Today is our 4,244th day in Afghanistan.
We'll start this morning as we always do; with the latest casualty figures from our ongoing war, courtesy of Antiwar.com:
US Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 2,219
Other Military Deaths - Afghanistan: 1,088
We find this morning's cost of war
passing through: $ 1, 440, 949, 100, 000. 00
Before we get to the matters at hand today, we'll pay a brief visit to our old friends in Iraq. You may not have heard about this, since there's no longer Americans directly involved, but yesterday was a day as bad as any
during the height of our occupation.
Coordinated bombing attacks resumed today. At least ten blasts were seen in the capital alone, and a pair of rare explosions occurred far south in Basra. Both Sunni and Shi’ites targeted in them. Overall, at least 133 people were killed and 283 more were wounded, but the figures are likely to rise. Some of the dead and wounded were Iranian pilgrims.
Twelve policemen were killed and four were wounded during a raid in Anbar province. Security forces were trying to liberate policemen who had been kidnapped two days ago. It is unclear how many of the casualties were victims or security forces. Five of the kidnapping victims had been discovered dead yesterday. A political candidate was kidnapped in Rawa today. In better news, three abductees from Karbala were released.
In Baghdad, a bomb at a Shabb marketplace left 14 dead and 24 wounded. A blast in Jisr Diyala killed two people and wounded 34. In Shoala, two people were killed and 16 more were wounded in an explosion at a market. A bomb in Ilam killed two people and wounded 15 more. Two people were killed and 11 more were wounded in Kamaliya. In Zaafaraniya, a blast wounded seven people. Five people were wounded in Kadhimiya when a bomb exploded in a garage near Aden Square. A blast in al-Shurta al-Rabeaa wounded 10 people. Three people were wounded in an explosion in Saba Bour. At least 26 more were killed in the attacks and another 29 were wounded.
Thirteen people were killed and 50 more were wounded in two separate bombings in Basra.
A blast targeting a bus carrying Iranian pilgrims in Balad killed 14 people and wounded 13 more. Iraqis were among the casualties.
Thirteen Sahwa members were killed and nine more were wounded in a blast that took place as they gathered to collect their salaries in Samarra.
In Hilla, a car bomb at a Shi’ite mosque and husseiniya killed 12 and wounded 26 more 256
Eight policemen were killed in Zgerdan.
In Mosul, two soldiers were wounded in a blast. A bomb targeting the head of the provincial council wounded three bodyguards. A roadside bomb in a tunnel wounded two people.
One gunmen was wounded during a clash in Jurf al-Sakhar.
Armed forces killed a militant at a barracks in Albu Ali Jassim.
Mortars struck a civilian home in Tal Afar, leaving one resident dead and another wounded.
Four policemen were killed and three more were wounded in an attack in Rawa.
A car bomb in Rutba left one dead and four wounded.
A sticky bomb killed a married couple and wounded their son in Tikrit. The father was a police officer. A car bomb delivering wounded from Baiji exploded; no casualties were reported, but the driver was arrested.
A suicide bomber in Baiji targeted a Sahwa leader. He and two others were wounded, but two bodyguards were killed in the bombing.
In Baquba, mortar fire left one dead and four wounded.
An I.E.D. wounded three people in Jalawla.
A car bomb was discovered in Kut and disarmed. A bomb explosion was reported, as well as a grenade attack.
Once again, there is concern that Iraq may be sliding back into a civil war. While there has always been sectarian violence, it appears that tensions are on the rise again between the old nemeses Sunni and Shia. We will of course, continue to monitor the news from this part of the world.
But while we are thinking about our old wars, let's briefly touch upon what it takes to make an active war an "old war". At the end of WWII, there was a clear point of victory, and then millions of men overseas that needed to get home. Something called Operation Magic Carpet
was put into effect, but it still took over a year before the last man set foot back on US soil.
Our wars since then have been far more nebulous, and soldiers have come and gone in dribs and drabs....but somebody will eventually be the last person to step off a plane and back into civilian life. Without the resources of the entire US Navy behind the effort, it won't be cheap or easy
getting everyone out of Dodge.
