• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

The Sandbox and Areas Reports Thread (January 2007)


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 13 January, 2007

NATO soldier killed in Afghanistan
Associated Press Saturday, January 13, 2007
Article Link

First NATO death of 2007

KABUL, Afghanistan -- NATO troops fought insurgents in southern Afghanistan on Saturday in a battle that left one Western soldier dead -- NATO's first fatality of the year.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said the soldier died during an operation and that air support was used against insurgent positions.

The nationality of the soldier was not released. NATO refused to release any other details until the next of kin were notified.

Most of Canada's troops in Afghanistan operate in the south, but Canadian military officials in Kandahar said the dead soldier was not a Canadian.

Taliban militants stepped up attacks last year, and insurgent-related violence killed some 4,000 people in the bloodiest year since the US-led coalition ousted the Taliban in late 2001.
More on link

Afghan mission support rebounds slightly
Published: Saturday, January 13, 2007 Peter O'Neil, CanWest News Service
Article Link

Support for Canada's mission in Afghanistan has grown over the winter as memory of a wave of bloodshed during the summer and early autumn fades, according to a new national poll provided exclusively Friday to CanWest News Service.

The online Jan. 8-10 survey of 2,206 Canadians by Innovative Research Group found 58 per cent of respondents support the military action compared to 38 per cent who are opposed.

The numbers are in line with a previous Innovative survey done last June, but up from a follow-up October poll that had just 54 per cent of Canadians backing the mission and 42 per cent opposed.

Of the 37 Canadians who died in Afghanistan last year, 26 perished during the July-to-October period.

Innovative Research president Greg Lyle said his research shows Canadians are prepared to support the dangerous overseas mission as long as they are convinced Canadian soldiers are providing critical assistance and bringing peace and democracy to the war-plagued country.

"The idea that we're a bunch of pacifists sitting around singing Kumbaya just isn't the way Canada is."

David Bercuson, programs director for the Calgary-based Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said the expected fighting lull in Afghanistan during the winter months isn't the only likely reason for the increased public support.

He said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government's stepped-up communication efforts, combined with generally positive media coverage of the conflict over the holiday season, have illustrated to Canadians that the military is engaged in reconstruction as well as combat.
More on link

U.S. Air Assets Support Strike in Afghanistan’s Bermel District
American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Jan. 12, 2007
Article Link

Numerous air assets from U.S. Central Command supported NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan’s Paktika province Jan. 10, killing as many as 150 insurgents, U.S. Central Command officials said.

U. S. Central Command Air Forces supported International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Army forces with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, air refueling and strike aircraft. They also expended precision munitions, missile and cannon rounds on a significant number of insurgents in the Bermel district of Paktika province, officials said.

ISAF battle damage estimates indicate as many as 150 insurgents were killed.

“The use of our combined air assets with their persistence, precision and lethality is a perfect example of the flexibility and combat capability of our coalition forces. We find and track the insurgents with our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and then target them with precise effect,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. William L. “Dutch” Holland, U.S. Central Command Air Forces deputy commander.

Holland also serves as commander of U. S. Central Command’s Deputy Combined Forces Air Component.

Two large groups of insurgents had been observed infiltrating Paktika province from Pakistan. The insurgents were monitored, tracked and subsequently engaged in Afghanistan, through the coordinated use of both air and ground fire in a series of engagements along the sparsely populated border region of Bermel district, U.S. officials said.

The insurgents had been observed gathering in Pakistan and had crossed the border before launching an attack against ANA and ISAF forces in the region. According to an ISAF press release, Pakistani military liaison officers were kept fully informed throughout the operation.

“Air strikes in support of this operation were a success because of the combined efforts of our aircrews and the ISAF and ANA ground forces working in concert to shut down the insurgents’ ability to operate in the Bermel district,” Holland said.

“U.S. CENTAF and the combined air component commander forces are committed to helping the Afghan people establish a safe and secure country,” he said.

(From a U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news release.)
More on link

Hillary pushing for troop surge in Afghanistan
BY GLENN THRUSH Newsday Washington Bureau January 12, 2007, 10:17 PM EST
Article Link

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton presses to add troops in Afghanistan, which she'll visit, along with Iraq over the weekend.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to Iraq and Afghanistan this weekend -- and calling for a troop "surge" in Afghanistan even though she opposes a similar measure in Iraq.

Clinton's surprise trip isn't surprising politically. As the top Democratic contender in 2008 who voted for the war -- and hasn't recanted -- Clinton needed to emphasize her foreign policy strengths: gravitas, affection for the troops and on-the-ground experience in a war zone.

On Wednesday, as President George W. Bush delivered his address on his plan for a 21,500-troop increases in Iraq, Clinton was about the only serious contender in either party to turn down an invitation to dissect the speech on TV.

Clinton landed in Kuwait on Friday night with Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) and upstate Rep. John McHugh and will meet Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Shia cleric Ayatollah Abd Al-Aziz Al-Hakim in Baghdad Saturday.

She also plans a Saturday sit-down with Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who is training Iraqi security forces; a visit to the New York-based Army 10th Mountain Division; and a meeting with a delegation of Iraqi women.

Before leaving, Clinton, who voted to authorize the Oct. 2002 Iraq invasion, cautioned against paying too much attention to Iraq at the expense of the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I wish we were discussing additional troops for Afghanistan. We are hearing increasingly troubling reports out of Afghanistan and we will be searching for accurate information about the true state of affairs both militarily and politically," she told the Associated Press.
More on link

Afghanistan a source of worry
Sen. Clinton says more troops needed to fight Taliban, not in Iraq.
By Julian E. Barnes and Peter Spiegel, Times Staff Writers
January 13, 2007
Article Link

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed deep concern Friday over the stability of Afghanistan, and a top U.S. military official said additional troops might be needed to strengthen the government in Kabul, which is under growing pressure from Taliban forces.

Gates plans to travel soon to the region to look for ways to aid the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gates appeared worried by the rising violence in Afghanistan, where military commanders have warned that the spring thaw may bring one of the most brutal fighting seasons since the 2001 U.S. invasion.

"We mustn't let this one slip out of our attention and, where we have had a victory, put it at risk," Gates told senators in describing his upcoming trip. "One of the things that I am focused on particularly is, what will it take to reverse the trend line in Afghanistan and to strengthen the Karzai government?"

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, indicated that he was open to raising troop levels in Afghanistan as well as Iraq. Despite concerns that U.S. land forces are overstretched by their growing commitment in Iraq, the Pentagon could sustain an increase of forces in Afghanistan as well, he said.
More on link

Pakistan takes issue with Negroponte over Qaeda
Publish Date: Saturday,13 January, 2007, at 10:58 AM Doha Time
Article Link

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz shakes hands with US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia Richard Boucher prior to their meeting in Islamabad yesterday

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said yesterday the US had not given it any information about the presence of Al Qaeda leaders, following remarks from US intelligence chief John Negroponte that they were holed up in Pakistan.

"We have no such information nor has any such thing been communicated to us by any US authority," Pakistan’s military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan said.

Washington’s ally has always contended that Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al Zawahri could be either side of the rugged, porous border with Afghanistan.

But in an unusually direct statement, Negroponte on Thursday named Pakistan as the centre of an Al Qaeda web that radiated out to the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

In a testimony to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Negroponte wrote, without naming bin Laden or Zawahri, that Al Qaeda leaders are holed up in a secure hide-out in Pakistan.

He said they were rebuilding a network that has been decimated by the capture or killing of hundreds of Al Qaeda members since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.

"We have captured or killed numerous senior Al Qaeda operatives, but Al Qaeda’s core elements are resilient," said Negroponte, the director of national intelligence (DNI).
More on link

Czech government plans to send field hospital to Afghanistan
Prague, Jan 11 (CTK)
Article Link

The new Czech government of the Civic Democrats (ODS), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Greens plans to send the 6th field hospital to Afghanistan, Defence Ministry spokesman Andrej Cirtek has said, adding that minister Vlasta Parkanova will propose this to the cabinet on Wednesday.

If the government and parliament approve the hospital´s mission, it could leave for Afghanistan in March. The hospital is to be stationed near the Kabul airport, Cirtek told CTK.

The mission should involve about 70 soldiers and it should last one year.

According to Cirtek, members of the mission should rotate, therefore the 7th field hospital staff could also take part in it.

NATO allies asked the Czech Republic for sending in a field hospital in November.

The 6th field hospital ranks among the Czech military´s elite units. It operated in Afghanistan in 2002 already, and in Iraq one year later.

Since December 2006, Czech soldiers have been in command of the Kabul international airport within NATO´s ISAF mission. During their four-month command they are in charge of the airport´s operation and security. A part of the Czech contingent assists in the meteorologic and engineering works and mine clearing.

Apart from the Czech contingent in Kabul, 83 Czech troops operate near Faizabad, north Afghanistan, as part of a reconstruction team also including German and Danish ISAF units.
More on link

82nd paratroopers head for volatile Afghanistan
By Kevin Maurer Staff writer
Article Link

Hours after President Bush announced his new strategy for Iraq, about 150 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division climbed on a plane for the other war zone: Afghanistan.

While Iraq is dominating the news, Afghanistan is growing more volatile.

The paratroopers are part of a 5,000-soldier task force that is replacing the 10th Mountain Division.

Spc. John Sheck, an intelligence analyst from Philadelphia, knows Afghanistan is overshadowed by Iraq.

“It is not as televised, but operations go on day after day,” he said.

The 82nd will likely face a re-energized Taliban in the coming year.

Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata, 10th Mountain Division deputy commanding general, told the Baltimore Sun earlier this week he expects a significant Taliban offensive later this year.

The number of attacks against coalition forces has tripled since 2005. CNN reported last year that the Taliban had more fighters on the battlefield this past summer than it had in the previous five years.
More on link

Pak-Afghan border closed after protests
Press Trust of India Islamabad, January 12, 2007|14:31 IST
Article Link 
A main border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed after demonstrations by Afghans against Islamabad's decision to introduce biometric identification system at the Chaman border point.

Demanding that the new system be immediately abolished, a large number of Afghans living in Vesh, a business centre across the border, stoned the newly-built Friendship Gate and smashed windowpanes of several departments of Pakistan on Thursday.

A complete strike was observed in Vesh against the Pakistan government's move.

Pakistan has introduced the new system to check illegal border crossing and to curb Taliban movement.

The border was later reopened in the afternoon to facilitate women and children after negotiations between officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan

In another development a tripartite meeting of the top military officials of Pakistan, Afghanistan and NATO forces appeared to have ironed out differences over allegations that Pakistan failed to crackdown on Taliban.

Head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander in Afghanistan, Gen David Richards said that with an enhanced deployment of Pakistani troops in the border region, cross-border activity of insurgents had come down.

"This step has helped considerably in bringing down the graph of insurgency in Afghanistan as compared to last winter," he said.
More on link


Fallen Comrade
Fallen Comrade
Reaction score
NATO’s Afghan Struggle: Build, and Fight Taliban
NY Times, Jan. 13, by Carlotta Gall

SPERWAN GHAR, Afghanistan — The road that cuts through the heart of Panjwai district here tells all that is going wrong with NATO’s war in Afghanistan.

In Pashmul, southwest of Kandahar, residents survey what had been their home. NATO troops, in building a new road to improve security in the area, razed homes and plowed under orchards and melon fields.

To fight their way into this area and clear it of Taliban insurgents, NATO troops bulldozed through orchards, smashed down walls and even houses, and churned vineyards and melon fields to dust.

Reconstruction projects were planned, but never materialized. Now NATO countries are championing the thoroughfare as a $5 million gift to local people.

Displaced and buffeted by fighting since May, the Afghans are homeless, fearful and far from being won over. They say the road was built for the troops’ benefit and forced on them, at the cost of their land and livelihoods.

“We are compelled to be happy about the road,” said Hajji Baran, 48, a farmer from Panjwai. “They are building the road and they are not going to stop, but in fact we are not happy about it. We have been displaced for nine months and no one has asked us how are we managing. This is a kind of cruelty.

“In fact, we are selling our wives’ jewelry to support our families.”

The conflict over the road is just the most apparent of the many things that Afghans, diplomats and aid workers cite in explaining why NATO’s war looks uncertain in southern Afghanistan. Others include what local people see as the indiscriminate killing of civilians by NATO forces, and corruption and incompetence among local officials...

...so far not much has gone according to plan.

There has been little coordination between the military operations and reconstruction projects, which has frustrated aid workers and diplomats almost as much as local people.

After NATO troops and United States Special Forces mounted their operation to clear the area of insurgents in September, the assistance programs were not ready. Then the troops pulled back, and the Taliban were active again within days.

“We are all scratching our heads as to why the aid has not rolled out faster,” said a Western diplomat familiar with Panjwai. “It’s not for a lack of resources. We are meeting basic needs, but when it comes to sustainable livelihoods and jobs, it’s not happening.”..

Now finally villagers are trickling home. Yet the mood is at best resigned.

“They bombed our orchards and fields and we have nothing now,” said Hajji Abdul Wahab Kutaisi, 65, a farmer from Pashmul. “They made a road through my land.” ..

His house was destroyed in the fighting and he and his extended family now live in two rented rooms in Kandahar. He said he had not received any compensation.

He was sitting with several other men on the stony ground in the Panjwai district police station waiting for permission from the military to work in his fields, close to a Canadian military checkpoint. “When we don’t inform them, they shoot at us,” he said. Minutes after he spoke a Canadian tank fired a round from the nearby base, shattering the calm, sunny morning [emphasis added]...

Sperwan Ghar, the district center of Panjwai, is a quiet, country one-street town, with small shops, two schools and a police station. For the NATO forces here, which are led by Canada [emphasis added], the town, at least, is a success story. By December it was peaceful, commerce had returned, the school was repaired and children were back in class.

Yet the place looks like a fortified camp, with soldiers and sandbags blocking the street, an armored vehicle parked outside the school, and guard posts on all the hills looking down into everyone’s yard. The local police admit the guard posts are not popular because they violate one of the most important codes of behavior for the Pashtun: privacy and respect for their women...

After suffering 13 suicide bombings in 14 days in Kandahar, some Canadian soldiers had to be repatriated because they were reacting badly to the stress [emphasis added], according to one
diplomat in Kabul...


The Bread Guy

Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
Afghan mission support rebounds slightly
Peter O'Neil, CanWest News Service, 13 Jan 07
Article Link

Support for Canada's mission in Afghanistan has grown over the winter as memory of a wave of bloodshed during the summer and early autumn fades, according to a new national poll provided exclusively Friday to CanWest News Service.  The online Jan. 8-10 survey of 2,206 Canadians by Innovative Research Group found 58 per cent of respondents support the military action compared to 38 per cent who are opposed.  The numbers are in line with a previous Innovative survey done last June, but up from a follow-up October poll that had just 54 per cent of Canadians backing the mission and 42 per cent opposed.  Of the 37 Canadians who died in Afghanistan last year, 26 perished during the July-to-October period.  Innovative Research president Greg Lyle said his research shows Canadians are prepared to support the dangerous overseas mission as long as they are convinced Canadian soldiers are providing critical assistance and bringing peace and democracy to the war-plagued country.  "The idea that we're a bunch of pacifists sitting around singing Kumbaya just isn't the way Canada is." ....

Noise of war gives way to the sound of rebuilding
With Canada and NATO's help, a battlefield's residents return in droves

Graeme Smith, Globe & Mail, 13 Jan 07
Article Link

ZANGABAD, AFGHANISTAN -- A landscape blasted by some of Afghanistan's heaviest fighting in recent years has started returning to life, as hundreds of families straggle back to houses that served as Taliban hideouts just a few weeks ago.  The rutted dirt track that leads to the village of Zangabad was impassable during a visit to the area in November, when sporadic thuds of Canadian mortars and Taliban rockets could be heard booming across this ruined farmland.  Now Canadian soldiers and their allies have conquered the area with last month's Operation Baaz Tsuka, and the road is open for traffic, guarded by only a handful of Afghan soldiers lounging in the golden winter sunlight. A trip to the village 40 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city showed no sign of the insurgents who recently controlled Zangabad and threatened the provincial capital.  While Zangabad's shops remain shuttered and many houses padlocked, the roads are full of trucks and vans piled high with household goods as people return home and start cleaning up after months of war.  "Now we are free," said Mohammed Naeem, 37, who moved his extended family of 60 people back to Zangabad last week, after escaping two months ago. "We are happy the government came back to our village." ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

First British soldier killed this year in Afghanistan
Reuters (UK), 13 Jan 07
Article Link

Insurgents attacked NATO troops in southern Afghanistan on Saturday and killed a British marine, the first foreign soldier killed in Afghanistan this year, the alliance and the Ministry of Defence said.  The ministry said the marine was killed during a mission to clear Taliban positions in northern Helmand province.  Last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001 ....

Afghan ’Mess-Up’
Crossed signals lead each side to mistake the other for the enemy

Associated Press, via Boston Herald, 13 Jan 07
Article Link

DARNAMI, Afghanistan - When blasts of gunfire woke Mohammad Shafik at 1 a.m., he was sure the attackers were Taliban or al-Qaida, out to punish his family for its close ties with the Afghan government.      Huddled with nine close relatives in their mud-brick compound in eastern Khost province, he heard a man with an accent from the southern city of Kandahar - the Taliban’s former stronghold - order them to step into the icy winter night.  “Come out and be safe,” the man said.  Shafik’s father, Mohammad Jan, an official with the Agriculture Ministry, grabbed a gun.  “I told my father, ’Don’t go out, it’s al-Qaida,”’ Shafik, 23, said. “When he opened the door the shooting started. Bullets flew in through the windows and doors. I could hear in my father’s voice that he was injured.”  Shafik’s 13-year-old sister, Khadijah, rushed to her father’s aid, but just then an explosion blasted open the door, fatally wounding her. The father lay bleeding in the cold for hours, was eventually evacuated but later died ....

Top Afghan insurgent leader operating in Pakistan, U.S. general says
Associated Press, 13 Jan 06
Article Link

An Afghan insurgent leader operating from inside Pakistan sent some 200 ill-equipped fighters, some wearing plastic bags on their feet, into Afghanistan where most were killed in a major battle this week, a U.S. general said Saturday.  Maj.-Gen. Benjamin Freakley said Jalaluddin Haqqani recruited and sent unemployed and untrained men to fight in Afghanistan.  U.S. forces killed about 130 fighters moving in two groups in the eastern province of Paktika late Wednesday and early Thursday, one of the largest winter battles in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.  "There's Taliban leaders in Pakistan," Freakley said. "We know that this group . . . were from Jalaluddin Haqqani and we believe, though we don't know exactly where, that Jalaluddin Haqqani is operating from inside Pakistan and sending men to fight in Afghanistan."  Western and Afghan officials accuse Pakistan of not doing enough to stop Taliban fighters using Pakistani soil as a training ground from crossing the border into Afghanistan. Pakistan says it does all it can to stop the fighters.  No officials in Pakistan could immediately be reached for comment ....

Osama not seen in Pakistan: Taliban leader
Daily Times (PAK), 14 Jan 07
Article Link

A top Taliban leader in Pakistan said in remarks aired on Saturday his group would protect and guard Al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri if they turned up in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. “I have not met Osama or Zawahri and they did not come to our region. We hope to see them and if they show up in our area we will protect them with our bodies and souls,” Mullah Mohammad Nazir told Al Jazeera television in remarks dubbed into Arabic ....



Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 14 November 2007

Afghan diary
January 14, 2007 Oakland RossStaff reporter
Article Link

This country could break your heart.

Spend enough time here and it almost surely will.

Or someone will – a small boy perhaps, about 8 years old.

He emerges along with several adult men from a mud-walled abode perched by itself upon a vast expanse of dirt that stretches, the colour of gun metal, toward a blue-streaked backdrop of mountains.

The boy wears a dainty brocaded cap, as many males here do. The rest is rags – a zipperless red jacket, tattered brown robes, a pair of black plastic sandals. His face is worn raw from the high desert air and cold winter wind.

He watches as a Canadian platoon commander – Capt. Steve MacBeth of Toronto – confers with the adults in the oblique, late-afternoon sunshine that casts a coppery light but provides no heat.

MacBeth has come to keep a promise made to this family – the delivery of a small, plastic, hand-powered radio.

Now, like some glorious wizard from another world, he produces the device.

Made in China by the Jin Kong company, the radio is a modest thing, worth a few dollars at most and likely to malfunction before long. But it comes in a cardboard box of almost iridescent green, and it is brand, spanking new.

