] can do for them.”

Part of this is investing in quality-of-life projects, Mills said. The government also uses Afghan police and soldiers to bring in the “real benefits that the Afghan government can provide that the Taliban and the insurgents never brought in,” he added.

The biggest motivator among Afghans in Helmand is getting an education for children, the general said. He estimated that less than 10 percent of the province’s men can read and write, and probably less than 1 percent of the women can. The only education under the Taliban came from religious schools that taught the Quran by rote, he said.

The very act of registering children for school is a repudiation of the Taliban, Mills noted.

“That’s what the enemy strikes at,” he said. “You want to draw a crowd of bad guys? Build a school. Get children to come to school. [The Taliban] will come in at night and will threaten and they will intimidate and tell people not to let their children go to school. But the elders and families are pushing back on the Taliban and saying, ‘No, my children will go to school.’”

The government has a school open in Marja – once an area so dangerous that aircraft weren’t allowed to fly over it. Intimidation still occurs, Mills said, but that hasn’t stopped parents who bring their children. “That’s a real vote for the future,” he added.

The longer Marines and other NATO forces have been in areas, the general said, the more secure the areas become and the more cooperative local residents become.

“Nawa is one of the areas we are looking to transition [to Afghan security control],” Mills said. “In many ways, it has been turned over. It has a good police force, a very nice bazaar, and you can walk around without [protective gear].”

People drive from Nawa to Lashkar Gah – the provincial capital – all the time, he said, noting that the police can handle the occasional threats that arise as criminal actions and not as existential crises. And as the transition continues, Mills said, he hopes it’s almost imperceptible.

“We are maintaining a very low profile,” he said. “The 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, are down there, [and] they have done a great job. What we want to do is as we give up areas, we don’t want to make a big show. We’re not pulling down the Marine flag and sending up an Afghan one. The way I’d like to do it is one morning people in and around Nawa wake up and say, ‘Hey, didn’t there used to be Marines here?’ That’s that way it should be done – easing out of our forces.”

Marja – once a Taliban stronghold – is another example. Marines have been in the area only since March.

“When we got to Marja, [the people] wanted no part of the local police, because they were thugs and thieves,” Mills said. “Now we’ve got 311 police officers in Marja; 100 are local men. There are three police stations located near the bazaars, so they are no longer huddled around the district center. And we have moved the Marines – slowly – out of the center … toward the periphery.”

The Marines have embedded mentor teams with the Afghan police, and the local people are seeing much more of “a protect and serve” environment, the general said.

And the Afghan government is becoming more professional in the region, Mills said. Afghan public health and education experts are taking office and beginning the process of getting basic services to the people. The low education level poses a challenge in finding civil servants, he acknowledged, but he said government and NATO officials are working on the problem.

The general said his Marines in Task Force Leatherneck are doing well.

“Everywhere you go, you will find Marines who are charged up and motivated, who are focused on the job,” he said. “There is a feeling out there that we are going to get this thing done, and we are going to do it right.

“These young kids today are brave, motivated, focused, intelligent and work extraordinarily well with the combined team – British, Danes, Estonians, and with the Afghan army,” he added.

Roadside bombs remain as the largest coalition killer in Afghanistan, the general said, and officials are approaching the threat systematically. Mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles have been a big help, Mills said. The Marines received great and realistic training before deploying, he added, and the units get new technological solutions and new practices all the time.

Mills said he’s especially pleased with the performance of bomb-sniffing Labrador retrievers. “We want more of them – hundreds more,” he said. “They are very good, and the Marines fell all ‘warm and fuzzy’ when they see them. The troops love them.”

It is a tough fight here, the general acknowledged. In the summer, troops sweated through days when the temperature exceeded 130 degrees. While life on this camp is good, he added, conditions are a bit more primitive at the combat outposts in other areas of the province. Every time the Marines go outside the wire, he said, they face the danger of death.

But they carry on.

“They are here because their country sent them here,” M ills said. “They are here because this is the mission they’ve been assigned, and they are here because they truly believe they are doing the right thing in confronting the terrorists that threaten the United States of America. They know they are making a difference.”

