Posted by Kendall Harmon

The West’s involvement in Afghanistan over the past 12 years has been dominated by one failed opportunity after another. Rather than focusing so massively on the military effort rather than well-informed and better-targeted recovery, for example, the international community could have made a significant difference by supporting a proposal made back in 2002, notably the introduction of electronic ID cards. But the idea was consistently ignored as “impractical.” And yet, in a society where mobile phones are now ubiquitous, it could have served as a relatively reliable voter ID, perhaps preventing stuffed ballots. It could also have helped monitor health, educational, and other crucial data, such as vaccination programs.

For Afghans, the elections are broadly perceived as their last chance before the bulk of foreign troops leave and global development commitment drops even further. Nevertheless, even though Afghans have traditionally proved adept at compromise, the voting abuses may have gone too far. People went to the polls to have their say. To have their vote turned into a shared coalition government primarily because of corruption and abuse of the voting process may only be sending the message that there is no point in democracy.

Yet this does not mean the West should abandon Afghanistan. The last time the West lost interest was after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. This led to a ruthless civil war during the early 1990s followed by the rise of the Taliban supported by Al Qaeda, Pakistan, and even the United States. By the time Washington understood what was happening, it was too late.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted July 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

War veterans return home from duty to the communities and families they left behind, but mental and emotional burdens often return with them. Decisions and experiences from the battlefield can lead to post traumatic stress and what is now being recognized as moral injury. The Department of Veterans Affairs is sharing its resources with faith groups to help those returning with deep moral wounds. “To rebuild a moral identity takes a community of support. It takes friends, and it takes a long time,” says Rita Nakashima Brock of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinty School. “There are no other institutions in our society that I know of except religious institutions that support people over their entire life course.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Vietnam, Korea, World War II and others across history had noble intent and, like all wars, had their share of tragic consequences. Even “good” wars are filled with suffering by the innocent. Wars are morally justified only when the alternatives are even worse.

Veterans in America’s wars, whether the volunteers of the last 40 years, or the draftees of earlier decades, were not “victims.” They were and are Americans who sacrificially served their country. They should be honored, not romanticized, nor condescended to.

Wallis suggests Memorial Day as a time for asking “hard questions about our wars, what we have learned, and whether such painful losses are truly worth the terrible cost.” Perhaps those questions should also include asking what the world might look like absent the service of America’s veterans and the willingness of America to resist aggression and tyranny.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bergdahl, 28, was freed in exchange for five prisoners who were held at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and is back in the hands of the U.S. military, the officials said.

Bergdahl disappeared when he reportedly walked away from a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009, carrying only a compass and a bottle of water. He was the only U.S. service member ever to be held captive by enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The US government has inadvertently empowered warlords and nurtured corruption in Afghanistan, warns a strikingly candid new report from the Pentagon that offers a devastating window into worthy US intentions that ended in exorbitant waste.

The initial US focus on defeating the Taliban and Al Qaeda created mutually dependent relationships between the US government and Afghan warlords “that empowered these warlords” and “expanded their opportunities for financial gain,” according to the study, which was produced by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s “lessons learned” department.

This was caused in large part by a “deluge” of military spending that “overwhelmed” the Afghan government’s ability to absorb it and later encouraged spending habits and graft that impeded the US war effort, the report concludes.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 1, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



More than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service, feel disconnected from civilian life and believe the government is failing to meet the needs of this generation’s veterans, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The long conflicts, which have required many troops to deploy multiple times and operate under an almost constant threat of attack, have exacted a far more widespread emotional toll than previously recognized by most government studies and independent assessments: One in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger — two key indicators of post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

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Posted March 30, 2014 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I have been called several times in the last few days, including by journalists, for opinions on our involvement in Afghanistan. The most often asked question is rather simplistic – understandable when a story has to fit into the bookends of other news events, but revealing in that Canadians desire that 12 years should be summarized into a thumbs-up or thumbs-down question. It is also indicative of the collective national withdrawal symptom and its accompanying amnesia.

To that simple question – “Was it worth it?” – the answer is yes. Afghanistan is far better off than what it was in 2001 by almost every possible metric. Certainly, many have died and continue to do so through insurgent actions and improvised explosive devices. Undeniably governance is weak and corruption embedded, but there are no longer public amputations and executions, there is no longer ethnic repression on the scale there once was, health care has improved and there remains a sense of hope. Hope that women won’t just be chattel once again and girls can continue to be schooled, hope that governance will improve, and hope that the roots of democracy and of an improving economic condition can continue to grow.

The Canadian Forces, our police and our diplomats did what they were asked and aside from the broader legacy it can be said that Canada’s presence in Kandahar prevented a Taliban takeover and that Canada set the conditions for the subsequent U.S. surge.

Read it all from the Globe and Mail.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanCanada

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Niebuhr would ask, about drones: “given the resentments among local populations,...how many terrorists are we creating for every one we kill?” What sort of precedents are we creating with a program of “targeted assassinations?” “Will targeted assassinations ever eliminate or even reduce the causes of violent Islamic radicalism?”

So [Andrew] Bacevich thinks that Niebuhr would condemn the drone campaign as ill-conceivedand immoral.

Yes, after 9/11 "doing nothing may not be an option,” but is it the only option? Let the questioning and debate continue, with IRONY not only on our sweatshirts, but as a perspective on what has to be on the minds of the thoughtful. - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/niebuhrian-irony-and-drones-%E2%80%94-martin-e-marty#sthash.P1sXnXFg.dpuf

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 25, 2014 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to allow the White House to wait until President Hamid Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said.

The option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Mr. Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement before elections scheduled for the spring.

"If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," said a senior U.S. official. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA and that he doesn't represent the voice of the Afghan people."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted February 10, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public does not think the United States has achieved its goals in either country. About half of Americans (52%) say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan while 38% say it has mostly succeeded. Opinions about the U.S. war in Iraq are virtually the same: 52% say the United States has mostly failed in reaching its goals there, while 37% say it has mostly succeeded.

In both cases, evaluations of the wars have turned more negative in recent years. In November 2011, as the U.S. was completing its military withdrawal from Iraq, a majority (56%) thought the U.S. had achieved its goals there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident George BushPresident Barack ObamaWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In much of the world this is a time of new beginnings. In Afghanistan, it is time to mark the beginning of an end: A dozen year commitment of foreign troops to fight the Taliban will wind down this year, meaning 51,000 American soldiers are poised to take their leave from a conflict that appears to be stumbling towards a stalemate, or worse.

The Afghanistan mission has been the longest military engagement in American history. For Canada, which saw 30,000 of its soldiers pass through the country over nine and a half years, it is the largest military operation since the Second World War. One hundred and fifty-eight Canadian soldiers and four civilians died, and by the end of 2010, a total of 1,859 military members had been wounded.

Those grim figures are just part of the reason why Afghanistan’s future should still matter – to Canada and its allies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanCanada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted January 6, 2014 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Uniform by uniform, teary eye by teary eye, soldiers are turning up at the airports to hugs, home for Christmas from war-torn Afghanistan. Each reunion is a heartwringer.