When the package is placed in the boy's hands, his eyes practically double in size.

For several moments, he is frozen where he stands – stunned to be holding something so rare, so unexpected, so new.

He darts beyond the slouching mud walls that form the shell of his family's home to uncase this treasure in secret.

Outside, the sun continues to sink, and you think you will not see this boy again.

But several minutes later, he reappears.

With his left hand, he is balancing a tin tray upon which are perched several small pots for tea and some upturned glasses. In his right, he clutches a kettle of boiling water. He has come to serve chai to these otherworldly visitors
More on link

Prices of gold down, firewood up in Kabul
Sunday January 14, 2007 (0943 PST)
Article Link

KABUL: Prices of gold decreased while those of the firewood jumped during the outgoing week in Kabul.
Price of one gram of Arabic gold dropped to 900 afs and the same quantity of Iranian gold to 770 afs compared to the last week prices of 980 and 810 afs respectively.

Jewellers attributed the downward trend to the decrease in gold prices in the international market.

Rates of firewood, on the other hand, registered upward trend as the chill in weather continue to hit Kabulis. Prices of best quality wood went up to 4,000 afs per kharwar (560 kgs) while price of the same quantity of second quality firewood reached to 3,700 afs as compared to the last week prices of 3,800 and 3,400 respectively.

As for the kitchen items, rates of most of the edibles stayed stable. Only rates of rice registered slight increase. Rate of 50 kilograms sack of Pakistani rice increased by 20 Afghanis from 1,680 of the last week to 1,700 afs during the outgoing week.

Prices of all other kitchen items remained unchanged. A quick survey of the market revealed that 100 kilograms sack of Pakistani flour was sold for 1,380 afs, price of 50 kilograms sugar was 1,330 afs, one kilogram of green tea 130 afs, five kilograms of cooking oil 280 afs and one kilogram of green tea was available for 145 afs.
More on link

Suicide attack leaves attacker dead, wounds civilian in S. Afghanistan
January 14, 2007         
Article Link

A suicide bomber killed himself and wounded a civilian when he targeted vehicles of western construction company Contract in Afghanistan's southern Zabul province Sunday morning, local police said.

"The incident occurred at around 8: 30 a.m. this morning when a man striped explosive device in his body exploded minutes after the vehicles of Contractor passed through provincial capital Qalat city, killing himself and wounding a civilian," a policeman at the site of incident Mohammad Asif told Xinhua.

There were no casualties on Afghan army or foreign forces, he added.

Contract builds accommodation and barracks for Afghanistan National Army (ANA) in different parts of the country.

Source: Xinhua

Brit, 16 Taliban killed in Afghanistan
Article Link

KAJAKI, Afghanistan -- British troops crawled up a dusty, barren hill in pre-dawn light to launch an attack on a Taliban position that left 16 suspected insurgents and one British Marine dead.

Snipers set up positions on the hilltop Saturday as troops crept close to a mud-brick compound where NATO commanders said insurgents were staying.

Dutch and British Apache attack helicopters swooped over villages and hills, firing missiles into the compounds believed used by the militants. Troops engaged in rolling duels with militants; American aircraft joined in the battle, dropping 500-pound bombs.

Troops opened canisters of billowing smoke to flush out the fighters, and red and black smoke later rose into the air as troops moved away from the engagement site.

A British soldier and 16 suspected Taliban were killed during Saturday's six-hour operation, said Maj. Martin Collins, commanding officer of the 42 Commando Royal Marines at the British outpost at Kajaki in the southern province of Helmand.

For the past few months the British camp in Kajaki, set up to provide security for the upcoming repair work in the nearby Kajaki dam, was getting attacked by mortars regularly, British officials said.

The decision to go after militants was made after observing them for almost a month, officials said. The troops pinpointed a location on a hilltop next to the village of Khak-e-Hajannam, which they targeted during the raid.

Military showing 'no interest'
TheStar.com - News - Military showing 'no interest'
Canadian Forces admits recruitment of minorities may be falling through cracks
Rick Westhead Toronto Star
Article Link

Twenty-three-year-old Ramis Jamali seems like the ideal Canadian Forces recruit.

The fourth-year York University psychology student speaks English and Dari, a language common throughout much of Afghanistan, where several thousand Canadian soldiers are deployed.

What's more, he said he's entertained thoughts of a military career.

Trouble is, years after the first Canadian troops arrived in Afghanistan to help overthrow the Taliban, prospective Afghan-Canadian recruits like Jamali – who are familiar with both the language and culture of the crippled Middle Eastern country – say they remain overlooked by Canada's military. "We really don't see very much interest from the Canadian military in our community," Jamali said.

A Canadian Forces spokesperson says the military doesn't track how many troops speak languages like Dari or Pashto, common in southern Afghanistan, but one Afghan-Canadian in the armed forces says there are fewer than a half dozen.

Capt. Holly Brown, a Canadian Forces spokeswoman, conceded prospective Afghan-Canadian recruits may have fallen through the cracks.

"When you look at Toronto, we have one recruiting centre with only two full-time diversity recruiters," she said. "The problem is there are so many different communities in Toronto that it's hard to cover them all."

Canadian soldiers typically hire local interpreters in Afghanistan, she said. But military experts say Canadian officers would prefer to rely on uniformed, enlisted translators who are subject to a more rigorous security check and can't refuse dangerous assignments.

Soldiers also rely on expensive gadgetry. The Canadian Forces bought $9,000 worth of translation equipment in May 2005 from Integrated Wave Technologies, according to a copy of a paid invoice obtained by the Star. The Washington company sold the Forces a device that allows a soldier to speak a common English phrase into a headset and a translation booms out of an ammo clip-sized speaker. Canadian Forces spokesman Lt. Adam Thomson declined to comment on the purchase.

The dearth of Canadian troops with first-hand knowledge of Afghanistan's culture and languages is troubling, said Wahid Monawar, consul general of Afghanistan's consulate in Toronto. As many as 70,000 Afghans live in Greater Toronto, he said, adding many are unemployed or working in low-income jobs and would probably be receptive to the Canadian Forces.

The Sabawoon Afghan Family Education and Community Centre in Scarborough held a career day in August and invited the Canadian military. The invitation was accepted, but the military failed to show and offered no explanation
More on link

Warlord Hekmatyar Tells Germans To Get Out Of Afghanistan
January 14th 2007 by News Staff
Article Link

In an interview published in the German media Sunday, former Afghan prime minister and powerful warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to withdraw German troops from Afghanistan.

"We had hoped from the German chancellor that she wouldn't sacrifice German sons for American interests," said the warlord, who has gone into hiding and who has called for a "holy war" against all foreign troops in Afghanistan, in an online interview with stern.de.

"Unfortunately she has not done it. Withdraw your troops from Afghanistan!" Hekmatyar said.

Hekmatyar added that the US government has started "a dangerous game" with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"With close to one-and-a-half billion Muslims who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for Islam, it is no easy game. If they kill some, then many others will grow from them to carry on the fight," Hekmatyar said.

The US had failed in Afghanistan and was not in the position to check the resistance of the radical Islamists, he said.

"It seems to me that the conditions are the same as at the time when the Soviet Union decided to leave Afghanistan," Hekmatyar said.

Hekmatyar said that his militant group had no organizational connection to the Taliban or to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The radical Islamic fighters had to support anyone "who fights against the occupiers and who would like to set up an Islamic state in a free Afghanistan," he said.

Stern.de said that the questions for the interview had been sent to the warlord in written form in advance and that he had then recorded the answers on video and sent them back.

ROUNDUP: British Soldier, 30 Taliban Killed In Southern Afghanistan
January 14th 2007 by News Staff
Article Link

Afghan and British forces attacked an insurgent compound in southern Afghanistan, leaving one British soldier and 30 Taliban dead and 20 rebels wounded, officials said Sunday.

The operation supported by air forces started on Saturday morning in the Kajaki district of southern Helmand province, provincial spokesman, Gholum Nabi Mullahkhail, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

Mullahkhail said that 30 Taliban fighters were killed and some 20 wounded, but a British spokesman merely confirmed the firefight and said that there were "Taliban fatalities" but could not confirm the exact number.

The spokesman also said that one British soldier was killed in the firefight which marked the first western soldier killed in Afghanistan this year.

The spokesman explained that British forces conducted a "deliberate operation" supported by a contingent of Afghan Army forces and NATO air forces on Saturday morning on a compound in the north of Kajaki district from where the British base had been attacked regularly by mortars for the past several days.

Saturday's attack was a continuation of an operation that started last week and was aimed at clearing the area out of insurgents and allowing a safe passage for contractors who were repairing Kajaki's dam, the spokesman said.

He said that after the completion of the project, 1.8 million people in the region would benefit from electricity generated by the dam.

Over 5,000 British forces are deployed to Afghanistan, the majority stationed in the volatile Helmand province the rest based in the capital Kabul.

In other news, a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-filled vest near some foreign contractors in southern Afghanistan Sunday, wounding one civilian, a provincial official said.

The incident happened at 8:30 a.m. in Qalat, the capital city of the southern Zabul province when a vehicle from a foreign construction company was passing by, Golub Shah Alikhail said.

Alikhail said that the attacker was blown to pieces. Only one civilian passerby was slightly injured and was in stable condition in a local hospital, he said.

He did not identify the company, but a witness said the vehicle belonged to Contrack International, a US-based construction and logistics company.

The attack came two days after another suicide attack against foreign targets south of capital Kabul that wounded one US citizen and two Afghan colleagues. The attacker died.

Over 120 suicide attacks occurred in Afghanistan in 2006, killing hundreds of Afghan civilians and over a dozen international troops.

In another incident, a border police vehicle in Spin Boldak district of the southern Kandahar province struck a roadside mine on Saturday, wounding two police constables, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The spokesman blamed Taliban rebels for planting the mine in the district bordering Pakistan.



Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles 15 January, 2006

British soldier killed in Afghanistan during attack on insurgent base
Article Link

Another British serviceman has been killed in Afghanistan's Helmand Province.

The Ministry of Defence said the soldier was taking part in an attack on an insurgent base in the troubled southern province when he died, Nato officials said

A spokesman for the MoD said it was "with profound regret that we must confirm the death of a British serviceman in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

"Next of kin are in the process of being informed," he said.

The soldier is the second British serviceman to die in the country in the past three days after 21-year-old Royal Marine Thomas Curry, from east London, was killed during a battle to clear Taliban positions on Saturday. Two NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this year.

Several other soldiers were wounded in the fighting in Helmand province, NATO said.

"Close air support was requested and targeted the insurgents," who had attacked the NATO troops from various positions, it said.

Last year was the bloodiest in Afghanistan since U.S.-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001.
More on link

NATO soldier dead after fight with Taliban
Updated Mon. Jan. 15 2007 7:23 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff
Article Link

One western soldier is dead and several others are wounded after NATO forces attacked a rebel base in southern Afghanistan on Monday, confirmed an alliance spokesperson.

The soldiers were attacking the base when they were "engaged from several insurgent positions,'' NATO said.

The rebel fighters were later bombed by aircraft.

A Canadian military spokesperson has confirmed that the dead soldier is not a Canadian.

However, the nationalities of the soldiers have not been released. No details were given regarding the rebel casualties.

Roadside bomb attack

In a separate incident, two NATO soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack, southwest of Kandahar.

The blast struck a convoy of soldiers in Sanzary, near the Panjwaii district.

The injured soldiers were not Canadian, confirmed Lieut. Sue Stefko, a spokesperson for the Canadian Forces.

The wounded are believed to be American soldiers.

Stefko said Canadian troops did provide a security cordon after the blast as they were operating in the area.
More on link

Two NATO troops wounded in roadside blast in southern Afghanistan
January 15, 2007 - 3:53
Article Link

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (CP) - Two NATO soldiers have been wounded in a roadside bomb attack, southwest of Kandahar.

The blast hit a convoy of soldiers in Sanzary, near the Panjwaii district. Lieut. Sue Stefko, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Forces, says the injured were not Canadian. Although she could not confirm it, the wounded are believed to be American soldiers. Stefko said Canadian troops are operating in the area and provided a security cordon after the explosion. They also helped evacuate the injured.

The two wounded troops were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment, said Squadron Leader David Marsh, a spokesman for the NATO-led troops in southern Afghanistan.

Militants often use remote controlled explosive devices in their fight against foreign and Afghan security forces.

The level of violence has gone down recently during Afghanistan's winter, but in 2006 the country went through its most violent period since the ouster of Taliban in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
More on link

Afghanistan tops agenda as new U.S. defence secretary visits NATO
Canadian Press Monday, January 15, 2007
Article Link

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - New U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates was making his first visit to NATO headquarters Monday with Afghanistan topping an agenda that also includes the crisis in Darfur and fears of renewed tension in Kosovo.

Alliance officials will be keen to hear if U.S. plans to send 21,500 additional troops to Iraq will lead to reductions in the American contribution to the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan, which currently numbers around 32,000 troops.

The United States has about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, about half serving with the NATO force, while the rest run a separate counterterrorism operation.

In London, on the first leg of his European visit on Sunday, Gates stressed the importance of Afghanistan.

"My first priority is making sure that we preserve the gains that we achieved in Afghanistan, and then talking about the way forward in Iraq," he told reporters travelling with him. He said he would be travelling to Afghanistan "in a few days."

A senior official on Gates' flight to London said the defence secretary wanted to consult with Afghan officials and U.S. commanders there to see if they had adequate resources at a time when some fear that Afghanistan is in danger of reverting to a haven for terrorists.
More on link

30 militants killed in Afghanistan
Jan 14, 2007 - 6:31:17 PM   
Article Link

More than 200 militants, according to officials, have been killed so far this year. 

By Xinhua, [RxPG] Kabul, Jan 14 - Afghan and NATO forces killed 30 Taliban in the troubled Helmand province of south Afghanistan, provincial police chief Mohammad Nabi Mullahkhil said here Sunday.

'In an operation launched by Afghan and NATO troops against insurgents in Kajaki district Saturday, 30 enemies were killed and 20 others were wounded,' said Mullahkhil.

The operation was carried out in the wake of militant's attack and the killing of a NATO soldier in the restive province.

Meantime, Taliban's purported spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi disputed the claim, saying militants in the engagement had killed three NATO and Afghan soldiers, injuring eight others.

Militancy has been on rise as three bomb attacks shocked Qalat and Spin Boldak towns in the south and Mimana in northwest of post-Taliban Afghanistan in a single day on Sunday.
More on link

Afghanistan: Major Battle Reignites Pakistan Border Controversy
Monday , 15 January 2007
Article Link

Afghanistan saw its bloodiest battle in months overnight when NATO and Afghan troops spotted two groups of militants mainly within Pakistan and then tracked them as they crossed into Afghanistan's southeastern Paktika Province.

The NATO alliance says as many as 150 insurgents were killed during an overnight battle in southeastern Afghanistan after the insurgents crossed into the country from neighboring Pakistan.

Infiltration From Pakistan

NATO spokesman Major Dominic Whyte told RFE/RL that both NATO and Afghan government troops witnessed two groups of militants concentrating inside of Pakistan. He says the militants were tracked from the air and by ground forces as they crossed the border into the Bermel district of Afghanistan's Paktika Province.

"It's very unusual to have had so many insurgents gather into one place on the other side of the border and then to cross over. So one assumes that they had commanders.""It's very unusual to have had so many insurgents gather into one place on the other side of the border and then to cross over. So one assumes that they had commanders.""Initial battle damage estimates indicate that as many as 150 insurgents were killed," he said. "The insurgents were observed congregating together in a large number in several trucks and they were armed and appeared to be gathering for a potential attack. The insurgents had been observed gathering in Pakistan itself and, indeed, had actually crossed the border [into Afghanistan.]"
More on link

Tributes to soldier killed in Afghanistan
By Ruth Holmes
Article Link

Thomas Curry is the 45the member of the British forces to die in Afghanistan.
TRIBUTES have been paid to a member of the Royal Marines who died in action in Afghanistan on Saturday.

His regiment, the 42 Commando Royal Marines, was involved in an operation to defend the Kajaki hydroelectric dam, which was built to provide power across southern Afghanistan.


The soldier had been "courageously" leading his comrades from the front when he came under fire, the Ministry of Defense (MOD) said.

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Matt Holmes Royal Marines, said: "Tom died displaying the qualities so typical of him, which had rapidly earned him the respect of his colleagues.

"He was at the front, courageously closing with the enemy, with no thought for his own safety, just that of his colleagues who were close by."
More on link

Rome to host international conference on Afghanistan in the spring
The Associated Press Monday, January 15, 2007
Article Link

Foreign donors and international organizations will gather in Rome in the spring for a summit on Afghanistan, Italy's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The ministry confirmed a report in daily Corriere della Sera, which quoted Undersecretary Gianni Vernetti as saying in Kabul that the summit had been agreed upon in meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Tom Koenigs, the U.N.'s special representative to Afghanistan, and was scheduled for early April. Karzai is also scheduled to visit Rome on Feb. 16, Corriere said.

Vernetti said the conference will focus on security, justice and law issues, as well as efforts to combat drug trafficking in what is the world's biggest producer of opium.
More on link

Gates Talks With British Allies About Afghanistan, Iraq
By Jim Garamone American Forces Press ServiceLondon, Jan. 14, 2007
Article Link

Continued progress in Afghanistan and details of President Bush’s new way forward in Iraq were the topics of discussion today as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with British leaders here. 

Recognizing Britain’s tremendous contributions to the war on terror, Gates met with Prime Minister Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street and Defense Minister Des Browne at the Lancaster House here.

The British have more than 7,000 troops in Iraq and more than 5,000 in Afghanistan. Over the weekend, British forces lost soldiers in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gates said in his previous government service he had a good, close working relationship with America’s British allies and that he looks forward to the same sort of relationship as defense secretary.

The secretary, who announced during a short statement following his meeting with Browne that he will travel to Afghanistan in a few days, wants to speak with British and NATO leaders about what the allies there can do to thwart the Taliban’s threatened spring offensive, a senior defense official said on background. Gates also wants to discuss what further steps can be taken to strengthen the Afghan government, the official said.

Gates wants to make sure NATO stays on top of the situation in Afghanistan. The Afghan people and the allies have “had a real victory there,” and “don’t want to – through negligence – see the situation deteriorate,” the official said.

There is a threat of a Taliban offensive against Afghan and NATO forces. Recently, Afghan and NATO forces killed more than 150 Taliban fighters trying to come into Afghanistan from Pakistan. Officials said they see a “fair amount” of Taliban activity in the southern portion of Afghanistan. And historically, the Afghans fight in the spring, summer and fall and regroup during the very harsh winter.

Although the Taliban suffered severe setbacks in 2006, there was a higher level of activity and violence during the year, the official said. “We just want to ensure we can put them back in the box,” he said.
More on link

Reform Association Works With Coalition to Promote Afghan Reconstruction
American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2007
Article Link

Coalition representatives met Jan. 12 with members of the newly formed Khost Reform Association at a forward base in Khost province, Afghanistan, to discuss the group’s focus on national unity and reconstruction.
The association was formed in November 2006, founded by retired military commanders, university professors and former provincial governor. Its goal is to increase cooperation, education and reconstruction throughout Khost province.

Association officials said the organization will accept people from any religious or ethnic background, as long as they support democracy, desire to help reconstruct Afghanistan and do not participate in terrorist, antigovernment or anti-coalition activities.

“Scholars only join the academic groups. Only mullahs join the mullah groups. The former mujahideen have their groups, but only former mujahideen join,” said Fazil Jan, the association’s chief, former governor of Helmand province and now a university professor. “Anybody can join us; our organization does not have a flavor of politics.”

Coalition officials say they welcome the desire these Afghan citizens have taken to help secure their country’s future.

“The meeting was a productive discussion between a diverse group of people who want to help rebuild Afghanistan,” said Col. Tom Collins, Combined Forces Command Afghanistan spokesman. “These gentlemen offer a clear indication that the Afghan people are willing to put aside differences to work for the future of Afghanistan through education and reconstruction.”

Wazir Badshah, a university professor, noted that democracy in Afghanistan will take time until people are educated enough to defend themselves. He said the people of Khost “are very upset” about suicide bombers being trained to carry out attacks against their citizens. Only education, reconstruction and jobs can counter such extremism, he said.
More on link

Advances Have Cut Combat Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan
Article Link

Newswise — Advances in several different areas—including armored vests and other protective gear, streamlined systems for evacuation and casualty management, and new medical approaches—have combined to produce significant improvement in the chances of survival for U.S. casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a Special Editorial in the November/December issue of The Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.

