War on Terrorism

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Airstrike Kills Several Insurgents in Afghanistan

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 – An Afghan and coalition security force called in an airstrike that killed several insurgents during an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in the Muqer district of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province today, military officials reported.

After the airstrike, the security force detained several suspects, officials said.

No civilians were injured during the operation, officials said.

Also today, Afghan and coalition officials confirmed that Haqqani leader Abdullah was among the insurgents killed during a July 28 operation in the Jani Khel district of Paktia province. Abdullah, also known as Tufan, was directly involved in the planning and execution of the June 20 suicide attack in the Khost provincial capital that killed more than a dozen Afghan civilians.

In July 30 operations:

-- A combined force found and cleared two improvised explosive devices in Ghazni province’s Andar district.

-- A combined force detained an insurgent in Paktia province’s Zurmat district.

-- A combined force found and cleared two IEDs in Wardak province’s Sayyidabad district.

Crocker: Afghanistan on Track for Next Stage in Development

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012 – Afghanistan is on the right trajectory to move to the next stage in its development, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker said yesterday in an interview with NPR’s Renee Montagne.

Nearly a year to the day of his July 25 appointment last year, the career diplomat said he is stepping down at the end of this month due to health reasons.

“What I'll miss the most is the chance to see Afghanistan move to the next stage of its development at every level -- economic, governance and security -- because I think they're on the right trajectory,” Crocker said.

“I felt we had a pretty good last year in setting that up,” he added. “I would have liked to have been part of the process of seeing it through. I'm confident they will get there. It would have been nice to be on deck to watch them do it.”

Crocker was the sixth ambassador to Afghanistan since 2001. He had retired from the Foreign Service in April 2009 after a 37-year career and was serving as dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. In April 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Crocker to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and Crocker came out of retirement to accept the position. He was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in June 2011.

Crocker served as ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009 after three years as ambassador to Pakistan.

He joined the National War College faculty as international affairs advisor in 2003, and from May to August of that year, he was in Baghdad as the first director of governance for the Coalition Provisional Authority.

From 2001 to 2003, he was deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. He served as ambassador to Syria from 1998 to 2001, ambassador to Kuwait from 1994 to 1997, and Ambassador to Lebanon from 1990 to 1993. Since joining the Foreign Service in 1971, he has had assignments in Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Egypt and Washington.

Crocker was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Beirut during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the bombings of the embassy and the Marine barracks in 1983.

As U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, one of Crocker’s accomplishments was to help to secure international pledges of aid worth $16 billion at a donor’s conference held this month in Tokyo.

“The Tokyo conference and its outcome, I think, is highly significant because it produced a document in which the international community accepts certain obligations to provide funding, and the Afghan government accepts certain obligations to fight corruption, to build institutions,” Crocker said.

As the international community sees the Afghan government deliver on its own obligations, the ambassador added, “both the incentive and the pressure on [the] international community to provide the promised assistance simply increases.”

According to news reports, Afghanistan agreed to new conditions to deal with internal corruption, and donors agreed to hold a follow-up conference in 2014 in the United Kingdom.

Crocker said he found it “highly encouraging” that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has created a 14-point decree for all ministries to follow as they begin to deliver on their side of the undertaking. “The way he frames it now is that the international community has done everything that Afghanistan could conceivably ask,” Crocker said. “It is now up to the Afghans to put their own house in order.”

The ambassador also gave three reasons why he expects no civil war in Afghanistan after NATO’s combat drawdown is complete at the end of 2014.

“When I got there at the beginning of 2002, it looked like Berlin in 1945,” he said, “and that was because of the Afghan civil war. No one wants to go back to that.”

A second point, he said, is that “minority groups clearly see their interests [in] having a voice in national decisions.”

“No major minority politician is thinking in terms of separatism,” he said. “It's all [about] how can they be more, rather than less, involved in Kabul.”

A third point is the enemy itself, Crocker said.

“The Taliban and their allies are equal opportunity killers: Pashtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks. … In a sense, an enemy who indiscriminately kills all Afghans regardless of community or ethnicity or political affiliation has actually been a unifying factor,” he said.

