Sunday, March 31, 2013

Help get our Miss " Sandy " Stateside........

Hope all had a good Easter Sunday -

Here is the mission - The pup that we have here in Afghanistan will be heading to her new home in Seattle. She was abandoned here on the side of the road in Kandahar but was taken in by the staff at the camp where we stay near KAF

The staff here named her " Xena " but I preferred to call her "Sandy"
She's with NOWZAD Dogs  ( ) and is in Kabul preparing to head home once she is medically cleared and they have her ready.
YOU can help my making a small donation to help with the $4000 it will cost to get her stateside.
Any amount is appreciated, no matter how much as I know $$$ is tight these days.
The website is paypal and it allows you to make a donation securely.
She's a great pup and deserves the life that she will have living in the US.
I appreciate all who assist and I rarely (if ever) ask for people to donate $$ but this is one little pup who is well worth it.
Thanks again.  With many hands lifting, this little girl will get a chance to live a " dog's life " with a family who will love her always.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

EASTER SUNRISE 2013 - Kandahar, Afghanistan

Happy Easter from Kandahar !
A beautiful sunrise this morning ( see enclosed picture) - Easter Morning and "He has risen"
It was 12 years ago on Easter 2001 that I sent the enclosed message to my son James who was out to sea on the carrier USS John C. Stennis, CVN-74. After all these years it reminds me of what is important on Easter Day.

Easter was my Mother's favorite holiday and to her it was the message of hope, rebirth & faith that made it special.
I send you best wishes from Kandahar.
Kandahar has been quiet as of late and that is a good thing for all here. I will be home at the end of May and I am looking forward to it.

COPY of E-mail sent Easter 2001 -

Happy Easter!

My son - It was too much for the Easter Bunny to swim out to meet your ship, but I want to wish you a Happy Easter - Like other holidays, I think Easter has gotten too far from what the true meaning of what it is really about - We are truly blessed with God's love - We are not together on this day, but we know you are safe - We are together in spirit, and united in our faith - The Lord has watched over us, and has guarded us through the past years - and He will be there as our Shepard as we go forward into an uncertain future -

We are very proud of the sacrifice you make to protect us each day - It is a honorable and noble cause to fight for our country & our way of life - In a world where our way of life and faith is under siege, we must continue to hold on to our faith, courage and honor - It is what separates us from the cowardly and despicable bastards that murder innocents in God's name - We will fight these villains, and Justice will prevail -

Enclosed is a passage from John 20:1-18 - it tells the story of the discovery of the Resurrection - Know that we await your safe return, and hope that your time will pass quickly -

We love & miss you - We are truly blessed by Jesus' & God's love.

Love -

Dad & Karen

John 20:1-18

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.

20:2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him."

20:3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb.

20:4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.

20:5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.

20:6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there,

20:7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus' head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.

20:8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

20:9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

20:10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.

20:11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb;

20:12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.

20:13 They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him."

20:14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away."

20:16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher).

20:17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"

20:18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her

Friday, March 29, 2013

“He’s not a dog. He’s a Marine.”

CBS' NCIS is the top show on television and the reason why is that it is well written, has a great cast lead by Mark Harmon and shows why HONOR, COURAGE & COMMITMENT matter, especially today more than ever.

I just watched an episode called "Seek" which covered the story of a Marine & his faithful Black Lab " Dex ". It aired earlier in the states but here in Afghanistan, we get the shows a few weeks/months behind the times.

As usual, the episode was great and I was emotinally touched by the story. Gibbs and his people got the bad guys and took care of those who needed his help. But there is more to it than that.....The story touched my heart as it involved a Marine and his faithful K9 buddy.

Here is the rest of the story from the Marine Times/AP. This great episode was dedicated to a real life pup and to "military working dogs and their brave handlers everywhere".

I'm glad that NCIS is one show we can count on in the vast wasteland that is broadcast network television.

Semper Fi and Semper Fidos to all those who stand in harm's way.  Your efforts and sacrifices are appreciated.

Navy SEAL’s loyal dog prompts ‘NCIS’ episode

The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Mar 23, 2013 15:00:46 EDT

DES MOINES, Iowa — The legend of Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson and his faithful Labrador retriever, Hawkeye, continues to grow.

A now-famous photograph of Hawkeye guarding Tumilson’s flag-draped coffin in 2011 inspired this week’s episode of the hit CBS television series “NCIS,” according to one of its executive producers.

“It all started with a photograph,” co-executive producer Scott Williams wrote on the show’s blog. The inspired result: Tuesday’s episode, “Seek,” the night’s top-rated show.

“It served as yet another stark reminder of the sacrifices made by our military men and women and their families (pets included),” Williams wrote. “It also set the wheels in motion for the (March 19) episode.”

Jon Tumilson, 35, who was born in Osage, Iowa, and grew up in Rockford, Iowa, died in Afghanistan in August 2011 when the Chinook helicopter carrying him and 29 others was shot down.
His cherished black Lab, Hawkeye, led Tumilson’s family into the funeral.

