War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

RC-South West Senior Civilians to Brief Live from Afghanistan

Paul Reid, senior civilian representative, Regional Platform South West, and Michael O’Neill, United Kingdom senior representative in Southern Afghanistan and head of Civil-Military Mission and Provincial Reconstruction Team, Helmand, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EST, Dec. 1, in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on governance and reconstruction.

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.

Kuwait: Army Guard Soldier uses military training, civilian skills to save woman

By Army National Guard Spc. Mathew Schlueter
Minnesota National Guard

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait (11/30/11) – Convoy Escort Team “Able Ten” from Able Troop, 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division “Red Bulls” responded to a head on collision of two Iraqi civilian vehicles while on a long haul convoy from Khabari Crossing, Iraq to Camp Adder, Iraq, Oct. 15.

“An Iraqi police officer was waving us down for assistance,” said Army Sgt. Douglas Olsen, truck commander for 1st Squadron, 94th Cavalry. “When we found out there were injuries we quickly called up our medical truck to provide assistance,”

Olsen said he was the first Soldier in the convoy to notice the accident.

The medical truck was then notified by the CET commander to provide aid to the Iraqi civilians.

“I hope the one thing that can be taken from this is that we are here [the Middle East] to help and will go out of our way to help those in need,” said Spc. Arden Morales, a CET combat medic.

Upon arriving, medical truck personnel witnessed one male lying on the side of the road, two women sitting next to each other a few yards away from the accident and three teenagers just a little further away from the women.

“I paused for a moment, but then my training quickly kicked in,” Morales said.

Her training from the Minnesota National Guard as a combat medic was instrumental, but this isn’t the first time Morales has dealt with vehicle accidents. She has worked as an emergency medical technician outside of the military.

Unfortunately, the man that was lying on the side of the road was dead upon arrival. However, she was able to provide care for those seriously wounded in the collision.

“Both women had lacerations to their heads and several broken bones,” she said.

Knowing the women had lost an exceptional amount of blood, Morales was able to provide immediate attention to the more severe of the two women which saved the woman’s life.

Army Staff Sgt. Jason Montana, the 1-94 CAV CET commander from said, “Spec. Morales handled the situation beautifully. She took charge getting the Iraqi police to set-up aid and liter teams and maintained her calm during a stressful situation.”

After Morales rendered aid to all the Iraqi civilians, she assisted the Iraqi Police in loading the injured to transport to the local hospital.

“She went above and beyond to save a woman’s life and provided excellent care to the injured individuals,” he said. “I wish I had more Soldiers just like her.”

Afghanistan: Indiana, Wyoming National Guard teams train together on new medical evacuation procedures

By Army Sgt. Kaitlyn Ashby
Combined Joint Task Force 1

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (11/30/11) – Calling for air medical evacuation on the battlefield is a skill required before it’s needed.

For Indiana Guard members with the 4-19th Agribusiness Development Team and pilots from the Wyoming National Guard’s Company C, 5th Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, training on Forward Operating Base Salerno, Nov. 18, honed their proficiency for medevacs.

“This training is not just specific to the ADT,” said Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brandon Erdmann, a pilot with Company C from Laramie, Wyo. “It’s tailored for any unit in order to expose them to our medical procedures, capabilities and expectations to those on the ground. It also provides us the opportunity to maintain our proficiency level in our duties.”

The training outlined new medical evacuation procedures, day and night tactical scenarios, litter load procedures, and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hoist operations.

Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Cory Hasik, the ADT’s senior medic, began coordinating the training with Erdmann in October.

“I want to increase our awareness and experience for additional familiarization with setting up [landing zones] and pulling security,” Hasik said. “My top priority is our [security forces]. They need to know what to look for and what to expect.”

To accomplish this, Hasik said the training increases their sense of knowledge about their battle buddies injuries and when a medical evacuation is needed.

“I thought it was cool to do something a little different,” said Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Brummett, an infantryman with the ADT. “It’s good to break the monotony of the repetitious training.”

Joint Statement Affirms Strong U.S.-Iraq Partnership

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 – The United States and Iraq are beginning a new phase of a partnership that reflects Iraq’s needs and includes a robust security relationship, Vice President Joe Biden said today in Baghdad.

He and Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki delivered remarks before and after today’s meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, which issued a joint statement on the nations’ historic opportunity to build a relationship through security, trade, education and culture, law enforcement, environment and energy.

The committee is part of the Strategic Framework Agreement, signed in 2008 to affirm both nations’ desire to establish long-term bonds of cooperation and friendship.

