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Afghanistan

A British Chinook helicopter has been deliberately destroyed by ISAF Forces at 1605 local time having sustained damage on landing approximately 10km East of Sangin at 0530 this morning, Sunday 30 August 2009.

In addition to the four crew members the helicopter was carrying 15 soldiers from 2 RIFLES Battlegroup who were being inserted into the area as part of an ongoing security operation.

The aircraft is believed to have suffered a 'hard landing' and sustained damage to the undercarriage, nose and front rotor which subsequently made it unflyable. The crew and passengers were unharmed. The troops continued with the operation and the crew were extracted by one of the two other Chinooks also on the operation.

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By Adam Dempsey, Research Associate, U K Defence Forum

On the 13th January the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information request asking the US government to disclose the legal basis for the use of predator drones to conduct 'targeted killings.' From the very outset of the war on terror US administrations have used unmanned drones to target and kill terrorists. More recently, use of unmanned drones has expanded within Pakistan. As a result of the expansion of drone activities the ACLU argues that the American public has a right to know whether the programme is compliant with international law. The ACLU is also keen to establish whether the programme seeks to minimise the number of civilian casualties.

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The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

Revisited by Elayne Jude, Great North News Services

In January 2002, Rory Stewart walked from Herat to Kabul, traversing, via a snowy massif a little above the country's waistline, almost the breadth of Afghanistan. The route followed that of Babur, the sixteenth century first Mogul Emperor of India. Stewart's duplication is mostly accidental, and a handy explanation for suspicious officials and wondering villagers. History, bureaucracy and international relations have interrupted his original walk across Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal; with the fall of the Taliban, Stewart is able to resume his trek every step without using any vehicle. On one occasion, when he is forced to ford a swollen river near nightfall by jeep, he returns the following morning to the spot where his feet left the ground, and retraces the distance to the dropoff.

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Up to 400 soldiers from 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) [2 YORKS] have commenced their deployment to Afghanistan as part of 11 Light Brigade, which replaces 19 Light Brigade this October.

They will take on the role of the Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team (OMLT). The purpose of the team is to develop the capabilities and maximise the effectiveness of the Afghan National Army (ANA).

The nature of the role in theatre will see the battalion operate in small teams, utilising a wide range of military and instructional skills to further develop their Afghan colleagues' capabilities.

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Have the lessons of Iraq been fully evaluated, taken to heart, and transferred to Afghanistan. Richard North - an occasional contributor to Defence Viewpoints and an assiduous blogger under Defence of the Realm - published a book "Ministry of Defeat, aiming squarely at this question, which was published in hardback on 31st May.

A reviewer wrote:

"Ministry of Defeat" is the first and only forensic examination of the political and military failures by the British in Iraq. As the government, the media and the army were quick to downplay the unfolding catastrophe as the birth pangs of democracy, the evidence from the front line was telling a very different story. Ministry of Defeat explores that evidence and paints a picture of Southern Iraq very different to the popular narrative.

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The stakes in Afghanistan are high. NATO's Comprehensive Strategic Political Military Plan and President Obama's strategy to disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al Qaeda and prevent their return to Afghanistan have laid out a clear path of what we must do. Stability in Afghanistan is an imperative; if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban - or has insufficient capability to counter transnational terrorists - Afghanistan could again become a base for terrorism, with obvious implications for regional stability.

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An edited version of a speech to the Labour Party Conference by Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth MP, Secretary of State for Defence, 1st October 2009

Daily, our Armed Forces are doing a difficult job, taking great risk on our behalf, facing a violent and prolonged fight in Afghanistan.

Daily, there are reports of bravery of acts of courage carried out in the line of duty by professional soldiers, doing their job.

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US 10th Mountain Division 2-87 Infantry Battalion

* Over 300 roadside bomb attacks

* About 180 actually exploded

* 19 soldiers killed

* About 100 major injuries

* Over 100 MRAPs knocked out

* One year tour of duty

As reported in The Times 8 October 2009

 

GURKHAS PREPARE FOR AFGHANISTAN IN BRUNEI

By Captain Tom McShane

On the edge of the rainforest, in the searing heat and humidity of Brunei, fierce Gurkhas take the battle to the enemy in preparation for an upcoming tour to Afghanistan.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion The Gurkha Rifles have been training in their own back yard on Exercise COMMANDO RAJAH which is a massive Joint multi-national exercise involving the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, United States Marine Corps and the Bruneian Armed Forces.

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Taliban fighters are increasingly using civilians as human shields in the assault on the southern town of Marjah, an Afghan official said Wednesday as military squads resumed painstaking house-to-house searches in the Taliban stronghold.

About 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops are taking part in the offensive around Marjah, which has an estimated 80,000 inhabitants and was the largest town in southern Helmand province under Taliban control. NATO hopes to rush in aid and public services as soon as the town is secured to try to win the loyalty of the population.

With the assault in its fifth day, insurgents are firing at Afghan troops from inside or next to compounds where women and children appear to have been ordered to stand on a roof or in a window, said Gen. Mohiudin Ghori, the brigade commander for Afghan troops in Marjah.

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According to MoD figures in The Times October 13th, the 550 strong 2 Rifles was deployed in Sangin from April - October. It suffered 13 dead, 11 permanent serious injuries, 51 less seriously wounded.

Its commander Lt Col Robert Thomson says it dealt with more than 400 IED incidents, finding more than 200 devices. Last year there were 158 incidents.

His article reflects the positive achievements over the last 6 months in civic life and local security.

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Afghan and US forces are thought to have killed Ghulam Yahya Akbari, a senior insurgent leader with ties to the radical Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and the Taliban. Akbari, who claims to have hundreds of fighters at his disposal, is thought to be behind the surge in attacks in Herat over the past year.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2009/10/senior_insurgent_lea.php#ixzz0TZDfPIPe

 

Since the 1st February the United States have carried out three airstrikes. The targets were:

2nd February Five unmanned US strike aircraft are reported to have fired 18 missiles at a camp and vehicles in the village of Datta Khel, North Waziristan. According to the Long War Journal this is the largest recorded US airstrike in Pakistan. This also indicates that top al Qaida, Taliban or Haqqani leaders may have been targeted. Seventeen terrorists were reported killed in the attack. However none of the reported casualties have been al Qaida or Taliban leaders.

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By Scott Stewart

On July 11, 2010, al-Malahim Media, the media arm of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), published the first edition of its new English-language online magazine "Inspire." The group had tried to release the magazine in late June, but for some reason whether a technical glitch, virus (as rumored on some of the jihadist message boards) or cyberattack most of the initial file released was unreadable.

The magazine was produced by someone who has a moderate amount of technological savvy, who speaks English well and who uses a lot of American idioms and phraseology. We did not note any hint of British or South Asian influence in the writing. A government source has suggested to us (and we have seen the claim repeated in the media) that Inspire was produced by a U.S citizen who was born in Saudi Arabia named Samir Khan. Khan is a well-known cyber-jihadist indeed, The New York Times did an excellent story on Khan in October 2007. Given Khan's background, history of publishing English-language jihadist material and the fact that he reportedly left the United States for Yemen in 2009 and has not returned, it does seem plausible that he is the driving force behind Inspire.

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According to the latest Populus opinion poll of 1509 British adults interviewed by telephone between 9 and 11 October (and published in The Times):

* 36 % think British troops should be withdrawn from Afghanistan now (up 7% since last month - 40% of women agree with this)

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The US airstrike in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan may have killed a senior al Qaeda operative. But the reports may be confusing one of al Qaeda's senior-most leaders with a senior explosives trainer and expert.

The attack, launched earlier today at a compound in Spalaga near Mir Ali, killed three al Qaeda operatives, according to Pakistani intelligence officials.

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The Prime Minister Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP said today that our mission in Afghanistan is vital to Britain's
national security. It is a campaign of necessity, not of choice. Our security
services are clear that the majority of terrorist plots against Britain in recent
times have had their roots in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Either
we fight extremists in Afghanistan and Pakistan - or we wait for them to carry out
more terrorist attacks.

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Private_John_Howard

Private John Howard, aged 23, was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on 17 April 1987. Having arrived in the United Kingdom he applied to join The Parachute Regiment and subsequently completed the Combat Infantryman's Course held at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, North Yorkshire.

On successfully passing out in November 2007, Private Howard was posted to 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment (3 PARA) in Colchester. On joining the battalion he was posted to B Company and deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008 on Operation HERRICK 8. During his time with 3 PARA, he deployed on exercises in the Netherlands, Norway, Kenya and the USA. Throughout this period Private Howard served with distinction and was identified by his regiment as a potential high flyer with much to offer.

True to form, in April 2010 he volunteered for service with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force and successfully completed the Brigade Reconnaissance Force cadre, excelling during the demanding build-up training, before deploying on Operation HERRICK 13. During this time he qualified as a sharpshooter and a team medic.

Right from the outset of the tour he rapidly established himself as a leading personality in his section and platoon. His sense of humour and easygoing attitude made him an immensely likeable figure whose friendships with his comrades spanned both rank and age. He had been at the very forefront of all the Brigade Reconnaissance Force operations up to the point when his life was tragically taken.

All of those who knew Private Howard will be poorer for the loss of this engaging, compassionate and inspiring young man. He leaves behind his parents Roger and Anne, two sisters Charlotte and Isabella, and his girlfriend Sophie.

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During the Peter Nailor Memorial Lecture on defence, Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) gave a terse but incisive assessment of the Afghanistan situation from the UK point of view.

The British Armed Forces have been under-resourced, as a result of an eight year squeeze on defence spending by the Treasury.

This country's leadership has failed to explain satisfactorily what we are trying to do. Until recently, it has been at best half hearted. This is now changing but seems to be more a reaction to perceived domestic political damage.

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Ranger McCormick (22) came from Coleraine in County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. On completion of his recruit training, he joined 1st Battalion the Royal Irish Regiment at Tern Hill, Shropshire, in January 2008.

Ranger McCormick was posted to A Company, where he served with distinction for two-and-a-half years. His professionalism, selflessness and enthusiasm were well known across the Company and the Battalion. Aaron had served once before in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 8, and was quickly identified as a quality soldier. Voluntarily, he took on the responsibility as the lead Vallon (mine detection) man. He would be the first man on any patrol, showing the strength of character and courage that he would come to be known for.

Faugh-A-Ballagh! ('Clear the way!'), is the Regiment's motto, and Ranger McCormick was a man who truly cleared the way.

Despite a relatively short time in the Army he was able to offer guidance and advice to the newest members of his unit, often over a brew and having a chat about 'Star Wars'; he was a huge fan.

Ranger McCormick was very well educated and had aspirations to complete a degree in education in the future, a career to which he would have been well suited.

Always ready with a smile, Ranger McCormick was always at the centre of the 'craic' and he will be sorely missed by all members of The Royal Irish Regiment. He leaves behind his mother Margaret, his father Lesley, his sisters Callie-Ann and Tammy, his brother Michael and his girlfriend Becky. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

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