What happened next resulted in a photo that became an Internet sensation.

When Hawkeye’s new owner, close family friend Scott Nichols, went to the front to speak, Hawkeye came with him. The dog soon walked to Tumilson’s flag-draped coffin, dropped to the floor, and stayed there, as if on guard.

Tumilson’s cousin, Lisa Pembleton, captured the moment on behalf of 1,500 mourners at Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock gym in Rockford.

The image prompted people around the world to comment on its depiction of faithfulness, companionship, bravery and duty.

Now, “NCIS,” which follows special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, has joined the legions inspired by the photo.

This week’s episode opened with a soldier and a mine-sniffing dog in Afghanistan who watch as a boy’s soccer ball rolls onto a live mine, which explodes.

Just after the soldier and dog lead the boy to safety, a sniper shoots the soldier. The dog lies at the side of his fallen master.

Later, the lead character, special agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, says of the episode’s canine star, Dexter, “He’s not a dog. He’s a Marine.”

Many of the nearly 1,000 people who had commented on the producer’s blog post by Friday evening said the show, which incorporates a scene reminiscent of Tumilson’s funeral, brought them to tears.

The episode was dedicated to “military working dogs and their brave handlers everywhere,” Williams wrote.

The show won the ratings competition in its time slot, pulling in 19.8 million viewers, more than twice the No. 2 program, “Splash,” on ABC, and more than any prime-time show that night, according to the Nielsen Co. ratings.

Tumilson’s family hopes veteran actor Mark Harmon, who plays Gibbs, and others in the “NCIS” cast will help dedicate a statue of Tumilson and Hawkeye at Fossil and Prairie Park in Rockford this summer.

“We will be unveiling a life-size bronze statue of Jon and Hawkeye this summer in his hometown, and would like to personally invite Mark, and any of your cast members, to come and celebrate that special event with us,” Tumilson’s brother-in-law, Scott McMeekan, wrote on the “NCIS” blog.
Neither members of Tumilson’s family nor representatives of CBS could be reached for comment.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Yeah, what he said......

Saturday, March 23, 2013

When I get home......

Friday, March 22, 2013

19 Brilliant Business Lessons From "Moneyball"

IF you haven't seen the movie, go rent it. You'll learn alot in the time you watch it. I am serious, even if you aren't a baseball person.

This is a great article for anyone who needs to succeed in business......really.

My favorite line from the movie's central character, Billy Beane:
Billy Beane "The problem we're trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there's fifty feet of crap, and then there's us. It's an unfair game..."

= = = = = = =

19 Brilliant Business Lessons From Moneyball

by Dharmesh Shah

Founder and CTO at HubSpot and Blogger at

January 15, 2013
I'm an idiot. Not all of the time, mind you, but every now and then, I'm an idiot. Like the time my friend and co-founder Brian Halligan asked me to read the book “Moneyball” . This was back when we had first launched our startup, HubSpot. “But, I'm not a baseball guy,” I said. “It's not about baseball. It's about data,” he replied. So, I put it on my reading list, bought the book, but still failed to read it. That was a mistake.

Years later, I watched the movie when it came out. Twice. In one weekend. The first time I felt like I missed so much that I had to watch it again. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you should stop reading this article and go watch it. If you get distracted and never make it back to this article, don't worry, you made the right call.

So, without further ado, here are some great quotes and lessons on business and entrepreneurship from Moneyball:

1. He passes the eye candy test. He's got the looks, he's great at playing the part.
Spectacular startup success often becomes a game about scouting and recruiting. A common mistake entrepreneurs make is recruiting team members early on simply because they look the part. In the long run, it doesn't matter if on paper, someone's perfect. You want people that can actually do the job. That VP of Sales candidate that has 15 years of experience at Oracle? Likely not worth it for you. They'll look the part, but they may not be able to deliver the goods. And, like Johnny Damon, she's going to be expensive. Get good at seeing talent where others don't.

2. You're not solving the problem. You're not even looking at the problem.
Identify a fundamental problem in your industry and then focus, focus, focus on solving that problem. Don't get distracted by all the the things that are swirling around the actual problem. Don't listen too closely to those that have deep industry expertise and are emotionally attached to the status quo — it's possible that they're part of the problem. Figure out what the actual issue is, and solve it.

For example, look at Dropbox. My friend Drew Houston (CEO) set out to solve a really hard problem -- getting data to synch across different devices. He had many people (including me) that were telling him that this particular idea had been pursued so many times before. He didn't get distracted by all that noise. He dug in, focused and fixed the problem. Today, Dropbox is valued at billions of dollars and has tens of millions of happy users.