"We are embarking on a new path together, a new phase in this relationship," Biden said. "That partnership includes a robust security relationship based on what you decide -- what you decide -- you think that relationship should be.”

The vice president added, “We will continue our discussions with your government over the substance of our security arrangements, including areas of training, intelligence and counterterrorism."

The meeting was held in a large room at the governmental palace. Biden and al-Maliki sat next to each other at the head of a long, rectangular conference table, joined by 20 members of the Iraqi delegation and 15 members of the U.S. delegation.

The U.S. delegation included Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general of U.S. Forces Iraq; Antony J. Blinken, Biden’s advisor for national security policy; Jeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs; and Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman.

"We're going to start a new phase of friendship,” al-Maliki said after the meeting.

The U.S.-Iraq strategic framework "will establish a relationship based on mutual respect and bilateral interests,” he said, expressing his hope that Iraq can, “be a brother, a friend for other countries in this area.”

Biden noted that al-Maliki pushed for the coordinating committee to have a broader scope than security.

Today, the vice president said, the two delegations pledged to create a separate committee for coordinating security and defense cooperation.

The United States has completed nearly 1,800 projects in Iraq's health sector valued at $800 million, including the renovation of 133 primary health centers, Biden said. The United States, he added, also has invested in Iraq’s transportation infrastructure, air-traffic-control network and railroads.

A lot of work remains to make such capacity building a success, Biden said.

Iraq's development, he added, "will bring stability to the region. That is our sole interest in Iraq."

The committee’s joint statement, issued after the meeting, addressed cooperation on a range of topics, including security and defense, politics and diplomacy, trade and finance, law enforcement, culture and education, technology and environment and transportation.

As part of the new phase of the relationship, U.S. military forces are drawing down, Biden noted. “There will still be security concerns, but we are confident your government is fully capable of handling those internal security concerns," he said.

To bolster mutual trade and finance, the United States participated in the recent Baghdad International Trade Fair for the first time since 1988. The fair showcased 85 American businesses and organizations and built on the success of the 2009 Business and Investment Conference held in Washington.

The United States also supports the Iraqi government’s efforts in the financial sector by providing technical expertise needed to develop private banks and microfinance institutions.

U.S. assistance and professional support is helping develop and professionalize the Iraqi corrections system through judicial training programs for Iraqis through the Judicial Development Institute.

Through the Police Development Program, the United States will continue providing advisory and technical assistance to the Iraqi police, including an exchange program that will bring groups of Iraqi police here for leadership development over the next three years.

While in Iraq, Biden also plans to meet with President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and other Iraqi political leaders, and to offer remarks at an event to commemorate the sacrifices and accomplishments of U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The visit, Biden’s eighth as vice president, comes as U.S. forces are completing their drawdown in Iraq. All U.S. troops are slated to leave by Dec. 31, in accordance with the 2008 security agreement between the United States and Iraq.

Rather than leaving Iraq, “the United States is going to deepen our engagement with you,” the vice president said, adding that he looks forward to al-Maliki's visit to Washington in mid-December.

Army Casualty

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

Sgt. 1st Class Dennis R. Murray, 38, of Red Broiling Springs, Tenn., died Nov. 21 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.

For more information the media may contact the Fort Riley public affairs by email at matthew.howard1@conus.army.mil or nathaniel.s.smith@us.army.mil or at 785-240-6359 or 785-307-0641.

Troops Capture Haqqani Network Leader

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 30, 2011 – A Haqqani network leader was captured by a combined Afghan and coalition security force in the Pul-e ‘Alam district of Afghanistan’s Logar province today, military officials reported.

The leader conducted attacks against coalition forces and distributed weapons throughout the area, officials said.

In other Afghanistan operations today:

-- In the Kandahar district of Kandahar province, a combined force detained multiple suspects during a search for a Taliban leader who directs attacks against Afghan forces and distributes explosives to insurgents in the province.

-- A combined force detained several suspects while searching for a Taliban member in Kandahar’s Shah Wali Kot district. The man is known to move heavy weaponry for insurgents throughout the province.

-- A combined force detained several suspects while searching for a Taliban member who coordinates insurgents in the Marjah district of Helmand province.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban facilitator in the Chak-e Wardak district of Wardak province. The security force also seized weapons and detained three suspects during the operation.

-- A combined force detained two suspects while searching for a Taliban leader in the Ghazni district of Ghazni province. The leader directs attacks against Afghan forces.

