War on Terrorism

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

ISAF Joint Command Deputy Chief of Staff to Brief Media

Australian Army Maj. Gen. Michael Krause, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command Deputy Chief of Staff, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EDT, June 1, in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

DOD Announces Charges Sworn Against Five Detainees Allegedly Responsible for 9/11 Attacks

The Department of Defense announced today the office of military commissions prosecutors have sworn charges against five individuals detained at Guantanamo Bay:  Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.

The prosecutors have recommended that the charges against all five of the accused be referred as capital.  Capital charges may only be pursued with the convening authority’s approval.  Under rules governing military commissions, the accused will have the right to counsel learned in applicable law relating to capital cases.

The charges allege that the five accused were responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. that occurred on September 11, 2001.  Those attacks resulted in the deaths of nearly 3,000 people.

The charges are allegations that the accused committed offenses that are chargeable under the Military Commissions Act of 2009, 10 U.S.C. §§ 948a, et seq.  There are eight charges common to all five of the accused: conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking aircraft, and terrorism.  The accused are presumed innocent and may be convicted only if their guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

These charges go beyond what is necessary to establish that the 9/11 co-conspirators may be lawfully detained under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, as informed by the laws of war -- an issue that each Guantanamo detainee may challenge in a habeas petition in federal court.

In accordance with the Military Commissions Act of 2009, the sworn charges will be forwarded to the Convening Authority, Bruce MacDonald.  The convening authority will make an independent determination as to whether to refer some, all, or none of the charges for trial by military commission.  If the convening authority decides to refer the case to trial, he will designate commission panel members (jurors).  The chief trial judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary would then assign a military judge to the case.

U.S. Forces Iraq Re-evaluates Priorities

By Jian DeLeon
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011 – In September 2010, Operation Iraqi Freedom became Operation New Dawn, as the focus of the U.S. mission in Iraq changed from security operations to stability, with the capabilities of the fledgling Iraqi security forces as a key factor.

With the mission transition, U.S. Forces Iraq has changed some of its goals to reflect both the progress of the Iraqi forces and persistent threats in the area, Army Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, a spokesman for the command said during a May 27 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable.

“Under Operation New Dawn, … we have three major tasks for stability operations,” he said. “The first one is to advise, train, assist and equip the Iraqi security forces; our second task is to partner in counterterrorism operations; and our third task is to support and protect the civilian workers that come from the U.S. Mission Iraq or the embassy, as they work to build civil capacity throughout the country.”

While the joint task force has been making progress on all fronts of the mission, Buchanan said, a lot of work remains to be done before U.S. forces leave Iraq at the end of the year. Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, illegal arms and militias, and basic crime all pose threats, he added, but thanks to the combined efforts of U.S. and Iraqi forces -- coupled with the death of Osama bin Laden -- al-Qaida’s influence, finances, and ability to recruit new members or bring in foreign fighters has been greatly diminished.

Although al-Qaida’s effect now is isolated, the organization’s strict adherence to radical ideologies and its willingness to continually murder innocents make the group dangerous, the general said.

Iraqi and U.S. forces also see a problem in smaller, foreign militias, the most prevalent being the Promised Day Brigade, Asaib al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah, Buchanan said. These forces, which are not Iraqi-financed, may not have the country’s best interests in mind, he added.

"Because they frequently represent a foreign agenda, they undermine Iraq's sovereignty,” he said. “They're also, as I see it, an affront to all Iraqis, in that there is only one legitimate security force in the country, and that's the Iraqi security forces."

In addition, violent crimes such as armed robberies, assassinations and kidnappings are exacerbated by easy access to arms and ammunition, Buchanan acknowledged, noting that these violent activities are not necessarily related to terrorism. These violent attacks have gone from 145 a day in 2007 to just about 13 a day in the first four months of 2011, the general said, calling that a positive trend and a sign the country is heading into stability.

"You see signs of normalcy throughout the country, and the traffic is flowing a lot more freely,” he said. “Police are pulling security, as well as the army. The security forces are increasingly professional, and the security forces, in fact, deserve much of the credit for all of the significant security improvements."

U.S. Forces Iraq officials hope to help the Iraqi forces in establishing competent intelligence networks to maintain and even further decrease these trends, the general said.

"One of our major efforts for the rest of the year … that we're very much focused on [is] helping them build a system of systems that allows them to work together across all agencies to better identify collection requirements, to share, to analyze and then disseminate [intelligence data] across agencies."

Buchanan said officials also plan to help the Iraqi forces with sustainment and logistics, as well as the integration of combined arms into their operations. Right now, he said, the Iraqi forces are a force for external defense of the country, but implementing infantry, artillery and armored forces and attack aviation would better meet the country’s future security needs.

