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New Afghan War Doc Tells Story Of Harrowing 56-Day Firefight
In early 2006, as the NATO International Security Assistance Force ramped up operations in southern Afghanistan, and clashes between coalition soldiers and insurgents intensified, it became increasingly clear that a Taliban resurgence was fully underway. But the British military, tasked with leading the charge in Afghanistan’s restive Helmand province, remained confident in its ability to bring the area under control through a counterinsurgency campaign focused less on taking the fight to the Taliban and more on building up Afghan forces and nurturing strategic relationships with locals in the enemy’s spiritual heartland.
“We would be perfectly happy to leave [Helmand] in three years without firing one shot,” then British Defence Secretary John Reid said during a visit to the country in April 2006.
Siege of Musa QalaScreen grab via Vimeo
Several months later, 88 soldiers with Easy Company — a mix of Paratroopers and the Royal Irish — were thrust into one of the fiercest engagements of the conflict. The so-called “Siege of Musa Qala” pitted Easy Company against an estimated force of 500 heavily armed insurgents in a battle that lasted more than 50 days and ended only after locals brokered an unlikely ceasefire between the Brits and the Taliban. By the time Easy Company was extracted from Musa Qala, three British soldiers were dead, 12 more were badly wounded, and, according to the Daily Mail, a quarter of the British Army’s Afghanistan ammunition for that year was spent.
For years, details of the battle were kept closely guarded by the British Ministry of Defense, but a documentary team was able to stitch together the story through interviews with some of the men who survived the siege (active duty soldiers were apparently prohibited from being interviewed). From those interviews, it’s clear that the men of Easy Company were in constant fear of being overrun. “It came to a point I actually thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown,” one of them said. In fact, while the Taliban benefited from numerous resupplies and the fact that Easy Company was hunkered down in a remote, low-walled compound, the Brits never received reinforcements during the entire 56-day engagement and air support was extremely limited.
The documentary, entitled “Heroes of Helmand: The British Army’s Great Escape,” premieres on August 16 on Britain’s Channel 4, and includes raw combat from the battle. Take a look at the trailer. This is going to be intense.
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.