A colleague of mine emailed some recent photos from Afghanistan ... thought y'all might enjoy seeing them. We got yer cute kids, we got yer stunning views, we got .... well take a gander and see.
Cute kid #1:
Stunning view 1 (from Gar summit):
Lots more in the rest of the post, including photos of the new Afghan National Military Academy cadets taking their oaths.
A senior Colonel takes a break from other duties to climb Gar summit, near Kabul:
And here's the approach he used:
That's Kabul down below:
The winter wheat is in the fields:
Old Soviet tanks, too:
Some of the kids are busy selling things:
Others are playing:
and a few are shy:
Meanwhile their elders tend their animals:
National police taking a break:
National Military Academy of Afghanistan cadets march out to the oath ceremony. As with West Point in the early days of the United States, the new academy is helping to create a group of leaders with allegiance to the country as a whole, as the poster suggests.
And the oath is administered:
Constructing a shrine at the grave of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of Panjshir. Named a National Hero in 2002, his forces routed the Soviets but he came into conflict with the Taliban, who murdered him in 2001.
From Aerospace Daily & Defense Report. (No link - sorry.)
U.S. troops are now finding and defusing nearly half of the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Iraq, and casualties from the devices are holding steady despite a sharp increase in the number being placed, according to the chief scientist for the Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).
The number of IEDs being found and cleared has gone up five- or six-fold since 2004, according to Col. Barry Shoop. The number of monthly IED incidents doubled over the course of 2006, but less than 10 percent are now causing casualties, he said. This is largely due to the effectiveness of jammers that prevent the signal that arms the device, as well as improved vehicle armor.
Nonetheless, IEDs remain the number one killer of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shoop likened the situation to the U-boat problem of World War II, for which there was no "silver bullet" solution, requiring instead a mix of offensive and defensive capabilities as well as science and technology work to counter the submarines.
Most IEDs in Iraq are made from unspent ammunition, of which the JIEDDO estimates there are 70 million tons still in the country. In Afghanistan the devices are mostly converted land mines. In other countries, IEDs are more likely made of homemade explosives, he said at the Precision Strike Association's Winter Roundtable in Arlington, Va., Feb. 1.
The most lethal type of IED is the Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), which makes up only about 2 percent of the devices found but accounts for a very large percentage of the U.S. soldiers killed by IEDs, Shoop said.
EFPs are often built into replacement curb sections, or fake rocks. They are triggered by passive infrared devices and often armed by a call made to a cell phone. The blasts are set at specific angles to hit the weak points on Humvees and so-called "icon vehicles" such as Strykers and M113s, Shoop said.
To counter the devices, the JIEDDO has been investing in a wide variety of technologies, ranging from jammers to unmanned aerial vehicles to robots such as iRobot's PackBot. A version of PackBot dubbed "Fido" is capable of "sniffing" a potential IED for traces of explosive vapor.Troops are receiving extensive IED training prior to deployment at the Joint IED Center of Excellence at Ft. Irwin, Calif. There they must train with low-power surrogate jammers, Shoop said, because if the full-power jammers being used overseas were activated domestically they would raise the ire of the Federal Communications Commission and FAA.
COL Shoop is an Academy (think: tenured, senior) Professor at West Point with a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford. He is the Director of Region 1 of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a member of the Board of Directors of both IEEE (the international society) and IEEE-USA. He was tapped temporarily to lead JIEDDO's research efforts.
Just one example of the ways in which the US Military Academy faculty are supporting the GWOT, over and above teaching cadets. Thought our readers might want to know these efforts are bearing fruit.
Think Tank Will Promote Thinking
Concerned that the voice of science and secularism is growing ever fainter in the White House, on Capitol Hill and in culture, a group of prominent scientists and advocates of strict church-state separation yesterday announced formation of a Washington think tank designed to promote "rationalism" as the basis of public policy.