Even after the mission transition, Buchanan said, he hopes that U.S. and Iraqi forces can continue to learn from each other. He added that he sees the countries having a mutually beneficial long-term relationship in other areas besides defense.

"If you go back and you look at the words in the strategic framework agreement that we signed in 2008, that aspires to a long-term enduring partnership, and it sets the conditions for cooperation in a wide variety of areas -- everything from cooperation in education and agriculture, economic development, science and technology as well as defense and security cooperation," he said.

Vermont Guard medevac crew braves storm, saves Soldier

By Army 1st Lt. Kyle Miller
U.S. Division North

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE COBRA, Iraq (5/31/11) - Despite fierce 50-knot winds and blowing dust, an HH-60M Black Hawk medevac helicopter crew of the Vermont National Guard, circled Contingency Operating Site Cobra, focused on the importance of their mission—evacuating an injured Soldier to medical care April 4.

After a Soldier from 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, suffered serious injuries, medics at the COS Cobra aid station quickly realized the raging dust storm outside would turn an otherwise routine medevac mission into an extraordinary flight.

Like any other day, air ambulance crews from Company C, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment waited for calls.

“The initial call was just like running [civilian emergency medical services], said Army Staff Sgt. Richard Maye, a crew medic. “You’re always on call waiting for the phone to go off saying someone needs help somewhere.”

The medevac crew consists of Army National Guard members who serve in a medical capacity, but also in careers related to rotary wing aircraft.

“I’m an oddity in the guard,” Maye said. “During the [drill] weekend and deployment I’m a medic, but during the week I’m a federal technician. I turn wrenches on the [helicopters].”

The two crew chiefs for the mission were Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Wilson, a federal helicopter technician, and Sgt. Ron Irwin, a toolmaker for aircraft engines.

The pilot in command was Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Carlton Fuller, a civil engineer, and the co-pilot was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Philip Small, who works for the Vermont National guard full-time.

When medics at COS Cobra called in the medevac request, the team immediately jumped into action.

“It was dusty,” Fuller said with a wry laugh.

“If it had been any worse that day, we wouldn’t have been legally allowed to take off,” Wilson said.

Less than 15 minutes after the call, the crew lifted off into the brown skies over northern Iraq and battled the winds as they headed for COS Cobra.

“We were all happy to be on the ground, but at that point we were concentrating on getting the patient on board,” Wilson said.

Once the patient was loaded, Fuller and Small lifted the helicopter into the storm once again.

“It got a little exciting until we levelled off,” Wilson said.

After safely transporting the patient to the Joint Base Balad hospital, the crew members said they were proud to brave the storm to help a fellow Soldier.

The injured Soldier subsequently returned to the U.S. and was successfully recovering in early May.

“It’s a common feeling in the medevac community,” Wilson said. “It’s nice to do the mission that you train for. You look forward to doing them, but at the same time it means someone else is hurt. When you actually do the mission it’s fulfilling.”

Maye said even when the weather goes bad, medevac crews still fulfil their duties.

“We did our job. When people are hurt, we go get them.”

Two Iraqi Nationals Indicted on Federal Terrorism Charges in Kentucky

WASHINGTON—An Iraqi citizen who allegedly carried out numerous improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. troops in Iraq and another Iraqi national alleged to have participated in the insurgency in Iraq have been arrested and indicted on federal terrorism charges in the Western District of Kentucky.

The arrests in Bowling Green, Kentucky and the criminal complaints and indictment unsealed today were announced by Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky; Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division; and the members of the Louisville Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).

Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both former residents of Iraq who currently reside in Bowling Green, were charged in a 23-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Bowling Green on May 26, 2011. Alwan is charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals abroad; conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against U.S. nationals abroad; distributing information on the manufacture and use of IEDs; attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq; as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles. Hammadi is charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to al Qaeda in Iraq, as well as conspiracy to transfer, possess, and export Stinger missiles.

Alwan and Hammadi were arrested on May 25, 2011, on criminal complaints and made their initial appearances today in federal court in Louisville, Ky. Each faces a potential sentence of life in prison if convicted of all the charges in the indictment. Both defendants were closely monitored by federal law enforcement authorities in the months leading up to their arrests. Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States.

“Over the course of roughly eight years, Waad Ramadan Alwan allegedly supported efforts to kill U.S. troops in Iraq, first by participating in the construction and placement of improvised explosive devices in Iraq and, more recently, by attempting to ship money and weapons from the United States to insurgents in Iraq. His co-defendant, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, is accused of many of the same activities. With these arrests, which are the culmination of extraordinary investigative work by law enforcement and intelligence officials, the support provided by these individuals comes to an end and they will face justice,” said Todd Hinnen, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

“The filing of these charges in Bowling Green, Kentucky underscores the readiness of federal law enforcement authorities and our partners in the Joint Terrorism Task Forces to effectively pursue and prosecute terrorists wherever in the United States they may be found,” said David J. Hale, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. “Whether they seek shelter in a major metropolitan area or in a smaller city in Kentucky, those who would attempt to harm or kill Americans abroad will face a determined and prepared law enforcement effort dedicated to the investigations and prosecutions necessary to bring them to justice. The dismantling of terrorist networks is the first priority of this office and the Department of Justice.”