-- In the Sabari district of Khost province, a combined force captured a Haqqani leader and detained two suspects. The leader coordinated attacks against Afghan forces.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A coalition force seized a weapons cache containing a machine gun, an assault rifle, about 154 pounds of homemade explosives, detonation cord and improvised explosive device-making components in Helmand’s Sangin district.

-- In Kandahar’s Maiwand district, a combined force discovered a drug cache containing about 165 pounds of hashish.

Soldiers in Iraq Pack Gear for Departure

By Army Spc. Anthony T. Zane
362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq, Nov. 29, 2011 – Quartermaster soldiers here are busy packing up pallets of military equipment prior to shipment out of Iraq.

 “Our mission here was to take all the units’ equipment [and] send them to Afghanistan or send them back to the states to get remanufactured,” said Army Staff Sgt. Gene Taylor, a Morton, Miss., native and the yard’s noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the 227th Quartermaster Company.

Taylor said the redistribution property assistance team processes equipment from various base units.

“Units turn in all their nonrolling stock and their rolling stock to us. … We’re processing all the nonrolling stock in here,” he said. “My guys here … get everything together, banded up, boxed up and ship it to where it needs to go so we can get it out of the country.”

Rolling stock consists of all military vehicles, Taylor said, while nonrolling stock includes all other equipment. The pallets include radios, computer equipment and hospital equipment, said Army Pfc. Tye Spinks, a customer service representative who hails from Bandera, Texas.

“It’s mainly stuff that the units can’t take back with them,” Spinks explained.

Mobile teams are dispatched to units on base that are unable to get to the yard to process their equipment.

“We have two mobile teams here as well,” Spinks said. “They’re going out to them and doing the same turn-in process as we were doing here.”

Once all the equipment is processed and shipped out, he said, the team will do a final cleanup of the yard and will close up shop.

“Our leadership is wonderful,” Spinks said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be able to do the stuff that we do.”

Biden Arrives in Iraq as Drawdown Enters Final Month

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 2011 – Vice President Joe Biden made an unannounced visit to Baghdad yesterday to meet with Iraqi leaders and thank U.S. service members serving the final month of Operation New Dawn, a White House official announced.

Biden is slated to co-chair a meeting of the U.S.-Iraq Higher Coordinating Committee, the official said. He also is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Jalal Talabani, Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi and other political leaders.

The vice president also will offer remarks at an event to commemorate the sacrifices and accomplishments of U.S. and Iraqi troops.

The visit, Biden’s eighth as vice president, comes as U.S. forces are completing their drawdown in Iraq. All U.S. troops are slated to leave by Dec. 31, in accordance with the 2008 security agreement between the United States and Iraq.

President Barack Obama and Maliki reaffirmed this arrangement in October, recognizing the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq as the start of a new phase in the U.S.-Iraq relationship, the White House official said.

What that new long-term partnership will look like will be the subject of this week’s Higher Coordinating Committee meeting. Biden and Iraqi leaders are expected to discuss joint cooperation in politics and diplomacy, trade and finance, energy, services, technology, the environment, transportation, law enforcement and the judiciary, and defense and security, the official said.

Army Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, deputy commanding general for U.S. Division Center, said last week in Baghdad that he is confident Iraq’s security forces will be up to the challenge of maintaining security after U.S. forces depart.

Iraq’s security forces “have been in the lead since Operation New Dawn. … They have shown that they are capable,” he said during a Nov. 22 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable.

Becker spoke of the positive changes he has witnessed in Iraq.

“As I look back on the last nearly nine years of what we’ve accomplished,” he said, “the one thing that really stands out -- at least for me -- is that we’ve given the Iraqi people opportunities that they didn’t have in the past: the opportunity to choose their own government, a developing economy that benefits all the Iraqi people and, most importantly, an opportunity for a better future.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Clark to Lead Pakistan Border Investigation

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON  – The commander of U.S. Central Command has appointed an investigating officer to conduct an inquiry into the Nov. 26 deaths of Pakistani soldiers during an engagement near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis has appointed Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen A. Clark from the Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Fla., as the investigating officer.

Mattis directed Clark to provide an initial report on the incident by Dec. 23.

“This is a Centcom-led investigation with full NATO cooperation and you will include NATO representation in your investigation team,” Mattis said in an appointment letter sent to Clark today.

NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments also will name representatives to the team, a Centcom news release says.

Mattis advised Clark to ensure openness and candor with the team members, respond to their questions and coordinate with them to receive evidence and interview witnesses.

