Current Military News for Afghanistan

May 14th, 2014

KABUL: Three militants were reportedly killed in a missile attack carried out today (Wednesday) in an area of Afghanistan bordering Pakistan.

Security sources said the strike took place in Nazian district where a pilotless drone fired multiple missiles on a compound, killing three militants, including a key commander. 

Those killed could not be identified as there was no official word on the missile strike.

Such strikes have killed several militants associated with Taliban and al Qaida operating along Pak-Afghan border and Pakistan’s lawless tribal agencies.  – SAMAA

PAKISTAN-UNREST-NORTHWEST-NATO

Pakistani troops on Wednesday foiled an attack on a NATO supply terminal in the northwest, killing one attacker and forcing others to flee, officials said. The attack was mounted in the Jamrud area of the Khyber tribal district that borders Afghanistan, said government official Ali Sher. “The Frontier Corps retaliated and forced the militants to flee, leaving one dead body behind.”

An intelligence official in Jamrud confirmed the attack. Pakistan is a key supply route for the US-led mission in landlocked Afghanistan, particularly as NATO forces prepare to withdraw troops and equipment by the end of this year. NATO supply trucks, which carry everything from fuel to munitions and food, often come under attack on their journey between the Pakistani port city of Karachi and border crossing points. Pakistani supply lines have been disrupted in the past because of tensions between the US and Pakistan.- See more at:

http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/world/asia-pacific/20140514/142339-militants-attack-nato-supply-terminal-in-pakistan.html#sthash.qWSHcRq7.dpuf

Attacks across Afghanistan, including a suicide attack on a border police outpost in the country’s south, killed at least five people Wednesday, authorities said.

The attacks come the day before officials announce the final results of the first round of Afghanistan’s presidential elections. A runoff is expected.

Wednesday’s deadliest attack came when five militants wearing suicide vests raided a border police outpost in southern Afghanistan. Dawa Khan Minapal, spokesman for the Kandahar provincial government, said three police officers died in the attack, as well as all five attackers. The assault wounded five other officers, he said.

In Kabul, a magnetic bomb attached to the army vehicle exploded, killing a soldier and wounding a woman and a child, city police chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir said. The blast took place in the eastern part of the Afghan capital in the early morning hours.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks.

In eastern Ghazni province, a rocket fired into a residential neighborhood of the provincial capital killed one woman and wounded a child Wednesday, deputy provincial governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi said. No one immediately claimed responsibility for that attack.

On Monday, the Taliban launched their annual spring offensive with a wave of attacks across the south and east of the country, killing 21 people.

Each spring brings an escalation in fighting in Afghanistan with the end of snowy winter weather, which hampers movement. The melting of the snows opens up mountain passes allowing militant forces to move in from neighboring Pakistan.

This year’s offensive by the Taliban will be an important gauge of how well Afghan government forces face insurgent attacks once foreign combat forces leave at the end of the year.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the Independent Election Commission said it would announce final results of the first round of presidential voting on Thursday.

Preliminary results released April 26 point to a runoff between the top two vote getters, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai.

The runoff would take place in several weeks.

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Retired Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Brandenburg says he probably never would have returned from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan if not for the A-10 Warthog.

The Silver Star recipient and former joint terminal attack controller stood beside powerful Senate lawmakers Wednesday and urged the Air Force to back off a proposed retirement of the aircraft, saying it is uniquely capable of providing close air support, saving the lives of American troops on the battlefield.

The press conference, which included Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., was the most recent push by lawmakers on Capitol Hill to block the Air Force 2015 budget proposal to phase out the hard-fighting aircraft, known for the belch of its massive Gatling gun and its ability to fly slow and low to support of infantry on the ground.

“If our leaders don’t listen to the troops fighting on the ground, [the troops] are going to fail. Our troops need the A-10,” said Brandenburg, who deployed repeatedly in support of the Army’s 75th Ranger Battalion for eight years after 9/11 and who was awarded five Bronze Stars for combat valor.

McCain said the aircraft is a favorite of infantry soldiers. “We listened very carefully to the U.S. Army,” he said. “They are the ones who need the close air support, they are ones who are in grave danger without it.”

With the A-10’s combat record as a backdrop, a group of 10 senators called the proposed Air Force retirement premature. They want the chamber to save the Warthog from extinction when it marks up its version of the National Defense Authorization Act on Tuesday. The House Armed Services Committee already rejected the A-10 plan in its draft defense budget passed last week.

“I believe and hope the Senate will also act to protect the A-10 for our men and women in uniform,” said Ayotte, who has helped lead the effort to preserve the aircraft.

The Senate coalition, which also includes Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., disagreed with the Department of Defense position that the A-10 is too expensive and dated to keep around. The cost per flying hour is actually less than other aircraft that provide support for ground troops, including the F-15E and F-16 fighter jets, the B-1 bomber, the AC-130 gunship, and the B-52 Stratofortress, they argue.

