Monday, March 26, 2012

R.I.P. - Capt. Aaron D. Istre

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Capt. Aaron D. Istre, 37, of Vinton, La., died March 24 in Kabul, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to the HHC, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), Fort Hood, Texas.

            For more information please contact Fort Hood public affairs office at 254-287-9993 or 254-287-0106.

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4 Afghan soldiers killed, 3 injured in Helmand province

According to local officials in southern Helmand province at least 4 Afghan national army soldiers were killed and 3 others were injured following Taliban militants attack in this province.

The officials further added, the incident took place on Sunday night after a number of the Taliban militants ambushed an Afghan national army check post at Washir district of southern Helmand province. Taliban militants group claimed responsibility behind the incident.

A media official at the provincial police commandment Mohammad Ismail Hotak confirming the report said, at least 4 Afghan army soldiers were killed and 3 others were injured following the incident.

Mr. Hotak further added the assailant militants managed to flee the area after carrying attack and joint Afghan and NATO troops hav launched a search operation to detain those involved behind the attack.

This comes as an individual in Afghan national army uniform shot dead at least 2 NATO service members at Lashkargah city of southern Helmand province.

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R.I.P. - Sergeant Michele Silvestri

Italian Army Sergeant Michele Silvestri killed in mortar attack 

33-year-old Italian Army Sergeant Michele Silvestri, serving with the 21st Engineer Regiment, was killed in action on Saturday 24th March 2012 when his unit came under mortar fire in the Gulistan district of Farah province.
Five other soldiers were wounded in the attack.

Sgt. Silvestri was born in Naples and lived in Monte di Procida.
He was married with an 8-year-old child.
He joined the Army in 1997 and had deployed several times to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo. He had been in Afghanistan just ten days into a six-month tour.


Ministero Della Difesa:

Il Sergente  Michele Silvestri del 21° reggimento genio guastatori  è deceduto sabato 24 marzo in Afghanistan a seguito di un attacco con colpi di mortaio, avvenuto alle ore 18 circa (in Italia 14.30), contro la FOB (Forward Operative Base) “ICE” in Gulistan, nel settore Sud- Est dell’area di responsabilità italiana, assegnata alla Task Force South - East, su base del 1° reggimento bersaglieri.

Nell’attentato sono rimasti feriti altri cinque militari, subito soccorsi e trasferiti all’ospedale americano di Delaram.

La salma del Sergente Silvestri rientrerà questa mattina, alle 11, all’eroporto di Ciampino.

Camera ardente al Policlinico Militare "Celio" dalle ore 16 alle ore 17.

Le esequie solenni si terranno alle ore 18 nella Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, a Roma.
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Suicide attacker strikes NATO base in Uruzgan

TIRINKOT (PAN): A suicide bomber on Monday detonated his explosive-rigged motorcycle near a foreign military base in the central province of Uruzgan, officials said.

The explosion took place around noon near a military base of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Choora district, police spokesman Farid Aiel told Pajhwok Afghan News.

Witnesses claimed civilians had suffered casualties in the attack.

"ISAF reports indicate that a suicide bomber attempted an attack on an ISAF patrol in Choora district today.  The attacker was killed. However,there were no ISAF fatalities reported," the NATO-led force told Pajhwok Afghan News.

from Pajhwok News


other sources from twitter:

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Afghanistan: moment Private Stephen Bainbridge stepped on an IED


Photojournalist Jason P. Howe was embedded with the Army in Afghanistan last year when a soldier with whom he was on patrol stepped on an improvised explosive device, losing both legs. 

For the first time since the 10-year campaign began, pictures of the immediate aftermath of an IED attack on a British soldier, including photographs of Pte Stephen Bainbridge being treated at the scene, can be published after Pte Bainbridge gave his approval.

Click above to watch an audio slideshow on Jason P. Howe's time with the Army.

Still stunned and half deafened by the explosion, with his face bleeding from shrapnel wounds, 2nd Lt Robert Weir discovered one of his men was lying gravely wounded on the ground in front of him.
There are words that no soldier ever wants to say, but he began to shout into his radio. “Contact IED! One times casualty T1. Wait out!”

It was early on the morning of Remembrance Day last year, and as soldiers everywhere prepared to hold two minutes’ silence to honour the glorious dead, Lt Weir and his men were about to begin a race against time in Afghanistan to save the life of Pte Stephen Bainbridge.

