Current Events and the Psychology of Politics

Featured Posts        





Jun 8th, 2009

U.S. Military Buildup in Afghan Danger Zone

First wave of surge lands in country as American casualties rise

Image: U.S. Marines in Camp Leatherneck
U.S. Marines inside Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Monday, June 8, 2009. (Photo credit: David Guttenfelder / AP)

June 8, 2009

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Teams of builders worked through dust storms Monday to expand a base for a brigade of U.S. Marines now fanning out across southern Afghanistan to change the course of a war claiming American lives faster than ever before.

Some 10,000 Marines have poured into Afghanistan in the last six weeks, the military said Monday, transforming this once small base in the heart of the country’s most violent province, Helmand, into a desert fortress.

The statement to embedded journalists, including a team from The Associated Press, was the first confirmation that the military has fully deployed the first wave of 21,000 additional troops President Barack Obama ordered to Afghanistan this year to help stanch an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency.

The 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, normally based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, will battle the Taliban as well as train and fight alongside Afghan security forces.

‘This is where the fight is’

This is where the fight is, in Afghanistan,” said 1st Sgt. Christopher Watson, who like many of the troops was most recently deployed in Iraq. “We are here to get the job done.”

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in late 2001 because the country’s extremist Taliban leaders were sheltering Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, the Islamic terrorist group behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

The forces quickly defeated the Taliban, pushing the militants out of Kabul and their southern base in Kandahar. But a guerrilla war, which turned dangerously violent in 2006, has bedeviled the international coalition and Afghan government. …

An Army brigade of some 7,000 troops will follow this summer along with 4,000 forces to train Afghan security forces.

The surge will bring American troop levels from about 55,000 now to more than 68,000 by the end of 2009 — about half of the nearly 140,000 troops currently in Iraq.

The buildup has led to comparisons with Iraq, where an influx of troops in 2007 is credited with helping to reduce violence.

But unlike Iraq, where the U.S. plans to phase out its role by 2012, the military envisions a long-term presence in Afghanistan.

Adding troops in a country with a history of resistance to foreign forces risks increasing Afghans’ resentment, which in turn fuels the insurgency.

There are also fears that the surge will push the Taliban to other parts of the country — or even across the border to Pakistan, where they could further destabilize that nuclear-armed country.

The bulk of the Marines, about 7,300, remain at Leatherneck and are training for missions — or “sharpening the sword” as one young Marine put it. Several said Marine commanders have drilled into them the need to respect the local culture and not barge into villages, kicking down doors and alienating residents whose support they need to win the war. …

More U.S. deaths expected

Commanders warn that U.S. deaths are likely to increase this summer, the traditional fighting season in Afghanistan.

At least 70 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan this year, according to an AP count, a 75 percent increase over the 40 U.S. troop deaths through the first week in June last year. A record 151 American forces died in Afghanistan in 2008. …


Rush Hour Bomb Kills 9 in Baghdad Shiite Area

Image: Boy wounded in Baghdad blast
An Iraqi boy stands next to a woman outside a hospital after suffering burns in a bomb blast, in Baghdad, on Monday, June 8, 2009. (Photo credit: AFP — Getty Images)

June 8, 2009

BAGHDAD — A bomb tore through a minibus during morning rush hour Monday in a mainly Shiite area in Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 24, Iraqi officials said.

The blast was a grim reminder of the major challenge facing Iraqi forces three weeks ahead of the June 30 deadline for U.S. troops to withdraw from urban areas.

The bomb was attached to the minibus in the southern area of Abu Dshir, a Shiite enclave in the mainly Sunni neighborhood of Dora, police said.

“A ball of fire rose into the sky. We saw a minibus thrown about five yards into the air, then come down in flames,” said Omar Abdul-Ghafar, a university student who was waiting with his friend for another bus.

The explosion left a crater at the entrance of the bus station where commuters were gathered to catch rides to different parts of the city.

An Associated Press photographer saw the charred hulk of the minibus and three other burned-out cars. Security forces sealed off the area while ambulances rushed the wounded to the hospital. …

Area was crowded at time of blast

Abdul-Ghafar, a Sunni resident who fled the violence but returned to the area about six months ago when the situation seemed to improve, said the area was especially crowded because of students planning to take final exams. …

“Some children were crying and running aimlessly, looking for their parents,” he said. “People were so upset with police and began shouting insults on police and government for the security violations and for removing the concrete walls and stopping the searching process.” …

2 Responses to “First Wave in Afghanistan Surge”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Tom Horner Rises in Polls Says:

    […] First Wave in Afghanistan Surge […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Eulogy for bin Laden Says:

    […] First Wave in Afghanistan Surge […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.