But the DOD is scraping for savings and has been unhappy with Congress’ refusal so far to support a phase-out of the A-10. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the proposal earlier this year, saying the retirement of the Air Force fleet of some 300 Warthogs would save the department $3.5 billion over five years.

A Pentagon spokesman said last week that Hagel was “certainly not pleased” — a rare comment on active legislation.

The DOD is under intense pressure to cut costs due to the Budget Control Act of 2011, also known as sequestration, which triggered deep, automatic reductions in the federal spending after a divided Congress could not reach a budget agreement.

Many popular defense programs and equipment could be on the chopping block in the coming year, including subsidies to base supermarkets, health care benefits, pay raises, the A-10 program, the Navy’s littoral combat ship funding, and the USS George Washington aircraft carrier, which needs an expensive nuclear overhaul to stay in operation.

The military’s top brass say the cuts are unwanted — Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said he had personally been saved by A-10 air support — but necessary due to the funding squeeze.

House lawmakers, especially Republicans, have balked at slashing defense spending, saying it could weaken national security and erode trust among servicemembers.

Now, A-10 support is growing in the Senate.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he may vote to keep the aircraft if spending offsets can be found.

“I support preserving the A-10. To accomplish that, we must find a realistic way to pay for it,” he said Tuesday in a statement to Stars and Stripes. “I’m optimistic that when the Senate Armed Services Committee marks up the defense authorization bill next week, we will be able to do so.”

The Senate coalition may just be successful, at least at saving the Warthog in the chamber’s upcoming draft defense budget, said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

“I fully expect they are going to push hard, and they may very well succeed,” Harrison said. “It’s going to be an uphill battle for the Air Force to retire the A-10 even in the Senate.”

With elections looming, lawmakers would not want to vote against the Warthog program and risk military cuts and job losses in a number of communities outside bases where the aircraft is operated, he said.

The A-10 is “almost as important to Moody [Air Force Base] as it is to troops on the ground,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who represents the base along with Chambliss and spoke at the news conference Wednesday.

Davis-Monthan Air Base in Tucson, Ariz. — McCain’s state — is home to about 80 of the aircraft, the largest concentration in the world. Nine U.S. bases and one U.S. base in South Korea have the Warthog.

Many races are already heating up, with this issue being front and center in Tucson.

Rep. Ron Barber, who added an amendment to save the A-10 to the House Armed Services Committee draft defense budget last week, is running against Martha McSally, a former A-10 pilot who is campaigning on defeating the aircraft’s retirement.

The A-10 is the largest mission at Davis-Monthan and the retirement could mean the loss of 2,000 jobs, said Bruce Dusenberry, chairman of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance, a group comprising private-sector leaders who represent military interests in the Tucson area.

“The immediate reaction was, ‘Oh no,’ ” Dusenberry said.

The loss could also affect the other military bases and vast training ranges that dot southern Arizona and are interconnected to the A-10 program, according to Dusenberry.

“It’s hard to know the ripple effect,” he said. “It would be a major impact.”

HERAT CITY (WN-May. 14, 2014): A senior intelligence official has been shot dead by unidentified armed men in western Herat province, an official said Wednesday.

A local security official speaking on the condition of anonymity said the incident took place late Tuesday in Herat city.

According to a source on condition of anonymity, the intelligence official was a provincial National Directorate for Security (NDS)’s Counterterrorism Department member.

An individual allegedly militant was arrested in connection to the assassination of the official recognized as Gen. Mustafa.

Parts of the western Herat province had turned violent after militants influenced across the border with some southwestern provinces.

Report: Ruhollah Zahir

 

MIRANSHAH: At least five militants died during a shootout between rival factions in a tribal region near the Afghan border Tuesday, militant and intelligence sources said

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Khan Said Sajna and followers of the late TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud clashed in the Shawal area of North Waziristan district, a security official told AFP.

“Two militants from Sajna and three from Hakimullah Mehsud group have been killed in the exchange of fire between the two factions. Three other people have been injured,” an intelligence official told AFP.

Sources in the rival militant groups also confirmed the attack.

“The fight was temporarily halted after local elders asked the two groups for a ceasefire to take out the dead bodies and rescue the injured,” a militant source said.

Infighting between different Taliban factions has killed dozens of people in the area in recent weeks. The latest attack comes weeks after the Taliban formally ended a ceasefire called to promote talks with the government.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government began negotiations with the TTP through intermediaries in February, with the ceasefire beginning March 1.

Since the TTP rose up against the Pakistani state in 2007, more than 6,800 people have been killed in bomb and gun attacks around Pakistan, according to an AFP tally.

Violence erupted last month between the Sajna and Mehsud factions, both part of the TTP.

The feud began after Sajna, a senior commander, was rejected for the TTP leadership following the killing of then-leader Mehsud last November, militants say.

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