Published: Tuesday, 10 April 2012 11:50
10 April 2012
Over the months I have communicated with the Taliban about US prisoner Bowe Bergdahl. Numerous times I have asked the Taliban to allow me to visit Bowe. In each case, the Taliban has declined citing security issues.
It has been said that I am negotiating with the Taliban for Bowe's release. This is untrue. I have asked only to visit. Nothing more.
This morning, I received two emails from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, a high-level Taliban spokesman in regard to Bowe Bergdahl:
Read more: Bowe Bergdahl: Two messages from the Taliban
Published: Thursday, 05 April 2012 12:47
Scam Packing slip
05 April 2012
Monday I listed some camera gear for sale on Ebay. Starting bid was $7,000, but for $7,700 a buyer could take everything immediately. Soon after came a closing sale from the United Kingdom.
The "sale" "went through" immediately for $7,700, and the buyer took it upon himself or herself to tack on another $170 for immediate shipment to Lagos, Nigeria.
Read more: Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names
Published: Monday, 02 April 2012 14:23
02 April 2012
The Army continues to insist that certain helicopters in Afghanistan must wear Red Crosses to abide by Geneva Conventions. This is untrue. There is no requirement to wear Red Crosses in combat. At cost of troops’ lives, the Army uses these Red Crosses as a tool in bureaucratic infighting about which generals control which helicopters. And so a power struggle between generals unfolds at cost of the blood of American sons and daughters. The above facts have been demonstrated beyond dispute.
Read more: MEDEVACmatters.org
Published: Sunday, 01 April 2012 13:44
Kopp-Etchells Effect during combat operations with British Forces. (Sangin, Afghanistan, 2009)
01 April 2012
The time has come for expensive upgrades. Canon has added the Mark III 5d and soon the Dx to the line.
I have two Canon 5d Mark II bodies for sale with accessories. The 5d Mark II bodies were incredibly popular with amateurs, full-pros, and with me in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Thailand many other places.
Since mid-2005, I’ve used nothing but the very best camera gear for the job. These 5d bodies are by far my favorites. Great in low light, not heavy, and high quality full-frame sensor.
Read more: Camera Auction
Published: Thursday, 29 March 2012 11:34
29 March 2012
Several years ago, the Taliban captured a US Soldier named Bowe Bergdahl. Yesterday was Bergdahl’s third birthday in captivity.
I’ve asked the Taliban several times to see Bergdahl. They have declined in the past citing security reasons. I recently asked the Taliban again about Bergdahl’s condition.
A message came from key Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. More accurately, the email came from his account.
There is strong reason to believe that messages from this account are coming from from Zabihullah Mujahid, or someone deep within the “Big T” Taliban. (Upper leadership.)
In the past, this account has provided me with breaking information that could not have been derived from the news. For instance, Zabihullah, or whoever uses the account, messaged me last year just as the big hotel attack in Kabul unfolded. The account provided detailed information so early in the attack that the author must have had foreknowledge.
The actual messages might not be accurate, and they often exaggerate, but the account is real. This message came on 29 March 2012 in response to my inquiry about Bowe Bergdahl:
“He is healthy and with Taliban ,
we were in tuch with amerian to talk about exchange the prisoner but they not ecept this . and just wast the time .
I personly issure u that he will be released , How , When , this is secret .”
I have requested again to visit Bowe Bergdahl.
Published: Tuesday, 27 March 2012 11:27
27 March 2012
PTSD is a serious problem. Suicides by veterans happen many times per day, every day. At best, PTSD can degrade the quality of life of veterans and their families. At worst, unmanaged, the human toll is incalculable.
Other problems with “military PTSD:”
1) PTSD for profit: Disability payments. Profiteers learn the symptoms, mimic, and then get paid, often for life. Most symptoms are self-reported, in response to interview questions by military or Veterans Administration (VA) professionals. Chaplains also serve as a resource. The PTSD mockingbirds, the fakes, often sing to chaplains, to establish a precedent for later favorable diagnosis.
Read more: Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar
Published: Friday, 23 March 2012 11:29
For a larger view please click on image or one of the links below.
23 March 2012
This panorama was made in the general area where the Panjway 17 massacre unfolded. The view is over the Arghandab River Valley, a place that Canadian and many US forces know well. The Arghandab can be an interesting place to watch war; there are many vantage points such as this that allow you to witness much fighting. Sometimes you are in the middle. The area can be an interactive combat amphitheater.
Panjway Panorama Link: http://gigapan.org/gigapans/101311
I made the 27 photos in this pano in a handheld mode while tagging along with members of the Central Asia Development Group (CADG) who were implementing a water project. We were without troops. CADG operates freely in some of the most hostile areas of Afghanistan where troops would not go without significant force. This is one of those places.
Read more: Panjway, Afghanistan: Amphitheater of War
Published: Monday, 19 March 2012 12:37
19 March 2012
There are reports that alcohol was involved in the Panjway 16. There are also reports that alcohol was not involved.