Not every military member over there is a soldier, though, and not every job is fighting. Somebody, after all, has to pay for it.

So among the soldiers who landed in Charleston last week was Siamak "Mak" Araghi, a civilian Army Corps of Engineers finance officer, who volunteered for months of duty at an occasionally bombed headquarters near Kabul. His Summerville family waited at the gate, his 8-year-old daughter Salma as close as she could get.

Sam Araghi, Mak's 13-year-old son, said his dad getting home before Christmas was the best gift he could get this year.

Read it all and you have to love the picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan* South Carolina

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Posted December 24, 2013 at 8:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warrior and Warhorse from The Seventh Movement on Vimeo.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y., famous for its historic racetrack, is among the most idyllic places in America. But on a recent fall weekend, not far from the track, horses were serving a different mission: retired thoroughbreds were recruited to help returning veterans at Song Hill Farm. A group from the US Army 2nd Battalion, 135th infantry, united in grief over the death of a fellow solider, gathered for the first time in five years to be part of Saratoga Warhorse, a three-day program that pairs veterans with horses. Tom Rinaldi reports the emotional story of the veterans, paired with their horses, undergoing a rebirth of trust and taking a first step toward healing.

Watch it all, and, yes, you will likely need kleenex--KSH.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* Economics, PoliticsIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* General InterestAnimals* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted November 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The personal and the pastoral...both inform Ms. [Rita] Brock’s work. She writes about her father in her recent book “Soul Repair: Recovering from Moral Injury after War.” Her co-author, Gabriella Lettini, is a theologian whose extended family includes veterans emotionally damaged by wartime experience. In the Soul Repair Center, Ms. Brock collaborates with the Rev. Herman Keizer Jr., who was an Army chaplain for 40 years.

Over the past three years, Ms. Brock and Ms. Lettini have spoken about moral injury and soul repair at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting and at denominational gatherings of Presbyterians and Unitarian Universalists.

Now, with a $650,000 two-year grant from the Lilly Endowment and the formal support of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Soul Repair Center is beginning to teach congregational leaders how to address moral injury in veterans. The first such training session will take place in early February.

Read it all, a story worth revisiting today from January.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted November 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. and Afghan politicians are in the middle of a heated debate over whether a small American and NATO force will remain in Afghanistan at the end of next year.

But what's a political and strategic question at the negotiating table is an emotional question at bases around Afghanistan, where soldiers watch the discussions with one eye on their sacrifices over the past 12 years and the other on the American withdrawal from Vietnam four decades ago.

In short, they don't want to go home without the win.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted October 28, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The uprising began in early February with a Taliban commander's knock on the door of Hajji Abdul Wudood.

The militant leader demanded that Wudood, a stout, weathered man of 60, surrender one of his eight sons, who was accused of spying on the Taliban for the Afghan government.

What Wudood did next triggered a revolt against the Taliban that has spread to a dozen villages in a region that has been among the nation's most formidable Taliban strongholds.

Fed up with beheadings and homemade bombs that killed 60 people in two villages the previous year, Wudood refused to hand over 25-year-old Abdul Hanan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

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Posted June 2, 2013 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of the crises facing American troops today, suicide ranks among the most emotionally wrenching — and baffling. Over the course of nearly 12 years and two wars, suicide among active-duty troops has risen steadily, hitting a record of 350 in 2012. That total was twice as many as a decade before and surpassed not only the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan but also the number who died in transportation accidents last year.

Even with the withdrawal from Iraq and the pullback in Afghanistan, the rate of suicide within the military has continued to rise significantly faster than within the general population, where it is also rising. In 2002, the military’s suicide rate was 10.3 per 100,000 troops, well below the comparable civilian rate. But today the rates are nearly the same, above 18 per 100,000 people.

And according to some experts, the military may be undercounting the problem because of the way it calculates its suicide rate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

11 Comments
Posted May 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One day this month, a pair of Russian Mi-17 assault helicopters delivered two teams of Afghan commandos, their faces obscured by black masks, in a touch-and-go landing at this camp in a lush valley encircled by frosty peaks about 50 miles from Kabul.

A training squadron drawn from the most secretive counterterrorism units fielded by the United States and its NATO allies watched as the Afghan commandos stormed and cleared a three-story office building that was left conspicuously unfinished — the kind of structure favored by insurgents.

This is the combination of Afghan and allied troops that the Obama administration and the government in Kabul say will assume an increasing share of the combat burden in Afghanistan as the NATO alliance gradually hands over responsibility for security operations to Afghan troops.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

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Posted May 15, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a time when the whetted and arbitrary deficit-reduction knife is cutting bone out of critical U.S. government programs, the image of shopping bags stuffed with CIA cash handed off on a monthly basis to Afghan President Hamid Karzai — who reigns over one of the most corrupt governments on the planet — has outraged many Americans.

The New York Times, which revealed the years of payoffs this week, noted that "there is little evidence the payments bought the influence the CIA sought."

In fact, regular cash handouts of this type may do the opposite. They may well have enabled Karzai's frequent and theatrical outbursts against U.S. officials and policies, not to mention his collusion with some of his country's most corrupt and abusive officials. Such payoffs signal to Karzai — or other leaders like him — that he enjoys the unwavering support of the CIA, no matter what he does or says, and embolden him to thumb his nose at the United States whenever he feels like it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

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Posted May 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Photographer Lalage Snow photographed and interviewed members of 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland before they were sent to Afghanistan, after three months' service, and days after they returned home. Their faces show the toll that fighting in Afghanistan takes on our troops.

Read it all and look at all thirteen images.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesViolence* Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted May 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....as the Obama administration prepares to pull 34,000 U.S. troops out of the country by next February and most of the remaining troops by the end of 2014, estimates of the size of the Afghan force trained to take over this lead security role suddenly have grown fuzzy and possibly unreliable.

A new report made public this week by the government’s top watchdog over U.S. spending in Afghanistan casts doubt on whether the U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government met a goal set in 2011 of enlisting and training a total of 352,000 Afghan security personnel by October 2012. Pentagon officials have said that target was meant to strike a balance between what was needed and what America and its allies could deliver in concert with the Afghan government. Earlier this year, in conjunction with President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, the White House declared that the goal had been met.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 4, 2013 at 1:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday suggested he might be ready to grant American troops conditional immunity after 2014, a key U.S. demand that proved a deal breaker in Iraq.

Karzai said U.S. troops could remain immune from local prosecution after Afghan forces take over their country's security if they respect the “sovereignty, laws and lives of Afghan people” and help equip Afghan forces, the Agence France-Presse reports. President Obama is considering leaving a 10,000-troop force in the country after the end of the NATO mission.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan

1 Comments
Posted December 8, 2012 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was Army Sgt. Keith Wells’ first Thanksgiving Day away from his family and despite a cornucopia of food provided for the troops, his taste buds were craving his wife’s macaroni and cheese back home.