3. We've got to think differently.
This quote reminds me of Apple. Only, Steve Jobs wrote it as ”think different” (intentionally going with the grammatically incorrect version because it “sounded better”). Like the Oakland As, your business is also working under constraints. Often, big constraints. Often, unfair constraints. If you're trying to disrupt the status quo and beat competitors that are much bigger and better funded, you're not going to do it by playing their game. You'll need to think differently. Playing the old way when you're at a disadvantage is a sure-fire way to lose.

This is one that I'm personally very passionate about. When we started HubSpot, everything we had learned about startups -- and the conventional wisdom was "do one thing, and do it very, very well." Generally, that's amazingly good advice. Except when it's not. Like in our case. The problem we saw was not that there weren't great marketing apps out there -- the problem was that none of them were integrated or worked well together. So, we thought different. We decided to do the crazy, crazy thing of doing it all. Why? Because that's what we believed the problem was.

4. First job in baseball? It's my first job anywhere.
Experience is often over-rated. Some of the most successful startup teams consisted of people that lacked relevant experience at the time they joined. But, what they lacked in experience, they more than made up for in sheer talent and hunger. In the early days, hire athletes. People with raw talent and a propensity to get things done. Don't be resistent to recruiting people that are early in their careers. You're looking for arbitrage opportunities. You're looking for the future stars -- because you likely can't afford or convince the current stars.

5. Your goal shouldn't be to buy players, your goal should be to buy wins.
I'm going to illustrate this point with a quick paraphrasing of a conversation I had with an entrepreneur last year. It went roughly like this:
Me: What do you need?
Them: We need to build a management team.
Me: No, what do you actually need right now?
Them: Well, right now we need a VP of Engineering.
Me. What for?
Them: Well, we need someone to head up our product development effort.

Me. No, you actually need to write code and release a product. You need to respond to customer issues. You need to iterate quickly so you can learn quickly. You don't need a VP of anything, you need a doer of stuff that needs to get done. Don't think about buying titles — think about buying outcomes. Think about plugging gaping holes in the company. Are you signing up customers so fast that you can't respond to all the support emails? Don't hire a head of support, hire someone that helps you tackle the support issue. Someone that's maniacally committed to customer happiness. They can become your head of support some day.

6. He really needs to accept this as life's first occupation, a first career.
This statement was made to the young Billy Beane when he was trying to decide between the full scholarship to Stanford and a career in Major League Baseball. Billy's mom asked if he could do both. The answer was, he couldn't. And, that's true in baseball, in startups and just about any hyper-competitive activity. You can't straddle the fence, because you will get your ass kicked by someone who's almost as good as you, but much more committed. You can't take that investment banking job and do a startup. You can't maintain two feet firmly planted on the ground and take the leap of faith. You have to pick. It's not an easy choice, but you have to pick. And, if you're in school, my personal (and unpopular in some startup circles) advice is stay in school . Make learning and building connections your “first occupation”.

But whatever you do, don't sit on the fence. Commit to something. Don't hedge. Give it all you have. Make it your life's first occupation. If you can't get excited about it -- find something else. I've made lots of stupid mistakes in my professional career -- the stupidest was trying to run two startups at the same time. That's a story for another day.

7. Why do you like him? Because he gets on base.
The startup world is filled with superstars that get overlooked or don't quite make it because they're "quirky" or otherwise don't fit preconceived patterns of people think a person in a given role should look and feel like. None of that matters. When recruiting engineers, find brilliant people that write code that solves the problem simply, effectively and can be maintained without brain damage. When hiring sales people find those that have high emotional IQ and care about truly understanding customer problems -- and selling them a solution. Figure out what success looks like for a given role, and ignore the irrelevant details. (Note: Culture fit is not an irrelevant detail. Things that are irrelevant are age, nationality, gender, etc. -- things that have no bearing on the outcome).

10. Hey, anything worth doing is hard. And we're gonna teach you.
Your ability to teach is one of the single biggest levers you have in a startup. Why? First, because it's one of the biggest benefits you can deliver to your team members. They can get a higher salary somewhere else. They can get better perks somewhere else. But, at your startup, they can learn things. Second, it's unlikely you're going to find the "perfect" 5-tool player. Even if you found them, you likely couldn't afford them. If you're willing to help people with a specific super-power fill in gaps in their knowledge/experience, you create lots of value -- for them, and for you.

12. It's day one of the first week. You can't judge just yet.
Be a little bit patient. Often, your best people will take a little time to really shine. Don't judge too early. Determine the context. If someone's not cranking yet, is it because getting up to speed at your company is hard? Everyone's too busy to show them the ropes? Their lack of early performance could be the context, so be patient
But, don't be too patient. If someone isn't at least moderately productive in the first month or two, it's unlikely they're going to be super-productive in the following year. The really great people tend to deliver some value almost immediately.

