"I think it would be enormously beneficial to the region as well as Afghanistan," Graham said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "We have had air bases all over the world and a couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity. It would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back. In Afghanistan they could change their behavior. It would be a signal to the whole region that Afghanistan is going to be a different place."
The (Not So) Secret (Anymore) US War in Pakistan The Nation
December 1, 2010 - 'Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, US military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct US drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump. According to an October 9, 2009 cable classified by Anne Patterson, the US ambassador to Pakistan, the operations were "almost certainly [conducted] with the personal consent of [Pakistan's] Chief of Army Staff General Kayani." The operations were coordinated with the US Office of the Defense Representative in Pakistan. A US special operations source told The Nation that the US forces described in the cable as "SOC(FWD)-PAK" were "forward operating troops" from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the most elite force within the US military made up of Navy SEALs, Delta Force and Army Rangers.' _________________ The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.
- Chinese proverb
Yes I suppose.
I do agree about gas and drugs. Keep an eye on the infrastructure from the air with the Reaper/Predator/Global hawk and the ol' unmanned helo. Still in the air, why not utilise the BAE Taranis UCAV.
Over the last two years a sly spin has been put
on fatalities and casualties among the occupation
forces in Afghanistan.
Time and time again the official press releases have
declined to call a spade a spade when large numbers
of US troops are killed in single incidents.
Instead the fatalities are described as "NATO forces."
The media unquestiongly run with the vague headline,
and by the time clarification emerges which identifies
the dead as Americans the story has disappeared off
The sheer scale of today's death toll means that for
once there are some accurate reports --though most
have been rather typical:
Afghan pilot opens fire at Kabul airport, killing nine US allies - The Australian
Afghan officer kills eight NATO soldiers - The Hindu Foreign troops killed in Afghan shootout - Aljazeera.net
Afghan officer fires on NATO troops, kills 9 - The Associated Press
Gunman Kills NATO Troops at Kabul Airport - New York Times
Afghan Pilot Kills Foreign Soldiers in Airport Attack Claimed by Taliban - Bloomberg
Afghan pilot shoots dead eight Nato troops - The Guardian
Death toll of NATO casualties at shootout in Kabul airport rises to 9 - Xinhua
Afghan pilot kills eight Nato soldiers - Financial Times
The truth is likely to be disconcerting to US public opinion
--which is the reason for the coyness of official reports:
9 Americans killed when Afghan pilot opens fire at Kabul airport
The Taliban claims responsibility for the attack, in which eight U.S.
troops and an American contractor are killed. The gunman dies when
NATO forces return fire.
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
April 27, 2011, 10:37 a.m. Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan—
Eight U.S. troops and an American contractor were killed early Wednesday when a veteran Afghan military pilot opened fire on trainers during a meeting in a military compound near Kabul International Airport.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility in what it said was the latest attack by an insurgent infiltrator.
The pilot began shooting during a meeting in the operations room of the Afghan National Army Air Corps building about 10 a.m. after having an argument with a foreign colleague, targeting foreign instructors and advisors, according to statements released by NATO and Afghan officials.
Afghan security forces heard the shots and surrounded the building, storming inside even as other officers leapt from the building's second floor, according to Col. Bahader, the Afghan army's spokesman at the airport, who goes by one name. None of the Afghan personnel died in the attack, he said.
Inside the building, NATO forces returned fire, killing the attacker, Afghan officials said. A NATO soldier and five Afghan Air Force troops were wounded in the gunfight, officials said. A NATO quick-reaction force responded to the scene, and alliance and Afghan officials were still investigating late Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Elizabeth Robbins, a Pentagon spokesperson, confirmed that all those killed were Americans.
The pilot, Ahmad Gul Sahebi, 48, was from the Tarakhail district of Kabul province and had served in the Afghan army for decades, according to a man who claimed to be his brother.....
Karzai : 'Afghan People Know
How To Deal With Occupation'
BreakForNews.com - 31st May, 2011
"If it turns out to be the... behavior of an occupation, then
of course the Afghan people know how to deal with that."
--President Hamid Karzai
In the wake of NATO's killing of innocent children in a raid, the Afghan
President has deemed the alliance forces to be close to an occupation
force and not an ally.
Karzai's comments followed the broadcast of television images showing
the bloodied bodies of the dead children being carried by relatives.
His remarks are certainly self-serving, but Karzai is being forced to
reflect popular sentiment regarding US and NATO troops.
Both militarily and increasingly in terms of
popular support, NATO is loosing this war.
Karzai Warns NATO Against
Air Attacks on Afghan Homes
By RAY RIVERA - Published: May 31, 2011 - NYTimes
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai warned NATO on Tuesday that Afghans would no longer tolerate airstrikes that result in civilian casualties. If they continue, he said, “we will be forced to take unilateral action in this regard.”