Crocker’s final impression of the Afghan capital of Kabul, he said, is of “a vibrant, bustling city with shops open, streets crowded, horrendous traffic -- which some would consider a problem, but frankly I see as a sign of confidence in the security and stability of the capital.”

There's a long way to go, he said. “But from the devastated ghost town of 2002 to the Kabul of today, it's an extraordinary achievement,” he added. “And I leave with the sense of a city that is very, very much alive and moving into the future.”

Monday, July 30, 2012

Army Casualty

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

Spc. Benjamin C. Pleitez, 25, of Turlock, Calif., died July 27, in Mazar E Sharif, Afghanistan. 

Pleitez was assigned to 1072nd Transportation Company, 746th Combat Support Battalion, 224th Sustainment Brigade, Van Nuys, Calif. 

For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the California National Guard public affairs office at 916-99-9525.

Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
They died July 26 in Khakrez, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an enemy improvised explosive device.  These soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Killed were:

1st Lt. Sean R. Jacobs, 23, of Redding, Calif., and

Sgt. John E. Hansen, 41, of Austin, Texas.

For more information pertaining to this release, please contact the I Corps public affairs office at 253-477-3048 or 253-370-9861.

Marine Casualties

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

They died July 29 while conducting combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan.

Killed were:

Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, 34, of Palm Bay, Fla.  He was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; also,

Gunnery Sgt. Daniel J. Price, 27, of Holland, Mich.  He was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.

For more information media may contact the Marine Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at 910-440-0770.

Army Casualties

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

They died July 28 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from enemy, small arms fire.  These soldiers were assigned to the 630th Engineer Company, 7th Engineer Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, Fort Drum, N.Y.

Killed were:

Sgt. 1st Class Bobby L. Estle, 38, of Lebanon, Ohio, and

Pfc. Jose Oscar Belmontes, 28, of La Verne, Calif.

For more information pertaining to this release, please contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at 315-772-7267.

Combined Force Kills 1 Insurgent, Detains 2

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force killed one insurgent and detained two drug dealers during a counter-narcotics operation in the Nad 'Ali district of Afghanistan's Helmand province today, military officials reported.

During the operation, an armed insurgent threatened the security force, officials said. The Afghan and coalition troops positively identified the attacker then engaged and killed him.

The security force detained two suspected drug dealers and seized multiple weapons, several kilograms of heroin and $5,285 worth of Pakistani rupees.

In July 29 operations:

-- A combined force discovered and destroyed 1,500 pounds of explosives in an abandoned compound in the Andar district of Ghazni province.

-- A combined force killed two insurgents during a search for a senior Taliban leader in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

-- An Afghan-led, coalition-supported force arrested multiple suspects in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province.

-- An Afghan-led, coalition-supported force detained several suspected Haqqani insurgents and seized weapons in the Sabari district of Khost province.

-- A combined force detained multiple suspected Haqqani insurgents during a search for a Haqqani leader in the Sabari district of Khost province. The sought-after Haqqani leader coordinates improvised explosive device attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- In the Khugyani district of Nangarhar province, a combined force detained two suspects and seized weapons and explosives. The suspects are believed to be associated with a Taliban weapons supplier who provides firearms and explosives to insurgents in the area.

-- A combined force detained multiple suspects during a search for a Haqqani bomb maker in the Muhammad Aghah district of Logar province. The bomb maker constructs IEDs used by insurgents to attack Afghan and coalition forces.

In July 28 operations:

-- A combined force killed Taliban financier Maulawi Abdul Rahman in the Chimtal district of Balkh province. Rahman had coordinated the transfer of money, weapons and explosives to other insurgents to facilitate attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- Afghan and coalition officials confirmed that Taliban insurgent Umar was killed July 27 during an operation in the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province. Umar had trained insurgents on how to use IEDs and oversaw the emplacement of IEDs throughout the district.

-- In the Archi district of Kunduz province, a combined force arrested an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan explosives expert. The detained insurgent had managed the construction and placement of explosive devices and directed IED attacks in northern Kunduz province.

-- A combined force detained numerous suspects during a search for an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan explosives expert in the Archi district of Kunduz province. The explosives expert directs IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and manages the construction and placement of explosive devices throughout the province.