I was embedded with 1 Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and was just yards from the 25-year-old when he stepped on a landmine that blew off both his legs.
Through the remarkable bravery and skill of his comrades, his life was saved, but only now, after Pte Bainbridge granted approval for my pictures to be published, can the full story of his rescue and road to recovery be told.

Three hours earlier that morning, Lt Weir’s squad from 3 Scots (The Black Watch) had been dropped into open farm land near Loya Manda, Nad-e-Ali, in Helmand Province along with soldiers from 1PWRR.

They were taking part in an ongoing series of operations called Tora Pishaw that has successfully disrupted insurgent activity in the area.

“When I got off the chopper I had an eerie feeling about the surroundings,” Lt Weir later recalled. “There was something spooky about them, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
“The first contact came within minutes of landing, just a short burst from a PKM belt fed machine gun, and I thought ‘this is not a good sign’.”

The mission that day was to clear a series of compounds, but as they entered one of them, almost to a man they instinctively felt something was wrong.
Pte John Cameron, 21, was called forward to use his mine detector to sweep a doorway found hidden behind a blanket, which led to an adjacent compound.

After deciding it was safe, he pushed on and swept the area beyond, followed by several others, including me, who also came to no harm.

Then Pte Bainbridge, who had been providing rear protection, stepped through the doorway.

Pte Bainbridge is attended to by medics after stepping on an IED (Jason P. Howe)

“As he did so I was hit by a wave of sound and debris,” said Lt Weir. “It seemed to be moving in slow motion; I got launched a few metres and landed on my back. Initially I thought it was me that had stood on the device.

“I gave myself a quick limb check and realized I was not in any pain apart from my face. For an instant I thought maybe no-one was injured but then thought that was silly because these things don’t just go off.”

Before he was even back on his feet, Lt Weir sent the initial contact report back to HQ.
“Contact IED. Wait out.”

Lt Weir got up and: “I saw Bainbridge lying just inside the doorway. One of his legs was missing, his hand was very swollen and he was missing the tip of one of his fingers, I saw the other leg was definitely damaged but it was still there at that point. I called for a medic and then started giving my initial first aid.”

Unable to see through a cloud of dust spread by the explosion, other soldiers shouted “Any casualties? Any casualties?”

A weak voice replied: “Me, me, Bainbridge, I’m a casualty.”

The squad’s medic, Cpl John Goode, aged just 21, had never dealt with a battlefield casualty until then, but ran forward without hesitation to take control.

Knowing that a man with his legs blown off can bleed to death in minutes or even seconds, he ordered Lt Weir to apply pressure to the arteries in Pte Bainbridge’s legs while he tied tourniquets around them.

Morphine was injected into his one uninjured limb, and a large capital M written on his face in pen, with the time it was administered, as a message to doctors who would treat him later. Meanwhile another soldier filled in a casualty report, giving the medics who would meet him on a helicopter scrambled from Camp Bastion the details they needed.

“When I got up to Bainbridge I had never seen anything like it in my life,” said Lt Weir. “Part of me thought ‘Good Lord, what am I going to do here?’ But Goode didn’t appear to show any shock, he just treated it like an exercise. He saved his life.”

Pte Chris Watson, 21, cradled Pte Bainbridge’s head and tried to keep him conscious and talking.
“At one point Bainbridge tried to sit up and look at his legs,” he said. “I held him down and told him he was going to be OK.”

Others joined in, telling him: “Hang on Bainbridge, the heli is on its way.”
Before he could be airlifted out though, the men would need to find a safe route out, meaning another painstaking sweep for hidden IEDs.

 As the men dug deep and pushed back out of the compound they could see the other squad had secured an emergency landing site for the helicopter.

photo by Jason P. Howe
Another doctor, attached to the second group, started getting fluids into Pte Bainbridge to counter his blood loss before the MEDEVAC Chinook settled on the ground in a maelstrom of thudding rotors and swirling dust.

But the Taliban were not quite done yet. The crack of bullets split the air as a sniper tried to put the Chinook out of action. The stretcher-bearers dashing for the helicopter heard nothing above the noise of the turbines, but further back their comrades were returning fire.

Suddenly the ground only 50 yards in front of the soldiers erupted in smoke and flying dirt as an Apache attack helicopter escorting the Chinook strafed the area with 30mm cannon to force the insurgents back.