“These arrests were the culmination of extremely well-coordinated, diligent, and tireless efforts by the FBI and our law enforcement partners working on the JTTFs. My thanks to all those who assisted in this case,” said Elizabeth A. Fries, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Louisville Division. “I want to remind the public that the FBI is responsible for protecting the civil rights of all persons in our communities. Just as we vigorously investigate terrorism cases, the FBI will vigorously pursue anyone who targets Muslims or their places of worship for backlash-related threats or violence in the wake of these arrests.”

According to the charging documents, Alwan entered the United States in April 2009 and has lived in Bowling Green since his arrival. Hammadi entered the United States in July 2009 and, after first residing in Las Vegas, moved to Bowling Green.

Prior Activities in Iraq
In September 2009, the FBI launched an investigation into Alwan. Later, the FBI began using a confidential human source (CHS) who met with and engaged in recorded conversations with Alwan beginning in August 2010, and with Hammadi beginning in January 2011. In a number of meetings with the CHS, Alwan allegedly discussed his prior activities as an insurgent in Iraq from 2003 until his capture by Iraqi authorities in May 2006, including his use of IEDs and sniper rifles to target U.S. forces and details about various attacks in which he participated.

For example, in recorded conversations with the CHS, Alwan allegedly stated that he used to procure explosives and missiles while an insurgent in Iraq; that his insurgent group conducted strikes daily; and that he used IEDs in Iraq hundreds of times. At one point, Alwan allegedly drew diagrams of four types of IEDs for the CHS and provided verbal instructions on how to build these devices. He also discussed occasions in which he had used these types of IEDs against U.S. troops. Asked whether he had achieved results from these devices in Iraq, Alwan allegedly replied, “Oh yes,” mentioning that his attacks had “f--ked up” Hummers and also targeted Bradley fighting vehicles.

According to the charging documents, the FBI has been able to identify two latent fingerprints belonging to Alwan on a component of an unexploded IED that was recovered by U.S. forces near Bayji, Iraq. Alwan had allegedly advised the CHS that he lived in that area of Iraq and worked at the power plant in Bayji. Alwan had also allegedly told the CHS how he had used a particular brand of cordless telephone base station in IEDs. Alwan’s fingerprints were allegedly found on this particular brand of cordless base station in the IED that was recovered in Iraq.

In additional conversations with the CHS, Alwan also described IED attacks on U.S. troops that he participated in with others, including an associate whom Alwan said had lost an eye when an IED exploded prematurely. According to the charging documents, U.S. forces recovered an unexploded IED near Bayji from which a latent fingerprint belonging to this associate was later recovered. The charging documents allege that this associate was detained by U.S. troops in June 2006 and had a false eye.

The charging documents also allege that Hammadi has discussed his prior experience as an insurgent in Iraq and has told the CHS about prior IED attacks in Iraq in which he participated. In one conversation with the CHS, Hammadi allegedly described how he had been arrested in Iraq, explaining that authorities captured him after the car he was driving in got a flat tire shortly after he and others had placed IEDs in the ground.

Activities in the United States
According to the charging documents, beginning in September 2010, Alwan expressed interest in helping the CHS provide support to terrorists in Iraq. The CHS explained that he shipped money and weapons to the mujahidin in Iraq by secreting them in vehicles sent from the United States. Thereafter, Alwan allegedly participated in operations with the CHS to provide money, weapons—including machine guns, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, Stinger missiles, and C4 plastic explosives—as well as IED diagrams and advice on the construction of IEDs to what he believed were the mujahidin attacking U.S. troops in Iraq.

For instance, in November 2010, Alwan allegedly picked up machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers from a storage facility in Kentucky and delivered them to a designated location believing they would be shipped to al Qaeda in Iraq. In January 2011, the charging documents allege, Alwan recruited Hammadi to assist in the material support activities. Alwan allegedly described Hammadi to the CHS as a relative of his whose work as an insurgent in Iraq was well known.

Later that month, Alwan and Hammadi allegedly delivered money to a tractor-trailer, believing the money would ultimately be shipped to al Qaeda in Iraq. In February 2011, the pair allegedly assisted in the delivery of additional weapons, including sniper rifles and inert C4 plastic explosives, to a tractor-trailer, believing that these items would be shipped to al Qaeda in Iraq. Finally, in March 2011, Alwan and Hammadi allegedly picked up two inert Stinger missiles from the storage facility and delivered them to a tractor-trailer believing these items would be shipped to al Qaeda in Iraq.

