Today is our 4,125th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualties from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,175
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,083
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $1, 415, 727, 075, 000 .00
I've got a follow-up to Saturday's blog....I derided the F-35 for it's underpowered engine and ill-advised multipurpose role. Turns out that our English allies have discovered something new...it could blow up in a thunderstorm.
It's considered to be the world's most sophisticated superfighter jet, but Britain's new £150million combat aircraft has been banned from flying in bad weather for fears it could explode.
Engineers working on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have found the jet's fuel tank could explode if hit by lightning.
According to reports, the aircraft, which is hoped to enter service for both the RAF and the Royal Navy in five years' time, has also been made more vulnerable to enemy attack than the aircraft it is set to replace, after its weight was reduced in an attempt to increase fuel efficiency.
The Telegraph has reported the revelations were disclosed in a leaked report from the Pentagon's operational test and evaluation office, which states that, until a device in the fuel tank is redesigned, test-flying within 25 miles of thunderstorms is 'not permitted'.
Several other problems have been identified with the plane, including a fault in the design of the fuel tank which means it is unable to rapidly descend to low altitude.
A handful of cracks were also discovered in the tested aircraft during examinations by the United States Air Force and the aircraft's manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
A Lockheed Martin spokesman has said the manufacturer does not consider the latest problem a 'major issue'.
The spokesman said: 'We have demonstrated very good vulnerability performance and we continue to work with the Joint Programme Office.'
We'll take the briefest look at the inaugural yesterday....despite the President's soaring rhetoric on equal rights for all, the military still hasn't quite gotten the message. A same-sex couple has been devastated by war, and yet the Pentagon will not consider the survivor a war widow.
This sets up the possibility that parents of gay soldiers might not be considered Blue Star or Gold Star parents....but I digress.
RAEFORD - Clutching a copy of her marriage certificate and racked with grief, Tracy Dice steeled herself for a battle.
Dice had just received a call from her in-laws, summoning her to their Hoke County home.
Dice knew what lay ahead. Her wife, fellow National Guard member Donna Rae Johnson, failed to call her that October morning from Khost, Afghanistan. Worse, Dice learned through the Internet that three unidentified soldiers had been killed in the same area hours earlier.
And now National Guard officers had shown up at her in-laws' home.
On occasion, Dice and Johnson had discussed what would happen if one of them were to die while serving their country.
They knew that the military would not recognize their same-sex marriage. A federal law, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman. The military abides by the letter of that law.
But Dice was determined to fight to be part of her wife's affairs. That's why she clutched her marriage certificate, intent on being able to prove her connection to Johnson and terrified that she would somehow be excluded.
The marriage certificate did little good. The casualty officers who showed up at her in-laws' home were bound by the Defense of Marriage Act. The officers could not legally recognize Dice as the widow and notified her in-laws of Johnson's death before she arrived.
The Defense of Marriage Act held other ramifications for Dice, who is believed to be the first same-sex war widow in the U.S. military:
Since she was not recognized as a spouse or family member, Dice could have been left behind when Johnson's body arrived from Afghanistan. Instead, her mother-in-law intervened and a military officer "pushed the edges of the envelope" to allow Dice to escort Johnson's body from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
In correspondence from the Department of Defense, Dice said, officials expressed their condolences for the loss of her "significant other." The lone exception was President Obama, the only government official to refer to Johnson as Dice's wife.
Moments before Johnson's funeral, a small ceremony was held out of public view in the church basement. There, Dice said, uniformed officers presented her with an American flag. During the funeral, the flag that had draped the coffin was handed to Dice's mother-in-law, Sandra Johnson, instead of the grieving widow.
The Department of Veterans Affairs denied Dice's application for survivor's benefits.
Finally this morning....It's still a shooting war.
KABUL - A nine-hour siege Monday in the heart of Afghanistan’s capital left at least seven people dead, including three police officers, and brought a normally bustling section of the city to a standstill amid explosions and gunfire.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, which started around 5:30 a.m., when at least four attackers stormed the lightly-defended headquarters of the Kabul Traffic Police, before taking up positions and firing light and heavy weapons down on an adjacent compound that houses the Afghan Border Police. During the attack a car bomb went off outside the headquarters and at least two of the attackers detonated suicide vests, according to a Ministry of Interior statement.
A traffic policeman on the scene said the attackers had found the building’s armory, which contains heavy machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and explosives. Kabul’s police chief, however, denied in an interview that the attackers had reached the armory.
Dozens of large explosions rocked the neighborhood on the west side of the city throughout the day, punctuated by automatic gunfire and what sounded like rocket propelled grenades. Smoke rose from the traffic police building after several of the explosions, and Afghan commandos could be seen running along rooftops. Witnesses reported seeing Norwegian special forces soldiers, who were involved in quelling a major attack at a lakeside resort in June.
The International Security Assistance Force confirmed its troops assisted in the operation but would not give details, except to say no coalition troops were killed or wounded.
“I just finished morning prayers and I was getting into bed to sleep a little longer and suddenly there was a big blast,” said Shahpoor Fikri, an employee at a nearby Ministry of Power and Water office. “It shook the whole office. When I looked outside there was smoke outside the Traffic Police Directorate and then a lot of shooting started.”
Around 2:30 p.m. there was a final burst of gunfire, an explosion and a plume of smoke from a third floor window of the traffic directorate. In the aftermath, possibly as many as five fighters and three police officers were killed, in addition to four police officers and eight civilians wounded, Kabul Police Chief Ayoub Salangi said. Salangi denied the attackers had successfully reached the armory.