For soldiers injured in combat today, the survival rate is 90 percent or higher—a significant improvement even since the Gulf War in the early 1990s, according to Col. W. Bryan Gamble, M.D., Commander of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Dr. Gamble credits advances in three key areas with improving the outcomes of combat injuries:
• Personal Protective Equipment: Incorporated into vests, new composite material plates are capable of stopping high-velocity rounds, making previously fatal chest wounds survivable. Standard equipment for each solider now includes an individual "one-handed" tourniquet, allowing prompt action to reduce blood loss. New bandages impregnated with clotting products are also being used to stop bleeding from severe injuries.
• Casualty Treatment and Evacuation: Forward Surgical Teams provide life-saving surgical treatment, often reaching injured personnel within minutes. In addition to saving soldiers who would otherwise bleed to death, the rapid response provided by these teams sets the stage for further damage control, surgery, and rehabilitation.
Once their condition has stabilized, casualties are efficiently and systematically transferred to the next level of care and more specialized treatment. Critical Care Air Transport Teams provide rapid evacuation of injured personnel—most reach Landstuhl within 24 hours, and are on their way to U.S. military treatment facilities within 48 to 72 hours.
• Medical Care Advances: Specific medical advances include "directed and purposeful" use of blood products, measures to protect against hypothermia, aggressive surgery to prevent damaging compartment syndromes, and improvements in ventilator design and technology. Weekly video teleconferences allow close and ongoing communication between doctors on the battlefield, at Landstuhl, and in U.S. treatment facilities. In addition, a trauma registry system has been set up to record and analyze the types of injuries that occur, thus allowing improvements in management.
More on link

Peace Still Elusive After Five Years in Afghanistan
Article Link

German soldiers began patrolling the streets of Kabul as part of the UN's peacekeeping mission on Jan. 14, 2002. Five years later, the Bundeswehr is still active in Afghanistan and peace seems far off.

Representatives from four of Afghanistan's political groups met with United Nations officials outside Bonn on Nov. 27, 2001 to discuss democratic reconstruction in the war-torn country. The following week, the group of diplomats signed the Bonn agreement, setting the future course for the international cooperation in Afghanistan.

The architects of the treaty agreed it was impossible to attain stability without international involvement.

While the US-led mission Enduring Freedom was conceived primarily to counter the Taliban militias and the al Qaeda terror organization, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was put in place by the UN in late December 2001 to contribute to security in Kabul and surrounding areas.

Mission expanded, mandate extended

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Thirty-seven countries have sent soldiers to be part of ISAF
At the outset, ISAF was comprised of 4,000 soldiers from 18 countries, including Germany, and mandated for one year.
The residents of Kabul had lived with violence for years and many were ambivalent toward the ISAF mission, which quickly extended its initial mandate.

"My feeling was that the international community had decided to put an end to the continuous war in Afghanistan," Karim Wahidi, a civil servant in Kabul, said about the first ISAF troops in Kabul. "We were hopeful that we would never see the war criminals in power again."
More on link

Paintball ranges used to prepare for Afghanistan
Nelson Wyatt Canadian Press Sunday, January 14, 2007
Article Link

MONTREAL -- Most people see a day at the paintball range as a bit of recreational fun, but for Canadian troops it's a deadly serious tool to prepare them to fight Taliban insurgents in war-torn Afghanistan.

All major militaries, including U.S. and British forces, have used training on paintball ranges to supplement combat training for their soldiers for the past few years.

Canada has facilities on its bases but in recent months soldiers in Quebec turned to a public range because the ramped up intensive training schedule and the number of troops getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan had tied up the military ranges.

The Valcartier, Que.,-based members of the Royal 22nd Regiment turned to a civilian range near Trois-Rivieres, Que., in November because it had a variety of both forest and urban-type settings.

Capt. Sebastien Hebert, who is the training officer for 5 Service Battalion, said another paintball session is being considered for this month although that would be done at a Canadian Forces facility. More traditional training follows.

"It's two sequences of training," Hebert explained. "After they do the paintball training, they do the exact same thing firing live weapons."

A first group of 300 support troops - cooks, administrative staff, truck drivers and maintenance workers - went through November's session
More on link

Pakistan's PM denies country is al-Qaeda haven
Associated Press
Article Link

Washington — Pakistan's prime minister on Sunday rejected claims by the U.S. intelligence chief that al-Qaeda leaders have secure hide-outs in his country.

Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan aggressively was fighting terrorism and committed to hunting down members of Osama bin Laden's network.

“Any doubts about Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorism, we totally reject,” Mr. Aziz said.

National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told a Senate committee last week that leaders of both al-Qaeda and Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban militia are finding shelter in Pakistan's lawless frontier areas.
More on link



Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
Pakistan Strikes Alleged Al Qaeda Camps


he Pakistani military launched a missile strike Tuesday against three suspected al Qaeda hideouts in a remote region along the Afghan border, using missiles and helicopter gun-ships to bombard a group of 25-30 militants.

The attack was the most intensive of its kind this year, and drew immediate suspicion from western diplomats who questioned the timing — on the heels of top U.S. officials voicing concerns over Pakistan’s failure to go after militants in the region.

Missiles rained down just hours after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Afghanistan to lend support to the NATO-led international defense force in that country as it takes on a resurgent Taliban, intent on fracturing the U.S.-backed government of president Hamid Karzai.

"Most of the miscreants were killed," said Major General Shaukat Sultan, Director General of the Pakistani military's information wing.

Other Pakistani officials said the targets were located at a small village called Zamzola in the south Waziristan region, which borders Afghanistan. The targets were spread across five compounds, each surrounded by mud walls with guard-posts located between them, about ten yards apart.

Giving a description of the location, a Pakistani official who asked not to be named told CBS News the targeted area is close to a forest which, in the past, has been used by militants for daytime training of recruits — apparently to keep them hidden from Pakistani military reconnaissance aircraft.

"We had been observing the activities here for a few months. The attack was launched after we were convinced that this was a militant training camp," the official said.

But western diplomats in Islamabad say the timing of the attack, coinciding with Gates' visit to Afghanistan, raises suspicions that this could be little more than a Pakistani attempt to ward off recent U.S. criticism.

Last week, U.S. intelligence director John Negroponte said Pakistan had become a center of al Qaeda's activities, provoking a strong rebuttal from Pakistani leaders, including President General Pervez Musharraf, the country's U.S.-allied military ruler.

The growing intensity of fighting in Afghanistan has provoked widespread western criticism against Musharraf for his failure to curb the flow of volunteers from Pakistan heading into Afghanistan to join militants.

"The Pakistanis, it seems, are trying to tell the world that they are serious about their commitment to fighting terror," said one western diplomat, who spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.

"The problem for Pakistan is that while there are some cases where they have attacked militants, there are plenty more cases of Taliban or al Qaeda attacks in Afghanistan," the diplomat said. "The Pakistani case so far remains unconvincing."

Last year, Taliban and al Qaeda militants launched more than 100 suicide attacks targeting either the Afghan government or western troops, including American forces, in that country.

The Associated Press reports the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan says there was a 200 percent increase in the number of attacks on U.S. and allied forces in December alone. Another official says attacks in the border area are up 300 percent since a peace deal between Musharraf and tribal leaders in the region went into effect last September.

Other diplomats warned that Tuesday's attack raises fresh questions over the controversial peace deal in north and south Waziristan.

Under the agreement, the government withdrew its troops while leaders of local tribes in Waziristan promised to stop all militants heading in to Afghanistan to join Islamic militant fighters there.

"If you still have suspects in a part of Waziristan who are being attacked, then the question is, shouldn’t we say the Waziristan agreements have practically failed," said another western diplomat in Islamabad who also spoke to CBS News on condition of anonymity.


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 16 January, 2007

Afghan civilians stop terror attack at U.S. base
POSTED: 2229 GMT (0629 HKT), January 16, 2007
Article Link
KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Two civilians thwarted an attempted terrorist attack Tuesday when a vehicle loaded with explosives attempted to crash through the front gate of a U.S. base in the Afghan capital, according to the U.S. military.

The two men, an interpreter and a security guard, dragged the apparent suicide bomber from the vehicle before he could detonate explosives, said Col. Tom Collins, the chief spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"I think it's a pretty amazing and heroic event," Collins said.

He said that at about 9 a.m. Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET Monday) a driver crashed his vehicle into Camp Phoenix, the base where the Afghan National Army and police are trained. The driver reached for what appeared to be a cord to detonate a bomb, he said.

"Amazingly, a couple of Afghans who just happened to be on the scene there realized what was happening," Collins said.
More on link

UPDATE: Bomb defused at Finnish base in Afghanistan
16.1.2007 at 10:39
Article Link

A bomb attack against a military base in Afghanistan housing Finnish peacekeepers was foiled on Monday.

The peacekeepers said Tuesday the bomb, consisting of a 150mm artillery round hooked to a timer, was discovered in time and defused.

"The shell would certainly have damaged the base's wall if it had exploded, but it is unlikely that anybody would have been wounded," Lieutenant-Colonel Veli-Matti Rintala, the deputy head of the Finnish Defence Forces international centre, told the Finnish News Agency

The incident occurred at the Maimana base in northern Afghanistan a day before Jonas Gahr Store, the Norwegian foreign minister, was scheduled to visit the base. Mr Store's visit is to go ahead as planned on Tuesday.

Some 200 Finnish, Latvian and Norwegian troops, all part of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), are housed at the base in Maimana.

Pakistan strikes Taliban, al Qaeda camp
By Kamran Haider  |  January 16, 2007
Article Link

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The Pakistan army launched an air strike on Tuesday killing up to 25 to 30 militants living at a camp close to the Afghan border, in a tribal region regarded as a hotbed of support for the Taliban and al Qaeda.

"The operation was carried out at around 6:55 a.m. (0155 GMT) in Zamzola in South Waziristan, based on information that 25 to 30 miscreants, including foreigners were present there," Major General Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan's military spokesman, said.

Sultan said there was a precision air strike, and helicopter gunships mopped up. No ground troops were used. A military statement later said three out of a cluster of five mud-walled compounds housing the militants were destroyed.

"I can't tell you the exact number of casualties, but most of them were killed," Sultan said.

The attack came hours after Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

A resident of Zamzola raised the possibility that U.S. drone aircraft helped identify the target in the forested mountains, 60 km (40 miles) north of Wana, the main town in South Waziristan, and close to the boundary with Afghanistan and North Waziristan.

"It is a small forest where the bombing took place. We noticed a drone hovering early in the morning and then a few helicopters came and bombed three houses there," villager Mohammad Ali told Reuters.

A Reuters reporter in North Waziristan saw seven helicopters including at least two U.S.-built Cobras leave from Tochi Fort's helipad in Miranshah less than an hour before the attack and returned shortly after.

An intelligence official in Wana, South Waziristan's administrative headquarters, said 10 bodies had been found at the attack site, two of them appeared to be local men but the others were too badly damaged to identify.
More on link

Foreign Minister Gahr Stoere visits Afghanistan
16.01.2007 07:51
Article Link

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere on Tuesday began a three-day visit to Afghanistan, for talks with Afghan authorities and international representatives.

The Norwegian Foreign Minister will meet President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Dr Rangeen Dadfar Spanta and other central ministers of the Afghan government.
He will also have talks with leaders of NATO's ISAF force.

In addition, Stoere will visit the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), part of the regional stabilizing force, stationed at Maimana in Northern Afghanistan, as well as a Dutch PRT unit in Southern Afghanistan, both PRTs are integrated in the ISAF force.

In connection with the visits to the PRTs, Stoere will also meet representatives of local authorities.

An explosives charge was on Monday discovered on the outside of the wall surrounding the Norwegian PRT camp at Maimana.

The charge was rendered harmless by bomb disposal experts.

The incident is not tied to the Norwegian Foreign Minister's visit.
More on link

Taliban step up cross-border attacks-U.S. military
16 Jan 2007 08:43:05 GMT Source: Reuters By Andrew Gray
Article Link

KABUL, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Taliban fighters have stepped up attacks from Pakistan into Afghanistan and are taking advantage of a deal between the Pakistani government and local tribes that was billed as an effort to reduce the threat, U.S. military officials said on Tuesday.

U.S. officials also say the commanders of Afghanistan's Taliban insurgency reside in Pakistan. The Taliban were resurgent in 2006, increasing attacks on NATO troops and Afghan government forces.

"Our military relations, our dialogue between Afghanistan, NATO, the United States and Pakistan is good but I'd also emphasise that we do have a challenge right now with command and control of the Taliban forces that has to be addressed," said Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates began a visit to Afghanistan on Monday, aiming to ensure military commanders have the resources to counter an expected spring offensive by the Taliban.

"The enemy does use both sides of the border, they use the inside of Pakistan as well for command and control," Eikenberry told reporters travelling with Gates.

"And they have senior leaders that operate on both sides."

Pakistan sealed an agreement in early September with tribes in the area of North Waziristan under which Pakistani troops would withdraw to garrisons on the understanding the tribes would not tolerate incursions into Afghanistan.
More on link

U.S. military moves linked to Iran threat
By Robert Burns The Associated Press Article Launched: 01/16/2007 01:00:00 AM MST
Article Link

Brussels, Belgium - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday that new U.S. military moves in the Persian Gulf were prompted in part by signals from Iran that it sees the United States as vulnerable in Iraq.

"The Iranians clearly believe that we are tied down in Iraq, that they have the initiative, that they are in a position to press us in many ways," Gates told reporters at NATO headquarters before flying to Kabul, Afghanistan, to meet with President Hamid Karzai and visit U.S. soldiers and commanders.

It was Gates' first trip to Afghanistan since he took over for Donald Rumsfeld last month. He had said several times recently that he is worried that U.S. gains in stabilizing Afghanistan could be in jeopardy as the radical Taliban movement makes a comeback in some parts of the country, particularly the south.

In Brussels, Gates indicated that Iran's perception of U.S. vulnerability was part of the reason the Pentagon decided last week to send a second aircraft carrier battle group and a Patriot anti- missile battalion to the Persian Gulf area. Patriots defend against shorter-range missiles of the type that Iran could use to target U.S. forces in the area.

The second aircraft carrier gives the U.S. more flexibility and serves as a reminder of U.S. firepower
More on link

Kabul, 16 Jan. (AKI)
Article Link

United Nations agencies have launched a month long emergency operation to provide humanitarian aid to more than 15,000 Afghan families displaced by the insurgency in Kandahar province. "We are glad to report that this operation is currently running smoothly and there have been no security or weather concerns so far," UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Aleem Siddique told a news briefing in Kabul, the capital, on Monday.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing nearly 1,500 tons of mixed foods including wheat, rice, cooking oil and pulses, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the intergovernmental International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are providing 4,000 blankets, 2,000 plastic sheets, and 2,000 family kits with cooking stoves, kerosene lamps and other cooking utensils.

Also on Monday, UNHCR announced that, together with the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation, it had helped over 1 million returned refugees to build their own homes since 2002, as part of initial reintegration efforts to help the most vulnerable returnees.

Since Afghan voluntary repatriation started in 2002, more than 160,000 returnee families have received UNHCR construction kits and have completed building their homes. Despite security constraints in the south and south-eastern provinces, UNHCR has provided more than 24,000 shelter units to build homes for nearly 170,000 Afghans. Some 18,000 shelters countrywide were completed ahead of winter in 2006 alone.

Overall some 4.7 million Afghans, who fled the country during more than two decades of Soviet occupation and subsequent factional fighting, have returned home since the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime in 2001. There are still an estimated 3.5 million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan.
More on link

Sen. Clinton: More forces needed in Afghanistan
By Scott Schonauer, Stars and Stripes Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Article Link

LANDSTUHL, Germany — U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said on Monday that Afghanistan has made some progress, but the country is “tottering” and needs more troops to finish off Taliban and al-Qaida forces.

Clinton, D-N.Y., was in Germany on Monday with Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and U.S. Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y., after traveling to Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan over the weekend.

The congressional delegation met with wounded servicemembers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Base before heading back to the United States.

“I’m encouraged by the progress in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is tottering,” Clinton said. “We’ve got to get more support there to make sure we try to finish off the Taliban and al-Qaida that are regrouping, coming across the border. We expect a big spring offensive.”
More on link

US Warns of Spring Taliban Offensive in Afghanistan
Josh Pringle Monday, January 15, 2007
Article Link

The US military is warning Taliban militants will be going after the "Holy Grail" in Afghanistan this spring.

American commanders in Afghanistan and the Pentagon say Kandahar will be the central objective of an anticipated spring offensive by militants.

But the senior Canadian commander in Afghanistan doesn't believe the province of Kandahar will see the brunt of a spring offensive if one materializes.

Brig.-Gen. Tim Grant admits Canadian and NATO officials haven't seen the end of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan.

Last fall, Canadian troops led a major offensive to break the back of militant strength in the farmland west of Kandadar.

Grant says the success of Operation Medusa "dealt some severe blows to the senior leadership of the Taliban in this province, so from that standpoint it will take them some time to recuperate."
More on link

Pakistan air raid on 'militants'
Article Link

The Pakistani army says it has carried out air strikes on camps used by militants in the tribal area of South Waziristan near the Afghanistan border.
Army spokesman Maj Gen Shaukat Sultan said most of the 25-30 militants in the camps had been killed.

The army had used combat helicopters to attack the camps in the Zamzola area in South Waziristan, he said.

Much of the border region is outside government control and is believed to be a base for al-Qaeda and its leaders.


The army carried out the operation in South Waziristan early on Tuesday after receiving information that militants were hiding in five mud-walled compounds, Maj Gen Sultan said.

"We believe most of them were killed, but we don't have a body count," he said.

He said the militants included some foreigners, but "no high-value target was believed to be there".

Eyewitnesses say 10 bodies have been dug up so far. Three of them have been identified as local Mahsud tribesmen.

At least six other bodies have been identified as those of Afghan nationals, administration officials in South Waziristan say.

Other bodies are unidentifiable as they have been so badly mutilated in the attack.

Witnesses say that between eight to 10 people appear to have survived the attack with injuries, but no other details are available at the moment.
More on link

Afghanistan: Aid for Stepped Up Displaced Families
Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 3:29 pm Press Release: United Nations  
Article Link

Afghanistan: UN Agencies Step Up Aid for 15,000 Families Displaced by Fighting in South
New York, Jan 15 2007 6:00PM

United Nations agencies have launched a month long emergency operation to provide humanitarian aid to more than 15,000 Afghan families displaced by the insurgency in Kandahar province.

“We are glad to report that this operation is currently running smoothly and there have been no security or weather concerns so far,” UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) spokesman Aleem Siddique told a news briefing in Kabul, the capital, today.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing nearly 1,500 tons of mixed foods including wheat, rice, cooking oil and pulses, while the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the intergovernmental International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are providing 4,000 blankets, 2,000 plastic sheets, and 2,000 family kits with cooking stoves, kerosene lamps and other cooking utensils.
More on link

Soldier dies in Afghanistan in attack on insurgent base
By Emily Beament, PA Published: 16 January 2007
Article Link

A Royal Marine was killed today during a mission to oust Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said.

The serviceman, from 45 Commando Royal Marines, died during an operation targeting known Taliban positions and firing points near Garmsir in Helmand province, the MoD said.

Nato officials said soldiers were attacking a militant base when they were "engaged from several insurgent positions".

He is the second British serviceman to die in the country in the past three days, after 21-year-old Royal Marine Thomas Curry, from east London, was killed during a battle to clear Taliban positions on Saturday.

Commander of the UK Task Force in Afghanistan Brigadier Jerry Thomas said the latest death occurred during a "substantial" and "important" operation, and that his thoughts were with the serviceman's family.

"Sadly, one of our marines was killed during an important operation in southern Helmand.
More on link

Blood in the Snow: The Taliban’s ‘Winter Offensive’
Afgha.com By Matt DuPee and Haroon Azizpour
Article Link

The infamous Afghan winter has long served as the logical pausing point in country-wide conflict ever since warfare first graced this mighty mountainous nation.

Incredible snowstorms sometimes dump 11 feet of fresh snow on mountain passes making them impractical to forge without camel trains and infallible mountain winds coupled with subzero temperatures make flying aircraft over the mountain passes unbelievably treacherous. These attributes plagued both sides in the Soviet/Afghan war and during the current ‘War on Terrorism’ conflict.