Neither the Stinger missiles nor any of the other weapons or money delivered by Alwan or Hammadi in connection with the CHS in the United States were provided to al Qaeda in Iraq, but instead were carefully controlled by law enforcement as part of the undercover operation.

In closing, Mr. Hale noted, “Let me be clear that this is not an indictment against a particular religious community or religion. Instead, this indictment charges two individuals with federal terrorism offenses.”

Mr. Hale commended the investigative efforts of the Louisville Division of the FBI and the Louisville JTTF, which is comprised of the following full-time member agencies: Louisville Metro Police, Kentucky State Police, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Marshals Service. Also assisting were full-time members of the Lexington JTTF, which includes the University of Kentucky Police and Lexington-Fayette County Police. The U.S. Department of Defense also provided assistance in this investigation, as well as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the Bowling Green Police Department.

The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Larry Schneider from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bryan Calhoun and Mike Bennett from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky.

The public is reminded that charges contained in an indictment or criminal complaint are merely allegations, and that defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Force Repels Attack on Reconstruction Team in Herat

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, May 31, 2011 – Afghan and coalition forces repelled an attack on the provincial reconstruction team headquarters in the Herat district of Afghanistan’s Herat province yesterday, military officials reported.

Several insurgents attacked the team’s headquarters with a vehicle-borne bomb and small-arms fire. Afghan and coalition forces returned fire, killing several insurgents.

Several coalition service members were wounded during the attack and were evacuated to a medical facility, officials said.

In other operations yesterday:

-- A combined force in Paktia province’s Zurmat district killed an insurgent and detained several others while searching for a Haqqani terrorist network leader who manages fighters and supplies, executes tactical guidance and plans attacks against the Afghan army. The force also seized 26 anti-personnel mines, a shotgun, multiple pistols and chest racks.

-- A combined force detained two suspected insurgents in Kunduz province’s Chahar Darah district during an operation to capture a Taliban leader who facilitates foreign suicide bombers, including Chechens and Pakistanis, throughout the province.

-- A combined force in Kandahar province’s Spin Boldak district detained several suspected insurgents while targeting a Taliban facilitator responsible for coordinating attacks against Afghan and coalition forces. The force also seized and destroyed 100 pounds of heroin.

-- In Khost province’s Sabari district, a combined force detained a suspected insurgent while searching for a Haqqani leader who coordinates attacks against the Afghan army.

-- Also in Khost province, an Afghan-led force in the Musa Khel district detained a suspected insurgent while looking for several Haqqani leaders responsible for attacks against Afghan security forces and fighter facilitation.

In operations May 29:

-- A combined force in Khost province’s Sabari district captured a Haqqani network facilitator responsible for the transfer of weapons and explosives in preparation for Haqqani attacks. He also coordinated homemade-bomb attacks targeting Afghan security forces. The force also found an assault rifle, a pistol, multiple chest racks and ammunition.


-- A combined force in Balkh province’s Chahar Bolak district detained two suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who prepares attacks against Afghan security forces using explosive devices, mines and conventional weapons.

-- A combined force in Imam Sahib district detained several insurgents while targeting a Taliban facilitator who supports an insurgent attack cell throughout central and northern Kunduz province. The network he supports consists of insurgents directly involved in homemade-bomb and suicide-bomber attacks against Afghan government officials and security forces.

-- A combined force in Helmand province’s Musa Qaleh district detained two suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who is the key commander in the district, providing tactical direction, logistical support and command oversight for insurgents in that area. He also is involved in weapons and explosive-device facilitation, homemade-bomb attacks and funding procurement for the Musa Qaleh-based insurgency.

-- A combined force in Uruzgan province’s Deh Rawud district detained a man and seized 320 pounds of opium, 44 pounds of hashish, 1,654 pounds of ammonium nitrate – a banned fertilizer used in making explosives -- and an assault rifle.

--Combined forces in central Helmand province detained three men, and seized 657 pounds of opium and 176 pounds of wet opium.

-- A combined force in Paktika province’s Bermel district detained several suspected insurgents in an area historically known as an insurgent facilitation and training center.

-- A combined force in Paktia province’s Zormat district detained several suspected insurgents during an operation to capture a Haqqani leader who manages fighters, executes tactical insurgent operations and plans attacks against Afghan security forces.

-- A combined force in Nangarhar province’s Khugyani district detained two suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban facilitator responsible for planting roadside bombs targeting security forces.