Training Brings Counterinsurgency Strategy to Afghans

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – Afghan military leaders will have to borrow from the American anti-insurgency handbook to maintain security within their country’s borders after NATO’s International Security Assistance Force turns security responsibility over to them.

Army Col. Chadwick W. Clark is the man in charge of making sure that happens.

During an Oct. 26 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable, Clark -- director of counterinsurgency training for NATO Training Mission Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan -- discussed the training center he runs and how it enhances the capability of coalition and Afghan forces and Afghan government agencies.

“Our task is to work with the [Afghan forces] to increase capability and capacity through training, doctrine, working through, by and with the Afghan national security forces,” he said. “That's our primary mission.”

The training center, based at Camp Julien in the Afghan capital of Kabul, runs a few courses for NATO and Afghan forces alike. In addition to the basic counterinsurgency course, the center offers a “train-the-trainer” course for trainers from NATO nations and for Afghan instructors. Mobile training teams deploy across Afghanistan as well, educating troops in the field.

But the training isn’t just a basic course learned over a few weeks of classroom work, Clark said. It’s become an integral part of the requisite knowledge for military leaders in Afghanistan. Between specific training given by the counterinsurgency training center and the training given at basic training, noncommissioned officer academies, officer schools and the Afghan Defense University, a lot of people are learning how to battle an insurgency, he explained.

“Think of [counterinsurgency] training as part of every level of education for both officers and enlisted, from the time that they come in, both the army and police,” Clark said. Afghan police have 1,200 to 1,300 training seats in the police, and another 20,000 go to Afghan soldiers.

Of those, only a small portion – between 200 and 240 – are trained at the counterinsurgency training center each month, although an upcoming expansion should double that number, Clark said.

In the last 10 months, Clark said, the center and its mobile training teams have trained more than 20,000 coalition personnel, about 14,000 of whom were from the Afghan forces and 500 of whom were civilians. As their training expands, Clark said, the effort will be able to focus increasingly on training Afghans.

“Some of the coalition forces had doctrine and predeployment training; some didn't,” Clark said. “So in order to get everybody on a level playing field, they had folks come through the training center here at Julien. Now, we're beginning to export a lot of that training back to home station in a course that meets the [International Security Assistance Force] commander's intent for pr-deployment training, and we're going to change our focus to [Afghan security forces] while training the army, the police, and then other agencies that participate or are on the battlefield for counterinsurgency operations.”

Chairman Notes Persistent Conflict’s Long-term Impact

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today offered a warning of what to expect for veterans, the military services and the nation after a decade of war.

“This decade of persistent conflict has had an impact that we are just beginning to come to terms with, … an impact of untold costs and an undetermined toll,” U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told an audience at the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition here.

Mullen called the Army and Marine Corps the “center of gravity” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said their “enormous adaptability and courage” have made them the best counterinsurgency force in the world – something they perfected in less than three years.

“I stand in awe of what the United States Army has accomplished,” he said, adding that he believes the military will meet its operational objectives in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, Mullen said, the military and the nation as a whole should be prepared for the war’s costs: physical, mental, family and financial problems among veterans; diminished noncombat capabilities; expansion of the veterans health care system; high unemployment rates; and homelessness.

“There are many soldiers and veterans coming home for whom the battle hasn’t ended,” he said. “For many, it’s just the beginning.”

Soldiers and Army veterans already are experiencing these problems, Mullen noted, and he added that “what we can see today is truly just the tip of the iceberg.”

Soldiers and their families will benefit from increased “dwell time” at home between deployments, Mullen said, but he warned that some problems are more likely to arise with the reduced structure and leadership on the home front.

The Army can better address such problems by building resilience in soldiers from the first day of basic training and by teaching psychological fitness on par with physical fitness, Mullen said. “We need to teach soldiers psychological fitness skills just as surely as we teach them to march, wear a uniform or shoot,” he said.

The chairman called for the return of “good old-fashioned garrison leadership,” which he described as “engaged, focused, and in some cases, intrusive,” to deal with the profound operational shift following a decade of war.