The brainchild of Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry-Transnational, the small public policy office will lobby and sometimes litigate on behalf of science-based decision making and against religion in government affairs."This disdain for science is aggravated by the excessive influence of religious doctrine on our public policies," the declaration says. "We cannot hope to convince those in other countries of the dangers of religious fundamentalism when religious fundamentalists influence our policies at home."
The announcement was accompanied by release of a "Declaration in Defense of Science and Secularism," which bemoans what signers say is a growing lack of understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry and the value of a rational approach to life.
I've been worried for some time about a serious decline in math and science skills and plain old rigorous thinking in many of our high school and college graduates. But this group, a reworking of the old Council for Secular Humanism, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, seems to have an agenda that goes well beyond restoring scientific literacy in our graduates. What do you think: useful? tendentious? or irrelevant?
A major newspaper prints a story which DOD believes is factually incorrect in important ways. The newspaper not only refuses to issue a correction, it refuses to publish a letter to the editor or an op ed with DOD's position. It also refuses to publish a letter from 5 senior generals speaking in their capacities as citizens who are also military leaders.
This happens, with minor variations, again and again.
What to do? Bypass the dying print media and open a website that gives blow by blow accounts of the interaction and sets the record straight.
THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated ...
I have as little superstition in me as any man living, but my secret opinion has ever been, and still is, that God Almighty will not give up a people to military destruction, or leave them unsupportedly to perish, who have so earnestly and so repeatedly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent method which wisdom could invent.
Neither have I so much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that He has relinquished the government of the world, and given us up to the care of devils; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds the king of Britain can look up to heaven for help against us: a common murderer, a highwayman, or a house-breaker, has as good a pretence as he.
-- The Crisis, Thomas Paine, December 23 1776
Over a year ago we posted exclusive pictures of opening day at the National Military Academy of Afghanistan.
Yesterday reader Gene Ressler kindly called our attention to the new NMAA website. Check it out! I was taken by the several of the goals they have set for themselves, including, well ... read them for yourselves:
Graduates anticipate and respond effectively to the uncertainties of a changing technological, social, political, and economic world. Upon achieving this overarching goal, graduates will:A great start for this newly founded nation.
- think and act creatively
- recognize moral issues and apply ethical considerations in decision making,
- communicate effectively in Dari, Pashto, and a foreign language,
- demonstrate the capability and desire for self-directed, life-long learning,
- understand how culture and religion affect human behavior,
- understand historical patterns of continuity and change in society and the military profession,
- understand the influence of government, law, economics, and international relations on military operations,
- understand small unit and organizational leadership,
- understand the fundamental scientific principles of military technology,
- understand the influence of physical geography on military operations,
- understand and apply information technology.
Even during the (per MSM) utopic peacetime of Bill Clinton's term, we lost 4302 service personnel. H.W. Bush and Reagan actually lost significantly more personnel while never fighting an extensive war, much less a simulaltaneous war on two theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan). Even the dovish Carter lost more people duing his last year in office, in 1980 lost 2392, than W. has lost in any single year of his presidency. (2005 figures are not available but I would wager the numbers would be slightly higher than 2004.) In 2004, more soldiers died outside of Iraq and Afghanistan than died inside these two war zones (900 in these zones, 987 outside these zones). The reason is that there are usually a fair number that die every year in training accidents, as well as a small number of illness and suicide. Yet the MSM would make you think that US soldiers are dying at a high number in these zones, and at a significantly higher number than in past years or under past presidents. This is all simlpy outright lies and distortion.Unfortunately, this analysis is flawed in several ways, as the following graph shows.
Occasional WOC contributor Captain Midnight took a moment to review Proud Kaffir's numbers, The Captain writes, "He is citing raw absolute numbers. They are the result of two things: A 27% drop in the size of the armed forces, and a 54% drop in the death rate from accidents. If you plot the death rate per 100,000 and break it out by cause of death, you get
As the Captain notes, the graph clearly shows a decrease in deaths due to accidents and a significant upsurge in deaths per 100,000 troops due to hostilities.
Misuse of statistics is tendentious no matter what the position being defended.
UPDATE: Belont Club comments.