14. Where on the field is the dollar I'm paying for soda?
It is good to be budget-conscious in an early-stage company. It instills the right kind of discipline that will help long-term. But, don't be penny-wise and a pound foolish. There are little things that don't cost that much, that makes people happier. It's not about the money (they can all afford the soda), it's about the inconvenience and the principle. Remember, deep down inside, people are human. [smile]

One quick example from HubSpot: We launched a book program whereby any employee can request any book they think makes them a better HubSpotter. I personally handle all requests and send out a Kindle version of the book immediately. It magically appears in their account, and they don't have to fill out an expense form or do anything. It's not that expensive, but it's been super-well received.

15. These are hard rules to explain to people. Why is that a problem, Pete?
One of the best segments in the movie. Pete is troubled at how different what they're doing is, and why it's hard to get others to understand and accept it. But, the point was, when you'retransforming something and making massive change, not everyone is going to understand. The important thing is to be right -- and then make the change happen. The best way to convince people that your theory was right is to be right and show them (not tell them) you're right. Most people will never be convinced otherwise.

16. I'm not paying you for the player you used to be, I'm paying you for the player you are right now.
Hard-hitting advice. I'd extend this to say: Recruit on potential but reward on performance. Customers are not going to be delighted by the code a brilliant engineer could have written. On a related note is the quote "If he's a good hitter, why doesn't he hit good?" Or, "If she's such a good sales person, why can't she sell?"

17. That's my bar. My bar is here. My bar is to take this team to the championship.
Although it's often OK to end up being in second place -- that's not what you aim for. You and your team should be in it to win it. If you decide too early that winning is impossible or too hard, you set a ceiling on your success.

18. If we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.
Don't play the game using your competitor's rule book -- despite how successful they may or may not be. That's a losing strategy. If they wrote the rules, chances are, they were written to favor them not you.

19. We're going to change the game.
And really, that's what it's all about. It's not about exiting for millions of dollars or going public. It's about changing the game. It's about seeing something that's not quite right in the world, and deciding you want to fix it. For me, personally, it was observing that marketing is broken. Most people hate marketing. we wanted to transform marketing into something people love. It's hugely ambitious, but I have this feeling, deep-down inside, that we're right.

How about you? What is the flaw (big or small) that you're seeing in the universe that you're trying to fix? 

‘Murph: The Protector’ - A MUST SEE Movie

Here is my request - Go see this movie and pay your respects to the US Navy SEALs who put it all on the line for all of us. Please.

They do it all for you.

Posthumous Salute to a SEAL Team Leader

‘Murph: The Protector,’ a Documentary About a Navy SEAL

Mactavish Pictures
Lt. Michael P. Murphy, left, is the subject of the film “Murph: The Protector.”
For the American military June 28, 2005, was a very bad day. A four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance team in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan had been caught in a mountainside firefight with overwhelming Taliban forces, and the Special Operations helicopter sent to extract them was shot down. The 16 men aboard died, as did 3 of the 4 team members on the ground. (The one who lived, Marcus Luttrell, wrote a best-selling account, “Lone Survivor”; the major-motion-picture version, starring Mark Wahlberg, is scheduled for release next fall.)
“Murph: The Protector” is a short, spare documentary about Lt. Michael P. Murphy, the SEAL team leader awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2007. Mr. Murphy, a Long Island native, is recalled as a stand-up son, brother and friend, a lifeguard at Lake Ronkonkoma Beach, a graduate from Penn State who surprised those close to him with declaring his intent to enter the Navy’s elite SEAL unit. “You don’t wish that for your son, to be put in harm’s way,” says his father, Daniel Murphy, himself a Vietnam veteran who was wounded in action.
We’re told of Mr. Murphy’s perseverance in achieving his goal. But limited to what his family and friends can describe — there is virtually no video of Mr. Murphy — the film doesn’t give a full sense of its subject. Instead, it works best as a report from stateside: the early news of the firefight; the visit from Navy officers; the drive up from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, escorted by police units along the way, to burial at Calverton National Cemetery. The honors came after, including the naming of a new destroyer and the Medal of Honor, which was the first given for combat in Afghanistan. As operations there wind down, “Murph: The Protector” reminds us of the valor expended on distant front lines and the holes left at home.
“Murph: The Protector” is rated PG (Parental guidance suggested) for themes of war and death

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Afghan people have said "enough is enough" and they have taken on the Taliban

This is the GOOD NEWS many of us who have been working to help Afghanistan and the Afghan people have been waiting for - The Afghan people fighting the Taliban.

The Afghan people have taken on the Taliban in their own villages.... This is very much like what happened in Anbar Province, Iraq where the people got sick of the terrorists and turned on them.

This is what will be needed if Afghanistan will be free.  Awesome to see Afghanis standing up to these cowards who use IEDs and terror to keep the Afghan people from being free to set their own destiny.

Villagers Take On Taliban in Their Heartland


Published: March 20, 2013

PISHIN GAN SAYEDAN, Afghanistan — An uprising against the Taliban that began last month in this southern Afghan village has now spread through dozens of others, according to residents and Afghan and American officials, in the most significant popular turning against the Islamist insurgents in recent years.