“My wife’s a foodie — you know, the Food Network, cooking shows. Everything she makes is golden,” Wells of Charlotte, N.C., said Thursday at a large international military base in the Afghan capital.

The dining hall served up mac-and-cheese along with traditional Thanksgiving Day fixings. Wells was thankful for the good food, but he still missed his wife’s home-cooking.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2012 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all. Not a dry eye in the house here after this one--KSH.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted October 26, 2012 at 5:47 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How does a president bring the war in Afghanistan to an end? There are 68,000 American troops serving in the country as the war enters its 12th year.

The war hasn't been a major issue in the presidential campaign, and polls show American voters are tiring of the war. But the next commander in chief will find the Afghan war among the most difficult of many foreign policy challenges.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted October 7, 2012 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A decade after his military service, McLean faces 15 years to life in prison if he’s convicted of first-degree burglary. He makes no excuses for the addict he’s become.

Six months in jail awaiting a court date have provided him some quality detox time. Abusing alcohol and crack cocaine, McLean was homeless when he was arrested.

“I’ve never gotten into trouble except when drugs and alcohol were involved,” he says.

He admits he needs help.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAlcoholismDrugs/Drug AddictionLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPrison/Prison MinistryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* South Carolina* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years ago, Matthew Proctor dropped to his knees in the Afghan dirt and watched his best friend bleed to death.

These days, when dreams get disturbing or guilt eats at his gut, there is one person the former Marine corporal is likely to call: Thomas Rivers Sr., his dead friend's father.

When Mr. Rivers, 60 years old and a pharmaceutical executive, feels himself sinking into black depression or misses the pleasures of raising a son, it is the 24-year-old Cpl. Proctor he confides in or invites over for a boat ride. "He lost a best friend, and in a sense I lost a best friend as well as my son," says Mr. Rivers. "That is a bond we share."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 22, 2012 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We celebrate our workers in this country today. Maybe we should also take a moment to remember those who work for us in uniform in other parts of the world.

Not too long ago, one of those people was Cliff Hartley. He joined the Air Force at the age of 19, and one year ago today, he spent Labor Day walking a dusty road in Afghanistan with his dog, Cir, looking for bombs. They were attached to a SEAL team and their primary duties were to sniff out trouble.

Cir retired from duty last October and now lives with Hartley, who has 10 years in the Air Force and plans to do 10 more. Right now, he’s stateside. His retired military working dog now sleeps at his feet in their North Charleston house, just like he once did in a tent in Afghanistan. There’s one big difference. They both sleep much better now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketWar in Afghanistan* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted September 3, 2012 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The U.S. military in Afghanistan says it has temporarily halted the training of Afghan Local Police in order to redo the vetting of current members after a string of attacks by Afghan soldiers and police on their international allies.

Forty-five international troops have been killed in a wave of insider attacks in Afghanistan this year, throwing doubt on the ability of Afghan and coalition forces to live and work together during a key time in the transition to Afghan control of security. International forces are set to hand over responsibility for the country's security to Afghans by the end of 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

1 Comments
Posted September 2, 2012 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly nine years passed before American forces reached their first 1,000 dead in the war. The second 1,000 came just 27 months later, a testament to the intensity of fighting prompted by President Obama’s decision to send 33,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in 2010, a policy known as the surge.

In more ways than his family might have imagined, Lance Corporal Buckley, who had just turned 21 when he died, typified the troops in that second wave of 1,000. According to the Times analysis, three out of four were white, 9 out of 10 were enlisted service members, and one out of two died in either Kandahar Province or Helmand Province in Taliban-dominated southern Afghanistan. Their average age was 26.

The dead were also disproportionately Marines like Lance Corporal Buckley. Though the Army over all has suffered more dead in the war, the Marine Corps, with fewer troops, has had a higher casualty rate: At the height of fighting in late 2010, 2 out of every 1,000 Marines in Afghanistan were dying, twice the rate of the Army. Marine units accounted for three of the five units hardest hit during the surge.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

9 Comments
Posted August 23, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Soldiers killed themselves at a rate faster than one per day in July, the Army announced Thursday. There were 38 deaths either confirmed or suspected as suicides, the highest one-month tally in recent Army history, the service said.

The Army suicide pace this year is surpassing last year, particularly among active-duty soldiers where there is a 22% increase — 116 deaths so far this year vs. 95 during the same seven months last year, according to Army data.

The current Army suicide rate seven months into this year is 29 deaths-per-100,000, far surpassing last year's rate of about 23 deaths-per-100,000, says Bruce Shahbaz, an Army analyst. Those rates compare with a 2009 civilian rate — the latest available data — of 18.5 for a demographically similar population.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted August 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Afghan worker on a military base in southern Afghanistan opened fire and killed three U.S. troops, military officials said Saturday, bringing the toll to six American military fatalities in 24 hours at the hands of allies.

The NATO force said the attack took place late Friday in Helmand province, the Taliban movement's heartland, where a turncoat shooting hours earlier claimed the lives of three elite special-operations U.S. Marines.

Compounding the carnage, a rogue Afghan police officer in Nimruz province turned his weapon on fellow Afghan officers Saturday, killing 10 of them, Afghan officials said. The assailant was believed to be a Taliban infiltrator, provincial spokesman Fazel Omer Baloch said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted August 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here in the cradle of the Taliban movement, Faizulhaq Mushkani sold his land for $600,000 last year to buy equipment to open a packaging factory in a booming industrial park.

The industrial park—powered by military-run electrical generators—is a pillar of the U.S. strategy against the Afghan insurgency. The arrival of reliable electricity in late 2010 revitalized Kandahar. More than 100 new factories have sprouted.

These days, however, Mr. Mushkani and fellow entrepreneurs are grappling with a fatal flaw in their business plans: They expected the Americans to stick around longer. But, now, with U.S. forces preparing to depart Kandahar next year, the American electricity will disappear, too.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

2 Comments
Posted August 10, 2012 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As he left the meeting, [Richard] Holbrooke pulled out his trump card — a call to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was traveling in Saudi Arabia. The following week, Clinton went to see Obama armed with a list of Holbrooke’s accomplishments. “Mr. President,” she said, “you can fire Richard Holbrooke — over the objection of your secretary of state.” But Jim Jones, Clinton said, could not.

Obama backed down, but Jones didn’t, nor did others at the White House. Instead of capitalizing on Holbrooke’s experience and supporting his push for reconciliation with the Taliban, White House officials dwelled on his shortcomings — his disorganization, his manic intensity, his thirst for the spotlight, his dislike of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, his tendency to badger fellow senior officials. At every turn, they sought to marginalize him and diminish his influence.

The infighting exacted a staggering cost: The Obama White House failed to aggressively explore negotiations to end the war when it had the most boots on the battlefield.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On April 12 the Pakistani parliament passed a 14-point resolution in response to the Salala checkpoint attacks. The resolution condemns the attacks, and includes demands for an unconditional apology from the US, an immediate cessation of drone attacks, and a stop to all transport of arms and ammunition through Pakistan.