-- In the Kajaki district of Helmand province, a combined force detained two suspects and seized firearms during an operation to arrest a senior Taliban leader. The leader controls dozens of insurgents and plans and directs attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

-- A combined force killed one insurgent and detained one suspect during a search for a Taliban leader in the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar province. The Taliban leader directs the placement of IEDs in and around the Chaparhar district.
-- In the Jani Khel district of Paktiya province, a combined force-launched airstrike killed several insurgents during an operation to detain a Haqqani leader. The airstrike did not injure any civilians or damage civilian property.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Theodore M. Glende, 23, of Rochester, N.Y., died July 27, in Kharwar, Logar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire.

Glende was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the U.S. Army Europe public affairs office in Heidelberg, Germany at 011-49-162-271-6685.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coalition Airstrike Kills 2 Insurgents

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2012 – A coalition airstrike killed two enemy fighters during a search for an al-Qaida-associated insurgent leader in the Gelan district of Afghanistan’s Ghazni province today, military officials reported.

The insurgent leader is responsible for planning insurgent attacks throughout the province, officials said.

After the airstrike, the security force conducted a follow-on assessment of the area and seized several mortar rounds and explosive materials, officials said, noting no civilians had been injured during the operation.

In other operations today:

-- A combined force detained numerous suspects during a search for a Taliban leader in the Musa Qal’ah district of Helmand province. The sought-after insurgent leader provides supplies to enemy fighters throughout northern Helmand province, and conducts attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the district.

-- In the Khugyani district of Nangarhar province, a combined force detained two suspects during an operation to arrest a Taliban explosives expert. The explosives expert manufactures and supplies insurgents with improvised explosive devices used to attack Afghan and coalition forces throughout eastern Afghanistan.

In July 26 operations:

-- A coalition force discovered a drug cache containing 18,181 pounds of hashish seed and 193 pounds of processed hashish in the Deh Rawud district of Uruzgan province. The seeds and drugs were destroyed.

-- A combined force seized homemade explosives used for making IEDs in Ghazni province’s Ghazni district.

-- In Ghazni province, a combined force found and cleared one IED in the Gelan district and another in the Qarah Bagh district.

-- In Khowst province, a combined force detained an insurgent while investigating a weapons cache in the Sabari district. The cache contained small arms and ammunition, a grenade, and spotting scopes.

-- A combined force detained two insurgents in Khowst province’s Nadir Shah Kot district.

-- In Kunar province, a combined force killed an insurgent in the Nari district.

-- A combined force detained an insurgent in Logar province’s Pul-E Alam district.

-- In Nangarhar province, a combined force found and cleared one IED in the Bati Kot district and another in the Nazyan district.

-- A combined force found and cleared an IED in Paktika province’s Orgun district.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Al-Qaida Role in Syria Should Not be Exaggerated, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2012 - While there may be some extremists among the Syrian rebels, al-Qaida is not establishing a strong footprint in the country, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Al-Qaida in Iraq has taken credit for a number of attacks in neighboring Syria, as well as in Iraq itself.

"We condemn AQI-related attacks in the strongest possible terms," Little said during a Pentagon news conference. "We understand that they're a presence. We have expressed, and I will reiterate today, our belief that the Iraqi government and security forces can address the challenges posed by AQI."

The United States is working closely with the Iraqis and other governments in the region to disrupt, defeat and dismantle al-Qaida, Little said. The United States will continue to go after the terror group wherever it may try to operate.

There may be al-Qaida operatives in Syria, Little said, "but no one should think ... that AQI has a significant, major or particularly strong footprint in Syria," he said. "I can't eliminate the possibility that some elements of AQI might be there, but I wouldn't want anyone to overstate the concern about AQI in Syria."

Little emphasized that Syrian President Bashir al-Assad must leave power so that Syrians can determine their own way forward.

"The goal at the end of the day for the Syrian people ... should be to define for themselves a path for the future," he said. "It's really not for us to define that path for them, and I can't speculate as to what kind of government may come next. The important thing at the moment is for Bashar Assad to go."

Little called the Syrian dictator "a destructive force" responsible for the murders of thousands of his countrymen.
"We're not looking at this all in isolation," he said. "We understand that we have to look toward the future and toward a political transition. We're not blind to the fact that we need to look toward that future, and we hope it's a future that's much brighter than what we're seeing today."