Since early February, when villagers joined with police forces to begin ousting Taliban fighters from this region of rich vineyards and orchards southwest of Kandahar City, hundreds of residents have rallied to support the government. Nearly 100 village elders vowed at a public meeting Monday to keep the Taliban out as the new fighting season sets in, and Afghan flags are flying from rooftops in the villages, residents said.

Isolated uprisings against the Taliban have been reported in several different parts of Afghanistan over the past 18 months. But the revolt in Panjwai is considered significant because it is the first in southern Afghanistan, in the spiritual heartland of the Taliban movement, where the group’s influence had endured despite repeated operations by American and NATO forces.

Though no one is claiming that the Taliban are forever out of the fight even in this district — the insurgents have vowed a vengeful return and in the past week killed two men in the area — the Panjwai uprising has given an example of what can be accomplished when local resentment over bullying by militants is accompanied by reliable government support.

It has been good news in an often-pessimistic season, as the Taliban have appeared to make inroads in some other places around the country where American troops are pulling out.

In interviews, villagers and local officials said that although the uprising grew out of villagers’ anger at Taliban brutality, it gelled because of the growing strength of the Afghan security forces and a particularly active police force in the region. The new Panjwai police chief, Sultan Mohammad, is from Zangabad, the name of the surrounding area, and his appointment in January galvanized local support for the government.

“It’s been a long time coming. But in short, the people have said enough is enough, and they became fed up with the Taliban,” Maj. Gen. Robert B. Abrams, the American commander in the south, said in a news briefing with Pentagon reporters last week. He said the Taliban had been ousted from all but four villages in the district at that point.

American and Afghan forces have fought a grueling campaign in the districts of Kandahar since the surge of 2010 when thousands of extra American troops were sent into southern Afghanistan.

Although the Taliban were routed in crucial areas that year, they maintained a grip in the southern part of Panjwai, in the village clusters of Zangabad and Sperwan, and threaded the area with improvised explosive devices and ambush sites.

Though the surge of Western troops, and the increase in Afghan security forces that followed, has brought greater security for much of Kandahar Province, in some areas it also brought increased tensions with locals, and even greater violence in some pockets.

Indeed, one of the worst atrocities of the war occurred just a few hundred yards from this village when 16 Afghan civilians were killed in their homes last year. An American soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, has been accused of killing the civilians in a nighttime rampage, raising local anger against the government and American forces in the region.

Yet it was the Taliban’s callousness that caused the population to snap, Afghan officials and the villagers here said. Between 300 and 400 civilians have been killed or injured by bombs or ambushes by the Taliban in the past six months in Panjwai, according to the district governor, Hajji Fazel Mohammad.

“People are angry because the Taliban have been laying mines in their orchards and vineyards,” he said in an interview at his district office. A member of the Taliban would lay mines and then get killed and no one knew where the mines were, he said. “People are now fed up with the Taliban and are joining us.”

The spark came in early February when the Taliban commander of the area, Mullah Noor Mahmad, 35, came to arrest men in this village. He called on the house of Hajji Abdul Wudood and demanded the handover of two sons he accused of spying for the government.

“They wanted to slaughter my sons,” Mr. Wudood said in an interview last month in his home. “They wanted to take them to the desert where they had a court and a base.”

Mr. Wudood, a 60-year-old former mujahedeen fighter against the Soviets in the 1980s, had had enough. He and his eight grown sons decided to make a stand.

Several villagers who had lost relatives to the Taliban joined them. The village had already been starting to boil: Three days earlier the same Taliban commander had beaten up farmers who were clearing undergrowth from the village irrigation canal.

Mr. Wudood turned for help to the district police chief, Mr. Mohammad, an old mujahedeen associate and a relative by marriage. Together they hatched a plan to ambush the Taliban.

On Feb. 6, they moved against a Taliban base in a nearby village. Seventy unarmed villagers accompanied the police, guiding them through the minefields and acting as lookouts. After a short firefight, the police routed the Taliban, killing three men, and chasing the remainder south toward the desert.

Army and police units pursued the Taliban down to their base on the edge of the desert in the days after. As the word spread, dozens of villages showed their support for the government and offered men for the Afghan Local Police forces to guard their villages.

General Abrams says the local support and expansion of government forces — he still commands 17,000 troops in the region, and Afghan fighters now amount to 52,000 across various agencies — has coincided with a period of weakness for the Taliban here, financially in particular. “They lack the money, they lack the arms and ammunition, and they are having a challenge gathering their forces,” he said, speaking by telephone from his headquarters at Kandahar airfield on Tuesday.

The head of Afghanistan’s National Security Directorate, Asadullah Khalid, a bitter enemy of the Taliban who is still recovering in the United States from a suicide attack against him in Kabul last year, said he had been trying to nurture popular uprisings as a way to beat the Taliban.