The foreign policy review process was an attempt by the parliament to regain control over the country's foreign policy, which has historically been set by the country's military. It was passed after several months debate, and under a broad coalition of parties across the political spectrum.

“We need to make sure that we follow the recommendations of the parliament in our negotiations with the US. I am hopeful that we can come to a mutually satisfying agreement,” says Mr. Chaudhury.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan

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Posted May 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In yet another blow to the Afghan peace process, gunmen assassinated a senior member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council on Sunday morning. The attackers reportedly pulled up next to Maulvi Arsala Rahmani while he was stuck in Kabul’s rush hour traffic and opened fire killing the peace broker.

The murder of Mr. Rahmani comes less than a year after insurgents managed to kill the then head of the High Peace Council, Burhanuddin Rabbani, in his own home using a suicide bomber disguised as a Taliban messenger.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted May 13, 2012 at 11:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For 10 years we have tried to combat poverty, corruption and state failure by birthing a strong Afghan government. Not an easy task in a country hard to govern from the centre, and where our favoured regime is an unloved kleptocracy.

As Canberra looks to extricate Australia from this long hard slog, it declares victory of sorts, presenting its phased withdrawal as a successful handover to indigenous security forces.

But Afghanistan is not the centre of this war. This is primarily a war over - and against - Pakistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Australia / NZ

1 Comments
Posted May 8, 2012 at 7:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

NATO airstrikes killed Afghan civilians in two provinces, local officials reported Monday, and at least two dozen others died when floods swept through villages in a third province.

The extent of the alleged civilian casualties from NATO airstrikes in recent days in Badghis and Helmand provinces was not immediately clear. A spokesman for NATO-led troops in Kabul said the coalition was aware of the allegations of civilian casualties in the provinces but had no immediate comment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

2 Comments
Posted May 7, 2012 at 9:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Taliban attackers Wednesday targeted a heavily fortified, private compound in eastern Afghanistan that is mostly occupied by international workers with a car bomb about two hours after Obama delivered a speech at Bagram Air Base about the pact. Three bystanders were killed besides the four terrorists.

"With this attack, we want to send a message to Obama that the Afghans will welcome you with attacks. You don't need to sign agreements, you need to focus on how to get out of this country," said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted May 3, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a big war, Army Spec. Cherry Maurice believed that one small gesture could make a difference.

Temperatures at her mountain base plunged to 20 degrees below zero in January, and snow covered the ground. Maurice noticed that the eight Afghan workers on the outpost were coming to work in rubber flip-flops. The 35-year-old soldier labored with the men in the outpost’s kitchen, which is not much bigger than a walk-in closet. She dug into her personal savings and spent $135 to buy them eight pairs of boots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted April 26, 2012 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After months of negotiations, the United States and Afghanistan completed drafts of a strategic partnership agreement on Sunday that pledges American support for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of combat troops at the end of 2014.

The agreement, whose text was not released, builds on hard-won new understandings the two countries reached in recent weeks on the thorny issues of detainees and special operations raids to broadly redefine the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States.

“The document finalized today provides a strong foundation for the security of Afghanistan, the region and the world, and is a document for the development of the region,” said Rangin Dadfar Spanta, the Afghan national security adviser, in a statement released by President Hamid Karzai’s office.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted April 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new revelation of young American soldiers caught on camera while defiling insurgents’ remains in Afghanistan has intensified questions within the military community about whether fundamental discipline is breaking down given the nature and length of the war.

The photographs, published by The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, show more than a dozen soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team, along with some Afghan security forces, posing with the severed hands and legs of Taliban attackers in Zabul Province in 2010. They seemed likely to further bruise an American-Afghan relationship that has been battered by crisis after crisis over the past year, even as the two governments are in the midst of negotiations over a long-term strategic agreement.

The images also add to a troubling list of cases — including Marines videotaped urinating on Taliban bodies, the burning of Korans, and the massacre of villagers attributed to a lone Army sergeant — that have cast American soldiers in the harshest possible light before the Afghan public.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

6 Comments
Posted April 19, 2012 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just hours after it was revealed that American soldiers had burned Korans seized at an Afghan detention center in late February, Iran secretly ordered its agents operating inside Afghanistan to exploit the anticipated public outrage by trying to instigate violent protests in the capital, Kabul, and across the western part of the country, according to American officials.

For the most part, the efforts by Iranian agents and local surrogates failed to provoke widespread or lasting unrest, the officials said. Yet with NATO governments preparing for the possibility of retaliation by Iran in the event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities, the issue of Iran’s willingness and ability to foment violence in Afghanistan and elsewhere has taken on added urgency.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanMiddle EastIran

0 Comments
Posted April 5, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For many soldiers, the main objective here isn't getting help. It's getting home.

"You get excited about being in the United States, but then you realize you've got be here for, like, five days, and that's even more depressing," says Spc. Jonathan Remkus just outside his barracks. "I'm basically checked out right now. I'm already considered a civilian, trapped in a military uniform."

But leaving Camp Atterbury requires checking a lot of boxes on a lot of forms. Members of the 182nd work their way through a maze of assessments, filling out stacks of paperwork as they go.

Read or listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyStress* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

WILLIAM GALSTON (Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution): Good to be back...[on the show]

{KIM] LAWTON: How does what happened in Afghanistan this week affect the moral calculus of how the US proceeds there?

GALSTON: In my judgment, this is a really tough one. On the one hand, as the defense secretary said, in the fog of war terrible things happen. To engage in a war is to commit yourself to a process that you can’t entirely control, and events like this unfortunately are almost inevitable. On the other hand, we are pursuing a kind of forward strategy, having our troops not just in the large bases but also interspersed with civilians in the countryside, and that makes it more likely that events of this sort will happen, but unfortunately the United States and its allies have reached the conclusion that this is the only way to prosecute the war with any chance of success. So now we have to choose between our strategy and the inevitable morally troubling consequences of that strategy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 19, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Hamid Karzai demanded Thursday that the United States pull back from combat outposts and confine its troops to military bases in Afghanistan, an apparent response to Sunday’s shooting rampage by a U.S. staff sergeant.

Meanwhile, the Taliban said it was suspending preliminary peace talks with the United States because of Washington’s “alternating and ever-changing position,” and accused U.S. officials of reneging on promises to take meaningful steps toward a prisoner swap.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan

2 Comments
Posted March 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US President Barack Obama has promised that international forces will not "rush for the exits" in Afghanistan, after an American soldier was accused of murdering 16 civilians.

Mr Obama said foreign troops must be withdrawn in a responsible way.

The killings in Kandahar province have strained relations between Afghans and foreign forces.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted March 12, 2012 at 7:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

All the signs are that the United States military and its NATO allies have not only outlived their welcome in Afghanistan but also passed the point at which their presence is anything other than toxic. While the exact details of the incident are still unclear, it’s known that early Sunday morning, an American solider in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district apparently murdered up to sixteen Afghan civilians in cold blood. Nine of the victims were reportedly children. This is merely the latest in a string of episodes in which American soldiers—in spite of the positive intentions of an overwhelming majority of the troops there—have shown scorn, disrespect, and, increasingly and tragically, hatred for the people of the country hosting them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaBahrain

10 Comments
Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

U.S. officials were scrambling Sunday to contain the damage caused when an American soldier in Afghanistan wandered off base and allegedly gunned down more than a dozen villagers.

