Monday, September 28, 2009

General McChrystal on 60 Minutes

Watch CBS News Videos Online

General Stanley McChrystal the new ISAF Commander believes that things have got to be shaken up and fast to ensure conditions to win this war.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Charles Krauthammer: On the McChrystal Report

A scathing analysis from Charles Krauthammer on the Obama administration.

McChrystal to resign if not given resources for Afghanistan

What follows is from Bill Roggio the preeminent source of reliable information regarding the Long War.

Within 24 hours of the leak of the Afghanistan assessment to The Washington Post, General Stanley McChrystal's team fired its second shot across the bow of the Obama administration. According to McClatchy, military officers close to General McChrystal said he is prepared to resign if he isn't given sufficient resources (read "troops") to implement a change of direction in Afghanistan:

Adding to the frustration, according to officials in Kabul and Washington, are White House and Pentagon directives made over the last six weeks that Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, not submit his request for as many as 45,000 additional troops because the administration isn't ready for it.

In the last two weeks, top administration leaders have suggested that more American troops will be sent to Afghanistan, and then called that suggestion "premature." Earlier this month, Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that "time is not on our side"; on Thursday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates urged the public "to take a deep breath."

In Kabul, some members of McChrystal's staff said they don't understand why Obama called Afghanistan a "war of necessity" but still hasn't given them the resources they need to turn things around quickly.

Three officers at the Pentagon and in Kabul told McClatchy that the McChrystal they know would resign before he'd stand behind a faltering policy that he thought would endanger his forces or the strategy.

"Yes, he'll be a good soldier, but he will only go so far," a senior official in Kabul said. "He'll hold his ground. He's not going to bend to political pressure."

On Thursday, Gates danced around the question of when the administration would be ready to receive McChrystal's request, which was completed in late August. "We're working through the process by which we want that submitted," he said.

The entire process followed by the military in implementing a change of course in Afghanistan is far different, and bizarrely so, from the process it followed in changing strategy in Iraq.

For Afghanistan, the process to decide on a course change began in March of this year, when Bruce Reidel was tasked to assess the situation. This produced the much-heralded yet vague "AfPak" assessment. Then, in May, General David McKiernan was fired and replaced by General McChrystal, who took command in June. General McChrystal's assessment hit President Obama's desk at the end of August, almost three months after he took command. And yet now in the last half of September, the decision on additional forces has yet to be submitted to the administration.

Contrast this with Iraq in the fall of 2006. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was fired just one day after the elections in early November. The Keane-Kagan plan for Iraq was submitted to President Bush shortly afterward, and encompassed both the assessment of the situation and the recommended course of action, including the recommended number of troops to be deployed to deal with the situation. General David Petraeus replaced General George Casey in early February 2007, and hit the ground running; the surge strategy was in place, troops were being mustered to deploy to Iraq, and commanders on the ground were preparing for and executing the new orders. The first of the surge units began to arrive in Iraq only weeks later, in March.

Today, the military is perceiving that the administration is punting the question of a troop increase in Afghanistan, and the military is even questioning the administration's commitment to succeed in Afghanistan. The leaking of the assessment and the report that McChrystal would resign if he is not given what is needed to succeed constitute some very public pushback against the administration's waffling on Afghanistan.

More on this topic here here and here

Friday, September 18, 2009

Royal 22nd Regiment Losses Mount

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD — Another Canadian soldier has been killed in Afghanistan The second to die in a roadside bomb attack this week. The circumstances and details of the latest loss will be far too familiar to those at home. He is the fourth to be killed in action this month. Seemingly, only the names change.

Pte. Jonathan Couturier, 23, was killed in action at 10:15 a.m. Thursday when a Canadian armoured vehicle struck an improvised explosive device about 25 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City in Panjwaii district. He was a member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment.Eleven other soldiers suffered slight injuries and have returned to duty after receiving treatment at the NATO hospital here.

In a statement, Brig-Gen. Jonathan Vance said Couturier was returning from an "operation designed to protect the population by removing important insurgent command and control networks in Panjwaii district.