“Their participation will facilitate the investigative process to determine what happened and how we preclude it from happening again,” he added.

The investigation team is to focus on the facts of the incident and any matters that add understanding to the circumstances surrounding the deaths and injuries of Pakistan forces.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander and commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, has designated a judge advocate to serve as Clark’s legal advisor for the investigation, Mattis said in his appointment letter.

Clark also may request other experts and administrative support.

Mattis said he expects Clark and his team to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident that took place near the Salala checkpoint in Afghanistan’s Kunar province near the Pakistan border.

Clark also is to determine which U.S., ISAF, Afghan and Pakistan units were involved; which units did or did not cross the border and under what conditions and authorities; what coordination was conducted, what battle damage occurred and the cause of deaths and injuries; and recommendations for improving near-border operations.

Dempsey Makes Case for Progress in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Nov. 28, 2011 – The surge of American and NATO forces into Afghanistan has resulted in marked progress there, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said on British TV today.

“We have to say that, militarily, the surge worked,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Dempsey added that he was “quite pleased” with the national assembly, known as a loya jirga, that Afghan President Hamid Karzai conducted last week the in which a delegation of more than 2,000 elders endorsed a long-term security agreement with the United States.

The loya jirga is not the governance model that western countries would choose, but it has brought together many disparate Afghan groups, and such improvements must be knit together, the general said. He made the comments during BBC and ITV interviews and during a lecture at the Colin Cramphorn Memorial here as part of a trip to meet with British leaders.

NATO, its allies and the Afghan government are making progress toward objectives that all parties agreed to at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, namely that Afghan forces will have responsibility for the country’s security by the end of 2014.

It’s not easy. “I would say that Afghanistan will still be in the balance three years from now,” Dempsey said. “This is a mission, this is a challenge, this is a neighborhood that requires constant vigilance. It requires capability, capacity, communications and it requires partnership.”

There will have to be some partnership agreement between Afghanistan and other countries beyond 2014, he said, and while U.S., NATO and Afghan officials are looking at that, near-term issues still dominate discussions.

“We went through the same thing in Iraq,” Dempsey said. “We were discussing with Iraq the post-’11 theory, and some folks think it turned out well; others think it didn’t. I’m in the camp where I think it turned out well, and I suspect we’ll have those kinds of conversations with NATO and the Afghan government as we go forward.”

Dempsey: NATO, Pakistan Working to Improve Relations

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

LONDON, Nov. 28, 2011 – Expressing his sympathy for the families of Pakistani soldiers killed by a Nov. 26 airstrike on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told British reporters here today that NATO and Pakistani officials have been working hard to improve strained relations.

In interviews taped for broadcast tonight, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told ITV’s Bill Nealy and BBC’s Jeremy Paxman that the incident constitutes “a very challenging issue on both sides.”

“[The Pakistani people] have reason to be furious, because they have 24 soldiers dead, and the ordnance that killed them was the ordnance of a partner,” the chairman said. “But I’d certainly like to enlist their patience to find out what happened and to try to work through this.”

Dempsey said he called Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani immediately after hearing of the incident, noting that he and Kayani have known each other since 1988, when both attended the U.S. Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He said he promised the Pakistani military leader that NATO will do all it can to investigate the incident and to work with the Pakistani military to ensure this kind of incident doesn’t happen again.

The border incident is the most serious he has been involved with, Dempsey said. Pakistan has closed the border crossings with Afghanistan in protest.

The chairman stressed that Pakistan and the United States have common goals and common interests, and that America’s relations with Pakistan on a military-to-military level are still solid. But, he added, the Pakistani who “doesn’t know the United States, doesn’t read about the United States or just watches something on television about the United States, at that level, [the relations] are probably the worst they’ve ever been.”

Dempsey also discussed the Haqqani network and the threat it poses to American and NATO operations in Afghanistan. He said he doesn’t know what connections exist between the network and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence organization.

“The Haqqani has been in [Pakistan’s federally administered tribal area] for 20 years,” he said. “They’ve set up routes, they’ve built relationships inside of Pakistan [and] they have been supported throughout the years, but whether they are acting at the bequest of the ISI, I’m not prepared to say that.”

U.S.-Pakistani relations “are on about as rocky a road as I’ve seen,” Dempsey acknowledged.

“Is it irretrievable?” he asked. “I don’t think so. I think if we understand the seriousness with which this event is being viewed in Pakistan, and they understand we are taking it seriously, then I think we will have at least the beginnings of a opportunity to find our way through it.”