On the indigenous Afghan fighting side, the harsh winters typically slowed the pace and intensity of combat and allowed volunteer fighters to return home for a few months while others sought refuge in milder areas of Pakistan. Still, some stuck it out in the mountains and barely made it by.

Since the US invasion in October of 2001, this tradition largely remained in tact, sending fighters back over the border into Pakistan to focus on strategy and recruitment efforts. This year’s momentous ‘spring offensive’ has delivered a typhoon of violence across the entire southern and eastern areas of the country; making it the deadliest year since the Taliban's ouster.

The momentum of violence caught NATO by surprise and left British positions besieged for most of the summer. Once again Afghanistan captured international headlines. The Taliban successfully exploited the fissures in the fragile NATO alliance by instituting an Iraqi-inspired wave of suicide attacks. One of the most dreaded and hardest attacks to thwart, the Taliban has struck at least 97 times this year alone with suicide bombings. Countries like Germany, Italy and Spain whose troops are positioned in relatively calm sectors in western and northern Afghanistan have blatantly refused to commit their troops to such violence plagued areas in the south.
More on link


Fallen Comrade
Fallen Comrade
Reaction score
Ending an Opium War: Poppies and Afghan Recovery Can Both Bloom
Washington Post, Jan. 16, by Anne Applebaum

...NATO is fighting a war to eradicate opium from Afghanistan. Allegedly, the goals this time around are different. According to the British government, Afghanistan's illicit drug trade poses the "gravest threat to the long term security, development, and effective governance of Afghanistan," particularly since the Taliban is believed to be the biggest beneficiary of drug sales. Convinced that this time they are doing the morally right thing, Western governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars bulldozing poppy fields, building up counternarcotics squads and financing alternative crops in Afghanistan. Chemical spraying may begin as early as this spring...

...At the moment, Afghanistan's opium exports account for somewhere between one-third and two-thirds of the country's gross domestic product, depending on whose statistics you believe. The biggest producers are in the southern provinces where the Taliban is at its strongest, and no wonder: Every time a poppy field is destroyed, a poor person becomes poorer -- and more likely to support the Taliban against the Western forces who wrecked his crops. Yet little changes: The amount of land dedicated to poppy production grew last year by more than 60 percent, as The Post reported last month...

Yet by far the most depressing aspect of the Afghan poppy crisis is that it exists at all -- because it doesn't have to. To see what I mean, look at the history of Turkey, where once upon a time the drug trade also threatened the country's political and economic stability...

...in 1974 the Turks, with American and U.N. support, tried a different tactic. They began licensing poppy cultivation for the purpose of producing morphine, codeine and other legal opiates. Legal factories were built to replace the illegal ones. Farmers registered to grow poppies, and they paid taxes. You wouldn't necessarily know this from the latest White House drug strategy report-- which devotes several pages to Afghanistan but doesn't mention Turkey -- but the U.S. government still supports the Turkish program, even requiring U.S. drug companies to purchase 80 percent of what the legal documents euphemistically refer to as "narcotic raw materials" from the two traditional producers, Turkey and India.

Why not add Afghanistan to this list? The only good arguments against doing so -- as opposed to the silly, politically correct "just say no" arguments -- are technical: that the same weak or nonexistent bureaucracy will be no better at licensing poppy fields than it has been at destroying them, or that some of the raw material will still fall into the hands of the drug cartels. Yet some of these issues can be resolved, by building processing factories at the local level and working within local power structures. And even if the program succeeds in stopping only half of the drug trade, a huge chunk of Afghanistan's economy will still emerge from the gray market; the power of the drug barons will be reduced; and, most important, Western money will have been visibly spent helping Afghan farmers survive, instead of destroying their livelihoods...


Colin Parkinson

Army.ca Myth
Reaction score
Top Taleban spokesman 'arrested'
Afghan intelligence agents say they have arrested a leading spokesman for the Taleban near the Pakistan border.
Intelligence service spokesman Sayed Ansari named him as Dr Muhammad Hanif, who has been speaking for Afghanistan's former rulers since October 2005.

Mr Ansari told the Associated Press the spokesman had been detained on Monday. He did not say where he is being held.

Dr Hanif's capture, if confirmed, would be a notable success for the Afghan government as it battles the Taleban.

The authorities say more than 3,500 people were killed in Afghanistan in 2006 as bombings by the Taleban and their allies and operations by Nato-led troops soared.


Mr Ansari said Dr Hanif had been detained in the border town of Towr Kham in Nangarhar province soon after entering Afghanistan from Pakistan.

Two others travelling with him were also apprehended.

The spokesman first gave his name as Abdulhaq Haqiq, Mr Ansari said.

"But during the investigations we discovered that he is Dr Hanif," he told AP. "He also confessed to it himself."

Dr Hanif has been highly active over the past year, regularly e-mailing news organisations with the Taleban's versions of events in the east of the country.

A man called Qari Mohammad Yousuf has performed similar functions for the Taleban in the south.

The two men were appointed after the capture in Quetta, Pakistan, of former Taleban spokesman Latifullah Hakimi in October 2005.

Story from BBC NEWS:


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score

KABUL, Afghanistan - The top U.S. commander in
Afghanistan said Tuesday he wants to extend the combat tours of 1,200 soldiers amid rising violence, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he was "strongly inclined" to recommend a troop increase to
President Bush if commanders believe it is needed.

Gates also said Pakistan must act to stem an increasing flow of Taliban fighters into Afghanistan as U.S. military officials cited new evidence that the Pakistani military, which has long-standing ties to the Taliban movement, has turned a blind eye to the incursions.

The prospect of a troop increase in Afghanistan, at the same time Bush is ordering 21,500 more troops into
Iraq, raises new questions about the military's ability to sustain its war-fighting on two major fronts. There now are about 24,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the senior American commander here, said is the highest since the war began in October 2001.

It also raises questions about the future course of the war in Afghanistan, which the United States is increasingly handing off to
NATO forces. Of the 31,000 troops here under NATO command, about 11,000 are American. The United States has an additional 12,000 or 13,000 to hunt down al-Qaida terrorists and to train the Afghan army.

The number of insurgent attacks is up by 300 percent since September, when the Pakistani government put into effect a peace arrangement with tribal leaders in the north Waziristan area, along Afghanistan's eastern border, a U.S. military intelligence officer told reporters traveling with Gates. The officer discussed the matter on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Eikenberry told reporters he has recommended to the
Pentagon that 1,200 soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division — which is about halfway through a scheduled four-month tour in eastern Afghanistan — be ordered to stay through the end of the year.

That battalion is already scheduled to deploy to Iraq later this year, an illustration of how stretched U.S. forces are by the two wars.

Eikenberry, who is due to leave his post on Jan. 21, said it appears the Taliban is readying a spring offensive to focus mainly in areas of southern Afghanistan, particularly in the city of Kandahar and other urban centers. He also said he believed the Taliban would make renewed efforts to "get inside Kabul" and to attack border posts held by NATO and Afghan national forces.

He asserted that despite the Taliban's resurgence, "The enemy is not strong militarily. A lot of this has to do with the attempt to get psychological effects" — to persuade ordinary Afghans that the U.S.-backed government cannot deliver necessary services.

"Although it's going to be a violent spring and I would expect that we're going to have more violence into the summer, I'm absolutely confident that we're going to be able to dominate," Eikenberry said.

On his second overseas trip since taking over at the Pentagon last month, Gates was briefed on the problem of cross-border incursions by the Taliban and their use of havens in Pakistan to direct growing numbers of attacks across the border.

"The border area is a problem," Gates told a news conference after meeting with President Hamid Karzai. "There are more attacks coming across the border, (and) there are al-Qaida networks operating on the Pakistani side of the border. And these are issues that we clearly will have to pursue with the Pakistani government."

Karzai acknowledged the upswing in Taliban attacks and vowed to deal them a heavy blow in the months ahead.

The U.S. intelligence officer disclosed for the first time full-year statistics on insurgent attacks in Afghanistan. Suicide attacks in 2006 totaled 139, up from 27 in 2005, and the number of attacks with roadside bombs more than doubled, from 783 in 2005 to 1,677 last year. The number of what the military calls "direct attacks," meaning attacks by insurgents using small arms, grenades and other weapons, surged from 1,558 in 2005 to 4,542 last year.

The officer noted that some of the increase can be explained by the fact that U.S., NATO and Afghan forces conducted more offensive operations in more areas last year, but the officer said the insurgents also have begun to launch more sophisticated — and in some case, more coordinated — attacks.

The intelligence officer said U.S. forces have collected firsthand evidence of Taliban fighters crossing the border unimpeded virtually within shouting distance of a Pakistani-controlled border post that American forces call Red Castle.

U.S. troops at a nearby post known as Forward Operating Base Tillman contacted the Pakistanis at Red Castle numerous times to alert them to the Taliban moving on foot and to request they be stopped, but the Pakistanis did not act, two military intelligence officers said.

Such situations are common, one of the intelligence officers said.

On a cold but mostly sunny afternoon, Gates flew by Black Hawk helicopter to the Tillman outpost, named for Pat Tillman, the Army Ranger and former pro football player who was killed by U.S. gunfire in a battle near the outpost in April 2004. An Army investigation concluded that U.S. soldiers shot Tillman after mistaking him for the enemy.

Gates, dressed in a brown bomber jacket and tan slacks, shook hands with some of the 160 U.S. soldiers stationed at Tillman, which rests between a series of 6,000-foot mountain ridges. On the ground for only about 20 minutes, Gates was shown the view eastward, across the border, and then he climbed back into his chopper and flew to Kabul.


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 17 January, 2007

NATO: Taliban commander captured
POSTED: 0629 GMT (1429 HKT), January 17, 2007
Article Link

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Afghan troops and NATO forces captured a "prominent" Taliban commander in an overnight raid in eastern Afghanistan, NATO said Wednesday.

The Afghan National Police wanted to question the man "in relation to a large number of criminal acts," according to the statement released by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The operation took place in the Gereshk district of Helmand province.

"This seizure of a Taliban commander once again shows that there is nowhere to hide for insurgent leaders," said Regional Command-South Squadron Leader Dave Marsh. "Despite trying to hide within the community, he has been arrested without resistance."

The Associated Press further reported that the commander, whom NATO did not name, is the first Taliban leader captured by NATO-led and Afghan troops, and is wanted for questioning by Afghan security forces, NATO said in a statement. He managed to flee the latest offensive operation by Afghan and foreign security forces in the south, NATO said.

The operation came a day after Afghan agents arrested Mohammad Hanif, a purported militant spokesman, as he crossed through a border checkpoint from Pakistan.

Hanif, one of two spokesmen who often contacts journalists on behalf of the militia, was arrested at the border town of Torkham on Monday, said Sayed Ansari, the spokesman for Afghanistan's intelligence service. Two people traveling with him were also detained, he said.
More on link

17 January 2007 By James Lyons
Article Link

Scots-based soldier died a hero

A HERO Marine died leading a fearless assault on fanatics in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Mathew Ford, 30, showed "complete disregard for his own safety" as he took on the Taliban, commanders said.

He was involved in a major operation along with comrades from Arbroath-based 45 Commando.

His company stormed a terrorist fort near the frontier town of Garmsir in the lawless Helmand province.

They crossed a river under heavy fire in Viking armoured carriers before breaking into the walled compound.

There, the Marines were involved in furious close-quarters fighting.

Defence chiefs said Mathew "led his section with complete disregard for his own safety and was closing with the enemy when he was shot".

Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Dewar said Mathew - who lived in Dundee with his fiancee Ina - was a "popular and gregarious young Royal Marine".

He added: "Professionalism, reliability, selflessness and his sharp wit marked him out from the crowd.
More on link

British troops stage daring helicopter rescue in Afghanistan   
London, Jan 17
Article Link

Four British soldiers in Afghanistan strapped themselves to the wings of fast-moving apache attack helicopters in a daring attempt to rescue a comrade shot by the Taliban, the Defence Ministry said Wednesday.

"This is believed to be the first time UK forces have ever tried this type of rescue mission ... It was an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery of our airmen, soldiers and marines who were all prepared to put themselves back into the line of fire to rescue a fallen comrade," said UK task force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce.

Royal Marine lance corporal Matthew Ford, 30, was shot yesterday when more than 200 British troops attacked the Islamist militia's Jugroom Fort in southern Helmand province.

When Ford was discovered to be missing, the marines first planned a rescue attempt with armoured personnel carriers, but when the apaches became available they decided the fast attack helicopters provided the best opportunity to rescue him.

But the helicopters can only carry a pilot and a gunner, although according to The Guardian newspaper there are attachments on the wings that soldiers can harness themselves to in emergencies.

Two troops each were strapped to the wings of two apache helicopters, with a third apache and several ground units providing covering fire.

After landing at the site of the earlier battle, the four soldiers found Ford dead, but were able to recover his body.
More on link

Blair signals UK will send more troops to Afghanistan
MICHAEL SETTLE, Chief UK Political Correspondent January 17 2007
Article Link

The prospect of more British troops being sent to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan was signalled by Tony Blair yesterday.

The move followed an exclusive report in The Herald in which it was revealed that during a private meeting in No 10 on Sunday, Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, asked the Prime Minister for additional British forces to keep up the military momentum against the insurgents.

While Downing St had previously refused to comment on what it termed "private discussions", Mr Blair, in response to the reports about the request, said: "In respect of Afghanistan, it depends on what our military are saying to us. We take the decisions basically about the resource . . . but in terms of what is necessary to do the job in terms of force generation we very much take advice from the people on the ground, so it depends on what they come forward to us with."

He added at his monthly press conference: "It is very important that the Taliban are defeated. One of the reasons why these fights have been going on in past two days is precisely to degrade Taliban capability and are forces are doing a very good job."

Military sources have suggested that the US request could result in as many as 1000 extra British troops being sent to Afghanistan. If it happens, then it will put further pressure on a stretched - some say overstretched - army, which is already struggling to cope with a rolling deployment of 5800 soldiers to Afghanistan and 7100 to Iraq every six months.

The Americans have 20,000 troops in Afghanistan and are about to take command of all Nato forces, including the British, next month. The Pentagon is keen to reduce its commitment there to create reserves for Iraq.
More on link

British Occupation Soldier, 13 Taliban Resistance Fighters Killed in Southern Afghanistan
By AMIR SHAH Associated Press Writer Jan 16, 2007, 2:28 PM EST KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) --
Article Link

AP Headline: Purported Taliban Spokesman Arrested

Afghan intelligence agents arrested a purported Taliban spokesman after he crossed into the country from Pakistan, an agency official said Tuesday. Dr. Muhammad Hanif, who often contacted the news media claiming to speak for the hard-line militia, was arrested at the border town of Torkham on Monday, said Sayed Ansari, the spokesman for Afghanistan's intelligence service. Two people traveling with him were also detained.

NATO-led occupation forces, meanwhile, thwarted a bombing Tuesday at their base in Kabul after a man with an explosive-laden car tried to enter, an alliance spokeswoman said.

The bomber was arrested and NATO occupation forces ordnance experts destroyed the vehicle outside the base, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of alliance rules.
More on link

Pakistan army targets al-Qaida in Afghanistan
By Munir Ahmad, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, January 16, 2007 1:10 PM PST
Article Link

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - Pakistan's army destroyed suspected al-Qaida hideouts in an airstrike near the Afghan border today, killing 10 people, officials said.

The army and a senior local official said the dead were militants, and included some foreigners, but a resident said the slain men were Afghan laborers.

The raid in South Waziristan came days after the U.S. intelligence chief said leaders of both al-Qaida and Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban militia were finding shelter in Pakistan's lawless frontier areas.
More on link

Afghan Army Making Tremendous Progress; Police Trail
By Jim Garamone American Forces Press Service
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 16, 2007 – The Afghan National Army is making tremendous progress and is a factor on the battlefield, officials here said today. Progress has been slower for the country's national police, however.
Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan, said that the progress of the army is truly impressive, particularly given the status of Afghanistan when officials began forming this force in 2002.

Afghanistan had a 20 percent literacy rate, and the country had limited infrastructure and no political structures or army.

“I was here in 2002-2003 when we began this process,” Eikenberry said. “I used the expression in 2003 that we, the United States, wanted the Afghan army more than the Afghans did. I came back in 2005, and I was using the expression that we wanted the army about as much as the Afghans did.

“Now I will firmly tell you in 2007 that the Afghans want this army more than we do,” he continued. “And that’s the critical metric. We can help train and army, we can help equip an army, we can help build facilities for the army, but only the Afghan people can breathe a soul into that army.”

The Afghan soldiers are resilient, and they believe in themselves, Eikenberry said. The soldiers believe in Afghanistan and realize they are working for their future.
More on link


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 19 January, 2007

O'Connor gives troops an emotional send-off
Updated Fri. Jan. 19 2007 7:42 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff
Article Link

Hundreds of soldiers and their families gathered at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown on Friday, for a patriotic pep rally that celebrated the military and its mission in Afghanistan before the troops depart for six months.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Canada's military leaders were on hand at the New Brunswick base to give the latest wave of troops headed for Afghanistan an emotional send-off.

O'Connor gave the crowd an rousing speech, saying the government is supporting the Afghan mission and that they are serving the needs of the people in that country.

"You are there so that women are not restricted to their homes, often without any means of support, so that public floggings and beheadings are not used to keep everybody in line. You are there because Afghans want a different future," he said.

The defence minister said the government has yet to decide whether Canada's contribution into the mission in Afghanistan will be extended beyond 2009.

"It depends on how much success we determine we've had there, whether there are other missions to do and the state of the Armed Forces,'' O'Connor said.

"We have to look at a whole lot of factors.''

O'Connor said that by 2009, the Afghan war will have cost Canada close to $4 billion.

But he dismissed claims the expenditure is emptying the military's coffers so that it cannot afford other commitments.
More on link

Afghanistan troop level at its limit: Gauthier
Updated Fri. Jan. 19 2007 9:49 AM ET CTV.ca News Staff
Article Link

Canada is likely to continue to boost its military commitment in southern Afghanistan over the coming months, but will not be increasing troop numbers, said Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier.

Gauthier, who leads the Ottawa-based Canadian Expeditionary Force, said it's possible that more equipment will be sent over, such as artillery guns and even aircraft.

But Gauthier, who is wrapping up a two-day visit with Canadian troops in Kandahar, said Canada won't be increasing the number of boots on the ground.

"We're at about the limit of what we can sustain," said the officer, who reports to Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier.

The news comes amid indications from U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates that the U.S. may add to the 24,000 American troops already stationed in Afghanistan.

"I think it is important that we not let this success here in Afghanistan slip away from us and that we keep the initiative," Gates told reporters on Wednesday. "There's no reason to sit back and let the Taliban regroup."

Gauthier welcomed the possibility of increased commitments from other NATO members.

"More NATO troops, more Afghan troops, more Afghan National Police, less NATO caveats -- all those things, above all, determine the pace of progress, they don't determine whether we'll win," he said in Kandahar.

Gauthier, who has travelled to Afghanistan on 15 occasions, said he has seen more evidence on this trip, than in all the previous visits, that the mission is progressing.

CTV's Paul Workman, reporting from Kandahar, said Gauthier was impressed with the troops' commitment to the mission, despite the losses they have experienced.

"Now, remember, of course, that the Canadians went through a very, very difficult time during the summer and during the fall, when a lot of soldiers were lost, a lot of soldiers were wounded," Workman told CTV's Canada AM.
More on link

Afghanistan's efforts to boost women falter
By Kim Barker Chicago Tribune Fri, Jan. 19, 2007
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan - Sharifa Hamrah does not go to work much anymore. Her job is just too dangerous, considering the rocket attacks, the threats on her life and the would-be suicide bomber who disguised himself as a woman in an attempt to get to her office.

She is no soldier. She carries no gun. Yet Hamrah, 48, a short woman with a sly smile and a head scarf, has become an unwilling participant in a war, a potential target like the other women who work for the Women's Affairs Ministry in Afghanistan.

"Our problem is we cannot go out," said Hamrah, who is head of women's affairs in troubled southern Paktika province but spends much of her time in Kabul. "We cannot go to the districts. We cannot go to the villages. We cannot talk to village elders. We cannot even talk to women."

The Women's Affairs Ministry, charged with defending women's rights in a country where they have few, cannot cite many accomplishments. It has no executive power. It cannot enforce any laws. But it has increased awareness of the problems women face, with anti-violence campaigns on radio and billboards. And it is now known as a place where women can vent their complaints, which is more than they could do during the harsh regime of the Taliban.