Today’s young officers and noncommissioned officers who know only the post-9/11 expeditionary Army include “an incredible group of young, combat-hardened leaders,” Mullen said. But they haven’t been home enough to experience the different, but no less persistent, leadership demands on the home front, he added.

“We have created a generation of soldiers tested to the extreme, wanting to be tested again,” he said. “How do we keep their adrenaline running? How do we keep them engaged constructively? How do we sustain excellence as they transition away from combat?”

Young leaders have to learn, he said, that “we are all accountable for our solders’ well-being whether those young men and women are on duty or not.”

Aside from the human and fiscal cost of the wars, the services will have to deal with what Mullen called the operational opportunity cost.

“There are tasks we aren’t able to do anymore, missions that we haven’t trained for because we are so heavily engaged,” he said. “Across our armed forces, I worry about young Marines who have never deployed on a ship, artillery officers who haven’t fired a gun in years, fighter pilots who have not honed their air-to-air skills.”

The services will have to consider how to foster, develop and retain their best young leaders, the chairman said.

“Our young leaders will be essential for the care of our soldiers, the future of our Army and, ultimately, I believe, the direction of our country,” he said.

The chairman encouraged audience members to hire former servicemembers wherever possible, especially wounded veterans.

“This is a generation that is – in a way I’ve never seen before – wired to contribute and wired to serve,” he said.

Face of Defense: Father Accompanies Son to Afghanistan

By Army Spc. Monica Smith
Combined Joint Task Force 101

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2010 – Stories abound of soldiers who meet up with family members while serving overseas, but few feature family members who serve in the same company.

For Army Sgt. Jason Hudgins of the Delaware National Guard, serving in Afghanistan meant deploying and serving alongside his father, Army Spc. Dale Hudgins.

Both soldiers are assigned to Company A, 3rd Battalion, 238th Aviation Brigade, attached to Task Force Knighthawk, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Falcon.

“I see him almost every day,” said Jason, a crew chief. “It’s nice to have him here, because when I have questions or problems, he gives me good advice.”

Dale, an airframe mechanic, originally was part of the Delaware National Guard’s medical evacuation company, but when Jason’s was called upon to deploy, Dale was asked if he would go to provide maintenance support.

“Last August, I was asked if I’d go, and I told them I would,” said Dale, originally from Wilmington, Del. “It’s nice to be here with him because, during his deployment to Iraq, if I heard something on the news about a helicopter going down, I would worry since I knew he flew on helicopters. But now, if something happens, I immediately know about it, and that puts me at ease.”

For Jason, being able to see his father often has helped him have an easier deployment than his first one to Iraq.

“When I was in Iraq, it was incredibly overwhelming,” he said. “I was 20 years old then, and it was the first time I was away from my parents for an entire year. So, having my father here is comforting.”

During the deployment, Jason and Dale work only a minute from one another, making it easy for them to find time to spend together or meet up for a meal.

“He’ll come see me while I’m working on sheet metal, or I’ll go and talk with him while he’s working on the aircraft,” Dale said. “We eat together often. In fact, on Father’s Day, Jason took me to eat at the dining facility. It’s been nice to have him here with me.” include additional screening criteria such as:

• Performance evaluation average for the last five evaluations
• Physical fitness assessment failures within a four-year period
• RIDE score
• Enlisted community manager's critical Navy enlisted classification codes list by rating and pay grade.

Improvements to the application process include pre-populated application data, which helps reduce the counselor's workload.

"This feature is designed to reduce the number of Sailors who are falling through the cracks at many commands, and it creates accountability at the command level for each of their Sailors," said Reid. "Navy counselors also have batch submission capability, another time management tool."

The enhanced reporting features include monthly PTS report visibility for fleet commands, improved inventory control and forecasting ability and an automated notification of application results.

Commands must ensure PTS applications are submitted for all E3-E6 Sailors with less than 14 years of service as early as 15 months, but no later than 12 months, prior to their end of active obligated service (EAOS) as extended. In addition, a PTS application may be submitted when Sailors are negotiating orders to new commands, for selective reenlistment bonus (SRB) purposes or any other reason requiring additional obligated service. PTS applications are not necessary if additional obligated service is not required, or if the Sailor intends to execute an authorized short-term extension. For Sailors who do not intend to reenlist, commands are required to submit a PTS application so they can be issued a separation quota.