“One thing for sure is that the people are tired of the Taliban and they don’t want the Taliban,” he said in an interview. “And when the people don’t want the Taliban, the Taliban cannot come in. I feel this is the beginning of the end of the Taliban, but the question is how can we use this.”

Provincial and local leaders in Kandahar express pride at the uprising’s success so far, but they warn that if the government does not follow through with increased police support, the Taliban could undermine it all. “It all depends on what the government does with these people,” said Hajji Agha Lalai, a member of Kandahar’s provincial council. “If they support them and equip them, it will be a revolution.”

 Taliban leaders were furious at losing Panjwai and have been plotting their return to the district in meetings in the Pakistani town of Quetta this week, police and intelligence officials said. One Taliban commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a telephone interview, acknowledged the loss of Panjwai, but said the movement was starting to infiltrate more fighters into southern Afghanistan along with workers coming in for the opium poppy harvest.

Last weekend, two workers from a construction firm were kidnapped and killed in Panjwai. Their bodies were found hanging in different villages near the desert where Taliban fighters still have a presence, police officials said.

Mr. Wudood said he had received warnings that the Taliban had ordered his assassination. Yet he remained defiant.

“This time it is not only me,” he said. “There are thousands of us in Zangabad and in Sperwan. They cannot eliminate us all. We are the true owners of this land and the men who are attacking us are coming from outside, and we are not scared. We will defend our land.”

Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Taimoor Shah from Kandahar

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sunrise this morning in Kandahar

Got up early (as usual) and was delightfully suprised by a beautiful sunrise

Off to start my day and looking forward to Friday which is our day off here.

Hope all will be safe here today and at home.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Muddy Dog / Wet Dog

Well today was a fairly normal day here doing the job in Kandahar.  Doing the usual work things and trying handle the HR tasks on our program.

Finished up and got back to our residential camp when I saw that my little 4 legged friend Miss Sandy had gotten into the mud somewhere here in our compound....I mean really really muddy.

Muddy as in all over muddy.

The lady here who looks after her took one look at her shaking her head saying " What am I going to do with you??"

Being the gentleman I am, I volunteered to give the little bucket of fuzz/mud a bath in my room.  What the heck, temps today were in the low eighties and I was more than willing to get wet to help out.

The rooms here are set up as what they call a "wet bath".  That means that the whole room is your shower stall, the drain is set in the floor and you basically take a shower and then squeegee the floor dry afterwards.

Ideal for bathing a pup that is covered from snout-to-tail mud.

I got her in to the bathroom with me in a swimsuit and started the process of de-mudding her.  As you might guess, she was very very unhappy about the turn of events. The shower is warm but she was trying stay as far away from it as she could.  I took the little hand washer hose that is on the side of the bathroom here ( for use when you are using the toilet - don't ask) and started to persuade her to head towards the warm shower as the water in the little hose was decidedly cold.... he he he.

Pretty soon she was sitting there letting me wash her off with little resistance but a very very unhappy look on her face.  I finished the job and then set about the task of drying her off with a towel.  This was important as I knew that the minute she was out of the bathroom, she would be happy to shake all the water off her and spray it all over my room.

Once done with her, I had to get myself changed while she sat at the door looking less than happy with the process but a heckuva lot cleaner than she has looked 30 minutes earlier.

Poor pup as she was likely thinking baths are not fun but sometimes very necessary for a muddy puppy in Kandahar. She'll be heading stateside soon to her new family with today's events nothing more than a distant memory.

Silly puppy.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Taking a Blood Oath / 2013 Version

" We are all faced with an economic situation unparalleled in our life times and all accounts are it is not getting better....the world economy is still rattled and NO ONE knows what is around the corner. "

I wrote those words in 2010, almost three years ago while I was in Afghanistan, just like i am right now. Little has changed as we have the same thick-headed President and the same bunch of business types spouting BS each week about the " Recovery "

The Record Highs on Wall Street are not a sign of good things but of more profit taking by those who wrecked the financial health of our country....remember all HIGHS are followed by LOWS and that LOW will only hurt the ones at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, not the guys on Wall Street or the lead-bottomed POLS in Washington, DC.

ALL the " Blah, Blah, Blah" from the Administration on the Sunday Talk Show circuit and all the " The economy's improving" talk has not improved a single thing....Americans are still hurting and it is likely that many will NEVER recover to the level they were at before the SHITE hit the fan.

The U6 unemployment number is still at 14.4% in 2013 and that means millions of Americans are without work or have settled for low wage crap jobs as they have no other choice.

The present "Lords of the Manor" in the White House seem more hung up on why they aren't being lauded than why people are still out of work...POTUS sputters as he thought he had all the answers but his “Messiah” act is getting panned around the world….the World still sees him for the empty suit that he is and that is why the confidence level in the American Administration is at an all time low all around the world.

The companies who have slashed employment are no better – they are taking full advantage of the crisis and reaping extra profits on the backs of the remaining workers…..