But the ministry, created by the post-Taliban government, is in trouble. The head of women's affairs in Kandahar province, who had criticized the Taliban's treatment of women, was gunned down in front of her home in September. Some women working for the department started staying home. And the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for that attack, is hardly the only threat.

In its last session, the fledgling Afghan parliament discussed dismantling or downgrading the Women's Affairs Ministry, saying it was not effective. The move to get rid of the ministry, along with others deemed unnecessary, failed late last year. But several members of parliament are threatening again to abolish the ministry in the upcoming session.

"It's not a good idea to have a ministry with a gender in the name," said Mohammed Khan, one of the parliament members who voted to get rid of it. "The Women's Affairs Ministry has not done anything so far. It's just for the name. It's nothing else."

After the Taliban regime fell in late 2001, Afghanistan's new government vowed to improve the lives of women. The Taliban forced women to quit their jobs and made them wear all-encompassing burqas when they left home.

But the Taliban was only the harshest embodiment of the oppression of women in Afghanistan. Under earlier regimes, women were considered subservient to men. Girls were forced to marry old men; outside of major cities, women did not work away from home.

Now, women have more freedom, more jobs. In the streets of Kabul, many women have stopped wearing burqas, favoring business jackets, long skirts and head scarves. They work in government offices. More than 25 percent of the parliamentary seats are reserved for women.
More on link

Article Link 

Kabul, 19 Jan. (AKI) - The recent arrest of Taliban spokesman Mohammed Hanif, has led to further revelations about the divisions and differences within the Afghan militant group. According to Afghan security sources, cited in the Saudi newspaper 'al-Watan', after having revealed that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was living in the Pakistani city of Quetta under the protection of the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, Hanif has reportedly also explained the workings within the Taliban.

According to the report, Hanif said that the Taliban is divided into three groups. The first group is made up of former members of the Taliban regime in Kabul who are fighting only to prevent from being caught and are probably not close to Mullah Omar. A second group, Hanif said, is composed of people linked to Islamic extremists in Pakistan and a third group is close to al-Qaeda and is said to be the most agressive and violent.

It is not clear which group is close to Mullah Omar, but it also emerged that in the course of a war within the group, some important leaders or mullahs have been killed.

Hanif also said that Mullah Omar ordered the killing of Mullah Dadallah accused of having indirectly helped the Americans of killing one of his adversaries last month, Mullah Othmani, among the most important military commanders within the Taliban, in the course of an attack in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.

These internal divisions within the Taliban have added to the unprecedented level of violence and will also see a cross-section of revenge attacks being carried out.

Hanif also admitted that the American pressure on the Pakistani government also led to the arrests of various Taliban leaders in the past few months.

Suicide bomber targets NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan, no troops hurt
The Associated PressPublished: January 19, 2007
Article Link

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan: A suicide bomber in a car blew himself up next to a NATO convoy in southern Afghanistan Friday, an official said. No troops were hurt.

The blast occurred north of Tirin Kot, the capital of Uruzgan province, said Mohammad Qasem, the provincial police chief.

The bomber was killed in the explosion, but there were no other casualties, he said.

Four Atlantic Canadian padres off to Afghanistan next month
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
Article Link

It’s an old adage that there are no atheists in foxholes.

Four military padres from Atlantic Canada will get a chance to see whether that’s true when they head to Afghanistan next month. They’ll accompany 1,160 soldiers based in this region who will be part of Canada’s 2,500-member contingent in the devastated country.

"Above all, the chaplain, as the sign of the divine presence, is a comfort for people," Brig.-Gen. Stan Johnstone, chaplain general of the Canadian Forces, said Thursday.

"Sometimes people say that they’re not religious. But the chaplain is above any particular sense of what people might call religious. We are representative of the divine, and people understand us that way."

Forty-four soldiers, including seven Nova Scotians, and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002. The majority of those casualties came last year, and some are now are expecting the Taliban to unleash another bloody campaign this spring in Kandahar, where the Canadians will be stationed.

"There’s a wide range of emotion that people feel on deployments," Brig.-Gen. Johnstone said.

"There’s tremendous stress, there’s a low-grade anxiety, I think, just being in a dangerous place surrounded by people who don’t particularly want you there. And it’s difficult to diffuse that.
More on link

Gates: Success Must Be Sustained in Afghanistan
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press Service
Article Link

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17, 2007 – The U.S. must stay committed to Afghanistan and do what’s necessary to maintain the success that has been achieved there, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in Afghanistan yesterday.
If U.S. commanders on the ground decide they need more troops to sustain that success, Gates said he would make that recommendation to President Bush.

“I’ve been concerned in the short time I’ve been in this position, to ensure that the success that we have had in Afghanistan, together, remain success and not be challenged,” Gates said at a news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “I think it’s important for us to take the initiative in dealing with security threats (and) that we act together on this.”

Gates was in Afghanistan for a three-day trip to meet with commanders on the ground and hear their recommendations as they prepare for a possible Taliban resurgence in the spring.

Gates said his meetings with U.S., NATO and Afghan officials were helpful. He also said he was impressed by the Afghan security forces he met earlier in the day. “The Afghan army is increasingly taking the lead in combat operations, and the force continues to grow in size, strength and confidence,” he said.

The Afghan people have made significant progress in the years since they were under Taliban rule, Gates noted. Women who were once repressed are now serving in the parliament, helping decide the country’s future, and 80 percent of the Afghan people have access to health care. He said he is confident that the U.S., NATO and the Afghan people working together will continue to make progress.

“We are helping rebuild a country and a society with roots stretching back to the beginning of human history,” he said. “The United States, members of NATO and other allies, and the Afghan people understand the importance of success here in Afghanistan. We have had much success; we must build on that and make it enduring.”

Speaking at the news conference, Karzai said that U.S. and Afghan forces will be ready to deal with any potential Taliban resurgence in the spring
More on link

More evidence of Taliban leader hiding in Pakistan
January 19, 2007 edition
Article Link

A captured spokesman says Pakistan is harboring Mullah Omar, stirring international uproar.
By David Montero | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Mullah Muhammed Omar, the Taliban's one-eyed leader, eluded capture when American bombs ended his fundamentalist regime in Afghanistan in 2001. But a new report of his location is stirring an international uproar.

A captured Taliban spokesman says Mr. Omar is hiding in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan's Balochistan Province, under the protection of Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
More on link

Seven killed in Afghanistan, 20 Taliban arrested
Article Link

KABUL: At least seven people were killed in separate incidents in Afghanistan on Thursday.

An Afghan district governor survived an assassination attempt blamed on Taliban insurgents on Thursday, while a suicide attacker blew himself up near an army patrol, killing a soldier, officials said. A bomb ripped through a vehicle carrying a district chief in the eastern province of Nangarhar, police said. Gunmen opened fire on the vehicle just after the blast. Mohammad Ali, the chief of Kama district, and his driver were wounded, provincial police spokesman Ghafoor Khan said. He blamed the attack on the Taliban.

A man claiming to be a Taliban commander told police by telephone that the group was responsible. Meanwhile, a suicide attacker walked up to Afghan soldiers on foot patrol in the capital of the southeastern province of Paktika and blew himself up, provincial governor Mohammad Akram Khepelwak said. “One soldier was martyred and three other soldiers and two civilians were wounded in the suicide blast,” he said.
More on link

Bush picks new ambassador to Afghanistan
Thu Jan 18, 2007 6:39pm ET
Article Link

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Thursday nominated William Wood to be ambassador to Afghanistan, the latest in a shuffle of top diplomats in a region the United States considers central to fighting terrorism.

Wood, currently ambassador to Colombia, was chosen to replace Ronald Neumann in Afghanistan where U.S. forces are fighting the Taliban and hunting for al Qaeda leaders.

Neumann was leaving the post he has held since July 2005 as part of the changes Bush is making in his foreign policy team heading into his last two years in office.

"They just want to make sure they have got a team in place now that can go through the rest of the term and I don't think anyone would expect someone to serve four plus years in Afghanistan," said an U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
More on link

Appoint US envoy to resolve Pakistan, Afghanistan issues, says Hillary
Article Link

WASHINGTON: Senator Hillary Clinton has called for the appointment of a high-level US envoy to help address “difficulties” between US allies Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent the resurgence of Taliban militants along the border.

The Democrat senator, who is considering running for president in 2008 elections, was addressing a news conference with Senator Evan Bayh and Representative John McHugh at Capitol Hill upon the delegation’s return from a four-day visit to the region.

Hillary said she discussed the idea of a high-level US envoy on a permanent basis with both President Pervez Musharraf and President Hamid Karzai during meetings with them.

She said that on her return to Washington she spoke with National Security Adviser Steve Hadley to urge that President George Bush consider such a high-level presidential envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
More on link

Troop surge, and more, needed to save Afghanistan
Thu Jan 18, 8:22 AM ET
Article Link

What's the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan? The answer, unfortunately, is: less and less.

The post-9/11 successes in Afghanistan - toppling the Taliban regime that harbored        Osama bin Laden, holding elections, setting up a pro-U.S. government, getting girls back to school - are unraveling.

The Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies are making a ferocious comeback, operating from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area. Violence escalated sharply last year. The Taliban militia is adopting tactics, including suicide attacks and roadside bombings, used by Iraqi insurgents.

With the conflict in Iraq continuing to dominate the news and policymakers' time, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan requires urgent attention before an expected spring offensive by the Taliban.

New Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a trip to Afghanistan this week, said he may ask for extra forces to shore up the 24,000 U.S. troops already there. Sen.        Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., just back from the region on Wednesday, endorsed sending more troops.        NATO, which has more than 20,000 peacekeeping forces in the country, has increasingly been involved in combat and is also considering adding troops.

More troops would help, but Afghanistan, like Iraq, can't be won through military force alone. It will also require skillful diplomacy and the winning of people's hearts and minds.

Afghanistan expert Barnett Rubin, in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs, describes corrupt officials and police, high unemployment, a lack of electricity and rising crime rates that are pushing many poor Afghans into the arms of the extremists. Attacks by U.S. and NATO forces on suspected insurgents often kill innocent Afghans or destroy their property, stirring resentment. The picture is further complicated by a booming opium trade that farmers rely on, and that helps fund corrupt officials and the Taliban.
More on link


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score

82nd heads to Afghanistan starting Saturday
Staff report
Posted : Friday Jan 19, 2007 13:15:34 EST

About 5,000 paratroopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, will deploy Saturday for Afghanistan from their home at Fort Bragg, N.C.

According to an Army press release, the paratroopers deploying are part of a task force that also includes the division’s headquarters, combat aviation brigade and special troops battalion.

The 4th BCT is the newest addition to the 82nd and began standing up in January 2006 as part of the Army’s modular transformation.

The scheduled rotation is expected to last one year.

The 10th Mountain Division, which has comprised the bulk of Combined Joint Task Force 76 for the past year, has begun returning to its home at Fort Drum, N.Y., but it’s unclear if the 82nd is intended as its replacement.

The South Carolina Army National Guard’s 218th Enhanced Separate Brigade will be deploying in April as the latest rotation of Task Force Phoenix outside Kabul. The task force will have about 5,000 soldiers, with 1,500 from South Carolina.


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 20 January, 2007

Five NATO soldiers injured in Afghanistan O-ACCIDENT
Kuwait New Agency Link

KABUL, Jan 20 (KUNA) -- Five NATO soldiers have been wounded in a car bomb attack followed by firing from Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan, NATO and local officials said on Saturday.

NATO spokesman in Afghanistan's southern region Dave Marsh said the NATO convoy came under attack in the Tirinkot City of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province Friday afternoon.

He said the injured soldiers were rushed to an ISAF medical facility and their condition was stated to be moderate.

Police chief of the province Mohammad Qasim, in a statement to KUNA, confirmed the blast but said he did not know about the casualties. A resident of the area and eyewitness Rahimullah said the bomber rammed his Surf Jeep into the NATO convoy. He said the area was surrounded by foreign troops soon after the explosion and no one was allowed to go near to the site. He said they saw smoke rising from the area but would not say about the number of dead or injured. Meanwhile, a bomb explosion at a goods trailer in Afghanistan's Kandahar province caused huge inferno which resulted in burning of three trucks along with the goods loaded on it. Rahmatullah Raufi, a military official in Kandahar, told journalists the blast took place close to the Kandahar airfield, which is used by the NATO troops as its headquarters. Logistic goods were loaded on the three burned vehicles, he said, adding it was brought from the neighbouring Pakistan for the foreign troops. He said the explosives were fitted on one of the vehicle. There are no reports about casualties in the blast.(end) gk.

Canadian 'Prince of Panjwaii' helps local Afghans
Updated Fri. Jan. 19 2007 11:31 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff
Article Link

Warrant Officer Dean Henley could be the most popular man in southern Afghanistan, thanks to a silver suitcase that has earned him the nickname "Prince of Panjwaii."

The suitcase is packed with money for locals, who are paid $5 a day to clean schoolyards, or dig out ditches and canals.

Officials have employed about 500 so far.

"I think almost everybody knows who I am, they give me big smiles and waves," Henley told CTV News. "Everybody calls me Dean."

While five dollars a day isn't much, for many it makes a difference about what their families can eat for a week.

The idea is to give Afghans just enough money that they won't become dependant on the Canadians for work.

On one occasion, Henley passed 3,000 Afghani bills to a local supervisor for 10 days of labour.

The supervisor then handed over a share to a peasant named Safula, who gladly took it in his rough hands.

"People are really poor here," Safula said. "We got hurt a lot by the bombing so we need more work."

Henley, a reserve soldier, works as a school teacher in Canada. He's in Afghanistan for half a year, but says he'll stay longer if he's needed.

"I gave up six months of my life to come here," he said.

"I lost friends in the fighting. I think we're doing a really good job."

Meanwhile, Canadian troops are trying to get funding from NATO to repair a dilapidated school near Kandahar Airfield.
More on link

Afghan suspected in killing is again locked up
GRAEME SMITH Globe and Mail
Article Link

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — A suspect in the death of a Canadian diplomat is back in Afghan custody after escaping police scrutiny for almost a year, in a case that illuminates the difficult struggle to bring the rule of law to a feudal land.

Pir Mohammed was first arrested about a year ago, when police traced him as the last documented owner of a minivan that exploded in Kandahar city on Jan. 15, 2006. The attack killed Glyn Berry, political director of the provincial reconstruction team, and was a shocking introduction for Canadians to the violence to come as the military geared up its mission in the volatile south. Since then, 44 Canadian soldiers have died fighting the Taliban.

Mr. Mohammed, who walked out of jail less than two days after his initial arrest after calling in favours with influential members of his tribe, was taken into custody again last month after being stopped at a checkpoint in Kandahar city. His vehicle — a black Toyota Surf, with plate number 599 — was listed as a potential bomb threat in a bulletin from Afghan intelligence.

“When we caught him again, we thought, maybe now we can investigate him properly,” said Captain Sher Ali Farhad, the Afghan National Police officer who led the initial criminal investigation of Mr. Mohammed. “We thought maybe now the police are strong.”
More on link

Bomb wounds 5 Nato soldiers in Afghanistan
January 20 2007 at 12:30PM 
Article Link

Kandahar - A car bomb exploded near a Nato convoy in a volatile area of southern Afghanistan, wounding five soldiers, a spokesperson for Nato's International Security Assistance Force said on Saturday.

Squadron Leader David Marsh said the Taliban rebels also opened fire on their convoy in the Uruzgan province shortly after Friday's bomb attack.

He did not give the names or nationalities of the wounded soldiers, and only said they were being treated at a Nato-run hospital in Kandahar.

The soldiers from ISAF were on a routine patrol when the attack happened, he said, adding that they then called for air assistance.

ISAF helicopter gunships bombed the enemy position, Marsh said.

However, Marsh said ISAF was still checking if the rebels had sustained any damage.
More on link

Aid failures are killing UK soldiers in Afghanistan, think tank claims
Article Link

BRITISH troops are dying in Afghanistan because the government's aid department is failing to get food to the poor in the southern provinces, an international security and development think tank claims.

Angry Afghans are turning to the Taleban for support, said the Senlis Council, a French think tank which has staff in the volatile Helmand province.

Its founder told The Scotsman it spent its research budget on food after it found thousands starving in refugee camps and in the province's hospital.

Norine MacDonald said: "The international community has abandoned its military and it is abandoning the people of Afghanistan."

The United States plans to strengthen its poppy eradication programme by spraying large swathes of the countryside, but Senlis warned that stamping out the livelihood of farmers will fuel further violence.

Ms MacDonald's accusations raise questions about how the Department for International Development (DfID) has spent £390 million in Afghanistan.

Ms MacDonald said the Taleban was winning the battle for hearts and minds in southern Afghanistan where the British and Canadian governments and their development agencies had "abandoned their troops".
More on link

French troops to stay in Tajikistan until Afghanistan stable: deputy FM
January 20, 2007         
Article Link

A senior Tajik official said on Friday that the French troops will stay in the country until stability is restored in neighbouring Afghanistan, according to reports from the Tajik capital Dushanbe.

Saimumin Yatimov, Tajikistan's first deputy foreign minister, said that the French troops could keep on using the airport of Dushanbe, and the length of their deployment will depend on the stability of Afghanistan.

France has deployed an air force contingent in Tajikistan since 2001 to back the NATO-led operations in Afghanistan. The Central Asian country currently hosts about 350 French troops and several aircrafts, including four French Mirage fighter jets.

Last December, France agreed to give Tajikistan 24 million euros to help renovate the Dushanbe airport.

Source: Xinhua

O'Connor gives troops an emotional send-off
Updated Fri. Jan. 19 2007 7:42 PM ET CTV.ca News Staff
Article Link

Hundreds of soldiers and their families gathered at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown on Friday, for a patriotic pep rally that celebrated the military and its mission in Afghanistan before the troops depart for six months.

Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor and Canada's military leaders were on hand at the New Brunswick base to give the latest wave of troops headed for Afghanistan an emotional send-off.

O'Connor gave the crowd an rousing speech, saying the government is supporting the Afghan mission and that they are serving the needs of the people in that country.

"You are there so that women are not restricted to their homes, often without any means of support, so that public floggings and beheadings are not used to keep everybody in line. You are there because Afghans want a different future," he said.

The defence minister said the government has yet to decide whether Canada's contribution into the mission in Afghanistan will be extended beyond 2009.

"It depends on how much success we determine we've had there, whether there are other missions to do and the state of the Armed Forces,'' O'Connor said.

"We have to look at a whole lot of factors.''

O'Connor said that by 2009, the Afghan war will have cost Canada close to $4 billion.

But he dismissed claims the expenditure is emptying the military's coffers so that it cannot afford other commitments.
More on link

William Wood new US envoy to Afghanistan
Article Link

WASHINGTON: President George Bush on Thursday nominated William Wood to be ambassador to Afghanistan, the latest in a shuffle of top diplomats in a region the US considers central to fighting terrorism.