Commands should re-verify the Sailor's decision to separate prior to submitting his or her application. Once an application is finalized, the member will not be allowed to resubmit for active duty, in-rate or conversion options, even if the Sailor changes his mind prior to the six-month end-of-service period.

Before submitting an application in Fleet RIDE, "Commands are required to validate all applications as correct and state the commanding officer recommendation supports the submission," said Reid. "This is just one more level of accountability."

A user guide is available on the PTS website at www.npc.navy.mil/CareerInfo/PerformtoServe. The former stand-alone PTS website will no longer be accepting applications. PTS applications are now accepted only through the Fleet RIDE program. Detailed submission procedures are provided via the Navy Personnel Command website.

For more information on the PTS/Fleet RIDE merger, read NAVADMIN 352/10 or call Navy Personnel Command's customer service center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC.

3/1 Advise and Assist Brigade Deployment to Iraq Announced

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced today the deployment of the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Calvary Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas, to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.  The unit consisting of approximately 3,800 personnel will deploy in January 2011.

As part of Operation New Dawn, the 3rd AAB will have three primary missions:  advise, assist, train and equip Iraqi Security Forces; conduct partnered counter-terrorism operations; and support and protect civilian and military efforts focused on developing Iraqi civil and institutional capacity.

The 3rd AAB was formed from the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, which has been deployed to Iraq three times previously in 2004, 2007 and 2008.  The unit is expected to deploy early 2011 and will replace redeploying units with no increase in overall force levels.

DoD will continue to announce major unit deployments as they are identified and those units are alerted.  For information on this deployment, please call 254-287-9400.

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sgt. 1st Class Phillip C. Tanner, 43, of Sheridan, Wyo., died Oct. 26 at Ali Al Salem, Kuwait, of injuries sustained in a non-combat incident.  He was assigned to the 106th Transportation Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information, the media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at 270-798-3025.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Afghan, Coalition Troops Capture Haqqani Leader

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – An Afghan and coalition security force captured a Haqqani network leader who handled the command and control of insurgent attacks during an overnight operation in Afghanistan’s Paktiya province, military officials reported.

The captured leader also was involved in attacks against coalition force checkpoints.

Intelligence reports led the security force to a remote compound in Zurmat district to search for the man. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for occupants to exit the buildings peacefully, then the security force cleared and secured the area. After initial questioning at the scene, the force identified and detained the man, along with one of his associates.

The security force also discovered and destroyed an automatic weapon along with multiple grenades at the scene.

In yesterday’s operations:

-- A combined Afghan and coalition patrol came under small-arms fire from insurgents after the patrol struck an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. The patrol returned fire after positively identifying the insurgents’ positions. During the engagement, two Afghan men driving a vehicle near the convoy failed to respond to the patrol’s warning signals to stop. The coalition force saw rounds impacting near the convoy that came from the direction of the vehicle. Perceiving the vehicle to be a threat, the combined force engaged the vehicle with small-arms fire. One of the men was shot and died while waiting to be medically evacuated by helicopter. Coalition forces then transported the men to a local Afghan police station.

-- ISAF troops repelled an insurgent attack while conducting a dismounted patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province. Initially coming under attack from small-arms fire, coalition forces identified the firing position as a building and returned fire. After the insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades, coalition forces called for close-air support. The insurgent position was engaged with precision weapons with all ordnance was observed impacting upon the intended target. Initial reports indicate more than five insurgents were killed with no civilian casualties.

-- Coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike in Takhar province, killing Qari Mahmad Umar, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader, who was serving as the Taliban district leader for Khwajah Bahawuddin. Umar was an IED expert and trainer also involved in moving supplies. Acting on intelligence tips, coalition forces tracked Umar to an open area in the Bahawuddin district. After careful planning to ensure no civilians were present, coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike. Although a ground force was unable to conduct an immediate assessment of the area, they confirmed Umar, along with one of his associates, was killed in the strike.

