Sep 23 at 11:11am by David Tate
The analysis coming out of media outlets in the US and Pakistan say the ongoing, all-out battle in Bajour Agency, Pakistan, could very well be the crux of the Pakistani army’s fight against that country’s Islamic militantcy.
The fight is so important to all parties involved that the Taliban are moving forces from Afghanistan to reinforce fighters in Bajour, particularly from Kunar Province. To the Pakistani government, and the Americans closely watching, the fight for Bajour may be the tipping point where either the Pakistani Army or the militants will gain strength, or lose clout, across Pakistan’s entire tribal agency.
In recent days, Pakistani forces, backed by tanks and artillery, have slowly started pushing toward Lowi Sam, just northwest of Khar. The troops are fending off hit and run attacks and roadside bombs as they go. The fighting has killed up to 10 militants since Sunday and has led to the discovery of multiple complex tunnel and trench networks that have left the Pakistanis impressed.
According to Pakistani media group, Dawn, a senior Pakistani official says, “They have good weaponry and a better communication system (than ours). Even the sniper rifles they use are better than some of ours. Their tactics are mind-boggling and they have defences that would take us days to build. It does not look as though we are fighting a rag-tag militia; they are fighting like an organized force.”
Since the Bajour offensive began August 6, varied reports say between 100 and 700 militants have been killed, with the higher number more regularly reported. As many as 300,000 civilians have also been displaced by the fighting.
The offensive marks the first time in which regular Pakistani forces (a brigade) have been integrated with Pakistan’s Frontier Corps. Some say the move is an indication of a new found determination to combat internal terrorism; a determination that has taken on an increased zeal since the deadly bombing of the Islamabad Marriot which claimed more than 50 lives. Various reports speculate the bombing was in response to the government offensive in Bajour.
According to at least one report, the tribes of Bajour also seem to be taking sides against the militants, including the Mamond tribe, which is considered to be a base foundation for the militants. The defection of the Mamond tribe to the government side could mark a significant turn in the battle.
The Salarzai tribe, already organized against the militants, continue to attack pro-Taliban elements which include the burning of homes connected to the Taliban as recently as September 22. A third tribe, the Untmankhel, have also raised forces to combat the militants.
Bajour Agency is a major stronghold for Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters, most aligned with Baitullah Mehsud, leader of the Pakistani Taliban. The area is also regularly named as a hiding spot for Osama bin Laden.
9/24 1510 – Edited one paragraph for clarity.
Sep 22 at 2:02pm by David Tate
I am now offering my pictures, and some video, to folks in need of images related to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can look at available pictures here: Available Pictures
If you cannot find what you need, ask, I may have it and just haven’t posted it yet.
I also have some video that can be licensed out (contact me directly), however most of my video clips are available here: David Tate’s Getty Collection
Photos include, but are not limited to, Afghan National Army, Romanian Army (Afghanistan), US Marines(Afghanistan), Iraqi Army and US Army (Iraq/Afghanistan). I also have images of civilians from Turkey, Iraq and Afghanistan and of the first anti-Iraq War march in Washington, January 2003.
All proceeds gathered go directly to funding this site.
Sep 17 at 10:10am by David Tate
As 3,500 US Marines prepare to leave southern Afghanistan following an extended tour in Helmand and Farah Provinces, the US Department of Defense announces they will be replaced by at least 2,000 fresh Marines with 3,500 additional soldiers set to land two months later.
US Marines, led by Third Battalion, Eighth Marine Regiment (3/8) from Camp LeJeune, North Carolina, is expected to be in place by November and will comprise the combat element of a new Marine Air/Ground Task Force (MAGTF). 1,000 other Marines will be taken from across the Corps to complete the “ad hoc” task force.
Although the full mission of the MAGTF has not been disclosed, the Marines will most likely continue the training mission currently underway by Second Battalion, Seventh Marines (2/7), who are operating mostly in Farah Province.
3/8 will join First Division’s Second Battalion, Second Infantry Regiment, who have recently deployed to Maiwand in Kandahar Province, leaving the American overt troop total in Regional Command South at nearly 3,300 troops.
There is still no word whether replacements are coming for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which is currently wrapping up operations in Helmand and Kandahar Provinces. 24 MEU, originally sent to Afghanistan as a roving combat force designed to take the fight to Taliban fighters across Helmand Province, ended up securing Garmser (Garmsir) in southern Helmand and holding it until Afghan and British reinforcements could be sent in.
Earlier this month, Fourth Kandak, Third Brigade, 205th Corps (Afghan National Army), along with British embedded trainers, took over security of Garmser as the Marines pulled back to Kandahar in preperation for the trip home to North Carolina.
10th Mountain Returns
In January, approximately 3,500 members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 10th Mountain Division, will also be deployed to Afghanistan. Like 3/8 Marines, 3BCT is being diverted from an announced mission to Iraq.
More Marines Coming?
Another Marine Expeditionary Unit has also recently left port for destinations unknown. The 26th MEU, based in North Carolina, is a plausible candidate to fill any void left by 24 MEU in southern Afghanistan. The 2,100 member MEU has its own air assets, is special operations capable (SOC) and overall self-sufficient.