Wood, currently ambassador to Colombia, was chosen to replace Ronald Neumann in Afghanistan. Neumann was leaving the post he has held since July 2005 as part of the changes Bush is making in his foreign policy team heading into his last two years in office. reuters

Lowry: The good war: A double standard for Afghanistan
By Rich Lowry  Article Last Updated: 01/19/2007 08:05:22 PM MST
Article Link

If a weak, sectarian-tinged government is struggling to maintain itself in the midst of an intensifying insurgency, Democrats are eager to help. So long as that government is in Kabul instead of Baghdad.
    Democrats consider Afghanistan the good counterinsurgency, never mind that the Afghan war is almost a replica, albeit on a smaller scale, of the Iraq war. One can believe that the Iraq war is lost and the Afghan war is still winnable, and want to proceed on that basis. But some Democrats appear to think that, politically, they have to be in favor of at least one of America's counterinsurgencies, and so they pick Afghanistan.
    Hillary Clinton just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan that was a transparent excuse to recalibrate her position on the Iraq war. She came out in favor of a cap of U.S. troops in Iraq, but for 2,300 more troops in Afghanistan because ''commanders expressed their concern that there would not be enough U.S. troops to conduct all necessary counterinsurgency operations.'' The troop surge in Iraq is meant to address exactly the same concern, since counterinsurgency operations there are just as necessary, indeed urgent.
    Clinton says that in contrast to Iraq, in Afghanistan we are ''fighting the enemy that brought us September 11.'' That would have been a reason to oppose the Iraq war at its inception (Sen. Clinton voted for it), but can't be a reason to oppose fighting it now since
al-Qaida is there on the ground. Does Clinton believe that we should fight al-Qaida everywhere except inside the borders of Iraq, and doesn't that constitute the kind of safe haven we are fighting to prevent in Afghanistan?
    The costs of the Iraq war, of course, are much higher. Roughly 10 times as many American troops have died in Iraq as in Afghanistan. But the stakes in Iraq are much higher, too. It is a more strategically central country, sitting atop perhaps the world's second-largest oil reserves. In Iraq, we are fighting not only to beat back al-Qaida, but the radical regime in Iran, whose ambition is to be the nuclear-armed hegemon of the Middle East.
More on link

This post was written by shantanudutta on 19 January, 2007 (20:22) |
Article Link

The recent arrest of Taliban spokesman Mohammed Hanif, has led to further revelations about the divisions and differences within the Afghan militant group. According to Afghan security sources, cited in the Saudi newspaper ‘al-Watan’, after having revealed that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar was living in the Pakistani city of Quetta under the protection of the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, Hanif has reportedly also explained the workings within the Taliban.
According to the report, Hanif said that the Taliban is divided into three groups. The first group is made up of former members of the Taliban regime in Kabul who are fighting only to prevent from being caught and are probably not close to Mullah Omar. A second group, Hanif said, is composed of people linked to Islamic extremists in Pakistan and a third group is close to al-Qaeda and is said to be the most agressive and violent.
It is not clear which group is close to Mullah Omar, but it also emerged that in the course of a war within the group, some important leaders or mullahs have been killed.
Hanif also said that Mullah Omar ordered the killing of Mullah Dadallah accused of having indirectly helped the Americans of killing one of his adversaries last month, Mullah Othmani, among the most important military commanders within the Taliban, in the course of an attack in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.  These internal divisions within the Taliban have added to the unprecedented level of violence and will also see a cross-section of revenge attacks being carried out. Hanif also admitted that the American pressure on the Pakistani government also led to the arrests of various Taliban leaders in the past few months
More on link

1,160 soldiers ship out from Atlantic Canada for Afghanistan
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
Article Link

An Amherst soldier is anticipating a hot reception when he arrives in Afghanistan at the end of the month.

Capt. Dave Nixon is one of 1,160 soldiers based in Atlantic Canada who will be part of Canada’s 2,500-member force in Kandahar.

"At this point, there’s not much in the way of hostilities," Capt. Nixon, 40, said Friday.

"But we’re just getting into the warmer season, so we’re expecting things to possibly heat up."

This is his second tour of Afghanistan but he knows Taliban tactics have changed considerably since he was last there in 2003.

There will be some overlap with Canadian troops who have been on the ground for the past six months.

"We don’t go in blind," said Capt. Nixon, who is with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

"They’ll hold us by the hand, basically, for the first little bit until we get to see what’s going on."

Forty-four soldiers, including seven Nova Scotians, and one diplomat have died in Afghanistan since the mission began in 2002. The majority of those casualties came last year, and some expect insurgents to unleash another bloody campaign this spring in Kandahar, where the Canadians will be stationed.
More on link

More for Afghanistan
Stronger commitment planned, but won't include front-line forces, military says
Article Link

KANDAHAR -- Canada's military commitment in southern Afghanistan is expected to increase in the coming months, but it will not involve the deployment of more front-line infantry, the general commanding the country's overseas operations said yesterday.

More support elements, such as heavy artillery and, possibly aircraft, are expected to find their way to the battlefield, said Lt.-Gen. Michel Gauthier, who is in charge of the Ottawa-based Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Last fall, as Canadian troops fought vicious, pitched battles with the Taliban west of Kandahar, the Conservative government approved a plan to send reinforcements, including C-2 Leopard tanks, an extra company of Quebec-based infantry and an anti-mortar platoon. The additions boosted Canada's commitment from 2,300 to 2,500 soldiers and support personnel in Kandahar province.

It now appears those were just the first components in what may be a multi-staged ramp-up.

"Decisions were made some time ago, in the September time frame based on analysis at that time, as to what needed to be done to set our troops up for success here," Gauthier said at the end of a two-day visit.
More on link

Military Channel Broadcasting Servicemembers' Stories
By Gerry J. Gilmore American Forces Press Service
Article Link

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2007 - The Military Channel is asking servicemembers across the armed forces to submit videotaped stories about their service in the global war on terrorism for broadcast on television, company officials said.

"We want to give a voice to the troops to allow them to tell their stories," Jill Bondurant, Military Channel publicist, said during an interview with American Forces Press Service today.

The Military Channel plans to use servicemember-submitted video for broadcast during nightly one-hour blocks of programming starting in early February, Bondurant said. The dates and times haven't been specified yet, she said.
More on link


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 21 January, 2007

Canadians get wary welcome
TheStar.com - News - January 06, 2007 Oakland Ross Staff Reporter
Article Link

A reconnaissance platoon encountered no hostilities on a journey into unknown Kandahar territory, but our soldiers did have to fend off a few complaints from the local villagers, Oakland Ross writes

LWAR SOHBAT, Afghanistan–"If we come under fire, get under cover – behind a wall, whatever you can find."

Capt. Steve MacBeth, commander of 1 Royal Canadian Regiment reconnaissance platoon, is addressing a lone Canadian civilian who has hitched a ride out to this windblown, mud-walled corner of a country at war.

MacBeth turns to the dozen soldiers under his command, ranging in age from 23 to 30 or so. "If we have to," he tells them, "we'll pull back to the LAVs and try to suppress fire."

The LAVs are the three light armoured vehicles that have borne MacBeth and his men across a broad sweep of treeless badlands to the edge of this dirt-poor farming village in the southern Afghanistan province of Kandahar.

The village is called Lwar Sohbat, and it is terra incognita for an international NATO-led force fighting alongside the Afghan National Army against a determined band of Islamist zealots known as the Taliban.

This is the account of one Canadian reconnaissance platoon, a single Afghan village, and yet another ambiguous chapter in a stubborn and uncertain war, a competition more for the hearts and minds of human beings than for places that can be marked upon a map.

Some 2,400 Canadian troops are part of the NATO coalition, and most are based here in Kandahar province, where bearded men in turbans and long flowing robes seem to come striding straight out of Old Testament tableaux, most of them in peace, but some of them carrying AK-47s or rocket launchers, while others are strapped with makeshift explosives.

It is all but impossible to distinguish the innocent from the enemy – until it is too late.

Here in Lwar Sohbat, no one knows what to expect, because no one among the NATO forces has yet to venture among the local people this far west in Kandahar province.

What's more, earlier this afternoon MacBeth learned that a "high-level" Taliban target resides in the town – a hard-core official of the authoritarian warriors who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when they were overthrown by a U.S.-led invasion. Now the Taliban are fighting again, to restore themselves to power.

"We recognize there's still a high threat in the area," says MacBeth. "No matter how benign it seems, there's still a significant level of danger."

He and his men set out on foot, tracing a path along a network of low mud dikes interspersed by occasional tree breaks. They all keep a prudent distance apart from each other – at least five metres.

"That way, a single RPG can't take us both out," a corporal tells the civilian behind him, when he gets too close. RPG means rocket-propelled grenade.

It is late afternoon, and the sun is already low in the west, casting a frigid coppery glow across the cracked terrain.
More on link

Diggers win hearts and minds in Afghanistan
Mark Dodd and Bruce Loudon  January 22, 2007
Article Link

AUSTRALIAN troops serving on a Netherlands-led reconstruction operation in war-battered Afghanistan are making a big difference with their work and winning the hearts and the minds of local people.
The mission for the 500-strong taskforce based in south-central Oruzgan province has changed from a combat deployment last year involving special forces troops to one of civil reconstruction and trade training, said the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Houston.
It was an example of the work that earned the Digger -- all 51,000 men and women in the Australian Defence Force -- The Australian's 2006 Australian of the Year award on Saturday.

Air Chief Marshal Houston's comments follow a week-long visit to Pakistan and India by federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, who received assurances of ongoing Pakistani efforts to crack down on insurgents based in its lawless northwest. "The Government of Pakistan has told me that it is maximising its efforts to control the movement of terrorists and insurgents across its border with Afghanistan," Mr Ruddock said yesterday.

Mr Ruddock said that in his discussions with Pakistani officials he had not pursued reports that former Australian soldier Matthew Stewart may be training with al-Qa'ida on their soil, but said if there had been any substance to the reports the matter would have been raised with him. With its poor, unpaved roads and narrow, remote mountain passes, Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province has long been considered Taliban heartland.

Oruzgan, the Afghan province dominated by hardline ethnic Pashtuns where the Australians are operating, is the birthplace of the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

Named Operation Slipper, the Australian deployment comprises about 400 combat engineers and a 100-strong security detachment.

Work has ranged from improvements to provincial infrastructure -- including roads, bridges and drains -- to helping renovate mosques, schools and hospitals.
More on link

Schools for girls come out of shadows
Article Link

Grade 9 students in the Parwan-e-dou section of Kabul crowd into a tiny classroom at a school for girls and women denied an education during the Taliban regime. Afghanistan | The brave teachers who defied Taliban edicts have a new challenge – finding the necessary resources to educate vast numbers of young women who crave the schooling that was forbidden by the clerics. By Oakland Ross

Any day that the thought police don't come around to thrash her with a steel cable counts as a good day for Gulghota Hashimi.

"When the Taliban came, they beat me up," says the soft-spoken but evidently iron-willed mother of two young sons. "My boys were screaming and crying."

Hashimi is referring to the cabal of fundamentalist clerics and their acolytes who tyrannized this country from 1996 till 2001, especially the dunderhead thugs from the Ministry of Vice and Virtue who patrolled the streets here, ensuring that men wore beards, women wore burqas, no kites flew and nary a girl attended school.

But Hashimi is a teacher.

She taught prior to the dark days of the Taliban. She continued to teach, albeit clandestinely, even after the Taliban came to power and promptly outlawed formal education for girls. And she teaches now.

In fact, she is a principal – and not just any principal.

The school Hashimi now runs was set up to provide an education to the girls and women who could not go to school while the Taliban regime was imposing its stern and suffocating rule.

The school occupies a two-storey, yellow-stucco house in the Parwan-e-dou section of the capital, employs 20 teachers and daily attends to the dreams and ambitions of 263 girls and women, ranging in age from 13 to 35.

"This year, we have our first class of 11th-
More on link

Troops involved in 3-hour gunfight with Taliban
Updated Sun. Jan. 21 2007 10:59 AM ET Canadian Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Canadian soldiers manning a fortified position west of Kandahar came under intense attack Saturday night, but suffered no casualties and apparently inflicted none.

The three-hour firefight with Taliban militants happened near Route Summit, the paved road being built near Panjwaii, said Lt. Sue Stefko, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Forces.

She says the attack happened at a fortified position known as Strong Point West, which is one of several positions designed to defend the roadway.

Insurgents used small arms and rocket propelled grenades, pinning down the Canadians to the point where heavy artillery, tanks and air support were called in.

Stefko says a compound near the Canadian position was bombed.

"There was no indication that anyone was injured in that, Taliban or otherwise,'' she said.

A daylight patrol was sent out to sweep the area Sunday and found no evidence of dead or injured in the ruins of the compound, she said.

"There was nothing found in the area.''

The attack, one of several throughout southern Afghanistan over the last two days, shattered a relative calm in the province that has held for the last several weeks.

A tanker truck carrying oil was destroyed Saturday when it hit what's believed to be an improvised explosive devise while on the way to Kandahar Airfield, the main NATO base in the region. Two other tankers, travelling with the stricken vehicle, were also damaged.
More on link

NATO commander confident of victory against Taliban
Sunday January 21, 2007 (0245 PST)
Article Link

KABUL: Commander of the NATO forces in Afghanistan Lt General David Richards has expressed the confidence that they would soon defeat the Taliban as they were heading towards the ultimate victory.
"I don't say that we have won the war, but I can say that we have secured the conditions for winning the war against the Taliban," said the top NATO commander in an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News.

He said Taliban had been given a decisive blow during the Operation Medusa in the south-west of Kandahar last year and the militants had yet to recover from that blow.

The operation was concluded last year in the two troubled districts of Panjwayee and Zherai of the southern Kandahar province and the NATO forces claimed killing more than 500 of Taliban in the battle.

He admitted the year 2006 was worse than 2005 as for as insurgency in Afghanistan is concerned, but said there was a significant drop in militants' attack after the month of August.
More on link

Canadian troops in Afghanistan as 9/11 'retribution
' O'Connor: Attack on New York killed 25 Canadians
Andrea Sands  Edmonton Journal Sunday, January 21, 2007
Article Link

EDMONTON - Canada is fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in "retribution" for the 9/11 attacks that killed at least 3,000 people, including 25 Canadians, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor said yesterday.

The hard-hitting comments, which prompted a round of applause from Mr. O'Connor's Edmonton audience, came in addition to the government's usual reasoning about Canada's duty to help the Afghanistan people.

Speaking at a symposium about Afghanistan, Mr. O'Connor said Canadian soldiers are in the country because Afghanistan's democratically elected government wants them there, because Canada has a responsibility to help as one of the world's richest countries and because the war is in Canada's own interest.

"When the Taliban or al-Qaeda came out of Afghanistan, they attacked the Twin Towers and in those twin towers, 25 Canadians were killed. The previous government and this government will not allow Canadians to be killed without retribution," Mr. O'Connor told his audience of roughly 200 people, many of them military personnel.

In an interview after his speech, Mr. O'Connor said the word retribution doesn't necessarily mean punishment.

"What it means is, if our country is attacked, we are not going to stand blandly by and not do anything about it," he said.

"I don't believe the (former) Liberal government would have committed us to Afghanistan had there not been Canadians killed."
More on link

Taliban Says it Will Open Schools in Afghanistan 
21 January 2007 | 13:58 | FOCUS News Agency
Article Link

Kandahar. The Taliban movement said Sunday it will open schools in areas under its control, despite waging an insurgency that last year saw scores of attacks on Afghanistan's students.
A spokesman told AFP the schools would open this year and follow a curriculum used during the 1996-2001 rule of the Taliban government.
"From March to July this year, the Taliban movement will open all the schools in the districts under their control," the man identifying himself as Taliban political spokesman Abdul Hai Mutmayn said in a statement read over the telephone.
"In the schools, all the textbooks and subjects which were being taught under the Taliban government will be taught. This will cost one million dollars and the Taliban movement will pay for that."
The spokesman did not say which districts were involved. "There are lots of districts in southern and southeastern Afghanistan where the government has no presence and we are in control," he said.
Taliban claims to control certain far-flung areas of Afghanistan are dismissed by military officials, who say they are only able to assert a presence for brief periods before being removed.
The movement regularly uses propaganda and threats in its campaign.
The Taliban government destroyed Afghanistan's already war-shattered education system.
It prevented girls from going to school and women from working, which meant most teachers had to give up their jobs.
Lessons were focused on the Taliban's extremist version of Islam.
Since it was toppled, the group has launched scores of bomb and arson attacks on schools, destroying many.
Education Minister Mohammad Hanif Atmar said in August suspected Taliban attacks had killed at least 41 teachers and students in the previous 12 months, and security concerns had forced 208 schools to close.
Educating Afghanistan's mostly illiterate population is a priority for the new government, but not for many rural Afghans struggling to get by, especially where girls are concerned.
More on link

Are Pakistani intelligence agencies promoting Islamic insurgency?
By Carlotta Gall Published: January 21, 2007
Article Link

QUETTA, Pakistan: The most explosive question about the Taliban resurgence here along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is this: Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?

The government of Pakistan vehemently rejects the allegation and insists that it is fully committed to help American and NATO forces prevail against the Taliban militants who were driven from power in Afghanistan in 2001.

Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervor but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan's vulnerable western flank.

More than two weeks of reporting along this frontier, including dozens of interviews with residents on each side of the porous border, leaves little doubt that Quetta is an important base for the Taliban, and found many signs that Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them.

The evidence is provided in fearful whispers, and it is anecdotal.
More on link

BY GRAHAM RAYMAN Newsday Staff Writer January 21, 2007
Article Link

Last March, Marine Sgt. Julian Arechaga came to a crossroads in his young life.

The 23-year-old Baldwin native already had been a team leader in a platoon that spent months in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2004 in search of al-Qaida and Taliban members. In 2005, he served as a squad leader in Fallujah, Iraq - a city torn apart by firefights, car bombings and roadside explosions.

Arechaga, then at Camp Lejeune, N.C., could have walked away from the Marines when his enlistment was up. He spoke of returning to Long Island, becoming a police officer, going to college. But his squad was set to go once again to Iraq, and he was worried about whether they were ready, especially the newest ones.

"I don't think he felt confident that the unit was up to standards," said Justin Slep, 23, a former Marine who served in two deployments alongside Arechaga. "He didn't feel comfortable leaving his Marines. So he extended voluntarily."

On Oct. 9, just a few weeks into his third deployment, the man who survived firefights on the Afghan steppe and dragged wounded civilians off an Iraqi street shrouded in flames and humming with gunfire was killed by that most random of weapons - a roadside bomb.

As the war in Iraq nears the four-year mark, the stories of Americans like Arechaga returning to combat for second and third tours have become commonplace. One of every three GIs deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan has served more than one tour - a higher percentage than at any time since the Vietnam era.

Nearly 800 Americans have died while serving at least a second tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, more than 25 percent of the total U.S. casualties, Pentagon figures show. Arechaga was one of 118 who died while serving a third.
More on link

Time to say goodbye: About 300 head to Afghanistan
By Jennifer Calhoun Staff writer
Article Link

About 300 paratroopers from the82nd Airborne Division hugged their families goodbye Saturday and left for a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.

The deployment is part of a 5,000-soldier task force that is replacing the 10th Mountain Division.

The group that left Saturday is made up of paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, the division headquarters, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade and the division Special Troops Battalion.

The deployment came at a time when the country has seen an upswing in fighting. The number of insurgent attacks against U.S., NATO and Afghan forces is up 300 percent since September, a U.S. military intelligence officer told The Associated Press last week.

Maj. Donald Korpi, a public affairs officer for the 4th Brigade Combat Team, said the paratroopers would see combat, but they also will help to stabilize the country by building schools and other facilities.

Sean McCaffrey, deputy commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, said there was “a great amount of excitement” about the deployment.

McCaffrey said the troops had trained for 4 weeks with members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

“It takes away a little bit of the surprise of the culture,” he said.

During the training, McCaffrey said U.S. troops learned to operate Afghan weapon systems and work on language barriers, among other things.

While waiting to leave Saturday afternoon, paratroopers milled around bags of equipment and clothes, talking with and hugging family members.

Gabriela LaBoy, 13, stood close to her father, Sgt. Mario LaBoy, before his departure.

Gabriela is used to her father’s deployments — it’s his fourth — but she said this year might just be harder than the others, even if her dad is “the best in the world.”
More on link

Baitullah vows ‘bloodier’ spring offensive in Afghanistan
Article Link

KOT KALAY: Tribal Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud has said this year’s spring offensive in Afghanistan will be even “bloodier” than last year.

“The mujahideen (holy warriors) will give a tougher fight this year than last year,” he told Daily Times at a secret location in South Waziristan, after taking this correspondent on a tour of Kot Kalay, where an airstrike on an alleged militant training camp killed eight people on Tuesday.

More than 4,000 people were killed in last year’s Taliban-linked insurgency in Afghanistan. Around 1,000 were civilians, more than 100 coalition soldiers and the rest were said to be insurgents.

“This year’s spring offensive will be fought harder than before as we want to build on last year’s successes,” said Baitullah, who struck a peace deal with the government in February 2005.

Baitullah vowed to avenge Tuesday’s airstrike. “They launch airstrikes on us and we respond with suicide attack,” he said amidst dozens of armed militants who were guarding him. More than 40 army recruits were killed in a suicide attack at Darrgai on November 8, following an airstrike on a madrassa in Bajaur on October 30 in which 83 people were killed. iqbal khattak
More on link

PPP rejects ‘puppet cabinet’ attempt to re-elect Musharraf
Staff Report
Article Link

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has rejected an attempt by what it called the “puppet cabinet” to propose a re-election of its military patron, General Pervez Musharraf, as president for the second time from an assembly, which is about to finish its constitutional term.