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta both called Afghan President Hamid Karzai to express their condolences and vowed to hold those responsible accountable. Afghan officials reported that 16 people were killed including nine children and three women.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

13 Comments
Posted March 11, 2012 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An American soldier opened fire on villagers near his base in southern Afghanistan Sunday and killed 16 civilians, according to President Hamid Karzai, who called it an "assassination" and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington. Nine children and three women were among the dead.

The killing spree deepened a crisis between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts over Americans burning Muslim holy books on a base in Afghanistan last month. The Quran burnings sparked weeks of violent protests and attacks that left some 30 dead. Six U.S. service members have been killed by their Afghan colleagues since the burnings came to light, and the violence had just started to calm down.

"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement. He said he has repeatedly demanded the U.S. stop killing Afghan civilians.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted March 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The news that six UK soldiers had been killed in Afghanistan was met by duly respectful and stoical tributes yesterday, first in Downing Street, then at the Ministry of Defence, and then in Parliament during Prime Minister's Questions. The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, insisted that what had happened would "not shake our resolve to see through the mission". David Cameron stressed the commitment of the troops to "getting the job done", while offering "everypossible support" to a political settlement....

With the date for withdrawal almost three years away, however, these fatalities cannot be seen in isolation. And it is hard to escape the impression that, even as the training of Afghan soldiers and police continues, little is changing so far as the authority of the government, overall security and the safety of foreign troops are concerned.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2012 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US troops who burned copies of the Koran at a base in Afghanistan last month should have been aware it would enrage Muslims based on the reaction to previous instances of desecrating Islam's holy book, the head of Afghanistan's independent human rights body says.

Sima Samar, chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said Americans previously have dealt with issues relating to the treatment of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and had seen the furor created by the burning of the Koran at a Florida church last year.

US officials have said that the Korans were confiscated from prisoners at Bagram air base and mistakenly discarded in an incinerator.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted March 8, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American Christians would be understandably outraged if they learned of Muslims burning the Bible. Muslims have an even greater reverence for their holy book. Omid Safi, who teaches Islamic studies at the University of North Carolina, notes that Muslims look at the Qur'an the way Christians look at Jesus. "In an Islamic universe . . . the word becomes not a person, but a book," he says. "For a Muslim to see the Qur'an burnt . . . it would look and feel like someone burning Jesus, or a crucifix."

Christians should at least understand and respect the way Muslims look at the Qur'an. Most Muslims have a higher regard for the Bible than most Christians have for the Qur'an. It is unlikely that a Muslim would ever burn a Bible.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslam

19 Comments
Posted March 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some officials found the current case particularly troubling because it followed more than 10 years at war in the Muslim world, in which outrage over even the rumor of American defacement of Korans has caused previous crises in Afghanistan and Iraq. Several of the officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the investigations.

An American military official familiar with the joint investigation somberly described the burning as a “tragedy,” but rejected any suggestion that it was intentional. He said that the joint commission of three senior Afghan security officials and an American military officer was convinced that the military personnel involved in making the decision to get rid of the Korans and those who carried out the order did not set out to defile the Muslim holy book.

“There was no maliciousness, there was no deliberateness, there was not an intentional disrespect of Islam,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted March 3, 2012 at 2:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Taliban is attempting to capitalize on the outbreak of violence that followed the inadvertent burning of the holy Quran by NATO troops by characterizing the war as a conflict between infidels and Islam, analysts say.

"It's tailor-made to their argument that the United States is trying to desecrate and destroy Islam," said Seth Jones, an analyst at RAND Corp. and author of In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan. "It's patently untrue."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

8 Comments
Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "believe we have achieved significant progress in reversing the Taliban's momentum and in developing the Afghan security forces, and they believe that the fundamentals of our strategy remain sound," said Pentagon spokesman George Little.

In private, other officers and U.S. officials said riots and attacks after U.S. personnel threw copies of the Koran into a trash-burning pit at the Bagram military base have renewed a debate at the highest levels of the Obama administration and are expected to affect internal deliberations on the pace of the drawdown.

"Too many people are asking, 'Why are we still doing this if the guys you're supposed to be helping keep murdering your soldiers?' " said a senior U.S. general....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted February 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.

Of course, these facts may not become widely known, because no one is supposed to mention the main significance of what has happened here. First, as usual, Muslims — not al-Qaeda terrorists, but ordinary, mainstream Muslims — are rioting and murdering over the burning (indeed, the inadvertent burning) of a book...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

7 Comments
Posted February 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A grenade thrown by Afghan protesters wounded at least six American service members in northern Afghanistan on Sunday, officials said, as new details emerged in the investigation of the shooting death of two American officers within the Interior Ministry building the day before.

Rioting continued across the country on Sunday as anger over the burning of Korans by the American military continued unabated, putting the relationship between Afghanistan and the United States on shaky new ground. At least one Afghan was killed in clashes with the Afghan police.

A few details of the killing within the Interior Ministry were emerging, although many reports offered conflicting views of what had happened. According to three Afghan security officials familiar with the case, the main suspect was Abdul Saboor, who was said to have worked in the ministry for more than a year as a driver. The two American officers who were killed were shot in the head and the pistol used to kill them was equipped with a silencer, the officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

4 Comments
Posted February 26, 2012 at 12:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A gunman killed two American military advisers with shots to the back of the head Saturday inside a heavily guarded ministry building, and NATO ordered military workers out of Afghan ministries as protests raged for a fifth day over the burning of Qurans at a U.S. army base.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the Interior Ministry, saying it was retaliation for the Quran burnings, after the two U.S. servicemen — a lieutenant and colonel and a major — were found dead on their office floor, Afghan and western officials said. The top commander of U.S. and NATO forces recalled all international military personnel from the ministries, an unprecedented action in the decade-long war...[which] highlights [the] growing friction between Afghans and their foreign partners at a critical juncture in the war.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

1 Comments
Posted February 25, 2012 at 4:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a major milestone toward ending a decade of war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said on Wednesday that American forces would step back from a combat role there as early as mid-2013, more than a year before all American troops are scheduled to come home.

Mr. Panetta cast the decision as an orderly step in a withdrawal process long planned by the United States and its allies, but his comments were the first time that the United States had put a date on stepping back from its central role in the war. The defense secretary’s words reflected the Obama administration’s eagerness to bring to a close the second of two grinding ground wars it inherited from the Bush administration.

Promising the end of the American combat mission in Afghanistan next year would also give Mr. Obama a certain applause line in his re-election stump speech this year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

4 Comments
Posted February 2, 2012 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Commander [Layne] McDowell banked and aligned his jet’s nose with the canyon’s northeastern end. Then he followed his wingmen’s lead. He dived, pulled level at 5,000 feet and accelerated down the canyon’s axis at 620 miles per hour, broadcasting his proximity with an extended engine roar.