Face of Defense: Guard Doctor Serves Those Who Serve

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Porter
U.S. Forces Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan  – If you had told Tim Cheslock when he was in high school 20 years ago that he someday would be serving in the military in Afghanistan, he would have assumed he’d be in the cockpit of an Air Force jet.

But today, Cheslock is serving on the ground in Afghanistan as a doctor and a Pennsylvania Army National Guard major.

“This certainly isn’t where I pictured myself being when I was younger,” he said. “I originally thought I would be a pilot. I became involved in the Civil Air Patrol while in junior high and high school. Civil Air Patrol had the opportunity to learn about aviation and so much more. It was my major activity throughout my junior high and high school period.

“I think that had a huge influence on my decision to join the military,” he added.

But when he realized his eyesight wasn’t good enough to be an Air Force pilot Cheslock said, he moved past that dream and focused on his second interest: medicine.

“I became involved in emergency services and search and rescue through the Hawk Mountain Ranger School,” he said. “All of this instilled a sense of pride, dedication and commitment that helped me to where I am today.”

Cheslock’s search and rescue experience led him to become an emergency medical technician. “I really enjoyed pre-hospital emergency care,” he said. “Being able to help in times of crisis and emergencies is very rewarding.”

Still, Cheslock said, when the time for college drew near, he wasn’t sure that medical school and the 12 years of continuous classes were what he wanted. At the time, he said, the profession of physician assistant was starting to take off and it “seemed like a good fit for me.”

He earned his bachelor’s degree from King’s College. He began work as a physician assistant and continued his education, earning his master’s degree in physician assistant studies through the University of Nebraska, but soon he was looking for a new challenge.

After three years of practicing primary care and family medicine and three more in emergency medicine, Cheslock enrolled in medical school, graduating in 2007 from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Back home, Cheslock is an emergency room doctor at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Since deploying in August, he has been primary care physician for New Kabul Compound. Along with four medics, he provides sick-call services and acute care to the more than 1,000 civilians and military personnel assigned here.

“In many ways, what I do here is exactly what I do at home,” Cheslock said. “Coming to Afghanistan, I expected a more primitive setting – to be working at a small camp under harsh conditions. But, other than being smaller, the clinic here isn’t very different from an emergency room back in the states.”

Members of the clinic staff here say it is Cheslock who has made it that way.

“Major Cheslock is an emergency room physician. As such he has a wider array of skills than other doctors, [and] … has experience in many of the illnesses and injuries we see,” said Army Sgt. Joshua Pearson of the Colorado National Guard’s 928th Area Support Medical Company, the clinic’s noncommissioned officer in charge. “As a [physician assistant] prior to becoming a doctor, he has a firm grasp of the trauma skills like suturing, splinting and wound management.”

Cheslock said the work here is mostly primary-care oriented – sick-call care, sports and training injuries, and minor emergencies. “That being said,” he added, “we need to be ready and able to handle trauma at any time given the operational environment. While our capabilities here are limited to advanced trauma life support and stabilization that can often mean the difference between life and death if our soldiers become injured in battle.”

Pearson said Cheslock is strong in all aspects of medicine. “He is an excellent teacher and instructs all of the medics weekly on various aspects of medicine,” he said. “He has refined our clinical processes to make visits quicker.”

Though he has been in the Guard for more than 14 years, this is Cheslock’s first deployment. After so many years of service without deployment, he acknowledged, the orders taking him to Afghanistan were a surprise.

“I was surprised, but my wife was even more so than me,” he said. “I think we always kept it in the back of our minds and didn't give it too much thought. When I was alerted last year, it hit home. But she understands this is part of being in the military, and I know she supports my decision to serve.”

Cheslock’s wife, Stephanie, said the deployment was something the couple had prepared for. “We moved back to an area that is close to where we both grew up this past June, as we knew he would be deployed in September,” she said. “We wanted to be close to family during that time.”

While Stephanie and their children -- Abigail, 6, and Claire, 3 -- await his return, Cheslock said, he is enjoying the chance to work with and help the service members and civilians here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Combined Force Captures Taliban Leader

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2011 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban leader and some suspected insurgents in the Marjah district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province yesterday, military officials reported.

The insurgent leader was involved in narcotics trafficking and roadside-bomb attacks and other operations in the province, officials said.