Officials Describe Threats to U.S., Steps Taken to Counter Them

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

ASPEN, Colo., July 26, 2012 - Internal and external threats to the United States are legion, and the Defense Department is partnering with industry and the international community to defend against them, senior defense officials said today.

Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary for Homeland Defense and Americas' Security, and Michael A. Sheehan, assistant secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, described the natural and manmade threats that threaten the United States during a panel discussion at the Aspen Institute's annual security forum.

The officials were joined by retired Navy Adm. Eric Olson,former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and moderator Eric Schmitt, a senior writer for the New York Times.

Stockton and Sheehan said that much work remains to be done to keep the U.S. safe from both terrorism and natural disasters.

"There is a problem I discussed last year that is still keeping me up at night, and that is...the risk of a long-term, large-scale outage of the electric power grid," Stockton said.

Such an outage could result from either a natural disaster, such as a geomagnetic disturbance or major earthquake, or from a targeted attack, he said.

Stockton said a major earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which touches on five Midwestern states, "could bring down the electric grid for weeks and months."

Internal attacks, like the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2009, demonstrate that there is much to be concerned about in the nexus between domestic and foreign threats, Sheehan said.

"Our adversaries, state and non-state, are not stupid. They're clever and adaptive," Stockton said. "Rather than attacking us on the pointy end of the spear...there is a risk that they'll adopt a profoundly asymmetric strategy, reach around and attack us here at home [in] the critical infrastructure that is not owned by the Department of Defense."

Despite this, the U.S. and its international partners have made a lot of progress in their fight against al-Qaida, its various affiliates, and groups like al-Shabaab in Somalia, Sheehan said, with enormous success coming in regions like Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other regions the fight is just beginning to show progress.

"We have begun to turn the tide of al-Qaida in Yemen," Sheehan said. "That partnership is showing results on the ground. Yemen is starting to regain territory that they lost to al-Qaida, but we still have a long way to go."

Sheehan added that al-Qaida in Yemen, along with the al-Qaida threat in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, remain the preeminent threat for strategic attacks against the U.S.

The Department of Defense is continually developing partnerships, both with the international community and with U.S. industries, to counter these threats, the officials said.

"We're taking care of business inside the Department of Defense...that is not enough," Stockton said. Industry needs have strong plans to ensure the continuity of operations in the event of an emergency. There also need to be voluntary, innovative partnerships between industry and the government, Stockton said.

Partnerships with industry do more than just protect business interests. They also protect the Department of Defense's ability to execute its mission, Stockton said.

"The Department of Defense depends on U.S. facilities and infrastructure in order to be able to operate abroad," he said. "To make those operations function, we depend on the electric grid and all of the other critical infrastructure that needs electrons to function."

The United States needs to take an all-hazards approach to dealing with potential threats, Stockton said, because prevention of certain events is just not possible.
"There are all kinds of threat vectors out there in addition to cyber," Stockton said. "There's only so much that can be done on the prevention side. We should do everything we can, but building resilience is also critical component of that effort."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Army Casualty

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

Pfc. Adam C. Ross, 19, of Lyman, S.C., died July 24, in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when he encountered small arms fire.

Ross was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the U.S. Army Europe public affairs office in Heidelberg, Germany, at 011-49-1622716685.

Army Casualties

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

They died July 22 of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit in Pul-E Alam, Afghanistan, with an improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Caserma Ederle, Italy.

Killed were:

Spc. Justin L. Horsley, 21, of Palm Bay, Fla., and

Pfc. Brenden N. Salazar, 20, of Chuluota, Fla.

For more information the media may contact the U.S. Army Europe Public Affairs in Heidelberg, Germany, at 011491622716685.

Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Justin M. Hansen, 26, of Traverse City, Mich., died July 24 while conducting combat operations in Badghis province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
For more information media may contact the Marine Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office at 910-440-0770.

Combined Force Detains Multiple Suspects, Seizes Explosives


Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force detained multiple suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in the Nawah-ye Barakzai district of Afghanistan's Helmand province today, military officials reported.

The Taliban leader is a specialist in the use of improvised explosive devices and directs IED attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout northern Helmand province, officials said.

The security force also seized more than 40 pounds of explosives and other IED-making materials, officials said.