Sherry Rehman, the PPP’s central information secretary, said in a statement on Saturday that her party, along with its partners in the Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD), would never countenance this illegal and unconstitutional re-election as anything but a dictator’s flagrant violation of democratic norms, laws and traditions.

“We do not recognise General Musharraf as president as he had himself selected through an illegal process, and in legal terms, if the president’s term is seen as expiring in five years, it will not expire till December 31, 2008. This is because Gen Musharraf took his vote of confidence from his political surrogates in the assemblies in December 2003,” she said.

“If indeed the regime goes for this ill-advised and disastrous move, it will only add more chaos and instability to a nation, which stands at the edge of a dangerous political abyss,” she added. Rehman said that Pakistan was at a crossroads today and that the military regime and its henchmen were threatening to take Pakistan into another, more dangerous phase of uncontrollable instability.

“Since all such actions will have a long-term impact on the credibility of all democratic processes and forums in Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan should not only take notice of such irresponsible statements floated by cabinet ministers, but also seek a clarification from all those responsible for spreading the controversy regarding such potentially explosive issues,” said the PPP statement
More on link

‘Don’t end Waziristan pact under US pressure’
Fazlur Rehman opposes fencing and mining of Afghan border
By Akhtar Amin
Article Link

PESHAWAR: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Maulana Fazlur Rehman has asked the government not to give up the Waziristan peace agreement “under US pressure”, adding that a fight between the army and tribesmen would lead to chaos in Pakistan.

“I played a key role in making the agreement possible,” he told reporters after a Gaddafi Foundation programme at a hotel on Saturday, “and I will play a key role in sustaining it.” Rehman said he would not give the government “a free hand” to renounce the deal under foreign pressure. “The fight is neither in the tribesmen’s interest, nor in that of the government,” he said. “It is in the interest of the US, who wants us to fight against each other.”

Expressing concern over the Pakistan Army’s air strikes, which he said killed innocent tribesmen, Fazl asked the government not to repeat the act and follow the “one hundred percent successful” peace deal.

“The opposition is united against President Pervez Musharraf’s re-election from the current assemblies,” said Fazlur Rehman, who is also the chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl), adding that he would reunite the opposition if it happened.

To a question about resignations from parliament, he said it was an “extreme step” that would be taken only if the current assemblies elect President Musharraf for another term.
More on link

Damage to peace pact will be a disaster: Orakzai
Article Link

PESHAWAR: NWFP Governor Ali Jan Orakzai warned on Saturday against “damage” to the peace agreement reached with pro-Taliban militants in North Waziristan in September last year. “Any damage to the peace agreement would put the people back in an abyss of uncertainty and despair,” he told a 15-member peace committee from North Waziristan at Governor’s House. He said the peace agreement was “the last chance for ensuring a peaceful atmosphere in the area. Any harm caused to it either intentionally or unintentionally would surely be a big disaster, where the damage would be irreparable.” The governor’s warning to the peace committee underscored the fragile position of the peace deal with the militants that the US says has collapsed. Orakzai hoped that “prudent elements” would not let the opportunity slip out of their hands. He stressed the need to enhance security on the roads within the agency and extra vigilance on the borders to foil attempts by militants to cross the frontier. staff report

US Muslim magazine offers teens a cover girl shot
Article Link

CHICAGO: A new magazine launched this month is offering the 400,000 teen-aged Muslim girls in the United States a chance to be a cover girl.

“The girls are eager to have their stories told,” said Ausma Khan, editor of Muslim Girl Magazine, which is out with a 25,000-copy premier issue and expects its circulation to be four times that in two years.

It is, she said in an interview on Friday, an underserved market for both readers and advertisers. The first cover girl is Wardah Chaudhary, 16, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where, Khan said, there was a relatively small but vibrant Muslim community. Her perseverance and energy won her the honour, the editor said, but the magazine and its website — http://www.muslimgirlmagazine.com — has invited other Muslim girls to vie for the cover.

In her essay, Wardah Chaudhary talks about her Pakistan-born parents, her life growing up in Oklahoma and her activities. “One thing I know for sure is that I am not behind in anything just because I wear hijab,” she says referring to her Muslim style of dressing. “To all the girls that are reading this, I want them to know to be proud of who you are.”
More on link

Two mosques demolished in Islamabad over security threat
By Shahzad Malik
Article Link

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad district administration and Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Saturday demolished two mosques near the Islamabad Highway and Murree Road, after intelligence reports indicated they could be used to launch terrorist attacks.

Sources told Daily Times that the intelligence agencies had reported to the Interior Ministry that mosques in green areas near Murre Road and Islamabad Highway could be used by “miscreants” to target VIPs and foreign dignitaries, who use these roads often to travel between the airport and their offices in the capital. There was also a raised threat of terrorist attacks because of Tuesday’s air strike on a suspected militant compound in South Waziristan.

After receiving the intelligence reports, the Interior Ministry ordered the CDA and the district administration to demolish these mosques.

CDA Urban Planning Director Zafer Iqbal Zafer had issued notices to administrators of 10 mosques and their adjacent seminaries to remove unauthorised constructions from green areas within 15 days, sources said. Jamia Faridia is one of these seminaries. Consturction on green areas is against the rules, hence these mosques were built illegally
More on link

Italian FM against pull out of forces from Afghanistan 
Article Link

ROME, Jan 20 (KUNA) -- Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Massimo Dalima criticized the calls by some ruling coalition members to pull out his country's troops from Afghanistan.

He told newsmen here today that any pull out would mean "relinquishing our political role at the international community level and this would isolate Italy from Europe and the world".

Comparing he said that pulling out the Italian forces from Iraq was a robust and difficult political move but pulling them out from Afghanistan would mean relinquishing Italy's political role.

He downplayed the row created at the parliament by parties to refuse voting for refunding the Italian forces in Afghanistan.

Romania committed to role in Iraq, Afghanistan
  20 January 2007 | Source:AP
Article Link
BUCHAREST -- Romania will respect its commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, President Traian Basescu said.

Basescu made the pledge in a speech to foreign diplomats on Friday, outlining Romania's foreign policy for 2007.

Romania, which joined the European Union on Jan. 1 and became a NATO member in 2004, has 600 troops in Iraq, 800 in Afghanistan and 230 in the western Balkans.

Last year, then-Defense Minister Teodor Atanasiu clashed with Basescu after he proposed withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who like Atanasiu is from the Liberal Party, backed the minister's proposal, but Basescu and Romania's top defense body, the supreme defense council, overruled them and decided the troops should stay.

During the meeting with foreign diplomats at the presidential palace, Basescu also said Romania wanted to improve relations with Israel and Arab countries.

"We want to rebuild ... the traditional relations that Romania had with Middle Eastern states," he said. 

Schools demand amendments to new registration law
Article Link

ISLAMABAD: The Private Schools Action Committee (PSAC), Islamabad, has termed a newly promulgated presidential ordinance regarding the registration of private educational institutions as “anti-education” and demanded the government amend it and delay its implementation.

PASAC President Chaudhry Ilyas Mehrban said that private schools, whether they were located in the urban or in rural areas of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), would have to pay a total of Rs 42,000, including Rs 25,000 in security fees, Rs 10,000 as registration fee and Rs 7,500 as inspection fee.

He said that there were 643 private schools in the ICT, 500 of which were in rural areas and 143 in urban areas, adding that urban schools charged average monthly fees amounting to Rs 2,000, while students in rural schools paid Rs 200 to 250 as tuition fee. He said that despite these differences, the ordinance required both the type of schools to pay an equal amount of money, which, he said, was a great injustice.

Ilyas said that the ordinance would force owners of schools operating on a smaller scale to shut them down, as they were not in a position to pay the registration fees. “If this happens, over 10,000 teachers and non-teaching staff will lose their jobs,” he said.

He said that if the government did not reconsider its decision to implement the ordinance, the PSAC would challenge it in court. He said that though private schools were greater in numbers and their students performed better than those in public sector schools, the government was trying to discourage them by introducing various policies.
More on link

President, PM urge nation to shun sectarianism
Article Link

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf has urged the nation to rise above petty differences, sectarianism and extremism, and adhere to the golden principles of Islam.

In his message to the nation on the advent of the new Islamic year, the President said, “We must rise above our personal differences and adopt the glowing principles of Islam, which are based on mutual fraternity and the welfare of humanity, and lead to the prosperity of the country and the Ummah.”

“In line with the holiness of Muharramul Haram and start of the new hijri year, we should try to live our lives in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) throughout the year,” he said.

“I pray that Allah Almighty may guide Pakistanis and the Ummah to spend the new year with a feeling of affinity and fortitude, and to respect the inter-religious principles,” said the president.
More on link

The Bread Guy

Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
Women 'outside the wire'
A small contingent of female soldiers is writing a new chapter in Canadian military history, taking on high-profile roles on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Liane Faulder, Edmonton Journal, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

When Cpl. Vanessa Larter of Edmonton trudged through the dun-coloured desert in
Afghanistan, she was exploring unfamiliar terrain in more ways than one.  Larter is
one of a tiny group of Canadian female soldiers who operate "outside the wire" in
Afghanistan, that is, outside the relative safety of the provincial reconstruction team
(PRT) at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City or the NATO coalition base at the
Kandahar Airfield (KAF).  Some of these women are medics, like Larter. Others
are in combat positions, including soldiers in the infantry and in artillery roles,
as well as drivers of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) ....

More News on CAN in AFG here

Airpower Summary for Jan. 21
USAF News, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

In Afghanistan Jan. 20, Air Force B-1B Lancers and Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers provided
close-air support for International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, troops in enemy contact
near Qurya. The B-1Bs expended guided bomb unit-31s and GBU-38s on enemy positions. The
GR-7s expended rockets on enemy positions.  Air Force B-1Bs and RAF GR-7s provided
close-air support for ISAF troops in enemy contact near Kandahar . The GR-7s expended
rockets and a general-purpose 500-pound bomb on enemy positions.  In total, 21
close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan troops, reconstruction
activities and route patrols.  Additionally, eight Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and
Reconnaissance, or ISR, aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Afghanistan ....

Frontline troops are refused kit to fight Taliban
Sean Rayment, Sunday Telegraph, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

British soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan have had dozens of urgent requests
for operational equipment turned down on cost grounds, it can be revealed.  Demands
by officers for attack weapons and vital tools, as well as night-vision equipment and
thermal-imaging devices used to distinguish friend from foe, have all been refused by
the Ministry of Defence.  The revelation has sparked accusations that Tony Blair has
reneged on promises he made to British troops just four months ago, when he pledged
that commanders would be supplied with whatever they needed to "get the job done". 
The Sunday Telegraph has learned that all four of the Army's mine protected vehicles
(MPVs), used to extract injured troops from minefields in Afghanistan, have broken
down. Officers have also complained that the shortage of Chinook helicopters, first
raised by senior officers last summer, was still a fundamental problem for commanders
in Helmand province, where 4,500 British troops are fighting the Taliban ....

500 (UK) soldiers set for Afghanistan to counter spring offensive
Ian Bruce, The Herald (UK), 22 Jan 07
Article Link

The government is expected to announce the deployment of reinforcements for Afghanistan
this week ahead of a renewed Taliban spring offensive against British troops in the country's
southern provinces, The Herald can reveal.  But military sources say the number sent will be
less than half of what successive commanders have requested, since only one battalion of
between 500 and 600 Cyprus-based soldiers is available as a ready-reserve for both Iraq
and the undermanned garrison in Helmand.  As reported exclusively by The Herald last week,
pressure has been growing on the government to add a battlegroup of 1200 to the 4000-strong
garrison in Afghanistan to allow tactical flexibility in countering the Taliban across Helmand, an
area four times the size of Wales.  At the moment, fewer than one in four of the troops in the
province are being used in a combat role, partially because there are only eight Chinook
transport helicopters to move them rapidly across vast distances ....

Nato general: we need one more year to defeat Taliban
British head of forces warns that more troops and more money will be required

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian (UK), 22 Jan 07
Article Link

The head of Nato forces in Afghanistan warns today that the military effort needs more
money and more troops for a year-long push that he believes will defeat the Taliban. While
Nato troops had frustrated the Taliban's plans to mount a winter campaign for the first time,
it had been "against the odds" and the result of "exceptionally skilled and brave fighting", General
David Richards told the Guardian.  It had been achieved with fewer troops than were required,
he said. "I am concerned that Nato nations will assume the same level of risk in 2007, believing
they can get away with it. They might, but it's a dangerous assumption to believe the same
ingredients will exist this year as they did last. And anyway a stabilised situation is not a good
enough aim. We should and can win in Afghanistan but we need to put more military effort into
the country ... We must apply ourselves more energetically for one more year in order to win." ....

Afghan mission is shaken up after Blair tells envoys of his frustration
Tom Coghlan, The Telegraph (UK), 22 Jan 07
Article Link

The Foreign Office is to carry out a major overhaul of its mission in Afghanistan, replacing
the current British ambassador after less than a year and bringing in a second senior diplomat
to front the British effort in Helmand.  Stephen Evans, the ambassador to Kabul since last May,
is to be replaced by the ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.  Sir Sherard
is seen as one of the Foreign Office's most accomplished diplomats and an expert on the Islamic
world. He is being posted to Kabul in an attempt to galvanise the British diplomatic presence
amid fears across the international community that Afghanistan's fragile democracy is sliding into
the abyss in the face of a renewed Taliban insurgency and the burgeoning drug trade.  In addition,
the Foreign Office is to increase its presence in Helmand with the appointment of David Slinn, until
last year the ambassador to North Korea. Some see the shake-up as a response to concern
expressed privately by Tony Blair on his last visit to Afghanistan in November ....

Pace Says Colombia Model for Afghanistan
Joshua Goodman, Associated Press, 19 Jan 07
Article Link

The United States' top military official said Friday that American-backed anti-drug and
counterinsurgent operations in Colombia _ the world's largest producer of cocaine _ could
serve as a template for Afghan efforts to fight drug production.  Gen. Peter Pace, chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Colombia's campaign to "rid certain areas of terrorists," followed
by relief and jobs programs for the poor, was a "good model for (Afghan) President Hamid
Karzai to consider as he looks at how to reduce the amount of drug trafficking in his country."
Afghanistan has been plagued by skyrocketing heroin production. But critics say it would be
a mistake for the country to duplicate Colombia's model, which they say has been ineffective ....

Nato reveals dark arts of psy-ops
Jerome Starkey, Times Online (UK), 22 Jan 07
Article Link

British troops in southern Afghanistan are battling to break the will of the Taleban by splitting
hard-line commanders from their troops.  The psychological warfare, or “psy-ops”, experts
work alongside the SBS and American special forces. During a recent operation to retake
Taleban strongholds in Kandahar they preyed on the insurgents’ worst fears — such as being
captured — to make them abandon strategic positions.  Major Kirsty McQuade (see article
on her experience in Bosnia below)
, the top Nato psy-ops officer in southern Afghanistan, said:
“We exploit psychological vulnerabilities. Being captured is a big fear for the Taleban.
Most of them want to live to fight another day. But they would rather die than be captured.” 
Psy-ops are normally shrouded in secrecy, but Major McQuade gave The Times an insight
into Nato tactics.  Commanders believe that there are two types of Taleban insurgents in the
war-ravaged south: Tier 1 Taleban are the leaders, some of whom are foreign; Tier 2 are
the rank and file ....

Radio Oksigen:  If they aren’t listening you aren’t “PsyOping”
Major Kirsty McQuade, GBR Army, First published in EUFOR Forum#3, April, 2005
Article Link

Fortunately one of the things that BiH has in common with most of the rest of the world,
is that radio is one of the best ways to reach and, if you get it right, subsequently influence
a Target Audience (TA).  Until 21 March, in MNTF(NW) we have run Radio Oksigen,
a contemporary hit and dance youth radio that played only English language popular music
and was aimed at 15 to 25 year olds. It was one of the more listened to radio stations in
our AO and this was achieved by ensuring that Oksigen remained cutting edge and
therefore of interest to its listeners ....

Neighbourhood Watch for Afghan Schools
Unable to combat the rash of arson attacks across the country, the government enlists the public’s help to safeguard schools and children.

Sayed Yaqub Ibrahimi, Afghan Recovery Report, ARR No. 239, 19 Jan 07
Article Link

Mohammad Gul used to dream of becoming a teacher. The 13-year-old went to a high
school in Maarja district, in the troubled southern province of Helmand, where he worked
hard to get good grades so that he would be able to go to university.  That was before
his school burned down last year - torched by insurgents seeking to undermine the
provincial authorities.  “I don’t think I will fulfil my dream,” Mohammad Gul told IWPR.
“If the government rebuilds the school, the Taleban will just burn it down again. That’s
how we all feel. The government has provided tents for the school, but we are afraid
that we will be burned along with the tents.”  Mohammad Gul is just one of thousands
of children whose futures are being jeopardised by the rising tide of attacks on schools
in Afghanistan ....

US Hearts and Minds Cash Goes to Taleban
Funds distributed by US forces to civilians in a southern province find their way to the Taleban.

Mirwais Atal, Afghan Recovery Report, ARR No. 236, 28 Nov 06
Article Link

When United States troops in the southern province of Ghazni handed out cash to
village elders, they must have thought they were winning friends. The money, intended
for bridges, wells, drinking water, irrigation systems and other infrastructure projects,
was supposed to convince the local Afghans that the foreign presence would benefit
their country in general and themselves in particular.  After distributing the funds to
villagers in Ghazni’s Andar district in early October, the US soldiers departed, having
done their best to get the district on side.  Their hearts and minds campaign is part of
a major anti-Taleban offensive codenamed Operation Mountain Fury, which US-led
coalition forces launched in mid-September in conjunction with the Afghan National
Army, ANA.  But the resources intended to combat Taleban influence ended up
doing just the opposite. Local people in several parts of Andar district told IWPR
that almost as soon as the coalition forces left their villages, the money found its way
into Taleban coffers to finance the jihad against the foreigners ....

- edited 220737EST Jan to fix formatting -


Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 22 January, 2007

Fire from Afghanistan kills Pakistani
Jan. 22, 2007, 9:48AM By SADAQAT JAN Associated Press Writer
Article Link

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan mistakenly fired at a Pakistani border post and killed a soldier, Pakistan's military said Monday after lodging a protest over the death.

A U.S. military spokesman said four precision-guided bombs were dropped on four suspected militants who were firing rockets at a U.S. military outpost at Bermel in Afghanistan's Paktika province, near the Pakistani border.

"I cannot confirm or deny loss or injury of Pakistani military," said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, the spokesman. "This all happened inside Afghanistan."

He also said the coalition was investigating.

But the Pakistani military said in a statement the post that was hit is located near Shawal, a mountainous area close to the Afghan border in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

Pakistan, a key U.S. ally, has a long border with Afghanistan that straddles rugged mountain regions and is not clearly demarcated in places. It is under growing pressure to help contain Taliban and al-Qaida militants suspected to operate from its soil.

Pakistan strongly protested to the coalition authorities, asking them to investigate and take "necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future," its statement said.

Fire by U.S.-led coalition forces has landed in Pakistan in the past. In January 2006, Pakistan protested to the U.S. military in Afghanistan over firing at a village in North Waziristan in which eight people were killed.

Afghanistan criticizes plan by Taliban to open schools
By Noor Khan Associated Press KANDAHAR, Afghanistan Mon, Jan. 22, 2007
Article Link

The Taliban said it will open its own schools in areas of southern Afghanistan under its control, an apparent effort to win support among local residents and undermine the Western-backed government's efforts to expand education.

The announcement follows a violent campaign by the Islamists against state schools in the five years since the party's ouster by U.S.-led forces. The Taliban destroyed 200 schools and killed 20 teachers last year, and President Hamid Karzai said Sunday that 200,000 children had been driven from the classroom.

The Taliban's announcement that it will open schools ``is like putting salt into the wound,'' said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan's education minister.

Abdul Hai Muthmahien, the purported chief spokesman for the militants, said the group will begin providing Islamic education to students in March in at least six southern provinces, funded by $1 million allotted by the Taliban's ruling council. He said textbooks would be the same ones used during Taliban rule.

He said education would be available to boys first and later to girls, but he did not explain if there had been a change in Taliban thinking about schooling girls. During its rule, it banned girls from schools in Kabul, the capital, although elsewhere it sometimes permitted their schooling until age 8 -- but only to study the Koran, Islam's holy book.

Muthmahien said the program had been approved by tribal elders in the region.