In the lexicon of close air support, his maneuver was a “show of presence” — a mid-altitude, nonlethal display intended to reassure ground troops and signal to the Taliban that the soldiers were not alone. It reflected a sharp shift in the application of American air power, de-emphasizing overpowering violence in favor of sorties that often end without munitions being dropped.

The use of air power has changed markedly during the long Afghan conflict, reflecting the political costs and sensitivities of civilian casualties caused by errant or indiscriminate strikes and the increasing use of aerial drones, which can watch over potential targets for extended periods with no risk to pilots or more expensive aircraft.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

America, I thought I knew you. In all the bluster of the Republican primaries going on in the US, the talk of gaffes, polls, religion, attack ads and true conservatism, it would be easy to overlook a fascinating development. In a country that has long identified patriotism with fighting the right wars, people are tired of war. More importantly, soldiers are tired of war....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

11 Comments
Posted January 16, 2012 at 3:41 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A United States military investigation has concluded that checks and balances devised to prevent cross-border mishaps with Pakistan failed to avert a deadly NATO airstrike last month in part because American officials did not trust Pakistan enough to give it detailed information about American troop locations in Afghanistan.

A report by the inquiry concluded that mistakes by both American and Pakistani troops led to airstrikes against two Pakistani posts on the Afghan border that killed 26 Pakistani troops. But two crucial findings — that the Pakistanis fired first at a joint Afghan-American patrol and that they kept firing even after the Americans tried to warn them that they were shooting at allied troops — were likely to further anger Pakistan and plunge the already tattered relationship between the United States and Pakistan to new depths.

In a statement and at a news conference here on Thursday, the Defense Department said that “inadequate coordination by U.S. and Pakistani military officers” and “incorrect mapping information” that NATO had provided to the Pakistani authorities capped a chain of errors that caused the debacle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaPakistan

0 Comments
Posted December 23, 2011 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, today called on the international community to chart a new course of action in Afghanistan.

Bishop Stephen said:" It has taken us ten years to learn there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, but we appear no nearer to knowing what a just political settlement might look like, let alone how to achieve it. Next week's international conference in Bonn offers an important opportunity, maybe our last opportunity before the withdrawal of troops in 2014, to chart a new course of action for Afghanistan and the region that is capable of securing a just and lasting peace. I'm encouraged that there is growing international acceptance, not least by our own Government, that this can only be done by including all those with a role in the conflict and representatives of all those with a legitimate interest in securing peace and reconciliation. Securing a sustainable political settlement in Afghanistan is important both for the well being of the Afghan people and for Britain's long term security."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted December 5, 2011 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Filed under: * Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsChildrenMarriage & FamilyMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted November 28, 2011 at 11:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As I write this, the majority of Americans are tucked safely into bed in anticipation of the next day’s food and festivities. Here in Afghanistan, Soldiers are beginning to wake up. Breakfast is just being served and others are out exercising. I want to take a moment and just tell you what I’m thankful for this year.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for a forgiving God. I’m thankful for the atonement of his Son, Jesus Christ, that made it possible for me to live again in spite of my sins and shortcomings. Though many, I have been provided with opportunity and grace through humility and repentance.

I’m thankful for my life. As some of you know, I had a close call last year and the past 18 months have been rebuilding and strengthening my mental and emotional well-being. It’s been a rough journey for me and especially my family. Which leads me to my next thanksgiving.

May all who serve and their families be remembered this day--read it all (and do not miss the picture).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted November 24, 2011 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Churches are kind of in the dark about how to help, unfortunately,” said Peter Bauer, an ordained minister and clinical social worker with the Veterans Administration in San Antonio. “But they don’t have to stay there. There are some very easy things that churches can do to be proactive and help with this population.”

Bauer, a former Navy chaplain, recently convened workshops on PTSD and traumatic brain injury for pastors and seminarians at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Mass. His educational outreach builds on other small-scale initiatives that have gained momentum in recent years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches

0 Comments
Posted November 15, 2011 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Sebastian] Junger said the trips help the soldiers make sense of what they've been through.

"It takes vets and it takes them to some of the most rugged and beautiful parts of America, of that country they were defending," Junger said.

The trips also help remind the men of teamwork and the challenges of the natural world. It gives them a place, away from society, to bond again and to be understood by people who have been through the same thing.

"When I was in Afghanistan, I watched people literally die for each other, and then I come back to a society that honks at me if I've taken too long to make a right-hand turn," said Brendan O'Byrne, another veteran from the 173rd Airborne who was on the trip.

Read it all (the video is terrific if you have time).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted November 14, 2011 at 6:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LUCKY SEVERSON, correspondent: Chaplain Steven Rindahl served 15 months in Iraq. Now he’s the chaplain at the Fort Jackson hospital in South Carolina, which is also the headquarters of the Army’s Chaplain school. There are 2900 full and part-time chaplains, and many have served at least one tour of duty in a combat zone, and, like Chaplain Rindahl, been haunted by the experience.

CHAPLAIN RINDAHL: We have 17 of our soldiers killed and one of our contracted interpreters, and I did not keep count of how many traumatic amputations and other wounds that caused our people to be evacuated from theater.

SEVERSON: It was his fellow chaplains who took him aside and told him that he was suffering from what has become known as “compassion fatigue.”

Read or watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

1 Comments
Posted November 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

US forces are massing on the Pakistan border in eastern Afghanistan amid reports of an imminent drone missile offensive against fighters from the feared Haqqani Network, a Taliban faction which operates from safe havens in Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency, Pakistan Army sources have confirmed.

The scale of the American build-up, including helicopter gunships, heavy artillery and hundreds of American and Afghan troops, caused panic in north Waziristan where tribal militias who feared they could be targeted gathered in the capital Miranshah to coordinate their response.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Despite the marketing pitch from the armed forces, which promises to prepare soldiers for the working world, recent veterans are more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts.

Veterans who left military service in the past decade have an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, well above the overall jobless rate of 9.1 percent, according to fresh data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The elevated unemployment rate for new veterans has persisted despite repeated efforts to reduce it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Iraq WarWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They were the first Americans into Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and will probably be the last U.S. forces to leave.

As most American troops prepare to withdraw in 2014, the CIA and military special operations forces to be left behind are girding for the next great pivot of the campaign, one that could stretch their war up to another decade.

The war's 10th anniversary Friday recalled the beginnings of a conflict that drove the Taliban from power and lasted far longer than was imagined.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted October 8, 2011 at 2:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Afghan insurgents laid waste to government buildings in Kabul last week, the US ambassador explained, perhaps in case we’d misunderstood the 24-hour siege, that “this really is not a very big deal”. A day earlier he’d lamented that “the biggest problem in Kabul is traffic”. Apparently not.

A week on, someone has blown up Afghanistan’s former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, in the heart of the capital. This is a big deal. It shatters the idea that our enemies are on the ropes, and pushes the country closer to civil war.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

7 Comments
Posted September 22, 2011 at 5:58 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As Afghan army forces constructed a patrol base in a volatile stretch of Helmand province this spring, insurgents turned to one of their most effective weapons against the troops: They told area residents that their new, uniformed neighbors were godless “fake Muslims.”