To the guy who is on his 85th week of unemployment, he could care less about politics or polls - He is worried about how he is going to get back to something that resembles a normal life…

This brings me to the point where I am today, working in AFGHANISTAN just as I was three years ago when I first wrote about taking a "blood oath"

I continue to do the best work I can while here in Kandahar Province. The 7500 mile commute is the real kick in the old "Hurt Locker", if you know what I mean... What has changed in the past three years is that the situation here is winding down very very very quickly.

In my life, I have had to make some tough deals and have always done what I felt was right, just and true to being honorable.

Now, I have to make a new "blood oath" when I get home to see what will be in store in the job market back home.  I have a few months here but by Summertime, I will be back in the Shire instead of hanging out here in the sandbox.

A "Blood Oath" is a solemn promise to keep an agreement using each party's sense of honor or reputation to uphold the deal.

Life for workers is now similar to the discussion that the two main characters have in the movie, The Untouchables –

Sean Connery plays an older beat cop and Kevin Costner is Elliot Ness, G-Man….They are discussing what they are willing to do to accomplish their goal – getting Al Capone…

Malone: You said you wanted to get Capone. Do you really wanna get him? You see what I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?

Ness: Anything within the law.
Malone: And *then* what are you prepared to do? …. I'm offering you a deal. Do you want this deal?
Ness: I have sworn to capture this man with all legal powers at my disposal and I will do so

[Malone looks up at the ceiling of the cathedral as if seeking a sign…]

Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward. 
[jabs Ness with his hand, and Ness shakes it]

Malone: Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Ness: Yes.
Malone: Good, 'cause you just took one...

" What are you prepared to do??" – We have all taken a “blood oath” of sorts - We have sworn to do whatever is necessary to provide for our families – even if that means going to the Afghanistan desert for an extended period of time.... I made my oath and endured an extended separation from my family, friends & home.

Mainly due to a group of corporate fat-arses & Wall Street types deciding they needed another bonus for themselves and a politician or two allowing them to get away with it…..and eliminating jobs that would be available for me & others back home.

Somehow all of that was more important than correcting the problems and ensuring that people who needed jobs got them at a decent wage with good benefits…..

Seems as the Joker in "Dark Night" was right when he said:

"Things have changed…..Forever. There’s no going back."

Friday, March 15, 2013


With ultimate reverence & respect, this message is posted. 

I posted it about three years back and it is still a very powerful statement by a Patriot and thoughtful Warrior.

I am in Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2013 and wanted all to see this message. 

Please forward to others to ensure that as many as possible will read the words of this valiant warrior.

Courtesy of Northwest Herald of Illinois, Kevin Lyons is news editor of the Northwest Herald. e-mail him at


E-mail message from U.S. Army Maj. Anne Brophy, who is assigned to the 143rd JAG Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan

Today, I was given a great honor. My friend, MAJ De Mosby, invited me to join her at Mortuary Affairs. Kandahar Airfield just received 4 fallen warriors. They were on foot patrol when an IED went off.The fallen heroes have to be out of the country within 24 hours of death.

De and I were invited to put on smocks and gloves to assist in preparing the bodies for travel. We entered after the physician and chaplains had finished. The room wasn't cold but the tables were still sterile. The bodies were on the slab that makes up the bottom of the casket, each casket lined up from head to foot.Teams of two worked on each hero. I began with the sign of the cross. We assisted in actually inventorying the bodies and the items brought in with them. Only 3 of the 4 bodies will be able to have open caskets. Only one of those three will be able to have a fully open casket. We could see all four of their bodies.

A few of us through our professions have seen bodies on the table, in various states, but it was so hard not to cry for these young men. All of the soldiers and marines taking care of the bodies did it with great reverence. They see fallen heroes nearly everyday - and continue to treat each hero with dignity and respect. After checking the bodies for any personal affects and inventorying what they had. We assisted in zippering up the black bags and tagging the outside.

While we were there, the companions of the Air Force fallen hero asked to come into the room. Each of the bodies was draped with Old Glory before the companions were allowed to enter. Even though all of us were chatting in small groups, all stopped talking when the companions came toward the body.SSG Arthur drew back the flag and unzipped the black body bag, allowing the companions to view their fallen hero. De and I stood close to each other as the companions grieved. Shortly thereafter, they were escorted out. The flags were removed and put on the side.

The four fallen heroes were then carted outside to a big refrigerated container (reefers). While I didn't know protocol of standing at parade, the soldiers and marines attending to the bodies continued to handle the bodies gently and stood at parade rest when the other bodies were brought out.The large doors were then closed. We looked out to see SSG Kelly, and heard that one of the injured men was from his unit, a unit that De and I heavily support. SSG Kelly was strong, his enlisted soldier, a specialist, was barely hanging on. De and I gave both of them hugs. We then returned to the room where the bodies had been removed. I was amazed and thankful to these soldiers and marine that do this all of the time, unfortunately.