-- In Nimroz province, an Afghan and coalition security force targeting the Taliban shadow governor for Khash Rod district of Nimroz province, detained two suspected insurgents. Intelligence reports led the security force to a remote compound in Khash Rod district to search for the district governor. The joint security force cleared and secured the compound before conducting initial questioning of the residents at the scene. Afterward, the security force detained the suspected insurgents.

-- A separate security force targeted a Taliban IED senior leader known to construct suicide vests and conduct IED attacks in Kandahar City. The force detained two suspected insurgents during the operation in Kandahar province. After clearing and securing a compound, the force conducted initial questioning at the scene. Afterward, they detained the suspects.

-- Afghan and coalition forces in Khost province continued tracking a Haqqani network mid-level leader overnight, detaining two suspected insurgents without incident. The targeted man coordinates attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and places explosives in Afghan residences. Intelligence information led the force to a compound in the village of Paru Kheyl in the Sabari district to search for the targeted man. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for all occupants to exit the buildings, then the force cleared and secured the compound. After initial questioning at the scene, the security force detained the suspects, and seized multiple automatic weapons at the scene.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban senior leader responsible for indirect fire attacks against Forward Operating Base Shank and IED attacks in the Baraki Barak district in Logar province. The senior leader reportedly played a role in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of two U.S. sailors in July. Based on intelligence tips, the force targeted a compound in the Pul-e ‘Alam district to search for the man. Afghan forces used a loudspeaker to call for occupants to exit the buildings, then the force cleared and secured the area. After initial questioning at the scene, the force identified and detained the senior leader along with two of his associates.

Partnered Forces Kill Insurgents in Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – A partnered Afghan and coalition security force targeting the head of a Taliban district commission in Afghanistan’s Baghlan province killed multiple insurgents during an intelligence-driven overnight operation, military officials reported.

The targeted man regularly meets with Taliban leadership in the area to plan upcoming attacks against Afghan and coalition forces, officials said.

As the assault force approached a compound in Baghlan’s Dahanah-ye Ghori district, insurgents fired from multiple directions. The security force returned fire from the ground and air, killing several insurgents. The security force then cleared and secured the targeted compound before questioning residents and detaining a suspected insurgent for further questioning.

Continuous enemy contact prevented the security force from conducting a full assessment after the operation, officials said.

In other news from Afghanistan:

-- An Afghan and coalition security force yesterday captured a Haqqani terrorist network facilitator responsible for moving supplies and bomb-making materials into Kabul province for distribution to foreign fighters and several Haqqani-affiliated networks in Khost province. Based on intelligence reports, the security force targeted a compound in the Shamul district to search for the facilitator and detained him, along with several of his associates.

-- In an overnight intelligence-driven operation in Zabul province’s Shah Joy district, a partnered force detained two suspected insurgents while pursuing a Taliban facilitator who builds, plants and detonates roadside bombs in Zabul province’s Qalat district.

-- International Security Assistance Force officials confirmed the Oct. 25 capture in Kandahar province of a Taliban leader known to build suicide-bomber vests. Intelligence reports led a security force to a compound in the province’s Kandahar district, where they detained the wanted man and an associate.

-- ISAF officials confirmed the death of Faruk, a Taliban leader Afghan and coalition forces had attempted to detain during an Oct. 24 operation to interdict narcotic smuggling in Helmand province’s Reg-e Khan Neshin district. Faruk was responsible for planning and executing numerous attacks against Afghan and ISAF forces, officials said. His proximity to Pakistan and ties to Taliban leaders there enabled him to move weapons and explosives into the area from Pakistan using narcotics as payment, they added. Multiple intelligence sources and tips from local residents led a combined force to a narcotics infiltration route where Faruk was known to operate. The partnered force spotted two armed insurgents on a motorcycle and tried to detain them, but they ditched their motorcycle and fled into dense undergrowth. The security force searched the area and killed an armed insurgent who fired on them. More than 60 pounds of chemicals used to process opium were found on the motorcycle.