The battle over Islam has become a crucial front in the war between the Taliban and the country’s growing security forces, prompting the Afghan army to create a strategy for proving that its soldiers are true Muslims.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2011 at 5:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Inside the narrow valley, Taliban insurgents were dug into the high ground and hidden inside a village, pouring down deadly fire at Afghan forces and their American advisers. Armed militants swarmed the low ground to try to finish off the troops.

[Marine Cpl. Dakota] Meyer's team was pinned down near the village. He wasn't going to wait and see whether they would get out. Defying orders to stay put, Meyer set himself in the turret of a Humvee and rode straight into the firefight, taking fire from all directions. He went in not once, but five times, trying to rescue his comrades.

During about six hours of chaotic fighting, he killed eight Taliban militants and provided cover for Afghan and U.S. servicemen to escape the ambush, according to a Marine Corps account of the events.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentWar in Afghanistan

1 Comments
Posted September 7, 2011 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

American officers deployed as mentors in Afghanistan's main military hospital discovered a shocking secret last year: Injured soldiers were routinely dying of simple infections and even starving to death as some corrupt doctors and nurses demanded bribes for food and the most basic of care.

The discovery, which hasn't previously been reported, added new details to longstanding evidence of gross mismanagement at Dawood National Military Hospital, where most salaries and supplies are paid for by American taxpayers.

Yet the patient neglect continued for months after U.S. officials discovered it, as Afghan officials rebuffed American pressure to take action, multiple documents and testimonies viewed by The Wall Street Journal show.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

1 Comments
Posted September 3, 2011 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Enemy-initiated attacks in Afghanistan have decreased by 25% as Afghan and coalition forces have degraded insurgent leadership and hammered their morale, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East said Tuesday.

The latest figures come during the deadliest month ever for Americans in the 10-year war. Sixty-six U.S. servicemembers have been killed this month, a toll that includes the deaths of 30 troops in an Aug. 6 helicopter crash. The previous high was 65 troops killed in July 2010.

Commanders cautioned that violence levels alone are not an effective way to measure progress or failure.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2011 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sensitive Government information about Afghanistan was accidentally revealed by Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell today when he left Downing Street with the documents on show.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted August 30, 2011 at 9:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They say that a dog is a man's best friend, and for Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson, 35, and his beloved and loyal dog Hawkeye, not even death could break this powerful bond.

At Tumilson's funeral in Rockford on Aug. 19, his beloved canine lay at the foot of the casket throughout the ceremony. Tumilson's cousin Lisa Pembleton took the heart-wrenching photo of the devoted dog, known to Tumilson's family and friends as his "son."

"I took this picture and that was my view throughout the entire funeral. I couldn't NOT take a picture," Pembleton said. "It took several attempts since every time I wasn't crying and could focus on taking it, there was a SEAL at the microphone and I didn't want to take a picture with them for security and respect reasons. Our family is devastated to say the least."

Read it all and do not miss that picture.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* General InterestAnimals

9 Comments
Posted August 25, 2011 at 3:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Here are the stories of some of the fallen:

• A severe arm injury during fighting in Fallujah in 2004 didn’t keep Matthew Mason off the Iraq War battlefield. Nor did it dull the competitive fire of the avid runner and former high school athlete from outside Kansas City. Within five months of losing part of his left arm, absorbing shrapnel and suffering a collapsed lung, Mason competed in a triathlon. He soon returned to his SEAL unit.
“He could have gotten out of combat,” said family friend Elizabeth Frogge. “He just insisted on going back.”
Mason, the father of two toddler sons, grew up in Holt, Mo., and played football and baseball at Kearney High School. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in 1998. His wife, who is expecting their third child — another boy — also attended Northwest Missouri.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

5 Comments
Posted August 9, 2011 at 7:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United States vowed to "stay the course" in Afghanistan after 31 US soldiers were killed when, according to local officials, the Taliban shot down their helicopter.

It is the biggest single loss of coalition lives since the war was started a decade ago when US and other international forces invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban in 2001 after the September 11 attacks.

The Taliban claimed its fighters shot down the Chinook during a night operation in the Saydabad district in the eastern province of Wardak.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan

8 Comments
Posted August 6, 2011 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Like many Afghans with similar disabilities, [Amina] Azimi fretted over her future, knowing the hardships she would face in a country where the disabled are often discriminated against in schools and the workplace. That is, when they can find a job.

"After it happened I thought I was useless and the rest of my life meaningless," she says, recalling the attack some 15 years ago during the height of the Afghan civil war.

Today, Azimi, 26, has found a purpose: She uses the radio to boost the fortunes of people with disabilities in a country where prejudices against such people are ingrained in the culture and the number of disabled people has grown significantly because of three decades of near-constant conflict.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMediaPsychology* Economics, PoliticsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

1 Comments
Posted August 4, 2011 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paul F. M. Zahl, Daniel M. Bell Jr., and Brian Stiltner all offer food for thought, see what you make of it.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsIraq WarTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

29 Comments
Posted August 3, 2011 at 7:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The assassination of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half brother, a powerful political figure, highlights the vulnerability of the government as U.S. forces begin to withdraw and turn over more responsibility to the Afghans, analysts say.

Ahmed Wali Karzai was shot to death Tuesday by a close associate in his home in Kandahar province, where as head of the provincial council he gave full support to U.S. military operations against the Taliban while refuting allegations he was becoming rich off opium trafficking and gun running.

"Whether or not the Taliban is directly responsible for the assassination it will certainly redound to their benefit," said Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a think tank. "It sends a message to the people of Afghanistan that President Karzai doesn't really have full control of the country."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted July 13, 2011 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Major [David] Bowlus is part of a cohort of military chaplains who have gone through the same kind of multiple deployments as American soldiers in nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and suffered similar emotional aftershocks.

“I found myself at a crossroads of giving and pouring out and having to find a way to refill my reservoir,” Major Bowlus said in an interview last month, recalling his lowest ebb. He continued a few moments later: “I realized my passion for God and my love for people was waning. I cared, but I didn’t care as much as when I first went in. I was lovingly going through the motions.”

Major Bowlus’s challenges, his struggle and his ultimate recovery — to the point that he now instructs chaplains at the military’s school for them at Fort Jackson — exemplify the experiences of his peers. And it sets this group of military chaplains apart from their predecessors in the Vietnam War era, the last period of sustained American combat overseas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarTerrorismWar in Afghanistan* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Outgoing U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus saluted his soldiers for the last time as their military leader on the Fourth of July as three U.S. senators made a surprise visit and chastised the White House for its troop withdrawal plans.

Petraeus, who Obama named his next CIA chief, told American troops during a re-enlistment ceremony in Kandahar that they have achieved progress on the battlefield but that "much work remains" to be done in Afghanistan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted July 5, 2011 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama's plan to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this year and next wins broad approval from Americans who are increasingly ready for the nation's longest war to end, a Gallup Poll finds.

