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Twenty-one American troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Friday in one of the bloodiest periods of the summer.

By Ben Farmer, in Kabul, Telegraph co.uk, August 31, 2010

Afghanistan bomb attacks kill twenty-one US soldiers in 48 hours

A U.S. army medic runs to the scene of a road side bomb explosion in Kandahar province Photo: REUTERS

A series of bomb attacks have badly hit US troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past 48 hours.

The death toll among in the Nato-led coalition has reached 484 this year and is predicted to far surpass 2009’s total of 521.

Deaths have risen consistently each year since 2001. Afghan police and civilians have suffered far higher casualties.

The coalition blames the rise in troop deaths partly on the influx of reinforcements, which is allowing commanders to target previously untouched insurgent safe havens where rebels are mounting stiff resistance.

Gen David Petraeus, senior US and Nato commander in the country, warned last week fighting would “get harder before it gets easier”.

In two of the most deadly recent incidents, three Americans died in eastern Afghanistan on one bomb attack on Tuesday. Five died in a single bomb attack in the south on Monday.

Military spokesmen would not say if the bombs hit vehicles or foot patrols.

Homemade bombs using old shells or homemade explosives and hidden in roads, tracks, walls, streams and buildings have become the Taliban’s favoured weapon.

Their use has sparked an arms race with foreign troops evolving tactics, or relying on more heavily armed vehicles and mine detectors to try and avoid them.

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Rangel again calls for military draft

Via: Raw Story- By The Associated Press
Friday, July 16th, 2010 — 8:29 am

Rep. Charles Rangel is again calling for a military draft to highlight the fact that relatively few families are bearing a disproportionate burden in fighting the nation’s wars.

The New York Democrat introduced a bill Thursday to reinstate the draft, a symbolic gesture that has no chance of becoming law. Rangel previously introduced similar legislation in 2003 and 2007.

Rangel said lawmakers who support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should require “all who enjoy the benefits of our democracy to contribute to the defense of the country.”

Rangel said he supports President Barack Obama’s efforts to eventually bring troops home, but he wants it to happen faster.

Source: AP News

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US sending 4,000 more troops to Haiti

AFP
Via Raw Story

Published: Wednesday January 20, 2010

The United States is sending more than 4,000 additional troops to quake-devastated Haiti, diverting them from scheduled deployments to Europe and the Middle East, officials said Wednesday.

Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the decision to divert the troops “based on continuing urgent needs in the Haiti relief effort,” a statement from the US Second Fleet said. They received the orders on Tuesday.

The move to redeploy thousands of troops from the Nassau Amphibious Ready Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit came as Haitians scrambled for food, water and medical care eight days after a devastating earthquake.

The amphibious group left Norfolk, Virginia on Monday for its original deployment but was ordered to proceed to Haiti after taking on more marines in North Carolina.

“The marines are in the final stages of embarking onboard the ships. They are expected to leave this evening or early tomorrow morning,” Second Marine Expeditionary Force spokesman Master Sergeant Keith Milks told AFP.

If the ships go full speed, they would reach Haiti within 36 to 48 hours, although they will adopt the “most prudent” pace possible depending on weather and mechanical conditions, he added.

The move takes the total number of US troops due to be helping out in Haiti in coming days above 15,000.

“The ARG/MEU will provide an array of helicopter and amphibious landing craft assets, significantly increasing the ability to quickly provide relief supplies where they are most needed,” the Second Fleet said.

“In addition, the marines assigned to 24 MEU will be able to provide an additional force capable of providing a secure environment for the ongoing relief efforts ashore in Haiti.”

Violence is threatening to boil over in the capital Port-au-Prince as hundreds of thousands of survivors grow increasingly desperate for aid.

The 7.0-magnitude quake, which struck on January 12, leveled the capital Port-au-Prince and surrounding towns and villages in western Haiti, killing at least 75,000 people and perhaps as many as 200,000.

Three amphibious ships — the USS Nassau, the USS Mesa Verde and the USS Ashland — will support the latest deployment, along with a helicopter squadron, a tiltrotor squadron and medical personnel and facilities.

They will bring the total number of US Navy and Military Sealift Command vessels participating in the relief effort to 20.

The Nassau has one of the largest ship-borne hospitals after the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort hospital ships.

Eight days after the quake, US military officials leading the relief effort say they are shifting the focus from tracking down survivors buried in the rubble towards recovering bodies and starting to rebuild the devastated nation.

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Mercenaries, Robot Planes and the CIA Produce Lethal Mix for Secret Afghan War

By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com. Posted January 11, 2010.

In Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war in the shadows.

It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones.  As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation.  It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case — except for the placement of the bomb material — almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago.

That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse.  Army Major General Michael Flynn, U.S. and NATO forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone — but by implication U.S. intelligence operatives generally — “clueless.”  They were, he wrote, “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced… and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers… Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”

As if to prove the general’s point, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor with a penchant for writing inspirational essays on jihadi websites and an “unproven asset” for the CIA, somehow entered a key Agency forward operating base in Afghanistan unsearched, supposedly with information on al-Qaeda’s leadership so crucial that a high-level CIA team was assembled to hear it and Washington was alerted.  He proved to be either a double or a triple agent and killed seven CIA operatives, one of whom was the base chief, by detonating a suicide vest bomb, while wounding yet more, including the Agency’s number-two operative in the country.  The first suicide bomber to penetrate a U.S. base in Afghanistan, he blew a hole in the CIA’s relatively small cadre of agents knowledgeable on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

It was an intelligence disaster splayed all over the headlines: “Taliban bomber wrecks CIA’s shadowy war,”  “Killings Rock Afghan Strategy,”  “Suicide bomber who attacked CIA post was trusted informant from Jordan.”  It seemed to sum up the hapless nature of America’s intelligence operations as the CIA, with all the latest technology and every imaginable resource on hand, including the latest in Hellfire missile-armed drone aircraft, was out-thought and out-maneuvered by low-tech enemies.

MORE HERE

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bush-shoes

Perino: We’re not occupiers in Iraq; we’re guests.

THINK PROGRESS- By Amanda Terkel at 1:16 pm

During today’s White House press briefing, spokesperson Dana Perino echoed President Bush’s claim that Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi’s frustrations are not representative of the Iraqi public’s sentiments. She pointed out that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki apologized for the mistreatment of his guest. When reporter Helen Thomas pointed out that U.S. forces are actually “occupiers,” Perino bristled:

QUESTION: Why not worry about it? Does it reflect the feelings of the people?

PERINO: I don’t think that you can take one guy throwing his shoe as representative of the people of Iraq.

And I will tell you that Prime Minister Maliki and the journalists who were there in the room, who apologized on behalf of the Iraqis, saying this is not how they would treat a guest. […]

QUESTION: But he wasn’t a guest. We’re occupiers.

PERINO: No, we’re not. We are absolutely a guest.

Watch it:

Perino later added, “If — if the Iraqis didn’t want us there, we wouldn’t have been signing that agreement that allows our troops to operate there for the next three years,” ignoring the fact that Iraqis primarily supported the agreement because it set a firm deadline for U.S. withdrawal.

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