-- A combined force in Wardak province’s Chak district detained a suspected insurgent while searching for a Taliban leader who participated in and coordinated attacks against security forces, and who also coordinates training for subordinate Taliban insurgents. The force also found and destroyed a rocket-propelled grenade, mortar round, grenade, chest rack and multiple rounds of small-arms ammunition.

In operations May 28:

-- Several insurgents were killed and an insurgent was detained in Kunduz after an attempt to ambush Afghan local police candidates. Insurgent forces attacked the candidates with small-arms fire, indirect fire and rocket-propelled grenades as they traveled to their scheduled training, officials said. The Larkhabi Afghan local police and U.S. special operations forces elements responded to the ambush with indirect fire. Afghan commandos and other Special Forces elements arrived and surrounded the insurgents. As a result of the attack, one student died and seven others were wounded. The commandos seized five assault rifles and a machine gun.

-- A combined force in Khost province’s Musa Khel district killed a woman armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and detained several suspected insurgents while clearing a compound associated with a Hezb-E Islami Gulbuddin terrorist organization leader for insurgents in the Qalandar and Musa Khel districts. The force also found multiple RPG warheads, grenades and a bag filled with 7.62 mm rounds.

-- A combined force in Balkh province’s Chimtal district detained several suspected insurgents while searching for a senior Taliban leader who is the province’s Taliban-appointed insurgent security chief. He leads 10 to 18 fighters and conducts small-arms, indirect-fire and homemade-bomb attacks against Afghan police. The leader also is involved in weapons and explosives procurement and narcotics trafficking. The force also found and destroyed 50 pounds of unprocessed heroin.

-- In Zabul province’s Shah Joy district, a combined force detained several suspected insurgents during an operation to target a Taliban leader who leads a core group of insurgent fighters augmented by al-Qaida-associated foreign fighters assembled in Quetta, Pakistan.

-- A combined force in Zabul province’s Zurmat district detained several suspected insurgents while searching for a Haqqani leader who manages fighters, executes tactical insurgent operations and plans attacks against Afghan security forces.

-- In Kandahar province’s Zharay district, a combined patrol found 4,409 pounds of marijuana.

-- In Kandahar province’s Kandahar district, a combined force found a 60 mm mortar round, a 120 mm mortar round, an RPG and 10 60-gallons bags filled with homemade explosive materials.

-- In Kandahar province’s Zharay district, a combined patrol found three victim-operated homemade bombs and a large amount of bomb-making materials.

-- A combined force in Khost province’s Sabari district detained two suspected insurgents during an operation to target a Haqqani leader involved in homemade-bomb and direct attacks against the Afghan army.

In operations May 27:

-- During an operation in Khost province’s Manduzai district, a combined force killed Mohammad Umar, a Haqqani network facilitator responsible for supplying Haqqani insurgents with weapons, ammunition and explosives. The force also detained two suspected insurgents.

-- In Sar-e Pul province’s Sar-e Pul district, a combined force killed several Taliban insurgents and detained two others while searching for a senior Taliban leader who is the Balkh province’s Taliban-appointed deputy governor and organizes attacks against Afghan security forces. He also coordinates homemade-bomb acquisition, construction and emplacement, and facilitates small-arms purchases, transport and employment. The force also found and destroyed several rocket-propelled grenades and boosters, assault rifles and chest racks.

-- A combined force in Kunduz province’s Imam Sahib district detained a suspected insurgent during an operation to target a Taliban leader who facilitates transportation of homemade-bomb components and directs bomb emplacement targeting Afghan security forces. He also supports Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan networks.

-- In Helmand province’s Musa Qalah district, a combined force detained several suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who is the district’s key commander and provides tactical direction, logistical support and command oversight for insurgents in the area. He also is involved in homemade-bomb and weapons facilitation and attacks against security forces, and provides funding to insurgency in the district.

-- In Zabul province’s Shah Joy district, a combined force detained two suspected insurgents while searching for a Taliban leader who commands fighters and facilitators in the district, coordinates Taliban activities and supports homemade-bomb cells throughout the province.

-- A combined Afghan and coalition security force in Kandahar province captured a Taliban leader and facilitator and several suspected insurgents during operations in Panjwai district and Kandahar city. The facilitator was responsible for weapons acquisition and was involved in direct attacks against security forces. In nearby Panjwai district, an Afghan-led security force searched for a Taliban leader in a compound in the district.

-- In Paktika province’s Orgun district, a combined force captured several suspected insurgents and a Haqqani network facilitator who provides facilities and bed-down locations for insurgent fighters while they coordinate future attacks in the district.

-- In Wardak province’s Sayyidabad district, a combined force detained several suspected insurgents and found weapons while searching for two Taliban leaders. One of the leaders is responsible for facilitating weapons, coordinating attacks and conducting attacks against Afghan forces. The other leader is responsible for recruiting new fighters, coordinating attacks against Afghan security forces and facilitating the movement of weapons. The force found homemade bomb-making materials, a 107 mm rocket and an assault rifle.

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Anthony M. Nunn, 19, of Burnet, Texas, died May 30, in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit using an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.

For more information, media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at 270-798-4730.

Marine Casualty

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

Lance Cpl. Peter J. Clore, 23, of New Philadelphia, Ohio, died May 28 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 2nd 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 910-450-6575 or http://www.marines.mil/unit/2ndmardiv/Pages/Media/default.aspx.

DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable: Afghan Security Force Development

DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable with Col. Howard Arey, Chief of Staff, Deputy Commander for Regional Support, on Tuesday, May 31. Col. Arey discussed the overall mission of DCOM Regional Support. During the roundtable, Col. Arey discussed the NTM-A operational requirements in accordance with the ISAF priorities of its regional command and the command and control of NTM-A entities in all regions of Afghanistan which facilitate the Afghan National Security Forces growth and capacity development to enable an accountable Afghan-led security force.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mullen: Pakistan Leaders Want to Cooperate With U.S.

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2011 – Navy Adm. Mike Mullen today said he came away from his recent meeting with Pakistani leaders convinced of their commitment to work with the United States on security, intelligence and development.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff made the comments on the network morning shows this Memorial Day.

Mullen said the May 27 meeting with Pakistani leaders went well and that the tenseness of the meeting was overstated by the media. “It was a very frank meeting; it’s a very difficult time and yet a very important relationship,” he said.

Mullen and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton went to Pakistan to reaffirm the commitment on the part of the United States to work with Pakistan and to send a message about the importance of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

The chairman said the two sides discussed the full range of concerns including dealing with the Haqqani network that is operating from Pakistan to kill U.S. personnel in Afghanistan. “We were frank with them, and they were frank with us,” he said. “The Pakistani army is launching an introspective look and review, and I think we’re going to have to get through that.

“I did hear from the military leadership their continued commitment to look ahead and work with us,” he continued. “We think that’s important. We have shared interests in terms of the terrorist threat that is there, in terms of dealing with a very difficult border and looking for a way ahead that will create a more peaceful and stable country.”

The American people need to understand the tough fight Pakistan has made, the chairman said. The Pakistani military has had thousands killed and roughly 10,000 wounded in the battle against terrorists. In addition, terrorists have killed thousands of Pakistani civilians.

Mullen has made more than 25 trips to Pakistan to meet with leaders including Pakistan army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. He has been working since he took office to overcome what he calls the “trust gap” between the United States and Pakistan. The U.S. military raid to Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden dealt a blow to those efforts.

Still, both sides agree the death of bin Laden was a positive step, Mullen said. Overall, al-Qaida is not the organization it was 10 years ago when it struck the United States on 9/11, he said.

“They’ve been significantly reduced in terms of their overall ability, but they still plan and want to kill as many Americans and Westerners that they possibly can,” he said. “We need to make sure they cannot do that.”

Mullen was quick to point out that the United States has seen no evidence that Pakistan’s senior government leaders had any knowledge of bin Laden’s presence there. American and Pakistani leaders do, however, believe the al-Qaida terrorist had a support network in the country.

Pakistan is important to U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and the chairman said there is reason for hope in that country, despite a difficult fighting season ahead this summer.

“We will continue to sustain losses as we’ve done in the last few days,” he said. “Every one of those is a tragic, tragic loss. That said, I am confident that by the end of the year we will be in a much better position and be able to see much more clearly the longer term potential for a positive outcome.”

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Adam S. Hamilton, 22, of Kent, Ohio, died May 28 in Haji Ruf, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For more information, the media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs office at 785-240-1893, 785-239-3033, or after hours at 785-210-8867.

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. John C. Johnson, 28, of Phoenix, Ariz., died May 27 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

For more information on this soldier, media may contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at 315-772-8286.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of six soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They died May 26 of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.  They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Killed were:

1st Lt. John M. Runkle, 27, of West Salem, Ohio;

Staff Sgt. Edward D. Mills Jr., 29, of New Castle, Pa.;

Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman, 35, of Jacksonville, N.C.;

Sgt. Thomas A. Bohall, 25, of Bel Aire, Kan.;

Sgt. Louie A. Ramos Velazquez, 39, of Camuy, Puerto Rico; and

Spc. Adam J. Patton, 21, of Port Orchard, Wash.

For more information on these soldiers, the media may contact the Fort Campbell public affairs office at 931-561-0131.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

National Guard helps British Withdraw from Iraq

By Army Sgt. Shannon R. Gregory

UMM QASR, Iraq, (5/27/11) – Another chapter in the responsible drawdown of Iraq has ended.