In July 24 operations:

-- In the Waygal district of Nuristan province, a combined force killed Khanjar -- also known as Turab -- an insurgent associated with al-Qaida. Khanjar also had ties with the Taliban insurgency. He provided safe haven to al-Qaida members operating throughout Nuristan province and coordinated Taliban activities in the region. He also oversaw the training of Taliban insurgents in the province.

-- A combined force found and cleared two IEDs in Ghazni province -- one in the Dehyak district and another in the Qarah Bagh district.

-- A combined force found and cleared an IED in Kapisa province's Tagab district.

-- A combined force detained two insurgents in Khost province's Khost district.

-- In Kunar province's Bar Kunar district, a coalition airstrike killed an insurgent.

-- A combined force found and cleared an IED in Logar province's Muhammad Aghah district.

-- A combined force found and cleared an IED in Nangarhar province's Achin district.

-- In Paktika province's Yosuf Khel district, a combined force found and cleared an IED.
-- A combined force detained seven suspects in Paktia province's Zurmat district.
 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Eric E. Williams, 27, of Murrieta, Calif., died July 23, in Pul-E Alam, Afghanistan.
Williams was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at 910-432-0661 or 910-813-3891.

Navy Casualty

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

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael J. Brodsky, 33, of Tamarac, Fla., died July 21 in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries related to a dismounted improvised explosive device blast.  He was assigned to Navy Region Southwest Security Detachment, San Diego. 

For further information related to this release, contact commander, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs at 619-532-1430.

Army Casualties

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

They died July 22 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered from an enemy improvised explosive device.  They were assigned to the 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Killed were:

Pfc. Julian L. Colvin, 21, of Birmingham, Ala.,

Staff Sgt. Richard L. Berry, 27, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
       
For more information the media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs Office at 910-432-0661 or 910-813-3891.

Iraqis Capable of Responding to Insurgent Attacks

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2012 - The insurgent violence that left at least 100 people dead across Iraq yesterday poses a potential challenge to the Baghdad government, but U.S. defense officials believe Iraq's military is capable of handling it, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters today.

"We believe that the Iraqi government is capable of providing for its own security and addressing internal threats that it is facing from al-Qaida and other groups," Little told reporters at a news conference, while condemning what he called cowardly, intolerable acts.

He spoke a day after what was described as one of the worst single days of violence in Iraq this year. The Sunni extremist group al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for a series of attacks across a wide swath of the country, more than six months after the last U.S. troops left Iraq.

"The level of violence is a potential challenge to the Iraqi government, but we're confident that they can take care of business," Little added.

Combined Force Detains 2 Suspected Insurgents

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, July 24, 2012 - An Afghan and coalition security force detained two suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Taliban leader in the Baraki Barak district of Afghanistan's Logar province today, military officials reported.

The sought-after Taliban leader transports insurgents throughout the region and directs improvised explosive device and direct-fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the district, officials said.

Also in Logar today, a combined force detained several suspects during an operation to arrest a Taliban financier in the Muhammad Aghah district. The Taliban financier provides money and explosives to insurgents for use in attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the region.

In operations yesterday:

-- A combined force killed Khadim, also known as Qari Hamza, an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader, in the Chahar Darah district of Kunduz province. Khadim was an explosives expert responsible for recruiting and training insurgents for suicide attacks. He also planned and led attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the region.

-- A combined force found and cleared two IEDs in Ghazni province's Ab Band district.

-- A combined force discovered a weapons cache containing homemade explosives and other items used to make IEDs in the Sarobi district of Kapisa province.

-- In Khost province's Sabari district, a combined force detained one insurgent and one other suspect.

-- A combined force found and cleared an IED in Laghman province's Mehtar Lam district.

-- In Logar province's Pul-e Alam district, a combined force discovered an insurgent cache containing military personnel items.

-- A combined force found and cleared two IEDs in Nangarhar province -- one in the Jalalabad district and another in the Bati Kot district.
-- A combined force found and cleared two IEDs in Paktika province -- one in the Yahya Khel district and one in the Sar Rowzah district.

Monday, July 23, 2012

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Staff Sgt. Brandon R. Pepper, 31, of York, Pa., died July 21, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
Pepper was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C.
For more information pertaining to this release, media may contact the Special Operations Command public affairs office at 910-689-6187.

