IED attacks in Afghanistan stymie U.S counter-offensive

Soaring IED attacks in Afghanistan stymie U.S. counter-offensive

Taliban fighters more than doubled the number of homemade bombs they used against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan last year, relying on explosives that are often far more primitive than the ones used in Iraq. An Afghan Army engineer tries to photograph an IED they dug up after local residents reported it at Howz-e-Madad in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. (John Moore - Getty Images)
By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Taliban fighters more than doubled the number of homemade bombs they used against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan last year, relying on explosives that are often far more primitive than the ones used in Iraq.

The embrace of a low-tech approach by Taliban-trained bombmakers -- they are building improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, out of fertilizer and diesel fuel -- has stymied a $17 billion U.S. counteroffensive against the devices in Iraq and Afghanistan, military officials say. Electronic scanners or jammers, which were commonly deployed in Iraq, can detect only bombs with metal parts or circuitry.

"Technology is not going to solve this problem," said Army Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, director of the military's Joint IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO. "I don't think you can defeat the IED as a weapon system. It is too easy to use."
US operations already on in Kandahar
Last Updated : 2010-03-18 11:07 PM

KANDAHAR; Operations to push the Taliban out of their iconic Afghan stronghold of Kandahar are underway and will steadily build in the months ahead, military officials said today.

The military and political efforts against the Taliban around Kandahar, Afghanistan’s third biggest city and the militia’s spiritual capital, are the next step in the US-led strategy to end a war now in its ninth year.

“We have been making preparation and plans concerning Operation Omaid,” said General Sher Mohammad Zazai, Afghan army commander in the country’s south.

“We’re still working on the plan,” he said, without giving further details
Afghanistan: Cross Border Cooperation

Source: Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
Date: 19 Mar 2010

A development project has several aims, key among them to develop an expanding pool of beneficiaries and also to promote closer regional and donor ties.

A modest vocational training project launched by JICA in Iran in 2002 is fulfilling both aims.

That program at the Instructor Training Center (ITC) in Karaj near the Iranian capital of Teheran was designed to improve the communications skills of national teachers who in turn would teach other Iranian teachers as part of an ever-expanding pool of experts.

That initial aim has gone one step further with Iranian instructors now involved in helping officials from neighboring Afghanistan to improve their skills.

Because the two countries enjoy similar languages and culture, JICA recognized the advantage of involving Iranian instructors, whom the agency had initially helped train, in its own vocational programs for Afghans.

Recently, 14 Afghan teachers participated in a 17-day skills-training seminar in Teheran and the project will be repeated twice more.

JICA has placed increasing emphasis on such skills training and developing multi-partner projects and closer donor ties.

In 2009 the agency sent two Iranian experts to monitor and evaluate the quality of Afghan teachers and their vocational courses. That project also involved the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) which was running a vocational training center in Kabul.

In other examples, JICA and Brazil have joined to launch an ambitious agricultural project in Mozambique. Vietnamese experts are involved in a rice project in the same country. And Malaysian experts are helping Zambia to promote business investment and create jobs in that southern African state.
Is Afghanistan going back in time to 2001?
Author: Stuart Webb|Posted: 6:56 am on 19/03/10
Category: World News Blog | Tags: Afghanistan/ Corruption/ Kabul/ Taliban
I like Afghanistan. I fell for the country and its people after my first visit here in 2001. Back then I was here to cover the war and the ousting of the Taliban after the attack on the Twin Towers.

I’ve been coming back regularly ever since. But in the last few years my visits have taken on a depressing familiarity.

Take today; it’s the last day of my present trip and I woke up in my hotel room in Kabul this morning to hear the news of a suicide attack in Lashkar Gar.

The day I arrived, the Taliban carried out a suicide car bomb and gun attack on two guest houses in Kabul. 16 people died.

Myself and correspondent Alex Thomson rushed straight from the airport to cover the story. Soon we were standing next to a huge crater and the smouldering ruins of one of the guest houses.

On my last visit in October I found myself standing in front of the smouldering ruins of another guest house used by UN workers.

It had also just been attacked by the Taliban. 12 people were killed. As I stood there I noticed what I thought were beads all around my feet
Dutch Crown Prince Willem Alexander has ended a three-day visit to Dutch forces in Afghanistan.

The prince spoke to Dutch troops in Kandahar and at the military bases in Tarin Kowt and Deh Rawod in Uruzgan province. It was his third visit to the country.

Prince Willem Alexander also went outside the perimeter to talk to local leaders in the Chora region. They emphasised their view that the Netherlands' forces should not withdraw from Uruzgan province. The Crown Prince assured the elders that the Netherlands military will have worthy successors. The Dutch ISAF mission will end in June 2010.

Over the next few weeks it will become clear who will succeed the Netherlands in Afghanistan.
Record number of British soldiers honoured for bravery in Afghanistan
A record number of British troops have been honoured for their bravery in Afghanistan, including eight who were recognised posthumously, the highest number since the Second World War.

Published: 9:29AM GMT 19 Mar 2010
vicemen and women were honoured including Captain Daniel Shepherd, 28, of the Royal Logistic Corps, who defused 13 Taliban improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by hand in 36 hours of continuous activity. He was awarded the George medal posthumously after being killed in an explosion at Nad-e-Ali in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, in July last year.
Iranian weapons seized in Afghanistan

Afghan officials have seized Iranian weapons including roadside bomb making components smuggled over the border to support the Taliban.

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
Published: 8:00PM GMT 18 Mar 2010
Border officials have reported that a wide range of material made in Iran – including mortars, plastic explosives, propaganda materials and mobile phones – is ending up in insurgents' hands.
Rahmutallah Safi, the head of Border Police in Herat, an Afghan city on its western border with Iran, said seized material was marked with Persian writing, Channel 4 News reported last night.

"In this place you can see, we have discovered five mines," he said. "All the international monitors have seen it. You yourselves can check to see which country has made it. You can see the [Persian] marks on the weapons and the type and show it to the world."
A Taliban commander admitted that the insurgents had grown more dependent on Iran as Pakistan stepped up operations against the group on its territory.
Belgium extends troop stay in Afghanistan
Military and Security 3/19/2010 3:38:00 PM

BRUSSELS, March 19 (KUNA) -- Belgium decided here Friday to keep its troops in Afghanistan until the end of 2011. It had originally planned to withdraw its troops at the end of 2010.
According to a statement by the Belgian Foreign Ministry, the country will also help in training Afghan police. The budget for Belgian development aid to Afghanistan will be raised to 13 million euros per year.
Belgium has 600 soldiers in Afghanistan located in Kabul, Kunduz and Kandahar to train Afghan security forces. (end) KUNA 191538 Mar 10NNNN

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