Speaking at a news conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Mr. Karzai declined to offer specifics on what actions the government would take, saying only that Afghanistan “has a lot of ways of stopping it.”
In an admonishment that carried an air of threat, he said NATO forces were on the verge of being considered occupiers rather than allies.
“If they continue their attacks on our houses, then their presence will change from a force that is fighting against terrorism to a force that is fighting against the people of Afghanistan,” he said. “And in that case, history shows what Afghans do with trespassers and with occupiers.”
Mr. Karzai has used similar language before, but taken with other recent statements, his comments could further threaten a relationship with his Western backers that has been strained over issues like night raids, corruption and the continuing scandal surrounding questionable loans and huge losses at Kabul Bank.
NATO officials responded diplomatically, saying they would continue to work with the Afghan government to reduce civilian casualties.
“General Petraeus has repeatedly noted that every liberation force has to be very conscious that it can, over time, become seen as an occupation force,” Rear Adm. Vic Beck of the Navy, a spokesman for the NATO-led military coalition, said in a statement, referring to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top coalition commander in Afghanistan. He added, “We are in agreement with President Karzai on the importance of constantly examining our actions in light of that reality — and we are doing just that.”.....
On Saturday, Mr. Karzai ordered his Defense Ministry to take charge of the nighttime raids from the coalition forces in his most aggressive attempt yet to stem the use of such operations, which have angered Afghans for years for their intrusiveness and the civilian casualties they frequently cause.
Then after an airstrike Saturday night that killed several civilians in the Now Zad district of Helmand Province, the president issued a “last” warning to NATO forces that airstrikes that end in civilian casualties must stop. NATO, in an apologetic statement after the attack, acknowledged that nine civilians had been killed. The strike was aimed at a group of five insurgents who had ambushed a Marine foot patrol, killing one of them, and then continued to fire on the patrol from inside a compound.
“Unfortunately, the compound the insurgents purposefully occupied was later discovered to house innocent civilians,” the official, Maj. Gen. John Toolan, commander of NATO forces in the southwest region, said in the statement.
Images of grieving friends and relatives carrying the bruised and bloodied bodies of dead children were broadcast on television the morning after the attack, inflaming passions.
Mr. Karzai called the deaths “shocking” and said in a statement that “NATO and American forces have been warned repeatedly that their arbitrary and improper operations are the causes of killing of innocent people.”
The Afghan president said he intended to meet with top NATO leaders soon, possibly next Sunday, to spell out what actions the government intended to take if the airstrikes do not end. Not heeding his warnings, he said, is a threat to the country’s sovereignty, saying Afghanistan must be treated as an ally, not an occupied country.
“If it turns out to be the other,” he said, “to the behavior of an occupation, then of course the Afghan people know how to deal with that.”
Suicide Attack On Hotel Means We've
Entered a New Chapter In Afghan War
By KT McFarland - Published June 28, 2011
The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul is where the Karzai government was born, it's where the Afghan diaspora assembled from all parts of the world to form a new government after the Taliban government was toppled in late 2001.
It's one of the most heavily fortified public buildings in Kabul, and where journalists, diplomats, foreign businessmen, and Afghanistan's elites stay and eat and meet.
There is really nothing like it in Kabul.
For years it was THE hotel in town.
Now has come terrible news from Afghanistan that at least five suicide bombers have attacked the hotel. For the Taliban to penetrate the hotel's defenses with multiple suicide bombers, and detonate their explosives in the inner sanctum of the elites sends a powerful signal that the war is not over; it's just entered a new chapter......
Following the spin from the Washington establishment that the Obama
administration is prepared to negotiate over Afghanistan, let's get one
The Afghan insurgency is not interested. They're winning.
Kabul's Intercontinental hotel attacked by Taliban militants
Taliban militants with at least one suicide bomb attack
popular Kabul hotel, with reports of at least 10 people killed
Jon Boone in Kabul - Guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 28 June 2011 22.55 BST
A commando squad of at least five Taliban suicide bombers attacked a famous Kabul hotel where senior Afghan officials were staying, waging a battle with security forces that lasted for hours.
The assault on the old Intercontinental began when militants dressed in civilian clothes burst into the hotel while many guests were in the dining room. At least two receptions were thought to be taking place, including a wedding party.
The BBC reported that 10 people had been killed, although it was not possible to confirm that figure with Afghan authorities.
From miles across the city residents could see the blacked-out hotel on a hilltop on the western outskirts of Kabul illuminated by red tracer bullets and explosions.
Afghan police and commandos flocked to the hotel to engage the attackers with machine guns and rocket propelled grenades soon after the attack began at around 9.30pm local time. At least one suicide bomber successfully blew himself up, in a tactic that has been used several times before on heavily fortified buildings, including hotels, in the capital.