Four new flags were then removed from boxes. De and I had the honor of ironing one of the flags.Supplies are hard to come by and the ironing board is a few pieces of plywood, the iron was purchased from the PX with the soldier's own funds.(No iron donations are needed) They take great pride in ironing the flag and making it look as perfect as possible. While they do amazing work for our Fallen Heroes, many don't see what they do and how they honor our fallen. They do see the flag on top of the casket which is marched past ranks of soldiers, airmen, and marines from the United States and many other countries.

As De and I ironed, we almost cried. We ironed the broad red stripes of our flag, I thought of what the colors actually meant - and how their meaning could not have been more evident than today.

Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated: "The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice."

As we ironed the red, I thought about the blood these men had shed for us. I could remember the smell from the body when I had the honor of preparing his body for his final trip home. I ironed the white stripes - thinking about how young these men were. One barely had hair on his upper lip. Yet each one of them were proud to serve their country, mixing their innocence with their valor, next to each other. The blue represented the justice we are serving here - helping the Afghanistan people be free from terrorists and in turn, keeping our own land free from terrorists.

We cannot forget that these terrorists came to OUR soil, OUR land, and killed OUR people. September 11 photos are off the TV now, almost a forgotten memory but so real here. The terrorists continue to try and kill us everyday. These young men died to keep all of us and our families alive. They exhibited valor, purity and justice. Although it is late with the ramp ceremony at 0145, I am tired, and have a cold, I am staying up to go to their ramp ceremony.

At times, the fallen heroes names are not read at the ramp ceremony because family members have not been notified. The bodies go to Dover, Del. where they continue to be treated with honor and dignity. Please rent Taking Chance when you can to see how we honor our fallen heroes when they leave here. The new year started out with a ramp ceremony for 4 fallen Canadian Soldiers and one reporter. Tonight, we will say good bye to these four fallen heroes. After I spent time with these heroes, I went back to work, just like I went back to work after all of the other ramp ceremonies, just like I will in the future ramp ceremonies, just like on Christmas and New Years day. The mission still needs to be done.

I'll continue to go to the ramp ceremonies, for well over 50 fallen heroes, because I feel a need to thank each service member.I am still unhappy that I missed COL Rudzinski's son's ceremony but continue to pray for him and his family - I just didn't know. There are days I wonder why these fallen heroes were chosen, and others aren't. Why did I come home after Kuwait/ Iraq after having lived half my life already and yet these young ones, just starting, are now with the good Lord. It is because of our Lord that each of us go on. I can certainly tell you my faith has gotten stronger here - even though I still get into animated discussions with the priests here and there. Same old me but a little different. In the end, please pray for our fallen heroes, their families and those that take care of our fallen heroes

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sandy will have a forever home in the US

There is good news here in Kandahar - We have found a forever home for Miss Sandy in the US !!

If all goes to plan, she will be residing in Seattle with a retired Marine and his family in the near future with the assistance of NOWZAD Dogs.

This will be both happy and sad for all here as she is a sweetheart and we love having her here but we want her to have the best life possible.  Her new family will love her and she will live the life of a lucky dog.

She was found abandoned on the side of the road here in Kandahar and will now live in the USA.

She has hit the "Afghan Doggy Lottery".  Glad we could help her.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ask for your help

Please read this request for you to sign a petition and get the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to do the job that they are well paid to perform.  That wounded Veterans have to wait up to 2 yrs to get the help they need is unacceptable.

Congress, the President and their staff don't have to wait for anything.  It is about time that Veterans who defended our country get the same consideration.  Really.


A shocking report just came out about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability benefits backlog. It says that delays for new vets to receive disability compensation from the VA are much longer than originally reported, which is saying a lot. (If you’ve had a loved one file a claim, you know what I mean.)

We must end this backlog now. Sign a petition to call for action with IAVA.

According to the report, more than 900,000 veteran’s benefits claims are currently in the system, a number that VA expects to grow to over a million by the end of this month. Of the 600,000 backlogged, VA has said that the average wait time was 273 days, but this report reveals that veterans are waiting between 316 and 327 days after filing. Furthermore, despite spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on developing a digital claims process, 97% of claims are still on paper.

The wait is 490 days in New Orleans. 619 in Los Angeles. 612 in Indianapolis. 586 in Houston. 642 in New York. And 681 in Reno. That’s 681 days to get benefits for injuries received while at war.

681 days. That’s just ridiculous. And it’s gone on for long enough. The men and women who have sacrificed so much deserve better than that.

Sign the petition today to call on President Obama to establish a Presidential Commission to end the backlog.  Next week at Storm the Hill, IAVA’s membership will bring the petition with your name to the White House. We’ll also gather IAVA members from across the nation on the steps of the Capitol to demand the President fix this ongoing problem once and for all.

We’ll keep the pressure up – and we won’t stop fighting until it's done.

Paul Rieckhoff
Founder and CEO
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)