Since 2005, I've only seen two Soldiers truly drunk on missions during about three years with combat troops. Both were in Iraq. One Soldier was enlisted, and the other was an officer not in the US military. Both were absolutely drunk.
The American Soldier—there was a raid and an IED that night—told me that his wife would ship Vodka in mouthwash bottles and she added food coloring as disguise. The officer was different; his military was allowed alcohol but not to get drunk.
Alcohol was readily available in Iraq through many sources. Christians in Iraq often had liquor stores. Muslims were not allowed to sell it, but many liked to drink, as did the Christians. Some Iraqis complained about Christians fleeing neighborhoods because their liquor stores closed.
Read more: Alcohol in Afghanistan
Published: Friday, 16 March 2012 14:26
16 March 2012
This has been secret until a few minutes ago. The Dutch Minister of Defense just knighted General (ret.) Petraeus in the Hague. I was invited to go but could not make it, unfortunately.
Published: Friday, 16 March 2012 14:17
16 March 2012
Info just coming out that a 22-year-old Marine was murdered on 01 Feb, about 6 weeks ago, in another insider attack. The military covered it up as if it were combat operations. Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus of Greenville, Mississippi was shot in the back of the head by an Afghan soldier. Our people immediately turned over the murderer to the Afghans.
That's a huge Red Flag on numerous levels. How many other "combat deaths" have been caused by insider attacks, and how often has our military covered it up? How many murderers have been turned over to Afghans? What happens when we turn over a killer to Afghans?
We've taken about 200 Coalition casualties that we know of from insider attacks. How many do we not know of? This cover-up is rotten from head to tail.
Published: Friday, 16 March 2012 13:43
16 March 2012
An experienced friend is currently in Tripoli and writes:
I’m telling you, you should get your butt over here to Libya - it’s a really interesting place. I know everyone’s mind is on Afghanistan these days, but there’s really no comparison. The two countries could not be more different – at least from what I can see here in Tripoli.
Read more: Libya Spot Report
Published: Friday, 16 March 2012 04:33
15 March 2012
The original posting of this article can be found on Defensetech at Military.com
"Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring — for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.
"When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.
From an Army press release warning of the dangers of geotags:
When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.
"During Israel’s 2006 war in southern Lebanon with Iranian-backed militia (more like a full on army) Hezbollah, Iranian SIGINT professionals tracked signals coming from personal cell phones of Israeli soldiers to identify “assembly points of Israeli troops that may have telegraphed the points of offensive thrusts into Lebanon.”
"This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks."
Published: Thursday, 15 March 2012 14:39
15 March 2012
Got this message from former Marine Tim Lynch, in Afghanistan. Tim's not always polite, but he's a former infantry officer and I listen to him very closely:
"The Taliban killed 13 women and children today with an IED in Uruzgan and I think they got 8 yesterday - but that's all cool here because they're the Taliban and we're the big fat retarded kid on the block who gets bullied everyday but still shows up to fork over even more lunch money while assuming at some point everyone will like us because we're so xxxxx generous."
Published: Thursday, 15 March 2012 12:26
15 March 2012
The New York Daily News asked for an op-ed on the mass murder in Afghanistan. I invested several hours writing and they took it as is. As per normal, they changed the title. Practically every publication does this to suit their specific readership, and that’s fine. But on my website we can stick with the original title,
“The Panjway 16.”
Are some in the American forces buckling under the pressure of war?
The mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable. Twice in the past three weeks, I published that it was coming. Why was I able to write this with sad confidence? I’ve spent more time with combat troops in these wars than any other writer: about four years in total in country, and three with combat troops.
About 200 coalition members have been killed or wounded from insider attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is tantamount to being Taliban and has not bothered to apologize. Instead, Karzai whips up anti-U.S. fervor at every opportunity. Twice, Karzai has threatened to leave politics and join the Taliban.
Read more: The Panjway 16
Published: Sunday, 11 March 2012 15:10
Austin Prince, about 12 years, with cobra
12 March 2012
Under my dispatch from Bangladesh: Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions was this comment:
We have friends who are missionaries in the Congo. So far this year, they've killed 72 Cobras in their home. The wife told me; "It's beginning to get a little unnerving."
James F. McClellan
And so I called Mr. McClellan’s friends, Brandt and Pamela Prince down in Congo. Actually, they are not in Congo but the DRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a huge country in Central Africa. DRC is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi.
Read more: Curses
Published: Friday, 09 March 2012 13:45
PFC Leah Bartlett awarded Purple Heart
09 March 2012
Reaction to the recent Koran burnings led to dozens of killings. Some of the attacks were obviously related to the burnings, while others may have been normal background noise of war. Whatever the specific motivations, bombs still explode hard, and bullets still fly fast.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for a blast in Nangarhar Province:
Read more: Purple Heart
Published: Wednesday, 07 March 2012 13:41
07 March 2012
Senator Carl Levin has been sending a form letter to his constituents. Key parts of the letter seem to be have been written by the Army. At minimum, Senator Levin’s responses are a rewrite of Army releases. His statement perpetuates numerous myths and outright falsehoods. Carl Levin is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Oversight is his duty. If Senator Levin independently researched the Army statements, he would know that they contain falsehoods.