On May 16, the 1244th Transportation Company from North Riverside, Ill., along with the 230th Sustainment Brigade’s Personnel Security Detail, headquartered out of Chattanooga, Tenn., took a trip to Umm Qasr, Iraq, to transport the last remaining British soldiers and their equipment out of Iraq.

British officials asked the U.S. Army to augment their efforts with this daunting task because they did not have the full compliment of assets to complete this mission on their own.

Upon receipt of the mission, the Tennessee Army National Guard brigade made direct contact with the British liaison officer to plan, coordinate and implement the necessary assets to accomplish the request.

When asked ‘why the 230th,’ Army Lt. Col. Martin J. Basham, executive officer of the brigade, replied, “(The 230th Sustainment Brigade) are the guys that move all the stuff out of the country.”

One of the 230th’s missions is to help facilitate the drawdown and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of 2011.

“We are the haul assets,” continued Basham. “Not only do we haul stuff out of Iraq, we also sustain the units currently there. We also handle all the equipment and people as it goes in or out of Iraq.”

“This mission is very historic. Not only are we helping the British leave Iraq, but where they are coming out of Iraq is only a few miles from where they initially entered Iraq back in 2003,” said Army Capt. Shawn D. Nokes, company commander of the Illinois Army National Guard’s 1244th Transportation Company.

For the 1244th, this is just another mission, not unlike any other they have undertaken. They go somewhere, pick up a load, then transport it and drop it off.

“This one is a little more intricate,” said Army Staff Sgt. Shelly R. Johns, a convoy commander for the 1244th, “(and) a little more detailed. Our job is to pick up something and take it where it needs to go. This one was a little more detailed, working with other countries and their operating procedures.

“The hardest part was just coordinating between different countries and contractors.”

“It was a privilege and an honor for the 1244th to not only be a part of the United Kingdom extraction mission, but to meet and get to know some of our coalition’s British counterparts. We are humbled to be part of this historic piece and have the opportunity to work with our British comrades,” said Nokes.

“Staff Sergeant Johns and her crew executed in an exemplary fashion navigating through rough terrain and tight congested areas to pick up and deliver the loads," Nokes said. "Job well done.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mission Afghanistan: Analysts in the War Zone

Part 6: Turning Information Into Intelligence

Intelligence analyst Courtney C. had been in Afghanistan only a few days when she saw firsthand the value of her work in the war zone.

“We got a report from the military that a person of interest had been picked up in one of the provinces,” said Courtney, who joined the Bureau five years ago. Information was needed about the individual’s possible connection to terrorist activity, but the only thing to go on was a passport number and a few personal items he had with him.

In a matter of hours, using law enforcement and military records and additional resources, she and others were able to collect and analyze a range of information and provide investigators with a more complete picture of the man’s identity—including a pattern of what seemed to be suspicious activity related to the movement of money.

Gathering and analyzing information—whether about a terrorist threat or a criminal enterprise—is exactly what intelligence analysts do every day across the FBI’s many investigative programs. But in the war zone, there is often a greater sense of urgency because lives can hang in the balance.

“Everything’s a lot more immediate here,” said Courtney, who is based in one of our Midwest offices but recently began a four-month assignment in Kabul. “You need to push things out a lot quicker, because there are real-time implications if you don’t.” The timely dissemination of intelligence, for example, can have an immediate impact on the safety of troops on the ground.

The FBI’s top investigative priority is to protect the homeland from terrorist attack. The ability to collect intelligence in the war zone—in a cooperative effort with our U.S., Afghan, and other international partners—is critical for our domestic security as well as keeping our people on the front lines safe. Intelligence analysts play a critical part in that process.

“We are information brokers,” Courtney said. “Our role is to take information and give it context. The intelligence we gather from a variety of sources is pushed out to investigators in the field and to our partners, where it can be integrated into operations.”

In Afghanistan, just like at home, intelligence comes from many places—open sources like newspapers and the Internet, military and law enforcement databases, and citizens providing tips, to name a few.

When it comes to counterterrorism matters, the cycle of collecting, analyzing, and sharing intelligence is intensified and compressed. “In the war zone, we are at the razor’s edge of knowledge creation as it relates to a lot of terror threats,” Courtney said. “Information we collect here today could save lives on the front lines and at home. Knowing that makes everyone work that much harder.”

Beyond the intense pace—“No two days are the same here,” she said—there is also the satisfaction of working with a dedicated group of people who care deeply about the FBI’s mission in the war zone.

“Most of us are here for four months,” she explained. “It’s 120 days to make a difference and to contribute. I see it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Next: Establishing a presence in the war zone.