In other Afghanistan operations yesterday:
-- A combined force detained two suspects during a search for a Taliban facilitator in the Kunduz district of Kunduz province. The facilitator distributes roadside bombs and directs attacks against Afghan forces.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban leader and some suspects in the Dand district of Kandahar province. The leader distributed roadside bombs for use in attacks throughout the area.

-- A combined force detained several suspects and seized 50 blasting caps, a bottle containing high-explosive material, a rocket-propelled-grenade container, a video camera, six videotapes, wiring and a hand-held radio in the Dilah district of Paktika province.

Allen Welcomes Latest Stage of Afghanistan Transition

From an International Security Assistance Force News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2011 – The International Security Assistance Force welcomes the release of the Afghan government’s list of areas intended for the second stage of security transition, Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, ISAF commander, said in a statement released yesterday.

“Transition is a reality, and it is a path for the future success of this country and the Afghan people,” Allen said. "There is no doubt that Afghanistan is moving forward, and with the announcement by President [Hamid] Karzai of the second group of transition areas, the Afghan national security forces, who have made dramatic improvements in their development and effectiveness, will assume responsibility for security for 50 percent of the Afghan population.”

The list of areas intended for the second tranche of transition, officials said. Some comprise entire provinces, while others cover city or district areas.

Ambassador Simon Gass, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said the transition announcement is an important step forward for Afghanistan.

“I welcome President Karzai's announcement of the second group of areas to enter the transition process,” Gass said. “Transition is on schedule, and NATO will continue its efforts to ensure that the Afghans take security responsibility across the country by the end of 2014, in line with President Karzai's goal. This will be enabled by the growing capability and numbers of the Afghan Army and Afghan Police.”

U.S. Central Command to Lead Pakistan Investigation

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2011 – U.S. Central Command will take the lead in investigating the Nov. 26 cross-border attack that killed Pakistani soldiers, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, requested that Centcom lead this review, the press secretary said.

“ISAF did as you would expect -- assign an initial assessment team to look into the incident,” Little said, adding that more information from Centcom “will probably be forthcoming later today.”

While Centcom has not yet officially announced its role in the investigation, the press secretary said, “I think you can expect the investigation to look at the full range of factors that contributed to this tragedy on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and it will be broad, expansive and thorough.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta offered their deepest condolences for the loss of life in a joint statement issued over the weekend and said they are closely monitoring reports of the incident.

“The secretary has been monitoring these events very closely with military leadership in Afghanistan and here in the United States,” Little said, but has not yet reached out the Pakistani officials.

Clinton, Allen and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, each called their Pakistani counterparts, Little added, noting that Dempsey and Allen each spoke with Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Cameron P. Munter, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, also met with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.

“The Pakistani government knows our position,” Little said, “and that is that we do regret the loss of life in this incident and we are investigating it.”

Despite increasing conflicts between the United States and Pakistan, including one that followed the U.S. raid on Abbottabad in May that killed Osama bin Laden, Little said, “the focus now is on continuing to engage with our Pakistani counterparts over time, even during difficult periods.”

The Defense Department, he added, has “been working very hard for some time to address areas of disagreement with the Pakistanis. We understand there are deep concerns over the incident this weekend and we’ll continue to try to engage closely with our Pakistani counterparts.”

The relationship is important for the United States, the press secretary added, “and we intend to continue to make that clear to the government of Pakistan.”

A strong military relationship with Pakistan is in both countries’ interests and in the interests of peace and stability of the region, he added.

“That’s where we hope to go in the future,” Little said.

Wisconsin National Guard unit to deploy to Kuwait

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

While the Wisconsin Army National Guard just welcomed home its last unit to serve in the Iraq War, approximately 130 Soldiers with the Oshkosh-based 1157th Transportation Company are expected to report for active duty in early 2012 for a deployment to Kuwait.

Capt. Christian Menden of Green Bay, commander of the 1157th, said that the unit trained up on common Soldier tasks, individual and crew-served weapons, and rollover training for Humvees and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Nov. 1-18 at Fort McCoy.

"It was a blast," Menden said.

"The weather was excellent, and we even got a bonus one day when it snowed," said 1st Lt. Nate Wilhelms, an 1157th platoon leader. "We fired our pistols that day, so we got that training experience."

Menden said that unit morale was very high.

Members of the 1157th Transportation Company train at the M2 .50-caliber range during recent training at Fort McCoy, Wis. Photo by Rob Schuette

"We have so many young Soldiers who have not deployed," he explained. "The younger Soldiers have embraced this training to prepare themselves, and they're taking advice from the older Soldiers. Everyone is willing to do their time."