Amid the deafening storm of gunfire, shouted orders and the scream of the helicopter’s rotors as it lifted off, Pte Bainbridge was on his way. Incredibly, he would be in hospital just 36 minutes after the explosion happened.

Pte Bainbridge, from Kirkcaldy, is a quiet man who keeps himself to himself, an avid reader who hated PT during his training. He is also a soldier who is good at his job, whose kit was always squared away and who never moaned about anything, accepting and completing whatever task he was set.

photo by Jason P. Howe

Doctors at the Headley Court military hospital in Surrey have noticed the same qualities in him as his rehabilitation continues.

“He’s a very determined man,” says his physiotherapist, Claire Painter, one of the team teaching him to walk on prosthetic limbs.

Recalling the day he stepped on the mine, Pte Bainbridge says: “I was blown into the air, I felt the heat blast. As I was coming back down it didn’t feel like I was falling, more like floating.” He laughs as he adds: “That was until I hit the ground.”

Pte Bainbridge regained consciousness in hospital on Nov 20, but said: “Before I woke up I pretty much knew the legs were gone. I suppose I was conscious of the doctors talking. It still hit me when I woke up but not as badly as if I believed I was still all there. It wasn’t a pretty sight.”

Yet he has no regrets about his decision to join the Army.

“I wouldn’t change anything, he says. “I chose the job, I chose to be with 3 Scots. There was no second choice, it was always going to be them.”

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Four suicide bombers detained in Takhar province

Districts of Takhar Province
Districts of Takhar Province (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
According to local security officials in north-eastern Takhar province, Afghan security forces detained at least 4 suspected suicide bombers in this province.

A provincial intelligence official in Takhar province said, the suspected suicide bombers were detained last evening following a military operation in this province.

The official speaking on the condition of anonymity said, the 4 suspected suicide bombers were detained along with their suicide vests and explosves based on an intelligence report.

In the meantime an Afghan intelligence service member was killed during a separate military operation in this province.

In a separate incident at least 3 people were killed and 3 others were injured following armed clashes between the Talian militants and Afghan national security forces in this province.

Police chief for the 2nd district of Taloqan city along with an Afghan intelligence were killed while a Taliban commander was killed and three other militants were injured during the clashes.

Provincial police chief for north-eastern Takhar province Mahmood-ul-Hassan confirming the incident said, the incident took place on Sunday at Aq-Masjid where two Afghan security officials were killed along with a Taliban commander and three other militant were injured.

Mr. Hassan further added, the attack was planned by Afghan security forces to kill and detain the militants in this province.

Anti-government armed militant groups yet to comment regarding the operation.

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Attacker in Afghan uniform kills 2 NATO troops

An Afghan soldier turned his weapon against Nato troops in southern Helmand province on Monday, killing two Nato soldiers, local officials said.

Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) has confirmed the incident, saying "an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform" killed two Isaf service-members.

"The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire," Isaf said in a statement.

A joint Afghan and Isaf team is investigating the incident, the statement further said.

The incident has occurred at the front gate of the British-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Helmand, the provincial governor's spokesman Daud Ahmadi told TOLOnews.

The Afghan soldier opened fire on his Isaf counterparts after an argument on how to search visitors, said Mr Ahmadi.

The nationality of the international troops is yet to be known.

British, American, Estonia and Danish troops are stationed in Helmand province.


ISAF release:

KABUL, Afghanistan – An individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against International Security Assistance Force service members in southern Afghanistan today, killing two service members.

The individual who opened fire was killed when coalition forces returned fire. A joint Afghan and ISAF team is investigating the incident.

It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities. For questions regarding ANSF involvement, please contact the Afghan Ministry of Defense.


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Mar.26., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Morning Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan (Mar. 26) — A combined Afghan and coalition security force detained two insurgents during an operation to capture an insurgent leader with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Shirin Tagab district, Faryab province, today. 
The leader plans and conducts attacks against coalition troops throughout northern Afghanistan and is also suspected in plotting an attack against a senior Afghan official. During the operation, the combined security force was engaged by multiple insurgents with small arms fire. The security force returned fire, killing the attacking insurgents. The security force also destroyed a rocket-propelled grenade launcher with several rockets, multiple AK-47 rifles, and a number of grenades as a result of this operation.

