13 August 2010

Civilian injuries rise in Afghanistan

I was recently referred to this AP article, which I read on Huffington Post


The article describes how during the course of this year a greater number of civilians are being hurt and killed in the war in Afghanistan.

Troops on the ground note that insurgents are beginning to directly target groups of civilians, often with IED's. This sounds very similar to the difference I saw between my two deployments to Iraq. The second time around, in 2007, there were many more injured civilians, including women and children. They were injured in insurgent attacks designed to kill the most civilians, such as suicide bombers in busy markets, IED's in city streets, and attacks where vehicles carrying civilians were sprayed with automatic gunfire.

This targeting of civilians is a strategy of desperation. Some troops have found the restrictive rules of engagement that protect civilians frustrating, but in the long term, that respect of life is something we can be proud of.

08 August 2010

US hands over control of Iraq combat operations

From CNN:

Baghdad, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqi commandos showed off skills they learned from U.S. military forces, who Saturday formally handed over control of combat operations to Iraqi security forces.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, was on hand to watch the final American combat team, the 4th Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, tender responsibilities to the 6th Iraqi Army Division.
President Barack Obama has ordered the current 64,000-strong U.S. presence to be down to 50,000 by September 1.

Thank you to the many troops who got us here and the ones who are still shouldering the load.

(Picture source: MSNBC, article with additional detail http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38605719/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/ )