Edit - 9/17 2042 – After re-evaluating my information I realize there may be a mistake in my assessment, forcing me to re-work this article for known accuracy. While 3BCT will “join” (as reported by the Marine Corps Times) 3/8 Marines in deploying to Afghanistan, it is not clear if they are literaly joining 3/8 to form the MAGTF or if they’re even deploying to Regional Command South at all. I apologize for the potential error.
Sep 16 at 3:03pm by David Tate
A Battlefield Tourist is really just a name for what I do as a hobby: Collecting military video archive material for Getty Images. In 2005, I had the fortune of signing a contract with Getty, which turns out to be one of my biggest professional accomplishments.
Last month, my latest submission from Iraq made it on-line, giving me almost 690 images currently being managed by Getty; ensuring my work will be used in documentaries for years to come.
Here’s a link to the entire collection:
Sep 12 at 5:05pm by David Tate
The attacks on America in 2001 had a profound impact on most of us, not just on Americans, but the world in general. However, as time goes by, the memories of that tragic day seem to be slipping from our collective minds. When I say that, I certainly don’t mean the memories of that day, but the memory of the day itself appears to be losing its value on the day-to-day level of everyday life.
It certainly isn’t a theory that can be proven. However, it certainly stands to reason (and appears to be the case) that as the years go by, the acceptance of 9/11 as the national holiday called, “Patriot’s Day”, is having trouble taking hold.
On the seventh anniversary of 9/11, I was asked to go to Virginia Tech to cover an event commemerating 9/11. The challenge was to create a natural sound story no more than 80 seconds long.
The subject: Three students who planted more than 2,700 flags on Tech’s drillfield in order to “remind” people of 9/11.
Yesterday I talked to about a dozen people for this story and not one of them knew that 9/11 is officially called “Patriot’s Day”; not even the organizers of the event this story is based around. Not to knock anyone, it was just quite the eye opener to be sure.
Hope you like it.
PS – Voting for the annual “Milbloggies” has begun and will end on Sunday, September 14. I thank those that nominated me in the first place, now it’s time to vote.
If you like my work, I would love your vote. Just create an account at http://www.milbloggers.com and find the section to vote for the milboggie awards. You will find A Battlefield Tourist in the veterans section.
Sep 9 at 11:11pm by David Tate
Over the past two weeks, the Haqqani terrorist network has been under a daily assault, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, causing heavy fighting to erupt in North Waziristan. It comes on the heels of a US missile strike against the network’s top madrassa facility and now militant fighters loyal to the family are counterattacking.
Geo TV reports Taliban fighters attacked two Pakistani army camps; one in Miramshah and one in Mir Ali. The Long War Journal is reporting that up to 150 Taliban took part in the attacks and that the fighting is ongoing. US sources tell The Long War Journal that the attacks in Pakistan are more symbolic than anything and speculated a larger respopnse could be in store for US troops operating in eastern Afghanistan.
The attack follows the September 8 missile attack in Dandi-zar-Dapakehl, North Waziristan that killed several members of Jalaluddin Haqqani’s family. As many as 15 Al Qaeda operatives were also killed. Two reports say the dead include Al Qaeda’s top man in Pakistan, Abu Firas al Masri.
The fighting culminates two straight weeks of attacks on Haqqani network targets that have been steadily increasing all year, in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, to levels previously unseen.
Preperation For The “Winter Offensive” ?
Coalition targets include training facilities, command and control as well as leaders of all rank within the Haqqani command structure. Below are reported operations conducted over the past 14 days involving the Haqqani network:
September 5 – Multiple operations are launched across Khowst Province targeting members of the Haqqani terrorist network. The coalition says a total of four militants were captured, including one known longtime leader within the network
September 6 – Coalition forces killed ten militants and captured three others Khowst Province during an operation targeting members of the Haqqani terrorist network. In a press release, the coalition says as its forces approached the target compound, a group of men began firing as they ran for a nearby treeline. The coalition soldiers engaged the fighters before calling in helicopters and close air support, killing eight fighters, including the intended target who was believed responsible for direct attacks and a suicide bombing in Sabari district, Khowst Province that killed two coalition soldiers March 3. Following that action, the coalition troops entered the compound where they were met by three other armed men; two surrendered and the third was shot to death when he refused to lay down his weapon (In May, several Haqqani terrorists from the same cell were killed and seven captured).
September 8- Coalition forces arrest two men, including the intended target, in Mando Zayi district, Khowst Province. The targetted militant was a wanted member of an IED ring.
September 9 - Two Haqqani network members are arrested in Khowst Province. The men are suspected of being involved in roadside bombings.
A senior US military source confirms to the The Long War Journal that American missles were to blame for the attack on the main madrassa in North Waziristan operated by the Haqqani network. It was the latest US attack against Haqqani network targets across Pakistan’s Tribal Agency.