"This meant capturing weapons and IED caches, and preventing the movement of insurgents and weaponry into areas where the innocent civilians might be harmed. These types of operations were an important part of the security that Jonathan and his comrades were providing in Kandahar province."

He was considered "the little brother" by members of his section and was known for his work ethic."He knew how to communicate his sense of humour during the most difficult times.Couturier never missed the chance "to talk about his passions — hockey, his Mustang, and the love of his live, Andreanne," said Vance.

Pte. Couturier was born in Loretteville, just outside Quebec City. He left for Afghanistan in April 2009 for his first tour of duty abroad. He is survived by his common-law spouse, Andreanne, mother Celine, father Yvan and brothers Nicolas and Mickael.

Pte.Couturier died in the service of his country and the people of Afghanistan. May we always remember him. Rest in Peace.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Another Canadian Soldier Killed in IED Blast

CEFCOM NR–09.024 - September 14, 2009

OTTAWA– One Canadian soldier was killed and four injured when an improvised explosive device detonated near their armoured vehicle on a road in Panwjai District. The incident occurred approximately 10 kilometres South-West of Kandahar City at around 1:00 p.m., Kandahar time, on 13th September, 2009.

Killed in action was Private Patrick Lormand from the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e RĂ©giment based in Valcartier, Quebec. Private Lormand was serving as a member of the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22e RĂ©giment Battle Group, Quebec.

Four other Canadian Forces members were injured during the incident. They were evacuated by helicopter to the Multi-National Medical Facility at the Kandahar Airfield. They have all since been released. Their identities will not be made public.

Our thoughts and condolences go to the family and friends of our fallen comrade.

Members of Task Force Kandahar work with Afghan security forces for the greater good of Afghanistan. We remain focused and determined to bringing peace, stability and good governance despite the challenge imposed on us by the insurgents. We remain committed to Afghanistan.

Canadian Soldiers Believe in Afghan Mission

Matthew Fisher is an independent Canadian journalist whom I've followed for years. He has reported from wherever Canadian Soldiers have been deployed since the late 1980's; first for The Toronto Sun and subsequently The National Post, owned by Canwest. His reporting has always appeared to me to be unbiased although he doesn't hide the fact that admires Canadian Soldiers. This is his latest from The National Post.(The emphasis is mine.)

Confident voice of Canadian troops rarely heard in Afghan debate

Matthew Fisher, Canwest News Service
Published: Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sapper Alexandre Beaudin-D'Anjou, his face still bloodied and badly swollen one day after a homemade landmine had killed two of his colleagues last week, announced he would answer questions about the awful incident, but only after making a statement.
In what was an exceptional "cri de coeur" to his countrymen on the home front, the young combat engineer from Quebec City declared: "I want to say that part of the Canadian population negatively views the work that we do here, above all because they don't understand what we do. In my opinion, the majority of the Afghan population benefits from what we do.

"Sadly, there are dangers in this, as you saw in yesterday's incident. All the soldiers feel deeply that we will finish this work for one another."

With Internet access, and radio and television stations streaming news programs to their forward-operating bases and strongpoints, soldiers are acutely aware that some commentators -- with little or no knowledge of what soldiers confront in Afghanistan -- have given up on them and their mission.

They say they are more than a little bewildered by all the discussion about "wither Afghanistan" and disappointed that the Liberals and Conservatives -- who ordered them to the far side of the world -- have become so terrified about the Afghan file's potential political consequences that they have fallen silent about the current mission and what Canada may do when Parliament's current mandate expires in 2011.

There could not be two more different views of what Canada is achieving in Afghanistan than that of the troops and of the mission's critics at home.

Unlike the U.S., where there is a robust, multi-faceted debate about Afghanistan in which senior soldiers can make their views known, all Canadian soldiers are under strict orders from Ottawa to remain silent about the Afghan mission's future and ways that Canada might adapt or change its mission for the better.

However, in stark contrast to the talk at home, there is confidence among Canadian troops and civilians in Kandahar that a tipping point has been reached recently in the province, with the long awaited arrival of the U.S. cavalry.