The survey, taken after the president's nationally televised address on Afghanistan last Wednesday, shows an overwhelming 72% favor his blueprint, including 50% of Republicans. Those who support it include a significant number who would like to see a faster withdrawal than he has proposed.

Twenty-three percent of those polled oppose the president's plan.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 30, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama announced his decision to surge more troops into Afghanistan in 2009, I argued that it could succeed if three things happened: Pakistan became a different country, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan became a different man and we succeeded at doing exactly what we claim not to be doing, that is nation-building in Afghanistan. None of that has happened, which is why I still believe our options in Afghanistan are: lose early, lose late, lose big or lose small. I vote for early and small.

My wariness about Afghanistan comes from asking these three questions: When does the Middle East make you happy? How did the cold war end? What would Ronald Reagan do?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted June 26, 2011 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In late May, a NATO soldier was killed as he emerged from his tent. Two weeks earlier, two NATO soldiers were killed while eating a meal. In late April, eight U.S. troops were shot dead at a meeting at Kabul airport.

The attacks had one thing in common: The killers all wore Afghan military or police uniforms.

Foreign troops serving in Afghanistan say they're increasingly concerned about the "enemy within." Yet they emphasize the importance of keeping anxiety in check amid a climate of deepening mutual distrust.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan

2 Comments
Posted June 26, 2011 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The strategic argument for a fast drawdown is premised on the claim that Al Qaeda is already crippled and therefore we have nothing to fear by pulling 10,000 or more troops out of Afghanistan this summer, another 10,000 early next year and 10,000 more by the end of 2012. If White House leaks are to be believed, some senior administration officials concluded that the counterinsurgency campaign launched only last year is a waste of time; all we need to do is rely on targeted air and commando strikes of the kind that have devastated Al Qaeda's senior leadership in Pakistan.

What that argument misses is the extent to which our presence in Afghanistan enables us to project power into Pakistan. It was from Afghanistan, after all, that the Navy SEALs took off to kill Osama bin Laden. If we pull back in Afghanistan, the Taliban will gain ground and the willingness of the Afghan government to provide us the bases we need will decline. That, in turn, will make it markedly more difficult to keep the pressure on Al Qaeda and prevent it from regenerating itself as it has in the past.

Moreover, we shouldn't get overly fixated on Al Qaeda....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Spending on the war in Afghanistan has skyrocketed since Mr. Obama took office, to $118.6 billion in 2011. It was $14.7 billion in 2003, when President George W. Bush turned his attention and American resources to the war in Iraq.

The increase is easy to explain. When Mr. Obama took office, he vowed to aggressively pursue what he termed America’s “war of necessity” (Afghanistan) and to withdraw from America’s “war of choice” (Iraq). He has done so; the lines on Iraq and Afghanistan war spending crossed in 2010, when the United States spent $93.8 billion in Afghanistan versus $71.3 billion in Iraq, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But the White House is keenly aware that the president is heading into a re-election campaign; with the country’s jobless rate remaining high, topping 9 percent, his poll numbers on his handling of the domestic economy have plummeted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenateWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2011 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hurtling through the dark but missile-streaked skies over Hanoi in 1972 after his B-52 bomber was shot down, Robert Certain was pretty sure he was going to die, just like three of the men in his plane had, and remembers praying for his parachute not to open rather than dying in captivity.

Then a 25-year-old Air Force navigator, the Rev. Certain is now the 63-year-old senior priest of St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church in east Cobb, but war is still very much on the mind of the retired colonel.

Now, though, he thinks more about helping the military personnel returning from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

2 Comments
Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The troops here at Honaker Miracle have received a regular barrage of attacks, more than a dozen in less than two months, some lasting several hours.

During one attack, a mortar round hit a crane used to tow disabled armored vehicles and set it ablaze, reducing the vital piece of equipment to a charred hulk.

"They tested us during the first part of the deployment, a lot in May," said Kalaher from his office where an all-white Taliban flag, removed from a nearby mountainside, hangs from the ceiling. "We set a precedent that we are not afraid to shoot back."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

0 Comments
Posted June 22, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a year in Afghanistan, members of the unit will head home with their memories. Spc. Jenny Martinez’s voice grew soft as she recounted treating a Marine who stepped on an explosive and lost both of his legs.

She held his hand all the way to the field hospital.

“He didn’t want to let me go,” said Martinez, 24, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. But “I had to leave because we had another mission.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistan

1 Comments
Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Faced with a decision on how quickly to draw down troops, President Obama spoke by videoconference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Wednesday as his nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan cautioned against walking away from its 10-year-old war.

The U.S. must "ensure that the country doesn't degenerate into a safe haven for al-Qaeda," Ryan Crocker told skeptical lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing.

The White House, meanwhile, challenged the findings of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee probe of U.S. aid in Afghanistan. The panel's Democrats issued a report saying that nearly $19 billion in aid over a decade has generated waste and corruption and been of limited success.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenateWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted June 9, 2011 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan offered an unvarnished assessment on Wednesday of the nearly decade-old war, but he told a skeptical Senate committee that the United States could not afford to walk away anytime soon.

In his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ryan C. Crocker, the nominee, said that the United States had abandoned Afghanistan once before, after its war with the Soviet Union in 1989, with “disastrous consequences” — the rise of the Taliban. “We cannot afford to do so again,” Mr. Crocker said.

Mr. Crocker nonetheless acknowledged a panoply of problems facing Afghanistan, including government corruption that he said would become “a second insurgency” if left unchecked. He said the United States’s goal in Afghanistan was merely to help the Afghans create a “good-enough government,” not necessarily a model democracy. While progress has been hard, he said, the situation was not hopeless.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

3 Comments
Posted June 8, 2011 at 1:51 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The hugely expensive U.S. attempt at nation-building in Afghanistan has had only limited success and may not survive an American withdrawal, according to the findings of a two-year congressional investigation to be released Wednesday.

The report calls on the administration to rethink urgently its assistance programs as President Obama prepares to begin drawing down the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan this summer.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

0 Comments
Posted June 8, 2011 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Diane Sawyer asks Gen. Petraeus and Sec. Gates if the U.S. is winning the war.

Watch it carefully, it is a great illustration of the huge personal toll on a Secretary of Defense that goes with the job--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted June 7, 2011 at 6:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new study may help explain why some military personnel exposed to blasts have symptoms of brain injury even though their CT and M.R.I. scans look normal.

Using a highly sensitive type of magnetic resonance imaging, researchers studied 63 servicemen wounded by explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan and found evidence of brain injuries in some that were too subtle to be detected by standard scans. All the men already had a diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury (synonymous with concussion), based on symptoms like having lost consciousness in the blast, having no memory of it or feeling dazed immediately afterward.

About 320,000 American troops have sustained traumatic brain injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of them mild, according to a 2008 report by the RAND Corporation. The injuries are poorly understood, and sometimes produce lasting mental, physical and emotional problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMilitary / Armed ForcesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2011 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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