The Taliban's spokesman was quick to claim credit for the assault, claiming he had been in contact with one of the attackers inside the hotel.
The spokesman told AP: "One of our fighters called on a mobile phone and said: 'We have gotten onto all the hotel floors and the attack is going according to the plan. We have killed and wounded 50 foreign and local enemies. We are in the corridors of the hotel now taking guests out of their rooms — mostly foreigners. We broke down the doors and took them out one by one."'
His claim was denied by senior Kabul police officer Mohammad Zahir, who said that the militants had been isolated on a "small section of the roof" and had not been able to go around room to room.
He said that there also an unknown number of insurgents firing from positions outside the hotel and that around five of his officers, including Zahir himself, had been wounded.
According to Bette Dam, a Dutch journalist at the scene, the attackers also appeared to be armed with rocket-propelled grenades. On Twitter Dam reported seeing at least four RPGs being launched from the hotel into the nearby house belonging to Mohammad Qasim Fahim, one of Afghanistan's vice-presidents.
The 1960s hotel, which is no longer formerly of the Intercontinental chain, is not the magnet to western travellers it once was, many of whom now stay in more recently built hotels.
But it is popular with well-heeled Afghans and leading political figures, and it hosts a number of important conferences each year.
An Afghan official said that a group of senior provincial officials had been staying at the hotel at the time.
The attack on such a well defended hotel, which is impossible to approach without going through at least two security checkpoints, is embarrassing to the Afghan government as it prepares to take responsibility for security in Kabul province as part of much vaunted "transition" strategy.
The attack came the night before the start of a conference about the gradual transition of civil and military responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans, although an Afghan government official told reporters that the hotel was not one of the venues to be used by the conference or its delegates.
Afghan authorities have already been nominally in charge of Kabul for some time.
Attacks in the Afghan capital have been relatively rare, although violence has increased since the 2 May killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid in Pakistan, and since the start of the Taliban's annual spring offensive.
On 18 June, insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms stormed a police station near the presidential palace and opened fire on officers, killing nine.
Eye witness: the north side of the hotel is completely on fire.
@bsarwary Bilal Sarwary
Although P.Chief of Kabul G.Ayub says, situation in control.
But residents says, still gun fire
"Hotel is hit by a 'very big gun' from the east side.. 'ooo again, the hotel
hit again' ... Many helicopters flying around, shining lights on the hotel.
I am trying to get a better view, from a roof top."
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Hotel guest Abdul Zahir Faizada watched as a uniformed gunman shoved a man to the ground and shot him to death at point-blank range. Suddenly, gunfire erupted and another assailant blew himself up.
By the time the siege of the luxury Inter-Continental Hotel ended Wednesday, 20 people lay dead - including nine attackers, all of whom wore suicide-bomber vests - and one of Kabul's premier landmarks was left a grisly scene of bodies, shrapnel and shattered glass.
It was one of the biggest and most complex attacks ever orchestrated in the Afghan capital and appeared designed to show that the insurgents are capable of striking even in the center of power at a time when U.S. officials are speaking of progress in the nearly 10-year war.
The brazen attack by militants with explosives, anti-aircraft weapons, guns and grenade launchers dampened hopes that a peace settlement can be reached with the Taliban and raised doubt that Afghan security forces are ready to take the lead from foreign forces in the nearly decade-long war.
Faizada, the leader of the local council in Herat province who was in Kabul to attend a conference on that very issue, had just finished dinner at the hotel restaurant and was walking to his room on the second floor around 10 p.m. Tuesday when the militants struck. He said he saw five or six people in security-type uniforms clashing with the hotel staff and guards.
"Suddenly I saw this guy in a uniform pushing a man to the ground. He shot him dead," Faizada said.
For the rest of the night, Faizada and the mayor of Herat stayed locked in their darkened hotel room, whispering into cell phones with friends back in Herat who were giving them news updates of what was happening during the standoff.
The attack came just a week after President Barack Obama said he would start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan next month. The suicide bombers struck on the eve of a two-day conference on transferring the responsibility for security across the nation to Afghan forces between now and the end of 2014.
The U.S.-led military coalition, Afghan government and Ashraf Ghani, chairman of the transition commission, all vowed that the Afghan army and police would be ready in time.
"Such incidents will not stop us for transitioning security of our country," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report circulated Wednesday in the Security Council that he was worried about attacks on civilians as the transition to greater Afghan leadership begins.
"Persistent insecurity has brought about a steady rise in civilian casualties," he wrote, especially women and children "indiscriminately affected by the conflict."
A man named Jawid, who was staying at the hotel when the attack occurred, isn't convinced the Afghan forces will ever be ready.