In this context, the cavalry is an infantry battalion, three Stryker light armoured battalions, a slew of military policemen and scores of helicopters from the 82nd Aviation Brigade.

Among soldiers there is confidence that Canada's task force is finally in a position to focus on what the government has always wanted them to do.

That is, to "clear, hold and build" within their area of operations which, thanks to the Americans, is now about 60 per cent smaller, and to devote more time to mentoring Afghan army and police units who must take over the fight against the Taliban. It's hoped this will deny the Taliban and al-Qaida safe havens from which they can again use Afghanistan as a kindergarten for global terrorism.

The debate in the U.S. about Afghanistan, which has a profound spillover effect on views in Canada, is being shaped by an odd double whammy. The first was George W. Bush's colossal blunder in abandoning Afghanistan soon after 9/11 to pursues his misadventure in Iraq. The second is that because of that long war, there is little patience south of the border for the long campaign now required in Afghanistan because the former president shifted his focus from South Asia at a time when it would have not taken a great effort to stabilize the situation.

The debate about the Afghan war in Britain has been shaped by some of the same factors. But the British have also been slow to respond to problems of their own making. The decision to pretend that Afghanistan was Northern Ireland, and to roar around the desert in thin-skinned vehicles was a deadly error. So was Britain's inability to muster sufficient helicopters to fly some of their troops out of trouble.

Thanks largely to the Manley Commission, Canada's equipment shortcomings were dealt with some time ago. The G-wagons, which had become notorious improvised explosive devices traps, were banished and more armoured vehicles were brought in. Helicopters were also provided, taking many Canadians off the roads and a U.S. infantry battalion was dispatched to help the Canadians in Zhari/Panjwaii.

Clear evidence of the high regard the Pentagon has for Canadian military leadership was Washington's unusual decision to place that infantry battalion and, more recently, some U.S. military police under Canadian command. At the same time, and in a similar situation, U.S. Marines fighting beside the British next door in Helmand have all remained under U.S. command.

Further evidence of how well Canadian forces are thought of was provided recently by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American who commands the NATO force in Afghanistan, and Anders Rasmussen, the Danish NATO secretary-general. They both lauded Canada for its model village project, which is being expanded at this moment from its base in Dand District, southwest of Kandahar. It is now being copied by other armies, most notably by the Stryker battalions.

Last month's presidential election in Afghanistan has created a political debacle. However, what was obscured by credible charges of vote-buying and ballot stuffing has been the fact that, despite loud boasts by the Taliban, the Canadians and their Afghan and U.S. allies kept the lid on violence in Kandahar on election day, denying the insurgents an expected propaganda victory.

For more than three years now, some media have claimed Kandahar City was about to fall to the Taliban. In fact, the Taliban have not once mounted a serious attack to gain control of even one part of Afghanistan's second largest city. What several deadly attacks on Afghan civilians in the provincial capital have demonstrated is that suicide bombers and IEDs have become the only way for insurgents to fight.

It is impossible for the Taliban to win a war with such tactics unless the coalition countries succumb to the propaganda that such terrorist attacks generate, and fold up their tents.

Although badly battered, the Taliban remains resilient because there still is a steady stream of religious fanatics being recruited from across the border in Pakistan and wealthy donors in the Gulf continue to provide strong financial support.

Despite the Taliban's abiding strength, Kandaharis remain overwhelmingly united about two things. Thanks in part to the huge number of Taliban attacks on civilians, the general population still wants nothing to do with leader Mullah Omar and his Arab friends. What they want is for Canadian and coalition forces to stay until their own forces are strong enough to confront the insurgents.

The view of many Canadian soldiers, which they have not been allowed to express publicly, is that the war in Afghanistan is far from being lost. There is much evidence that the Taliban is running out of room to hide and will find themselves in a dire situation if more U.S. troops are made available to cover the flanks and the routes they take to their winter sanctuaries in Afghanistan are cut off.

Beaudin-D'Anjou spoke for all the troops in South Asia when he said that those who have a negative view of their mission do not understand the many challenges that they have met and why it is of crucial importance to Kandaharis and to Canadians that they are there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rick Rescorla, Hero: From LZ-XRAY to 9/11

No sleep for 48 hours. Grimy, unshaven, filthy uniform. Canteens loose, dogtags hanging out, pocket unbuttoned, helmet strap hanging. No insignia of rank, sleeves up. Dirty fingernails. His bayonet is fixed; trigger finger alert and ready for action.

Lt. Rick Rescorla, Platoon Leader, B Co 2/7 Cav in Bayonet Attack on the morning of 16 Nov 1965. This is not a posed shot; this is a man moving forward into combat. Eyes forward. Ready.

That is how he was described on that morning in this Photo by Peter Arnett

On this, the 8th Anniversary of the attacks of September 11, 2001, no single person comes to my mind as the symbol of pure selfless heroism as does Rick Rescorla, born in Cornawall, England. At age sixteen he joined the British military. He fought against Communists in Cyprus and Rhodesia. A true British Warrior with no more wars to fight, he went to America, he said, so that he could enlist in the Army and go to Vietnam where he served with distinction above and beyond the call of duty.

It would be at the World Trade Center, serving as Director of Security at Morgan Stanley where Rick Rescorla gave his all in the service of his fellows. He had most of Morgan Stanley’s 2700 employees as well as people working on other floors of WTC 2 safely out of the buildings by the time United Airlines Flight 175 hit WTC 2 at 9:02 a.m.

According to Stephan Newhouse, chairman of Morgan Stanley International, Rescorla was seen as high as the 72nd floor evacuating people, clearing the floors and working his way down.

He was last seen heading up the stairs of the tenth floor of the collapsing WTC 2. His remains were not recovered. As a result of Rescorla's actions, all but 6 of Morgan Stanley's 2700 WTC employees survived. Four of the six included Rick and three of his deputies who followed him back into the building - Wesley Mercer, Jorge Velazquez, and Godwin Forde.

He left behind a widow, Susan Rescorla, two children and three stepchildren. Rick was also followed by his mother, Ciss Rescorla, who died the following year, his uncle Trevor Rescorla, who has also since died, as well as many dear friends and family members in the United States and Hayle, Cornwall, England. A memorial stone was erected in his hometown of Hayle, Cornwall, to commemorate his life.

Canadian Soldiers have fought, died and been severely wounded in Afghanistan in the years since 9/11. Like Rick Rescorla, they have sacrificed not for an ideal but for their fellow Soldiers. Let us never for get why we are at war in Afghanistan today. It's not to create a democracy in a place mired in a medieval timewarp. It is to provide a secure environment where ordinary Afghans can prosper and to keep our shores free from further attacks by extremists who would destroy our way of life.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Coalition COIN Academy Needs Book Donations

Guest Blogger: Scott Kesterson-Donations needed for COIN Reference Library
Posted By Bouhammer on September 5, 2009

The Counterinsurgen​cy Academy is located in Kabul, Afghanistan at the base of the ruins of the Queens castle. The purpose of the Academy is to teach and expand the doctrine of population centric concepts for operations in Afghanistan, and beyond. The contributions the Academy is making to (NATO/ISAF forces commander) Gen. McChrystal’s, strategy can not be understated, nor can the challenges of implementing an expanded doctrine of population centric operations.

In an attempt to support the operations of the Academy, as well as the many soldiers that attend and instruct here, I have developed a “wish list” on of books in hopes of creating an Honorary Counterinsurgency Learning Library made up entirely of donations from our Coalition communities back home. The intent is to further expand the awareness of culture, methods and operations that promote the end goal of national unity, governance and security for the people of Afghanistan.

To find the list, all you need to do is click on Wish Lists
The name of the wish list is: COIN Library – Kabul.

I am continually being asked about donations for soldiers and items of need. This list, though only in the initial phases of development, is something that will have a lasting use and impact on the soldiers here at the Academy and the students of the Academy who eventually take what is learned here and apply the concepts downrange. If the interest is there to support the soldiers by way of donations, I would encourage you become involved in this effort through The shipping address is listed through the “Wish List.” If you wish to donate another book for the library not listed on the list, or wish to purchase a book from another source other than, the same mailing address applies. For reference, the mailing address here at the academy is listed below:

Scott Kesterson
COIN Academy
Camp Phoenix
APO AE 09320

Thank you all in advance.
Scott Kesterson.