-- An Afghan and coalition patrol discovered more than a half ton of homemade explosives in the Zharay district of Kandahar province yesterday. The patrol found 11 roadside bombs, each containing more than 100 pounds of explosives, which an explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed.

Afghans Begin to Feel Pride of Ownership, General Says

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – It wasn’t long ago that Afghans living in the Helmand province were wary of police, largely because of their bad experiences with Taliban rulers. Today, however, Afghans are more open to relying on their own police force, and even tip them off to Taliban insurgents.

That was the message Marine Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman delivered to reporters today via a video new briefing from Task Force Leatherneck in Regional Command Southwest, which he took command of in March.

Osterman’s troops are spread throughout Helmand, with some forces in Nimroz province’s Khash Rod area, he said. The three key districts in the Helmand River Valley for which he’s responsible are the highly populated Marja, Nawa and Garmsir.

The task force’s job is to improve competence and ability of Afghan National Security Forces. “To be quite frank with you, they've been doing very well,” the general said.

In the Sangin area, one of the biggest security challenges is around the district center, Osterman said, where troops are “expanding the security bubble” out from the district center into the upper Sangin Valley, and also to the west and east, as well as some down to the “southern green zone.”

Marja, which now has more than 300 police officers, is one area where Osterman sees quite a bit of progress.

While the task force is in the “hold” phase of security operations, they are beginning to see “literally thousands of people in the bazaars on Bazaar Day,” the general said. “We're seeing a lot of freedom of movement on the roads with families moving about, you know, unescorted or anything like that. We've recently seen the governor and government official traveling by road from Lashkar Gah into Marja and back, unescorted.”

The police force in Marja did not exist even two months ago, he said. “Most of the people from Marja would tell you they would want nothing at all to do with police, and that was because they had such a terrible time with the police under the previous Taliban regime,” he said.

Recently, when a child was lost, the Afghans went to their own police officials rather than the U.S. military, and the child turned up fine, Osterman said.

“The Afghan government and the provincial government has made Marja their effort,” he said. “We have, obviously, the district governor in there. We've got a prosecutor in there. We've also got a director of education who has just recently gone out to help with the building of the Marja high school and the vocational center that we're putting in there right now. So there are those governmental functions that are working well in Marja.”

Even insurgent incidents in Marja have dropped to about one per day, Osterman said, and mostly to small-arms fires. “We call them ‘shoot and scoot,’ meaning it may be an insurgent, but they'll just shoot a few rounds off to … try to get some attention, and then they move on,” he said. “So we're in a very positive sense, seeing very few incidents that we would call troops in contact.”

Osterman’s Leatherneck team is mentoring and giving advice to the new police forces in all the districts, he said, for security and governance.

The general refers to two groups of Taliban: the "Big-T" of leadership financiers and insurgents; the "Little-T" of local residents who cooperate with Taliban.

Members of the Little-T group, “for whatever reason, whether it be monetarily or for just vendettas or whatever it might be, decide to join the insurgency,” he said. “Some of these, particularly like in Marja, are left over from previous days.”

Another show of progress is how the Afghan people are conducting a system of neighborhood watches, Osterman said. People who otherwise might have joined the insurgency “are essentially reintegrating into their communities” to form local police and neighborhood watch-type programs that take issues of local concern, he said.

One of the biggest lessons learned so far centers on perception management, the general said. “The people truly are the prize in the counterinsurgency fight. And in fact, when you make the perception of something happening, then basically they expect that to happen and want you to live up to it.”

The way coalition troops apply lessons learned “has to be pretty sophisticated and can't necessarily be a cookie cutter [approach] because of geographical differences, tribal differences, and time,” Osterman said. “Every three months or so I really see it as a different battlefield. So those are all factors that tie in to that.”

And, the general said, he’s seen that sophistication in the young servicemembers serving in Afghanistan.
“I really call it being a sophisticated Marine,” he said. “We have young troops out there who aren't much more than 19 or 20 years old. They're doing everything from teaching classes to helping with governance to working microeconomics, and it really is astounding to watch the kinds of things that they're doing and what they're capable of.”