In other ISAF news throughout Afghanistan:


In Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, a combined Afghan and coalition security patrol conducted an operation to capture a Taliban leader today. The leader directs roadside bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces in Marjeh and Nad ‘Ali districts. The security force detained one suspected insurgent as a result of this operation.


A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured a Taliban facilitator during an operation in Zurmat district, Paktya province, today. The facilitator prepared suicide bombers to conduct attacks against Afghan and coalition security forces throughout the province.
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Yemeni intelligence officer killed in ambush by suspected al-Qaida

Yemen division 2011-10-23
Yemen division 2011-10-23 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
ADEN, Yemen, March 25 (Xinhua) -- A senior military intelligence officer was killed late Saturday night when suspected al-Qaida gunmen ambushed his convoy in Yemen's restive southern province of Lahj, a Yemeni security official said Sunday.

The al-Qaida militants ambushed the military convoy of Major Kamal Ashwal near the Anad air force base east of Houta, the provincial capital of Lahj, killing him at the scene and injuring two of his bodyguards, the local security official told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"After killing the intelligence officer, the al-Qaida gunmen clashed with police forces in downtown Lahj and there is a large presence of the terrorists in the suburbs of the city," the official said.

"Al-Qaida gunmen were attempting to seize a number of neighborhoods in Lahj, but they failed," he added.

Elsewhere in neighboring Abyan province, two al-Qaida gunmen were killed in Mudiyah district during armed clashes with pro- government tribesmen, according to local residents.

Security forces and intelligence officials are regularly targeted in the country's southern and eastern provinces as militants of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula ( AQAP) attempting to expand their foothold and take control over the lawless regions.
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Militants kill 6 Afghan soldiers in Farah

Districts of Farah.
Districts of Farah. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
KABUL, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Six Afghan soldiers lost their lives as the anti-government militants ambushed a military convoy in western Farah province, 695 km west of Kabul on Sunday, the Defense Ministry said in a statement released here.

"Six soldiers with the National Army were martyred as the enemies ambushed their convoy in Balablok district of Farah province today," the statement confirmed.

However, it did not say if there were any casualties on the insurgents.

Balablok has been regarded as a Taliban hotbed as the anti- government insurgents occasionally target government interests there.
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Top militant commander held in Ghazni

GHAZNI CITY (PAN): Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers on Sunday detained a top Taliban commander during an operation in southern Ghazni province.

The militant leader was held with a motorbike and a walkie-talkie in the Kalakhel area between Qarabagh and Andar districts, the 203rd Thunder Military Corps commander said.

Gen. Daud Wafadar said commander Mullah Abdul Wahid -- operating in Andar and Qarabagh --was a resident of Waghaz district.
The detainee was shown to media people later in the evening.

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12 Rangers get Silver Stars for Afghan heroics

Twelve soldiers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were awarded the Silver Star during a ceremony March 16 at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. Above, soldiers during the ceremony. Photo from
By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Mar 25, 2012 9:35:27 EDT

Twelve soldiers from 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were awarded the Silver Star during a ceremony March 16 at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. The soldiers were honored — two of them posthumously — with the nation’s third-highest award for valor for actions spanning two deployments to Afghanistan.

Here are their stories. ->
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Mar.25., 2012. - ISAF Joint Command Evening Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – A combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered a weapons cache during routine operations in Marjah district, Helmand province, today.

The force discovered numerous bags of ammonium nitrate for use in improvised explosive devices. The total weight of ammonium nitrate was approximately 4,500 pounds (2,045 kilograms). A small amount of the cache was confiscated to be analyzed and the rest was destroyed on site.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


In Musa Qal’ah district, Helmand province, a combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered multiple improvised explosive devices in an abandoned compound, yesterday. The first IED was discovered near a doorway and a subsequent search revealed four additional IEDs totaling 25 pounds (11 kilograms) of explosive material. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called to the scene and destroyed all the IEDs in-place.


A combined Afghan and coalition security force discovered multiple IEDs during routine operations in Dilah wa Khoshamand district, Paktika province, yesterday. Acting on tips from civilians, the combined patrol discovered six IEDs consisting of 95 pounds (43 kilograms) of home-made explosives. The combined patrol conducted controlled detonations on all of the devices, destroying them in-place.

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