The U.S. and its allies are doing propaganda against the Taliban,'' he said in a telephone interview with the Associated Press from an undisclosed location late Saturday. ``The Taliban are not against education. The Taliban want Shariah education,'' he said, referring to the legal code of Islam.
More on link

Suicide car bomber kills five in Pakistan
Article Link

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A rare suicide car bomb attack in North Waziristan killed four Pakistani soldiers and a woman passer-by on Monday, raising fears that government peace deals in the pro-Taliban region were disintegrating.

In addition to the deaths, a military spokesman said nine soldiers had been wounded, some critically, when the car rammed an army convoy at Khajori checkpost, near the town of Mir Ali, where Taliban and al Qaeda fighters have been active in the past.

"A white-colored car hit the convoy and it appears to be a suicide attack," spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan told Reuters.

He said three soldiers had been killed outright and a fourth died in hospital. A local security official said a woman bystander had also died.

It was uncertain how many people were in the suicide car. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

The suicide attack came less than a week after a Pakistani air strike on a suspected Taliban and al Qaeda base in neighboring South Waziristan, raising the possibility that it was an act of revenge.

That strike killed up to 20 militants, intelligence officials said. Villagers said only the bodies of eight wood-cutters had been found.

Tensions have been running high since then in Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, and tribesmen in the area expected a breakdown in peace accords worked out by the government with militants and tribal elders.


Hundreds of people have been killed since late 2003 in Waziristan in clashes between security forces and militants.

Suicide attacks on the army, however, are extremely rare, although the Taliban regularly uses the tactic across the border against Afghan, U.S., and NATO-led forces.

Witnesses said people were fleeing their homes in parts of South Waziristan amid fears of renewed fighting.

Residents said militants had taken up positions on high ground near army posts in the Khaisor, Makeen and Laddah areas.

"This time, God forbid, if clashes break out, then no one can stop them. We can only pray for a lasting peace," Maulana Saleh Shah, a national senator from South Waziristan, told Reuters.

The government signed a peace accord with militants in North Waziristan last September, after a similar deal was struck in South Waziristan in February 2005.

U.S. officials say cross-border incursions into Afghanistan by Taliban fighters based in Pakistan increased significantly after the North Waziristan accord, although the tribal area itself has been relatively calm.
More on link

Taliban Chief Said Likely in Afghanistan
The Associated Press Monday, January 22, 2007; 7:23 AM
Article Link

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Taliban leader Mullah Omar is likely based in southern Afghanistan and leading the resurgent Islamic militia from there, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Monday.

A spokeswoman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said that Omar's exact whereabouts remain unknown.
More on link

Outgoing commander says US committed to Afghanistan
By DPA Jan 22, 2007, 9:30 GMT
Article Link

Kabul - The US is committed to Afghanistan and will remain the single largest contributor of troops to coalition forces, according to Lt Gen Karl Eikenberry, outgoing commander of the US troops since May 2005.

  Besides the US, 26 NATO countries and 11 other nations are'fully committed to making Afghanistan a viable, self-sustaining country free from international terror,' Eikenberry said before departing Monday for his new post as the deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels, Belgium.

   NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has responsibility for security operations of international military forces throughout Afghanistan.

    Currently, there are more than 23,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan, the highest level since the beginning of troop deployments in October 2001.

   Great Britain, with more than 5,000 troops, and Germany with approximately 2,900 soldiers are the next largest contributors of troops to ISAF.

ADB to study power trade potential to Afghanistan and Pakistan
Article Link

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing a US$3 million technical assistance grant to study the potential for regional electricity trading that would help optimize utilization of power resources in both Central and South Asia.

The feasibility study will prepare a proposed power trading project that would, in its initial stages, earn revenues for the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan by allowing them to initially export 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where there are significant energy shortages.

The ADB, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Islamic Development Bank, and World Bank along with bilateral and private sector stakeholders have been participating and assisting the Multi-Country Working Group in their consideration of the project.

"The Multi-Country Working Group has taken important steps toward regional cooperation in power trade and ADB is pleased to contribute through this study to support their efforts to progress to the next stage in project development," says F. C. Kawawaki, an ADB Senior Investment Specialist.

"Although there is some existing interconnection between Afghanistan and Central Asia, and additional bilateral projects are under development, there is considerable scope for expansion of regional cooperation in the power sector. This project marks the beginning of the process to bring the demand and supply sides together."

The study will look into the feasibility and viability of the proposed project, including assessment of power availability and demand in the countries, possible transmission routes, economic and financial costs, and environmental and social safeguard assessments.
More on link

Kandahar’s exiles
New York Times Monday, January 22, 2007
Article Link

The most explosive question about the Taliban resurgence here along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is this: Have Pakistani intelligence agencies been promoting the Islamic insurgency?
The government of Pakistan vehemently rejects the allegation and insists that it is fully committed to help American and NATO forces prevail against the Taliban militants who were driven from power in Afghanistan in 2001.
Western diplomats in both countries and Pakistani opposition figures say that Pakistani intelligence agencies — in particular the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence — have been supporting a Taliban restoration, motivated not only by Islamic fervour but also by a longstanding view that the jihadist movement allows them to assert greater influence on Pakistan’s vulnerable western flank.
More than two weeks of reporting along this frontier, including dozens of interviews with residents on each side of the porous border, leaves little doubt that Quetta is an important base for the Taliban, and found many signs that Pakistani authorities are encouraging the insurgents, if not sponsoring them.
The evidence is provided in fearful whispers, and it is anecdotal.
At Jamiya Islamiya, a religious school here in Quetta, Taliban sympathies are on flagrant display, and residents say students have gone with their teachers’ blessings to die in suicide bombings in Afghanistan.
Three families whose sons had died as suicide bombers in Afghanistan said they were afraid to talk about the deaths because of pressure from Pakistani intelligence agents. Local people say dozens of families have lost sons in Afghanistan as suicide bombers.
One former Taliban commander said in an interview that he had been jailed by Pakistani intelligence officials because he would not go to Afghanistan to fight. He said that, for Western and local consumption, his arrest had been billed as part of Pakistan’s crackdown on the Taliban in Pakistan. Former Taliban members who have refused to fight in Afghanistan have been arrested — or even mysteriously killed — after resisting pressure to re-enlist in the Taliban, Pakistani and Afghan tribal elders said.
“The Pakistanis are actively supporting the Taliban,” declared a Western diplomat in an interview in Kabul. He said he had seen an intelligence report of a recent meeting on the Afghan border between a senior Taliban commander and a retired colonel of the Pakistani ISI.
More on link

Afghanistan rescue footage released
Sunday, 21 Jan 2007 18:21
Article Link

The body of Lance Corporal Matthew Ford, 30, was retrieved by his comrades from 45 Commando Royal Marines after he died during Operation Glacier, an attack on a Taliban fort in the south of Helmand province.

Four Royal Marines strapped themselves to the wings of two Apache helicopters in what was described by Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce as "an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery of our airmen".

New footage released today shows the pale outline of a Marine strapped to the outside of one of the Apaches as it flies above cloud, viewed from a second Apache flying nearby.

"It was a leap into the unknown. This is believed to be the first time UK forces have ever tried this type of rescue mission," UK task force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Rory Bruce said.

"It was an extraordinary tale of heroism and bravery of our airmen, soldiers and marines who were all prepared to put themselves back into the line of fire to rescue a fallen comrade."
More on link

The Bread Guy

Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
Canada expresses reservations about Afghan proposals to spray poppy fields
Murray Brewster, Canadian Press, 22 Jan 07
Article Link

Canadian diplomats are quietly trying to steer Afghan counter-narcotics agents away from a proposal to use chemical spraying to destroy opium-producing poppy fields, says a senior Canadian official.  Responding to international pressure, particularly from the United States, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's government is seriously looking at instituting an aerial spray program to combat the explosion in the illegal narcotics trade.  "The Canadian position on eradication . . . is that it is one of the pillars of the Afghan national drug control strategy," said Gavin Buchan, the political director of the provincial reconstruction base in Kandahar.  "As such, we believe it has a role to play in the overall context. However, we have significant reservations about the advisability of chemical spray."  Ultimately, the decision is one for the Afghan government to make, he said.  Whatever the Afghans choose to do, it will have a significant impact on the 2,500 Canadian troops stationed in Kandahar province.  It's widely felt that a mass eradication effort against dirt-poor farmers, who have no other crops or livelihood, would drive them back into the arms of the Taliban....

Canadians battle with Taliban near new road
CTV.ca, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

Canadian soldiers slugged it out with Taliban insurgents near a remote Canadian outpost west of Kandahar.  The firefight occurred near Route Summit, a paved road being build near Panjwaii, said Lt. Sue Stefko, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Forces, on Sunday.  Canada's soldiers were at a fortified position known as Strong Point West, set up to defend the roadway.  The insurgents struck Saturday night with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.  Canadian soldiers eventually called in heavy artillery, tanks and air support. A compound near their position was bombed.  "There was no indication that anyone was injured in that, Taliban or otherwise,'' she said.  The road itself will cut a one-hour trip for villagers down to 15 minutes ....

A turn from burning to learning

Pajhwok Afghan News, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

The anti-government Taliban have announced that they are going to run schools with curriculum other than taught in the government-run educational institutions in ten districts of the southwestern zone.  In a statement released on Sunday, the militia singled out the presence of foreign military as the factor responsible for schools' closure in many areas of the country.  Without quoting any senior leader of the ousted militia, the statement said the educational programme had been planned for districts which, it said, were under the control of the Taliban. However, officials rejected the Taliban claim and said the government enjoyed full control over every nook and corner of the country.  It said a commission had already been formed to work out the procedures and other related issues and announce the new academic year. Those schools would teach the Taliban-era curriculum, added the statement ....

Coalition forces in Afghanistan bomb Pakistani territory
Afghanistan Sun, 22 Jan 07 
Article Link

The US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan Monday bombed Pakistani territory, killing one soldier and injuring two, a Pakistani army statement said.  'Today at 14:55 hours (9:55 GMT) in an unfortunate incident close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, coalition forces mistakenly fired on one of our posts near Shawal, North Waziristan Agency,' said the statement from the army's Inter-Services Public Relations.  It said one soldier was killed and two others were injured in this incident.  'A strong protest has been lodged with the coalition authorities about the incident asking them to investigate the matter and take necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future,' the statement added.

Pakistan says coalition fire killed soldier
US Marine Corps Times, 22 Jan 07
Article Link]

U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan mistakenly fired at a Pakistani border post and killed a soldier, Pakistan’s military said Monday after lodging a protest over the death.  A U.S. military spokesman said four precision-guided bombs were dropped on four suspected militants who were firing rockets at a U.S. military outpost at Bermel in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, near the Pakistani border.  “I cannot confirm or deny loss or injury of Pakistani military,” said Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, the spokesman. “This all happened inside Afghanistan.”  He also said the coalition was investigating.  But the Pakistani military said in a statement the post that was hit is located near Shawal, a mountainous area close to the Afghan border in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal region ....

Pakistani soldier killed by allies
Daily Times (PAK), 23 Jan 07
Article Link

NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan fired on a Pakistani check-post near the Afghan border on Monday, killing a paramilitary soldier and wounding two others, a military spokesman said. Maj-Gen Shaukat Sultan told Daily Times that Islamabad had lodged a strong protest with the coalition authorities for “mistakenly” firing on the Pakistani check-post near Shawal in North Waziristan. The Pakistani check-post was attacked at 2:55pm and the coalition forces told the Pakistani military establishment that the incident was the result of “similar fire from the direction” of the check-post, the army spokesman said. “A strong protest has been lodged with coalition authorities about the incident asking them to investigate the matter and take necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future,” a military statement read ....

FC man dies in coalition attack on Pak border post
The News (PAK), 23 Jan 07
Article Link

A Frontier Corps soldier was killed and at least two others were wounded when helicopter gunships from the US-led coalition forces bombed a Pakistani border post in the remote Shawal area in North Waziristan on Monday afternoon.  The Pakistan government lodged a strong protest and asked the coalition forces to investigate the matter and take necessary measures that such incidents are not repeated. The statement termed the attack a mistake.  However, a US military spokesman earlier said the incident occurred in Afghanistan. Colonel Paul Fitzpatrick in a statement said he cannot confirm or deny loss or injury of Pakistani military. He said the incident was being investigated. He contended that four precision-guided bombs were dropped on four suspected militants who were firing rockets at a US military outpost in Bermal in Afghanistan’s Paktika province.  Official and tribal sources said the Frontier Corps (FC) border post was attacked by gunship helicopters from the US-led coalition forces in Zway Naray area in Shawal valley in North Waziristan at 2.55pm. They said the choppers intruded into Pakistani territory and bombed the post, which apparently was clearly marked. The FC border post is not near Bermal district in Paktika and it is, therefore, intriguing as to how a US military outpost there was being attacked by suspected militants with rockets from such a faraway place ....

'Friendly fire' death in Pakistan

BBC News Online, 22 Jan 07
Article Link

Pakistan says US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan have mistakenly killed one of its soldiers at a border post.  Two other soldiers were wounded when coalition forces opened fire in the Shawal area of North Waziristan region, a Pakistan military statement said.  It said a "strong protest" had been lodged with the coalition, which said it was investigating the incident.  Earlier, at least three Pakistani security personnel were killed in a roadside bombing in North Waziristan ....

Ethnic differences great challenge to Afghan unity
Pajhwok Afghan News, 21 Jan 07
Article Link

Ethnic differences and inflaming political hostilities are the serious challenges that threaten Afghanistan national unity and stability.  While addressing the second year inaugural session of the parliament, speaker of the lower house of the parliament Mohammad Younus Qanuni said ethnic differences and political hostility were the serious challenges for national unity and stability.  President Hamid Kazai, members of cabinet, chief justice, ambassadors and the representatives of donor organs attended the inaugural session. Qanuni said: "Beauty of Afghanistan is in racial difference and political differences is the sign of public involvement. Unfortunately, outside of Afghan border, there are groups want to deepen racial differences among Afghan tribes."  He said: "We hope by drafting the national strategy and holding negotiations, we will be able to root out the racial differences." Qanuni hoped in the first weeks of their session they would work on plans to strengthen national unity among Afghans ....

Italy to stay in Afganistan but no more troops, PM says
Reuters, 22 Jan 07
Article Link

Italy will keep soldiers in Afghanistan but will not increase their number, Prime Minister Romano Prodi said on Monday, insisting he would not give in to hard-left government factions demanding a pull-out.  Pacifists in Italy's centre left have threatened to vote against re-financing the 1,900-strong force in Afghanistan -- something parliament must do every six months. That would be a potentially fatal blow to Prodi's 9-month-old government.  Prodi pulled Italian troops out of Iraq last year, a conflict he said Italy should never have entered, but he insists Italy should remain part of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.  Speaking to reporters during an official visit to Turkey, Prodi dismissed suggestions from coalition left-wingers that his administration was blunting the centre left's 'peaceful' 2006 election message ....



Fallen Comrade
Fallen Comrade
Reaction score
More troops for Afghanistan
Daily Telegraph, Jan. 23

The Government is preparing to send more troops to Afghanistan despite an admission from Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, yesterday that the Army is already being asked to do more than was originally planned.

Mr Browne was involved in heated exchanges in the Commons over Conservative claims that three Army battalions were being prepared to go to Afghanistan to replace the two already there – an increase of between 500-600 soldiers.

He told MPs that force levels were "under review" and he would not add to speculation about future deployments.

The preparations to send more troops will raise concerns about so-called "mission creep" in Afghanistan...

A spokesman said no decision had yet been taken on how many troops would be sent to replace the two commando battalions in Afghanistan, which are due to return to the UK in April.

Liam Fox, the Conservative defence spokesman, said the 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards and the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Dr Fox said troops serving in Afghanistan had reported problems with mine protected vehicles, a shortage of armoured vehicles and a lack of night vision equipment. "If we haven't got enough equipment for two battalions, how will we have enough for three?" he asked.

Mr Browne said all urgent operational requirements "approved by the chain of command" had gone ahead and denied reports that some had been turned down on financial grounds.

Outside the Commons, Dr Fox said: "If we are sending an extra battalion to Helmand to boost our forces, the Government must ensure it provides extra support and equipment – including more helicopters and proper armoured vehicles. Our troops deserve to have the kit they need to do the job asked of them."..

In the Commons, Mr Browne said the size of the Army – 101,000 – was about the same as Labour inherited when it came to power in 1997. He acknowledged that ministers were now asking it to do more than was planned during the last defence review five years ago. "But that doesn't mean the Army isn't capable of doing it."

He admitted that if the Army had to keep up its operational tempo for too long, there was a danger it would be damaged. "But we don't intend to do that."



Army.ca Legend
Reaction score
Articles found 23 January, 2007

Canadian Soldiers Involved in Civilian Shooting: Officials
Josh Pringle  Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Article Link

An Afghan man is being treated for injuries after being shot in the leg by Canadian troops in southern Afghanistan.

The incident happened last night at a security cordon set up near a Canadian armoured vehicle outside Kandahar.

Canadian officials say the man refused several orders to stop as he approached the security barrier.

Lieutenant Sue Stefko says the troops hollered in Pashtun for the man to halt and fired three warning shots before taking aim at the motorcycle.

The incident happened on a dirt road as a convoy of soldiers from the 1st battalion Royal Canadian Regiment was returning from the field.

Canadian troops have been involved in a series of civilian shootings, two of which have resulted in fatalities.

Suicide Bomber Kills 10 in Afghanistan
By AMIR SHAH The Associated Press Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Article Link

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A bomber blew himself up amid a crowd of workers outside a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing 10 and wounding at least 14 others in the deadliest suicide attack in four months, officials said.

The attacker triggered explosives strapped to his chest among the workers as they lined up outside the base in the city of Khost, said Jamal Arsalah, the governor of Khost province.

Maj. Matt Hackathorn, a U.S. military spokesman, said there was no immediate word of any U.S. military casualties.

The governor, who visited the scene shortly after the explosion, said the Afghan casualties were among hundreds of workers waiting to enter the base, known as Camp Salerno, through its main gate.

An Associated Press Television News cameraman saw the bodies of five men, drenched in blood, in the city's military hospital. Relatives of the dead and injured mobbed the hospital seeking news of their loved ones.
More on link

Commons defence committee lands in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 | 8:07 AM ET  CBC News
Article Link

MPs charged with overseeing the Canadian mission in Afghanistan arrived in the war-ravaged country Tuesday, the group's first visit since the first wave of Canadian troops landed five years ago.

Appearing jetlagged, the all-party Commons defence committee arrived at Kandahar Airfield early Tuesday amid tight security aboard a Canadian Forces Hercules transport plane.

Members of the all-party Commons defence committee arrive in Afghanistan early Tuesday.
(CBC) With a mandate to monitor Canada's mission, the committee is in the country to be briefed on all aspects of the war and reconstruction effort.

However, they won't be allowed to leave the southern base to see projects such as schools, medical clinics and roads being built in the Afghan countryside.
More on link

India-Minister-Afghanistan visit
New Delhi, Jan 23, IRNA
Article Link

Security of Indians in Afghanistan, which is a matter of concern here, will be among the issues of discussion during External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's two-day visit Kabul which starts today.

Mukherjee, who is visiting Afghanistan primarily to invite President Hamid Karzai to the 14th South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to be held here in April, will hold talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta to review the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

Discussions will also be held on ways in which India can step up its assistance to the reconstruction and development of the war-ravaged country.

New Delhi has already announced an increase of USD 100 million in assistance from the present level of USD 650 million.

With Afghanistan witnessing a resurgence of Taliban forces, security issues are expected to dominate the talks.
More on link

Afghanistan dismisses Taliban vow to open schools
Article Link

KABUL: The Afghan government dismissed as “ridiculous” on Monday, a Taliban vow to open schools in Afghanistan, saying this was likely a pretext for moving “hate madrassas” into the country from Pakistan. The United Nations also said it did not take seriously the announcement. Education Minister Hanif Atmar scoffed at the claim, telling AFP the Taliban burned down 183 schools and killed 61 teachers and students in the past one and a half years.

Attacks by the insurgents had also closed down nearly 400 schools, most of them in the areas where they said they would open them up, he said in an interview.

Atmar also questioned the claim they would allow girls to go school. “During the years of their power in Afghanistan they did not allow even a single girl to go to public schools. How come their policy has now dramatically changed?” He said the government would have the “legitimate right” to attack Taliban schools that became centres of terrorism. The United Nations mission was also dismissive. “I don’t think we see this as being serious,” spokesman Adrian Edwards said. agencies