Dec 23 at 11:11am by David Tate
I would be completely amiss if I didn’t do a complete post on PMI, Bill Roggio and The Long War Journal. I cannot express properly just how important this organization is to, not only my work, but to the most complete assemblage reporting on our world at war today.
When I first stumbled onto Bill’s work in 2007, he was writing under the blog name, “The Fourth Rail”. I instantly realized the awesome resource he was putting out there and I contacted him immediately. A month later, we were in Iraq together. Within those first three days of meeting, Bill launched The Long War Journal and the rest is history.
As I got to know him, it turns out he convinced his wife of this idea, quit his job, secured a loan and a partner then went for it. A true entrepreneur, he took a huge chance and is now moving forward successfully. For the reader, it means the most centralized resource in regards to current events regarding the fight against al Qaeda. It cannot be missing from your favorites.
What’s In It For Me?
While cannot speak for Bill, I can speak about him and what he means to my work. He believes in the independent hard working spirit that he is creating and told me that he supports independents like myself.
His big contributions to me include a major forum to present my first person battlefield observations. He has also graciously provided a letter of accreditation needed for my embed (PMI is recognized by allied forces as a legitimate journalistic outlet), which is on its way to ISAF as we speak.
The biggest thing, however, is the very expensive insurance needed to financially protect myself, and my family, in the event of injury or death. This is as important as it gets and cannot be overlooked by independents.
Because PMI has an ongoing policy, they can add journalists to it while embedded, which they have agreed to do for me. I’m not sure of the cost yet, but it is not cheap. If there is any interest at all in helping this organization out, and ultimately me, this is a great chance.
Here at tax time, people may be interested in a write off. PMI is a legitimate 501(c) organization and is happy for the help. If you want to make it personal, just note it as funds to help pay my combat insurance.
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Oct 25 at 12:12pm by David Tate
The Pakistani military claims their forces have captured the key militant stronghold of Loi Sam, Bajour Agency, in a fierce push to wrest control of the area from Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters.
Loi Sam sits at a pivotal intersection connecting three major roads that extend into different regions deep into Pakistani territory.
The battle is the latest in an ongoing series of offensives that kicked off August 6. The stated goal of offensive is ridding Bajour of thousands of militants who use the agency as a staging area and command and control for militants fighting the security forces defending Afghanistan.
Leaders of the security effort in Afghanistan, led by the United States, says attacks in Kunar Province (directly across the border from Bajour) are noticeably down since the offensive began. Pakistani news reports say militants in Afghanistan have left that fight to reinforce fighters in Pakistan.
30 Days of Fighting
The offensive against Loi Sam began September 20 when joint Pakistani army units and Frontier Corps fighters, backed by tanks and US supplied helicopter gunships, began pushing into the area under heavy fire. Tribal militias are being used to enforce security in the aftermath as the military force moves on.
Current estimates put the death toll for militants at more than 1,500 while Pakistani security forces have lost 72 members. 95 civilians have also been listed as killed in the fighting. More than 300,000 people have also been displaced; thousands who have fled across the border into Kunar Province Afghanistan. The displacement has not only created a humanitarian concern for Afghanistan, but a security concern as well.
With roughly one million people, Bajour Agency is the smallest of the seven semi-autonomous, Pashtun dominated, tribal agencies that make up FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) of Pakistan’s northwest frontier alongside Afghanistan’s very troubled eastern border.
The fight for Bajour is being watched closely by all parties and is seen as a litmus test for Pakistan’s claimed commitment to the war against terrorism.
Oct 4 at 2:02am by David Tate
In a major change in dynamics on the ground in Bajour Agency, Pakistan, members of the powerful Mamoond (Mamund) tribe have pledged allegiance to Pakistani security forces and are raising a militia to help combat militants.
On October 4, hundreds of members of the tribe held a grand jirga that resulted in the official formation of a lashkar (militia) to help expel the militants and bring stability to the agency. In an operation declared to begin October 5, the Qaumi Lashkar is directed to burn any house found to harbor militants with a one million rupee fine ($12,800) to follow.
The jirga also agreed to peace efforts extended by the government and support its security forces.
All three major tribes in Bajour are now actively supporting the Pakistani government, with fighters, against the militants. Militant strength throughout the agency is believed to number in the thousands.
While the US government has been actively courting tribal leaders for months, signs began showing last week that the Mamoond Tribe was beginning to defect to the government side. Traditionally, the Mamoond Tribe is known to be aligned with militants, particularly because of inter-marriage with Al Qaeda fighters, and are represented on both sides of the border with Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Since the offensive in Bajour began, attacks across the border in Kunar have decreased. Reports suggest fighters attacking coalition forces in Kunar Province have been reinforcing their commrades in Bajour to the benefit of the Americans. Kunar Province is the second most active province, in terms of militant attacks, in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military has been pressing an offensive into Bajour since August 6 which has killed more than 1,000 militants and some 70 Pakistani soldiers. The fighting has also displaced more than 300,000 civilians.
The fight for Bajour is being closely watched by the Americans who are pressuring the Pakistanis to be tougher on the Taliban fighters openly operating in the border regions with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military expects the operation to be wrapped up by year’s end; a task much more realistic with the defection of the Mamoond Tribe.
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 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 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.