Navy Seabees Help Boost Morale of US, Coalition Troops in Afghanistan

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 11 Public Affairs
HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 serve waffles weekly to patrons of the United Services Organization (USO) tent on Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan as a way to give back to the community and heighten morale.

Every Sunday, U.S. and coalition troops on Camp Leatherneck have the option of attending the waffle breakfast where they are served freshly made waffles and can choose from a variety of toppings while they dine among friends in the casual atmosphere offered by the USO.

A group of about eight Seabees voluntarily to give up their single, weekly opportunity for a half-day off in the name of serving their brothers and sisters in uniform.

"Without volunteers like these it would probably never happen," said Tim Kerr, USO programs manager and volunteer coordinator on camp Leatherneck. "There's only three USO staff here to run a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. Volunteers are a very, very big part of all of our operations, all of our programs. They run the front desk, set up events; they're just totally awesome. Without them, we couldn't do it alone."

According to Kerr, 'Waffle Sundays' as they have come to be known, have been taking place since February 2011. He estimates that only twice have there not been enough volunteers to host a Waffle Sunday. All branches of service have provided volunteers over the year-and-a-half that this popular breakfast event has been up and running.

"We're here to serve the military," said Kerr. Serve the military is what they do, and that isn't restricted to U.S. military. Service members from a multitude of coalition forces make the journey from their location to partake in the weekly tradition on Camp Leatherneck.

Since the Seabees of NMCB-11 arrived on Camp Leatherneck at the beginning of their deployment in February 2012, they have nearly taken over all the volunteer duties of Waffle Sundays. The first member of the battalion to discover the volunteer opportunity and begin recruiting fellow Seabees is Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Daniel E. Magee.

"I decided it would be a good thing to do for people and give them something to look forward to," said Magee, originally from Jacksonville, Ark. "It's a great way to give back and have fun while you're doing it."

Magee explained that there were about three or four volunteers every Sunday when he began helping out. That included a couple of Airmen and a Marine from time to time. A couple of months later Seabees doubled the volunteer efforts. "Word got out about it, and more and more Seabees started showing up to volunteer. And volunteer turnout has remained strong since."

One of those volunteers is Engineering Aide 3rd Class Nichollette Stepp, originally from South Houston, Texas. Stepp was sent on a detachment to Farah Province where she and her fellow Seabees expanded a forward operating base (FOB) and constructed helicopter landing zones to facilitate timely medical evacuations within the region.

"I heard there was a huge turnout, so when I returned from my det[achment] I figured I would just get involved and see what it's all about," said Stepp. "It's actually a lot of fun. I like seeing smiles on people's faces. A lot of people get down because they are in Afghanistan and away from home. This might just perk them up even if it's only for five minutes; sometimes that's all you need."

One of the patrons to enjoy the waffles is Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Mercier, of Marine Corps Logistics Command out of Albany, Ga. "I sure do enjoy the waffles because it just makes me feel like I'm back home again," said Mercier. "I just want to say to the USO, thank you very much. It's just like another family; a home away from home."

According to Kerr, the USO buys all the waffle mix, and they rely on donations from people at home who send syrup, jelly, butter, canned fruit, and "anything that the men and women can use on the waffles."

"The waffles are great," said Kerr. "They're great big Belgian waffles; probably the biggest waffles that I've ever seen. They put a lot of love into them when they are making them, and they know how to make them. I think the word's getting out now which is why the line was clear out the door today. "

Another volunteer, Builder 1st Class Adam C. Booher, said he enjoys making the waffles as much as people enjoy eating them. Originally from Bristol, Tenn., Booher has spent many a weekend making pancakes for his wife and three children, ages nine, six, and two. "It's kind of a regular thing for us on the weekends. My kids really look forward to it; especially my daughter. She likes me to cut her pancakes in the shape of Mickey Mouse," said Booher.

The Waffle Sunday experience reminds Booher of his family and their pancake tradition.

"I like helping people," said Waffle Sunday volunteer, Builder 1st Class Ina M. Baca, originally from Eustis, Fla. "It's a little piece of home." Like the other volunteers, Baca enjoys giving back to the community. "It satisfies my motherly instinct," said Baca.