"Where is the security in this country?" asked Jawid, who uses only one name. "Where is the security in this hotel?"
Jawid escaped by jumping out the window of his room on the first floor of the Inter-Continental, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the capital.
When the siege was over just after dawn Wednesday, 11 civilians were dead, including a judge from Logar province's court of appeals, five hotel workers and three Afghan policemen, according to Afghan intelligence officials. The Interior Ministry said a Spanish citizen was among the dead. The ministry said 18 people were wounded in the attack - 13 civilians and five policemen.
The State Department said three private U.S. citizens were at the hotel when it was attacked. Consular officers from the embassy were in touch directly with two of them who were unharmed and with the family of the third who "is getting medical care," spokesman Mark Toner said in Washington. The extent of the injuries to the third American were not clear, he said.
An Afghan government official who toured the six-story hotel after the siege gave this account of the assault: The attackers entered the hotel compound from an area behind the kitchen and ballroom, which is in a separate building connected by a corridor to the main hotel. They moved down a hill covered with heavy vegetation to the front of the ballroom, where they killed two hotel guards. One attacker was slain.
Some of the attackers took the corridor into the main hotel building where at least four climbed stairs to the roof to exchange fire with Afghan security forces, the official said. Other attackers went to the second and third floors and started knocking on hotel room doors, but the guests had been warned to stay locked in their rooms.
Since authorities had cut off power to the hotel, militants used heavy flashlights to find their way. Night-vision goggles gave Afghan security forces the advantage as they hunted down the militants.
Three suicide bombers died on the roof - either by detonating their explosives-laden vests or from missiles fired by NATO helicopters that were called in to assist the Afghan forces. Two others blew themselves up on the second and fifth floors, the official said.
"I was not able to even look into a room where they exploded themselves. The whole room was full of their body parts," said Matiullah, an Afghan policemen stationed at the hotel who suspects the militants slipped through 100-yard (100-meter) gaps between checkpoints surrounding the hotel.
Four other attackers - their bodies intact - were found at different places in the hotel, including the rooftop.
Latifullah Mashal, the spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, said the Afghan security forces - despite an assist from NATO advisers and three Black Hawk helicopters - won the battle against the militants in the dark halls.
"The enemy failed to carry out their plan," he said. "They were all killed and there was no major cost to civilian life. We are sorry for the loss of life, but we say to them: We Afghans have the ability to stop terrorist attacks, and we will."
He suggested the attackers might have stored weapons in the area and then posed as hotel employees or workers at a construction site nearby.
"So far, we don't know how they infiltrated," he said. "We do have a few clues."
The Taliban claimed victory and boasted an inflated death toll: 50 foreigners, foreign and Afghan advisers and high-ranking officials.
"One of our brave fighters carried out a suicide attack at the eastern entrance to the hotel and then we were all able to get in," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement recounting the operation.
He said one fighter from Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan provided cellphone updates of the siege. "We are all inside the building and have already launched our attack with light and heavy weapons," Mujahid said the caller reported. "Until 4 a.m., they opened as many hotel rooms as they could, and when they were confident that foreigners were in the room, they opened fire and killed them. ... The resistance continued until 8 a.m."
Afghan police were the first to respond to the attack, prompting firefights that resounded across the capital. A few hours later, an Afghan National Army commando unit arrived to help. Associated Press reporters at the scene heard shooting from rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft weapons and machine guns through the morning. Flares and tracer rounds streaked across the sky.
After hours of fighting, three NATO helicopters circled, clockwise, over the hotel - with at least two firing missiles at the rooftop. U.S. Army Maj. Jason Waggoner, a spokesman for the coalition, said the helicopters killed three gunmen, and Afghan security forces clearing the hotel engaged the insurgents as they worked their way up to the roof.
Missile fire from the helicopters and four loud explosions seemed to mark the end of the standoff. The lights in the hotel were turned back on. Ambulances started removing bodies from the scene.
But later in the morning, Kabul Police Chief Gen. Mohammad Ayub Salangi said the last of the bombers, who had been injured and hiding in a room, blew himself up - the finale to the deadly drama in the Afghan capital.
The Inter-Continental - known widely as the "Inter-Con" - opened in the late 1960s, and was the nation's first international luxury hotel. It has at least 200 rooms and was once part of an international chain. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, however, the hotel was left to fend for itself.
Attacks in Kabul have been relatively rare, although violence has increased since the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan and the start of the Taliban's annual spring offensive.
On June 18, insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms stormed a police station near the presidential palace and opened fire on officers, killing nine.
In late May, a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan police uniform infiltrated the main military hospital, killing six medical students. A month before that, a suicide attacker in an army uniform sneaked past security at the Defense Ministry, killing three people.
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