Last April I posted about the arrest of a CBS cameraman in Iraq who was suspected of aiding insurgent attacks.
Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein will go on trial in Iraq on April 5th. Expect intense media focus on this.
David's Preventive Medicine team (usually 7 people but at times as many as 11) gave over 20,000 immunizations to more than 6,000 people in the 4 months of actual operational time they spent in Pakistan. They also distributed more than 200 boxes of clothing, blankets and toys that were donated by the Landstuhl Army Community.
They usually worked with the village school teacher or elder because they knew the communities and made distributing the clothing orderly. In one village the teacher said they had already "all the usual" vaccinations, now they needed the one for air pollution...that's an example of how advanced they believe American technology is! In another village the people had already been vaccinated (perhaps by Canadian or Australian Forces) and they had good clothing. When David asked what they needed the teacher said they had no books for the school. So David and his team got a list of the books needed, went back to the MASH and collected money (15,000 rupees, or about $250), bought the books and took them to the village...David says the local people were friendly, very hospitable and welcoming, and knew the US Army personnel were there to help.
In the Name of God the Compassionate and Merciful
To the Courageous Men and Women of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, who have changed the city of Tallí Afar from a ghost town, in which terrorists spread death and destruction, to a secure city flourishing with life.
To the lion-hearts who liberated our city from the grasp of terrorists who were beheading men, women and children in the streets for many months.
To those who spread smiles on the faces of our children, and gave us restored hope, through their personal sacrifice and brave fighting, and gave new life to the city after hopelessness darkened our days, and stole our confidence in our ability to reestablish our city.Our city was the main base of operations for Abu Mousab Al Zarqawi ..
The 3rd ACR is rotating home.
Former Army catcher Schuyler Williamson spent last summer fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball.
It was an experience he will never forget. But Williamson felt something else calling him during all those long bus rides in the minors. It was the U.S. Army.Williamson knew deep in his heart he was born to be a soldier. Not a ballplayer. So Williamson has traded in his uniform for fatigues and left the Detroit Tigers' organization.
"I love to play baseball," said Williamson, who last spring became the second West Point graduate granted an early release from active duty by the Army. "But it kind of clicked last summer that I had to help people. I want to be a soldier and I know I can be a good leader. I want to do my part and help lead soldiers."My husband and I used to watch Schuyler play home games for Army. We're lucky to have young men and women like him serving our nation.
Williamson's perspective on baseball, life and the U.S. Army changed after his younger brother, Nicholas, 21, served a 14-month tour in Iraq with the Army reserves. He returned last February.
"That's when I took the Army personal," Williamson said. "My brother saw a lot of things over there. I don't want to get into it, but soldiers are dying, people are dying. I want to go over (to Iraq) and save lives. I know I could do some good over there."
Detroit drafted Williamson in the 26th round (780th pick) of the 2005 first-year major league draft. He batted .203 (13-for-64) with six RBI in 25 games with the Tigers' Class A New York-Penn League affiliate in Oneonta.
Detroit officials expected Williamson to return this season.
Under Army's early release program, West Point athletes in any sport who sign a pro contract can serve two years active duty and six in the reserves upon graduating.Army athletes previously served a five-year military commitment. Williamson, a second lieutenant, has served almost a year active duty and has four remaining. On March 14, he will report to Fort Hood, Texas, with the 1st Cavalry Division. The division has been frequently deployed to Iraq and is expected to return within a year.
From a Native American colleague of mine who is also an Army officer:
This is a slide show that shows a Lakota Sioux wake and ceremony for a Marine that was killed in Iraq. It shows you the integration of 2 cultures and the specific Sioux culture. Native Americans have the highest per capita service than any other ethnic group. We are only less than 1% of the total US population.
Native Americans do not typically allow photography at traditional ceremonial events; this is why I am sending this to you. You may never be able to see this again.
There are a couple photos with Cpl. Brett Lundstromís body in the coffin, so please review before you show any one else.
Semper Fi, Lone Eagle. We honor your bravery and sacrifice.