When they are not serving 'homemade' breakfasts to fellow service members, most of the Seabees of NMCB-11 are living and working in remote areas of Afghanistan.

They are providing measurable support to U.S. and coalition forces by building roads, landing zones, FOBs, and bridges, expanding and improving existing facilities, and locating, drilling, and capping water wells.

In some cases, such as with the Seabees of the battalion's Construction Management Training Team, they are providing direct support to those who will be contracting and constructing in Afghanistan well after U.S. and coalition forces have left.

Homeported in Gulfport, Miss., NMCB-11 is deployed to Afghanistan to conduct general, mobility, survivability engineering operations, defensive operations, Afghan National Army partnering and detachment of units in combined/joint operations area - Afghanistan in order to enable the neutralization of the insurgency and support improved governance and stability operations.

Combined Force Kills Insurgents, Detains Others

Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2012 - A combined Afghan and coalition security force killed two insurgents after coming under attack today while searching for an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan senior leader in the Chahar Darah district of Afghanistan's Kunduz province, military officials reported.

The IMU senior leader is responsible for planning and directing attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout the province, officials said.

The security force also detained several suspected insurgents and seized weapons during the operation.

In other Afghanistan news today:

-- An Afghan soldier turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in northern Afghanistan. ISAF troops returned fire, killing the shooter. There were no ISAF fatalities. Afghan and coalition officials are investigating the incident, officials said.

-- In the Gelan district of Ghazni province, an Afghan and coalition security force detained a suspected insurgent during a search for a Taliban attack planner responsible coordinating the efforts of insurgents throughout the district.

In Afghanistan operations yesterday:

-- A combined force looking for a senior Taliban leader in the Chimtal district of Balkh province killed an armed insurgent who engaged them.

-- In the Now Zad district of Helmand province, a combined security force seized a Taliban weapons cache that contained bomb components, homemade explosives and detonation triggers.

-- Also in Now Zad, security combined force detained numerous suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a senior Taliban leader responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces throughout northern Helmand.

In July 21 operations:

-- An airstrike in the Muhammad Aghah district of Logar province killed several armed insurgents. A combined Afghan and coalition force called in the airstrike and confirmed it had not harmed civilians or damaged civilian property.

-- An Afghan special operations unit, supported by coalition troops, arrested a Haqqani network explosives expert in the Khost district of Khost province. He was responsible for building and planting roadside bombs and coordinated the transportation and distribution of explosives for insurgents throughout the province. The Afghan unit detained several other suspected insurgents and seized several weapons.

-- In Logar province's Pul-e Alam district, security combined force detained several suspected insurgents during an operation to arrest a Haqqani network leader. The security force also seized several weapons, grenades and explosives during the operation.
In other news, security combined force in the Ishkamish district of Takhar province arrested an Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan leader July 20. The leader commanded a high-profile cell that directed attacks throughout Kunduz province. The security force also seized several homemade bombs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pictures from the Front Lines


Medical Care
U.S. Army Spc. Jason McCormick treats an injured Afghan boy while Afghan army Col. Fadle Khuda, a public affairs officer, photographs the event while on a mission to escort his battalion commander to a security meeting in the Qara Bagh district in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, July 16, 2012. McCormick, a combat medic, is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Convoy Prep
U.S. Army Spc. Alexander Istenes tightens a chain on a truck holding military equipment before the return leg of a logisitics resupply convoy on Forward Operating Base Arian in Afghanistan's Ghazni province, July 9, 2012. Istenes, a truck driver, is assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 307th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team.

Army Casualty


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

Spc. Darrion T. Hicks, 21, of Raleigh, N.C., died July 19 in Ghazni, Afghanistan, from injuries sustained from an enemy improvised explosive device.  He was assigned to the 54th Engineer Battalion, 18th Engineer Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, Bamberg, Germany.

For more information, the media may contact the 21st Theater Sustainment Command public affairs office, Germany, at 011-49-631-413-7608.

Army Casualty


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

Pfc. Jeffrey L. Rice, 24, of Troy, Ohio, died July 19, in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the 20th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas.

For more information, the media may contact the Fort Hood Public Affairs Office at 254-287-9993 or 254-287-0106.