Air Force Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two airmen who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

The airmen died May 26 in the Shorabak district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Hamski, 28, of Ottumwa, Iowa.  He was assigned to the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.  For more information, media may contact the 52nd Fighter Wing public affairs office at 011-49-171-331-4921.

Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee, 32, of Citrus Heights, Calif.  He was assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah.  For more information, media may contact the 75th Air Base Wing public affairs office at 801-645-7073.

Army Casualty

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

Chief Warrant Officer Christopher R. Thibodeau, 28, of Chesterland, Ohio, died May 26 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his helicopter crashed during combat operations.  He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information on this soldier, media may contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-449-4023.

Clinton, Mullen Meet With Pakistani Leaders

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2011 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with Pakistani leaders today in an effort to shore up relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Clinton and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari, Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani and Intelligence Chief Lt. Gen. Ahmad Pasha.

Clinton described the meetings as “very extensive, open, frank and constructive discussions.” The relationship has been strained by the U.S. operation in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden on May 1.

Mullen stressed “the criticality” of the relationship between Pakistan and the United States, of the shared sense of urgency that leaders in both nations feel and of moving the relationship forward.

“I think we all realize the challenges under which this relationship now labors, but now is not the time for retreat or for recrimination,” the chairman said during a news conference at the U.S. embassy. “Now is the time for action and closer coordination -- for more cooperation, not less [and] for the friendship to get stronger, not weaker.”

Clinton said the visit comes at an important time because bin Laden’s death marks a turning point in the struggle against extremists.

“Osama bin Laden is dead, but al-Qaida and its syndicate of terror remain a serious threat to us both,” she said. “There is momentum toward political reconciliation in Afghanistan, but the insurgency continues to operate from safe havens here in Pakistan.”

The United States has been clear and consistent about its expectations in the relationship with Pakistan, the secretary said. She said both countries want to defeat violent extremism, end the conflict in Afghanistan and ensure a secure, stable, democratic, prosperous future for Pakistan. “We expect to work closely with the government and the people of Pakistan to achieve those ends,” she said.

Many terrorists have sought refuge in Pakistan and have used the country as a planning center, the secretary noted. “From here, they have targeted innocent people all over the world -- in Pakistan, Afghanistan and far beyond,” Clinton said. “But no nation has sacrificed more lives in this struggle against violent extremism than Pakistan has. Extremists have killed women and children, blown up mosques and markets, and shown no regard for human life or dignity.”

The United States and Pakistan have worked together to take on these terrorists, Clinton said, and the governments and militaries have cooperated and shared intelligence often.

“Today, we discussed in even greater detail cooperation to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida, and to drive them from Pakistan and the region,” the secretary said. “We will do our part and we look to the government of Pakistan to take decisive steps in the days ahead. Joint action against al-Qaida and its affiliates will make Pakistan, America and the world safer and more secure.”

Clinton stressed there is absolutely no evidence that anyone at the highest levels of the Pakistani government knew Osama bin Laden was living in Abbottabad.

Pakistan has an interest in a safe, stable Afghanistan, and the United States and Pakistan must work together to achieve that goal, Clinton said, adding that the United States is working with Afghanistan to split the Taliban from al-Qaida and reconcile insurgents who meet certain criteria.

“Today, we discussed Pakistan’s perspective on Afghanistan and how it can support the international community’s efforts there,” Clinton said. “We look forward to putting those words into action and seeing momentum toward a political resolution.”

Bin Laden’s death has caused terrorists to lash out in Pakistan, and the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban continue to collude with al-Qaida, the chairman said.

“To be sure, these groups are weaker -- much weaker -- and not just as a result of this raid, but as a result of the extraordinary efforts expended by both coalition forces and the Pakistani military over the last several years,” Mullen said. “There is a much larger struggle afoot, and I would be remiss if I did not applaud the bravery and the skill with which Pakistani troops have engaged the enemy in that struggle, losing thousands of their number in the process.”

The fight must continue, and Pakistani and American service members must continue to cooperate, Mullen said.

“For our part, my military took many risks going after bin Laden, risks to the lives of our men and women in uniform, risks to civilian causalities and to collateral damage,” Mullen said. “We took the risk of being wrong about what we thought we knew of the killer’s whereabouts. And yes, in our desire to preserve secrecy, we incurred a certain risk in our relationships with other nations in the region.

“But this particular relationship with Pakistan is too critical,” he added, “and now is too critical a time to allow whatever differences we may still have with one another impede the progress we must still make together.”

The chairman acknowledged that he realizes U.S. and Pakistani service members must continue to build trust -- trust that has been tested by the bin Laden raid.

“But I do leave here with a sense that General Kayani and other Pakistani military leaders share my commitment to that task and share my desire to look for ways to advance the relationship,” he said. “There’s no better time for that sort of partnership than right now.”