Other recent attacks compiled by The Long War Journal include:
• US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan,
Sept. 8, 2008
• US airstrike killed five al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan,
Sept. 5, 2008
• Report: US airstrike kills four in North Waziristan,
Sept. 4, 2008
• Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan,
Sept. 3, 2008
• US hits al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Five killed in al Qaeda safe house strike in South Waziristan,
Aug. 31, 2008
• Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike,
Aug. 20, 2008
Jalaluddin Haqqani is a veteran commander of the Soviet-Afghan war who was favored among the Americans and Saudis. It was during those days that Haqqani became close to Osama bin Laden. After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, Haqqani served as Minister of Tribal Affairs.
Today, the Haqqani network is considered the primary Taliban faction orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan and is credited with introducing the tactic of suicide bombing to the Afghan theater.
Haqqani is believed to be in Afghanistan and in poor health. Sirajuddin Haqqani, Jalaluddin’s son, is currently in actual control of the terrorist network.
Sep 8 at 8:08am by David Tate
Marines from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) handed control of northern Garmser district, Helmand Province, over to Afghan forces and their British embedded trainers September 8.
4th Kandak, 3rd Brigade of Afghanistan’s 205th Corps officially took over security duty from the Marines who were the primary force responsible for liberating the area earlier this year. The Afghan infantry unit has been moving into position since late July.
The move allows 24 MEU, already extended a month, to begin assembling at Kandahar Airfield where they are making preparations to return to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina by the end of November.
In all, the Marines killed as many as 400 Taliban fighters in the four months of offensive and stability operations across the northern part of the district. Known as the “snake’s head” (because of the way the area looks on a map) the area is considered a strategic transfer point by the Taliban moving weapons and fighters into the heart of Afghanistan, particularly northern Helmand and Oruzgan Provinces.
Sep 7 at 3:03pm by David Tate
The US military says a general officer is being assigned to review the US investigation into allegations a joint US Special Forces/Afghan commando raid killed as many as 90 civilians, most of them children, in an assault on a compound from which the coalition forces were fired from.
Citing “emerging evidence”, General David McKiernan says, “In light of the emerging evidence pertaining to civilian casualties in the August 22 couter-insurgency operation in the Shindand District, Herat Province, I feel it is prudent to request that US Central Command send a general officer to review the US investigation and its findings with respect to this new evidence. The people of Afghanistan have our commitment to get to the truth.”
The US maintains the August 22 raid in Shindand district, Herat Province, killed no more than two civilians while resulting in the deaths of roughly 30 Taliban fighters. The US military also claims weapons and evidence of an impending attack on a coalition base was imminent.
Both the Afghan government and UNAMA say their investigations reveal the civilian toll to be much higher than what the US claims. The Afghans also claim to have photo and video evidence to back up their claims, but have yet to produce the evidence.
The Afghans say the raid was the result of a tip motivated by a clan rivalry and that many of the men killed were part of a private security company that provided security at the airbase in Shindand.
In the only independent view of the attack, FOX Newschannel had a team embedded with Special Forces when the fighting broke out. Lt. Col. Oliver North (USMC-ret) says that he saw no evidence of civilian casualties.
Sep 7 at 1:01pm by David Tate
A US Army veteran, who falsely claimed fantastic stories of war and bravery, will go to a federal penitentiary for three years.
Randall Moneymaker, who lives in North Carolina, was convicted by a jury in federal court of six counts of fraud and stealing for filing fake claims with the Veteran’s Administration. Those claims netted him more than $18,400. He was sentenced September 5 to three years in prison and must also pay back $19,000 in restitution and fines.
While most impostors claim war tales as bragging rights or for political gain, Moneymaker’s agenda included the former, as well as profiteering.
Moneymaker, who did serve two years of active duty service in the 1980′s, claimed to be an Army Ranger who had served more than 20 years in the service, participating in combat tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Grenada and Panama.
To bolster his story regarding his the Purple Heart claim, Moneymaker often showed off liposuction scars, that he said, were combat wounds.
The 44-year old remains free on bond until ordered to prison later this year.
Sep 4 at 1:01am by David Tate
The Associated Press is reporting that US officials acknowledge that US ground forces carried out a helo-borne attack on Pakistani soil. In recent months, suspected US missle attacks have rocked the frontier but Wednesday’s attack marks a true escalation in the on terror.
Previous US incursions into Pakistan have been in “hot puruit” of Taliban fighters whereas this assault appears to have been a direct assault on a known target more than a mile beyond the border.
Sources in Pakistan put the death toll between 15-20, including civilians. One report says a twin-rotor “Chinook” helicopter was the assault craft that landed soldiers who attacked several compounds, shooting the males as they went.
AP sources speculate that such a raid would have to require a target of very high value.
On September 2, Pakistani officials say they just missed Al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The Pakistanis believed al-Zawahiri and his wife were in the Mohmand Agency of Pakistan’s tribal areas and had been travelling somewhat frequently to Afghanistan’s Kunar and Paktika Provinces.
The Pakistanis also acknowledge the presence of at least 50 top Al Qaeda leaders hiding out in Pakistan.