The letter [along with my comments in brackets]:
Thank you for contacting me about the U.S. Army’s medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) policy. I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
Following the September 18, 2011, death of Army Specialist Chazray Clark in Afghanistan, concerns were raised about the Army’s MEDEVAC helicopter policy. The specific circumstances of Specialist Clark’s death are the subject of an ongoing investigation. For force protection reasons, all helicopters in Afghanistan fly in pairs, and the responsible in-theater commander makes the decision to use an armed escort for the MEDEVAC helicopter based on an appropriate tactical and risk assessment of each situation.
Read more: Senator Levin on MEDEVAC
Published: Thursday, 01 March 2012 13:09
01 March 2012
The MEDEVAC issue continues with increasing seriousness. Numerous Generals, the Secretary of the Army, and the Secretary of Defense (through General Dempsey, the Chairman of Joint Chiefs) have all weighed into the fight. Seventeen members of Congress have joined, and more expressed interest in the past 48 hours in correspondence to me. I’ve just spent several hours personally answering many correspondences from offices of Members of Congress.
Two Senators, McCain and Manchin (both members of SASC) are stepping into the ring. Major media from CBS to FOX to AP and many others have done major pieces and more attention is on the way.
Rick Clay emails:
“I have some good news. I spoke to Senator Manchin and Senator McCain today. They are going to bring our issue up in an Armed Services Committee hearing March 5th during the Army Posturing Hearing and request a follow-up during the Afghanistan Hearing on March 25th. They are going to send me the link so we can watch the hearing.”
Published: Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:23
29 February 2012
This is a small tribute to our women in harm’s way.
We constantly argue about whether or not women should be allowed in combat. Reality is that they have been in combat for longer than anyone reading this has been alive, and they were in combat before any of our great grandmothers were born.
I’ve personally seen women in infantry combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. That includes British and American. Often they are in severe firefights. They do all sorts of jobs, such as medics, intelligence, public affairs (that’s right), “female engagement teams,” civil affairs, pilots, or sometimes they go on missions just to search women. Bottom line is that they end up encountering a lot of bombs and firefights.
It’s saddening for this American to see women so often not appreciated for what they do. Granted, there is not a huge number of women who do these things, but those who do have my respect and admiration.
Subsequent the recent Koran burning, most Afghans did nothing, but many lost their minds as some are inclined to do. There was much violence. Several dozen people have been killed so far. On Monday, the Taliban attributed a substantial car bomb at FOB Fenty in Jalalabad to the Koran burning. Nine were killed and about a dozen of ours were wounded. (No US were killed in that attack to my knowledge.)
One of our wounded Soldiers was one of our Sisters at war. Her father told me via email:
“Ok. Just talked to her Mom. She's been evac'd to Bagram to the CSH [Combat Support Hospital]. She was in the turret of the MRAP when a black SUV came popped out of traffic and went barreling toward the gate. Before anyone could do anything, it detonated. She was blown backward into the rear of the turret and injured her back as well as having both eardrums blown out. Another kid, just arrived, was with her. He took some fragments but will be OK. Said she woke up on the ground and the gate was gone. Apparently they secured it quickly enough that there was no further drama.
“Her Mom said she sounded as good as can be expected. She'll be there a couple of weeks then back to her unit to redeploy.”
And with that I will close with a big Thank You, and with respect and admiration for all of our warriors who serve honorably. Today is a special thanks to women, but every day I say a “Thank You” to all of them.
Published: Tuesday, 28 February 2012 12:30
Tiger eyes of man with fresh scars
“The Sundarbans lies in the massive delta between India and Bangladesh. This is one of the most beautiful but most dangerous places in the world, a place of tigers and crocodiles and dangerous seas and canals. Mamata is just one of about 3,000 ‘tiger widows’ in the Sundarbans.”
28 February 2012
When a man says, “It’s a jungle out there,” he means, “It’s the Sundarbans.” Among the many wild and unforgiving places in the approximately 65 countries I’ve traveled, most are fairly safe when approached with good judgment and aforethought. The Sundarbans is not one of those places. Few jungles are this dangerous.
The natives here rub shoulders with mortality on a daily basis. And so before venturing into the labyrinth waterways, one should acquire a guide, which in my case was a government employee with a powerful FN-FAL rifle to ward off man and beast. Competent, local guides are always your best insurance, and if I had a choice of any rifle in the world to bring here, the FN-FAL would be high on the list. And so those boxes were checked.
Within about a week previous my arrival, eight people had been killed and more than a dozen wounded in personal combat with tigers. Nobody knows why the tigers kill so many people here. None of the eight people recently killed were eaten. The tigers often devour their prey, but sometimes they just murder, and of course there is always a market for tiger parts. It’s a bloody mess.
Read more: Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions