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June 2010

ITC- Petraeus still countering insurgency

There will be some adjustments and some reinforcement of exactly how the Rules of Engagement should be employed, but there will be no major changes to our strategy in Afghanistan. Nor should there be if we want to actually win. I have only one question for everyone who thinks we should loosen the ROE, what happens after we start killing more Talibs and civilians? How do we actually get to a place where the Afghan people trust us and can handle their own business? I don't see it and that is why I support the COIN strategy and the ROE to make it successful. That doesn't mean we can't kill plenty of bad guys. We killed or captured 121 Taliban leaders in just the past 90 days. We got many of them because the people have started to trust us and feed us info about who the bad guys are. This also ends up saving more of our troops lives by getting the civilians invested in helping us. The more we get them in the game, the better chance we can get out.

VA Dental Clinic Exposed Veterans to HIV?

Wow, this is scary:

A Missouri VA hospital is under fire because it may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis has recently mailed letters to 1,812 veterans telling them they could contract hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after visiting the medical center for dental work, said Rep. Russ Carnahan.

Carnahan said Tuesday he is calling for a investigation into the issue and has sent a letter to President Obama about it.

I've had a fair amount of experience with the VA.  They took care of me with a significant heart problem I've been dealing with for the last few years, and for which I was uninsured.  The San Francisco VA is, from what I've seen, pretty advanced in terms of cardiac techniques, though it's pretty big and I wouldn't say it's particularly patient friendly. 

The much smaller San Bruno VA clinic, however, is just outstanding.  The doctors are mostly doing fellowships at Stanford and UCSF medical schools, and both I've had seemed totally competent and reassuring.  The phlebotomist who drew my blood got it right in one take -- I have small veins, and an inexperienced Kaiser phlebotomist once took three stabs before he got it right.  And the woman who runs the scheduling there, Estelle, is really on top of her game.  Once she even called me back to make sure I had the right time for an appointment because it had been rescheduled a couple of times already and she wanted to make absolutely sure.  I don't know which experience is more representative, mine or that of the 1800 exposed veterans; but I wanted to make sure credit is given where due.

-- UP


Royal Laotion parachutists spotted over S.C.?

In this jump, I was not only climbing out of the aircraft, but pulling myself far enough up on the strut – away from the fuselage right where the strut connects to the wing – that my feet had to leave the wheel cover.

In other words, I was hanging onto the airplane with my bare hands while my legs where flying behind me: I know it sounds almost like a stuntman move (harkening back to the days of barnstorming and flying circuses), but it was a jump-technique I learned that we would be required to make – with some nervous amusement – about an hour before take-off.

Increasing this sensory overload was the fact that Alley – a former U.S. Army Special Forces operator and current contract-soldier with at least 5,000 military and sport jumps under his belt and literally more bullet holes in his body than one might count on two hands – expected me to now look back into the aircraft where he would either give me a green light to let go of the strut, or a red light to try and make my way back into the plane if he saw something wrong with my rig. [...]

"Royal Laotian Airborne wings are among the many foreign jump wings earned and worn by U.S. military forces  ..."

Sounds fun.

Despite being on a first-name basis with my USAF commander (he called me Chris and I called him Colonel), my repeated requests to attend jump school did not succeed. The Air Force for some reason is a bit stingy with their jump school slots and he informed me that there was no benefit having Airborne-qualified firefighters. I disagreed. Perhaps I should have talked to the Laotians. Though make no mistake - as W. Thomas Smith Jr. tells me - there's big difference between paratrooper (one who goes through three weeks of Airborne training and carries a rifle) and parachutist (one who might not).

NOTE: Smith also tells me - in a phone conversation - that Maj. Gen. Khambang Sibounheuang, a former Laotian Army commando officer who today serves as pres. of the Royal Laotian Airborne corps, is now an honorary member of the new U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team.

Afghanistan Patrol

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U.S. Army Spc. Newton Carlicci travels on his way back to Command Observation Post Charkh after a patrol to the village of Paspajak in the Charkh district in Afghanistan's Logar province, June 20, 2010. Carlicci is assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Russell Gilchrest.

Bill Ardolino from Afghanistan

The Long War Journal has sent Bill Ardolino to Afghanistan for a while to report while embedded with the Marines. I had a chance to sit and talk w/ Bill before he left and as always I look forward to his excellent reporting from in theater

I'm currently embedded with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, in Musa Qala, Helmand province, Afghanistan. After traveling through JFK, Frankfurt, Kabul, Camp Leatherneck, and Delaram, I've finally settled in. Several pieces are in the works, but here are some first impressions of Musa Qala.

Security is variable, hinging on how far one moves from the District Center (DC). The DC can be very roughly described as 'downtown,' since it contains government buildings, the densest press of people and brick and mud-daub structures, and the district's sole legal bazaar. The remainder of the district stretches north and south in a kidney-shaped area of small villages, farms, and individual compounds littered along the wadi.


Daily Brief 30 Jun 2010

Image of the Day: Corsair's close air support during Korean War

Korea: UN denies N.Korean charges of bringing heavy weapons into DMZ

Japan PM urges China to slam S.Korean ship sinking

U.S./S.Korea delay joint drills for third time while China commences with live fire drills

U.S.: Muslim leader says that Islam is not a religion of peace (video)

Russia says U.S. spy claims are ‘baseless’

What the media is missing in the spy case (video)

State Department downplays…

McChrystal to retire from Army

Levin: Senate likely to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Obama unveils space treaty that includes arms-control treaty that would possibly limit space weapons

U.S. intercepts ballistic missile in test off Hawaii

AfPak: Winning in Afghanistan will also require pressure on Pakistan (commentary)

Petraeus to look at Afghan ROE, but unlikely to modify

Petraeus discusses pros, cons of July 2011 withdrawal date

Military restricts use of Humvees as fatal IED attacks increase

Middle East: Israeli spy in California faces deportation to West Bank – says Hamas will kill him for spying, converting to Christianity… Former CIA Director says deportation will deter potential spies

Hamas exposed (commentary)

Originally published at the Victory Institute