Politics and geography make the withdrawal from Afghanistan more complicated than the departure from Iraq that was completed in 2011. The U.S. was able to stockpile war materiel from Iraq in neighboring Kuwait before loading it on ships. The U.S. moved out 2 million items from 92 bases in Iraq in about 20,000 truckloads.
In the absence of a safe and friendly zone such as Kuwait, the Pentagon plans to send about 60 percent of its inventory in Afghanistan -- mostly non-lethal items -- through Pakistan by truck to the port of Karachi, Estevez said in an interview in his Pentagon office.
In the past, Pakistan has closed the two main border crossings from Afghanistan to protest U.S. actions. The supply route was shut from November 2011 to July 2012 after a U.S. military strike mistakenly killed 24 Pakistani troops.
Although the route is now open, the relationship between the two countries remains fragile, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused Pakistan of sheltering militants and letting them stage attacks on his country.
The other 40 percent of the American cargo will go north past the Hindu Kush mountains, crisscrossing several former Soviet republics in the Caucasus by truck and rail before reaching ports on the Baltic Sea in Latvia or Lithuania, Estevez said. The tab for the withdrawal may be $5 billion to $7 billion, he said.
By the end of 2014, the Pentagon will have moved about 22,000 containers of materiel out of Afghanistan, Estevez said.
The U.S. Army, which has the largest presence in the country, estimates that it has about $27 billion of military hardware in Afghanistan, and most of it will come home, Estevez said. The other military services have smaller inventories, he said.
About 80 percent of the war gear, including Blackhawk helicopters, radios, trucks and remotely piloted aircraft, will return to the U.S., Estevez said. Most of the equipment that supports U.S. bases, such as air-conditioners, construction material and furniture, will be left behind or destroyed, he said.
Few military items will be left for the Afghans to use, U.S. Army Brigadier General Steve Shapiro, deputy commander for theater sustainment, told reporters in Kabul in March. The military gear Afghanistan needs will be provided through the Pentagon’s foreign military sales program, Shapiro said.
The U.S. is coordinating its withdrawal with similar plans by 50 coalition partners, Major General Kenneth Dahl, deputy commanding general for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul in March. “Because of the geography and physics of Afghanistan, we have to coordinate so we don’t all try to take the same roads,” he said.
The Pentagon and the military services also are drawing up a list of excess defense articles the U.S. doesn’t need so they can be given away to allies, Dahl said. Non-military items including equipment used to support bases may be given away to several Afghan agencies, Dahl said.
Moving materiel through Pakistan remains the most cost-effective route, Estevez said.
And even as we leave one war zone, the groundwork has already been laid to move into the next front. This is an older story, but the fact that it's been completely under the radar should be telling. I'm not talking about Syria here; the US has very quietly and without fanfare been arming and training Somalis.
“The United States is committed to being a long-term partner in assisting the defense forces in Somalia defense to become a professional military force,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
A relative peace has returned to Somalia’s war-battered capital of Mogadishu since African Union forces ousted al-Shabab — a militant group loosely associated with al-Qaida — from the city over 18 months ago. But al-Shabab rebels are not yet defeated, and the U.S. remains concerned about the threat the group could pose to the region’s stability. The U.S. designated al-Shabab a terrorist group in 2008.
Obama’s decision was not tied to any new threat assessment in Somalia, said a senior administration official, who was not authorized to discuss security assessments publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The move follows a decision by the U.N. Security Council in March to partially suspend the arms embargo on Somalia for 12 months, after Somali officials appealed to the U.N. to suspend the embargo. The council preserved a ban on exports of a list of heavy military hardware, including surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank guided weapons and night-vision weapons.
The U.S. government has provided funds and training to African Union forces fighting al-Shabab in Somalia, and has also provided more than $133 million to Somalia since 2007 in security sector assistance, intended to help the country build up and professionalize its security forces.
So a mixed bag this morning. I suppose we well always be at war with Eastasia.