UPDATE: September 10, 2009

To give you some idea who the user community is I quote this paragraph from Blue:

"The Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan is growing, and its role in propagating the doctrine of counterinsurgency, or COIN, across many organizations is growing. Students of counterinsurgency from every branch of the United States Military, all NATO and Coalition allies, and most importantly Afghans from government, the Afghan Military, Afghan National Police and even non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are being trained in counterinsurgency every week. Some of this training is conducted on site at the CTC-A, while other training is carried directly to the units and organizations in the field.

Read more about the Academy, including curriculum here

Also KY Woman has more information about The Counterinsurgency Training Center – Afghanistan, plus a video here

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Two More Canadian Combat Engineers Killed in Afghanistan

More than 1,000 Canadian, U.S., Dutch and British soldiers turned out in the bright Afghanistan sunshine on Monday for the ramp ceremony to pay tribute to Major Yannick Pepin, 36 and Corporal and Jean-Francois Drouin, 21.

Both men were members of the 5 Combat Engineer Regiment based in Valcartier, Que. A military official at the base said Pepin was a native of Victoriaville, Que., and Drouin was born in Quebec City.

They died Sunday in a powerful roadside bomb blast that hit their armoured vehicle on a road southwest of Kandahar, bringing to 129 the total number of Canadian soldiers who have died as part of the Afghan mission since 2002. The vast majority of deaths ocuured since Canada began combat operations in Kandahar in January, 2006.

Maj. Pepin, the highest ranking Canadian killed in combat in Afghanistan, had lamented the death of two soldiers under his command just five weeks ago.

"The loss of these two is very difficult, but the work will continue" Pepin had told reporters Aug. 3, two days after the deaths of Sapper Matthieu Allard, 21, and Cpl. Christian Bobbitt, 23 - also in a roadside explosion.

The soldiers stood quietly as the flag-draped coffins carrying the two were loaded aboard a C-130 for the long flight home.

"Today the entire task force is mourning our fallen comrades," an emotional Col. Roch Lacroix, deputy commander for Task Force Kandahar said late Sunday night when announcing the deaths.

"Saying goodbye to Yannick and Jean-Francois so prematurely is hard for me, it is hard for their friends, and it's hard for their families," Lacroix said, standing in front of a cenotaph marking each of Canada's fallen soldiers

My heart goes out to the family, friends and fellow Soldiers of these two Canadian heroes who died doing what they believed in while performing one of the most dangerous jobs in the Army.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

In Memory of SPC Jordan Shay

As I was leaving work yesterday I checked Jordon's site to see if he had left a new post, Not seeing one I moved on to Alex's site and saw the title Through Amber Lenses, A Light. That's all I read. I thought it would be a post a promoting Jordan's site and made a mental note to read it today.

Today I recieved an email from someone who was also following Jordan's site and realized the worst had happened. In the terse words of the U.S. Department of Defense:

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Sept. 3 in Baqubah, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. The soldiers were assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Todd W. Selge, 25, of Burnsville, Minn.; and

Spc. Jordan M. Shay, 22, of Salisbury, Mass.

The incident is under investigation.

For further information contact the Fort Lewis Public Affairs Office, (253) 967-0147 // 0152, or after-hours

My thoughts, prayers and sincere condolences go out to the families of SSG Todd W. Selge and SPC Jordan M. Shay.

I leave off with the words of Alex Horton a former member of the 3RD Stryker Brigade Combat Team with whom Jordan served: "The United States lost a brave soldier, and the military blog community lost a brave new voice. I ask that you take the time to read his blog from beginning to end. In his comments section, his girlfriend tells us the blog was important to him. I hope he realized how important it was to those who read it."

Read Alex's complete post. Army of Dude: Through Amber Lenses, A Light