Menden said that approximately 30 percent of his Soldiers - mostly in leadership positions - have prior deployment experience.

"That's great for us," he said.

The unit is scheduled to conduct several weeks of mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss., before deploying to Kuwait for approximately nine months. The company is expected to serve in a force protection role, which may involve base security or convoy security operations.

The 1157th has been called to active duty on four previous occasions. In 1990 the unit mobilized and served overseas for about five months in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 2002 the company provided transportation support to Army Special Operations Support Command and other units stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., for approximately 11 months. In September 2005 the unit was among a dozen Wisconsin National Guard units ordered to active duty to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana. Its last deployment was to Iraq in 2006, where it logged more than 300,000 miles hauling fuel and other cargo.

Rob Schuette, Fort McCoy public affairs, contributed to this report.

Marine Casualty

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

Cpl. Adam J. Buyes, 21, of Salem, Ore., died Nov. 26 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.  This incident is under investigation.

For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the III Marine Expeditionary Force public affairs office at 011-81-90-6861-4397 or okinawapao@usmc.mil .

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clinton, Panetta Monitor Reports of Pakistan Border Incident

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2011 – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta are closely monitoring reports of a deadly cross-border incident in Pakistan yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kirby said.

“Both offer their deepest condolences for the loss of life and support fully NATO's intention to investigate immediately,” Kirby added.

In a statement from Kabul, ISAF officials said they are investigating an incident that occurred early yesterday morning along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

According to news reports, dozens of soldiers were killed in the early morning hours across the border in Pakistan during air strikes by coalition forces.

Clinton, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, each called their Pakistani counterparts, the Pentagon spokesman said.

Cameron P. Munter, U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, also met with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.

From Kabul, Allen sent his “most sincere and personal heartfelt condolences … to the families and loved ones of any members of Pakistan Security Forces who may have been killed or injured."

The incident, he added, “has my highest personal attention and my commitment to thoroughly investigate it to determine the facts."

In its statement, ISAF said its leadership remains committed to improving security relations with Pakistan, including coordination of operations along border regions in the united fight against terrorism.

Clinton and Panetta each expressed their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident, Kirby said, noting that both stressed “the importance of the U.S.-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people.”

All the leaders, he added, pledged to stay in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts as both nations work through this challenging time.

Joint Statement by Departments of State and Defense

Secretaries Clinton and Panetta have been closely monitoring reports of the cross-border incident in Pakistan today.  Both offer their deepest condolences for the loss of life and support fully NATO’s intention to investigate immediately.

Secretary Clinton, Gen. Dempsey and Gen. Allen each called their Pakistani counterparts as well.  Ambassador Munter also met with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad.  In their contacts, these US diplomatic and military leaders each stressed -- in addition to their sympathies and a commitment to review the circumstances of the incident -- the importance of the US-Pakistani partnership, which serves the mutual interests of our people.

All these leaders pledged to remain in close contact with their Pakistani counterparts going forward as we work through this challenging time.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Army General Describes Iraq Drawdown Progress

By Bradley Cantor
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2011 – U.S. forces and equipment are expected to leave Iraq by Dec. 31, Army Brig. Gen. Bradley A. Becker said during a Nov. 22 “DOD Live” Bloggers Roundtable.

Becker is the deputy commanding general for U.S. Division Center, Baghdad. He is responsible for oversight, support and sustainment for U.S. forces participating in Operation New Dawn.

According to Becker, the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment from Iraq is being accomplished in accordance with agreements made between the United States and Iraq.

The amount of equipment and property that had accumulated on U.S. bases in Iraq over the years has been significant, Becker said. At the height of coalition operations in 2007 and 2008, he said, there were 505 bases and 165,000 service members in Iraq.

As of this month, Becker said, seven bases remain to be transferred to Iraqi authority and less than 20,000 U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq.

Every U.S. base in Iraq that’s slated for drawdown gets three environmental inspections, Becker said. This, he said, includes an initial inspection, a follow-up inspection, and a final inspection to ensure no waste or hazardous materials are left unaccounted for.

Over the past eleven months, he added, 27 U.S. bases have been transferred, and all of those bases have gone through an environmental remediation process. The final seven bases, Becker said, have processed through two of the three required environmental inspections.

Becker said he’s confident that Iraq’s security forces will be up to the challenge after U.S. forces depart. Iraq’s security forces “have been in the lead since Operation New Dawn … they have shown that they are capable,” he said. “They did it during the elections. They did it during the Arab Spring.”

Becker spoke of the positive changes he has witnessed in Iraq.

“As I look back on the last nearly nine years of what we’ve accomplished,” he said, “the one thing that really stands out -- at least for me -- is that we’ve given the Iraqi people opportunities that they didn’t have in the past: the opportunity to choose their own government, a developing economy that benefits all the Iraqi people and, most importantly, an opportunity for a better future.”

Combined Patrol Detains 2 Suspects, Seizes Weapons

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25, 2011 – A combined Afghan and coalition patrol yesterday detained two suspected insurgents and seized a weapons cache in the Khost district of Afghanistan’s Khost province, military officials reported.

The two suspects were discovered along with the cache, which contained eight grenades, two bayonets and 1,000 rounds of small-arms ammunition, officials said.

In other Afghanistan operations yesterday:
-- An International Security Assistance Force helicopter made a precautionary landing in eastern Afghanistan. Initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area. There were no reported injuries to crew members.

-- A combined patrol discovered a drug cache containing of 2,000 pounds of hashish in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

-- In the Tarin Kot district of Uruzgan province, a combined force found a weapons cache containing two rocket-propelled grenade launchers and six RPG warheads with motors.

-- An Afghan citizen turned in 31 mines, 13 grenades, 12 grenade fuses, and three mine fuses to coalition forces operating in the Kahmard district of Bamyan province.

-- ISAF announced that a commander’s inquiry and a joint incident assessment team will investigate a Nov. 23 incident in southern Kandahar province that concerns several civilians being killed and injured. The incident occurred, officials said, when coalition forces responded to insurgents’ actions. “Protecting the Afghan civilian population is central to our mission here in Afghanistan and we will investigate this situation fully to determine exactly what took place and whether any further actions need to be taken,” said ISAF commander Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen. “As was President [Hamid] Karzai, I too was saddened by this event. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those families who have been affected by this incident.” The joint assessment is being conducted with the assistance of Afghan authorities to determine the facts, officials said, noting the commander’s inquiry is taking place concurrently.

In Nov. 23 Afghanistan operations:
-- A Haqqani network facilitator was captured by a combined force in the Pul-e ‘Alam district of Logar province. The facilitator distributed roadside bombs and materials, and moved weapons and fighters throughout the district.

-- A combined force discovered 890 pounds of marijuana and nearly $50,000 in varied currencies in a cache in the Panjwa’i district of Kandahar province.

-- A combined force seized multiple firearms and detained several suspects while searching for a Haqqani network facilitator in the Khost district of Khost province. The facilitator coordinated the movement of insurgent fighters and weapons from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Combined Force Captures Taliban Leader

From an International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Release

KABUL, Afghanistan  – A combined Afghan and coalition security force today captured a Taliban leader and four associates in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Afghanistan’s Helmand province, military officials reported.

Wali Mohammad and four companions were returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan, officials said. The security force received information that the Taliban leader was visiting southern Afghanistan after being in hiding in Pakistan for several years.

Mohammad directed attacks that killed multiple civilians in southern Afghanistan. He also is linked to high-level Taliban leaders within the insurgents’ network.

Some bomb-making materials were confiscated during the operation.

Also, a combined patrol seized a drug cache today in Helmand’s Nawah-ye Barakzai district, officials said. The cache contained 20 pounds of ammonium nitrate and 400 pounds of poppy seeds. Ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer, also can be used to construct bombs.

Additionally, a combined force today discovered a weapons cache containing seven mortars and 35 explosive munitions in the Shindand district of Herat province.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:
-- A coalition force seized a weapons cache containing nine 122mm artillery rounds and two 115mm artillery rounds in the Bagram district of Parwan province.

-- A combined force detained two suspects while searching for a Haqqani network member in the Pul-e ‘Alam district of Logar province. The man distributes weapons to Haqqani fighters and conducts attacks in the district.

-- A combined force captured a Haqqani network leader and detained two suspects in Logar’s Pul-e ‘Alam district.

-- A combined force captured a Taliban leader and two suspects in Nangarhar province’s Bati Kot district.

-- A combined force captured a Haqqani network leader and one suspect in the Zarghun Shahr district of Paktika province. The leader coordinated roadside bomb attacks against Afghan forces.

-- A combined force detained several suspects and seized some firearms and grenades during a search for a Haqqani network leader in the Sabari district of Khost province. The leader constructs and places roadside bombs and sells weapons to insurgents.