It is hot, humid and sunny this morning in Jalalabad with a pleasant light wind blowing out of the Northeast. The traffic is light, people calm and as we sit here on the Baba deck monitoring the election we are receiving a report about every 10 minutes of mischief and mayhem. I bet less than 50% of them are true. For example, there is a report out of Kunar that the Taliban is shooting “an RPG” off near a polling station “every hour.” We are getting a steady stream of SMS messages out of Kabul where most of the international community is currently located due to potential instability and they say there are several gunfights and a few bombs in the capitol. As most of the security companies are on complete lock-down it is impossible to verify the reporting. Good security companies and good operatives report as fact only those things they have verified themselves – everything else is suspect. So when we hear there is a “gun fight between political parties in Zone 9 of Kabul” we don’t necessarily believe it.
I still believe the Taliban do not view the election as a significant event although it is clear some actors do. Around the city of Kunduz there were 24 election stations burned down on Tuesday night which indicates Hekmatyar’s group HiG is sending a message about the election. HiG reportedly conducted their own version of a RIP (relief in place) by replacing all the commanders in Kunduz last winter and ordering them to fight. They have been battling with the Germans all summer up in the previously very quiet and safe north and it will be interesting to see if the German’s step up their game and rediscover the art of small unit infantry warfare like the French have done outside of Kabul.
We will be out and about later in the day to get some food and ice – the staff is off today and we are forced to fend for ourselves. The extra tight ring of steel securitynever showed in Jalalabad and folded in Gardez the troops folded up their checkpoints at around 2000 local which does not bode well. There is also a ban on reporting of security incidents put on the media from on high according to this article from McClatchy. At the Taj we are tracking the incident levels in real time with software, programming and super tech geek support from Ken and Mullah Todd. The press has picked up on our low budget highly efficient efforts – here is the BBC’s report. Here is the link to Alive Afghanistan and Mullah Todd’s tracking map….it is smoking right now with live reporting from Afghan’s across the country via SMS text messaging.
Although quiet in the city the election day produced some 80+ security incidents in the Eastern Region. Most of them appear to be minor – only two civilian deaths were reported – in Paktia Province and they were civilians caught in a cross fire between the ANP and villains of unknown affiliation. It is clear that in many places in both the south, southeast and east the vote did not go well. The entire Province of Nimroz did not participate according to reporting on the Afghan Alive election tracker. In most of the north the vote went as planned.
It is hard to predict how today’s vote will turn out. We received a report around 1500 today that females and children were moving in mass from the Panjshir section of Kabul but that is unconfirmed. If true it would be a troubling signal but a dumb move by the Northern Alliance party. They are still well positioned to get a seat at the table and I would doubt they are serious about clearing the decks for action in Kabul.
In Gardez the ANP detected a suicide bomber on a motorcycle and opened fire on him. He withdrew about 500 meters away from the checkpoint and detonated his vest. It would appear that at the price of 2 civilians and open hapless suicide bomber the collective entities operating under the Taliban flag did a sufficient job of disrupting things today. Accomplishing this without a high body count is pretty impressive and probably proves me wrong on my prediction above that the various Taliban Shura’s did not view the election as a significant event. I’m not adding the three idiot bank robbers in Kabul yesterday to the Taliban ledger – seizing a bank which is empty of money is too stupid even for them. The countrywide death toll for today is in at 26 which is pretty low yesterday we saw 101 dead and 563 wounded in a Baghdad bombing and it seems to me that Iraq is more important to us strategically than Afghanistan.
My buddy Gaz sends the following from Kandahar; “at 1915 we have counted 37 explosions in the city.” That is a lot of rocket fire and one has to wonder how that happens given the counter battery radar, aircraft and other sensors ringing the city. Here are some pics from some of the closer strikes:
I’m glad I live in Jalalabad – this level of excitement is bad on the digestion.
11 Replies to “Election Day”
Will post a link to your blog in next week’s Milspeak Memo. Thank you for all you do to keep the public informed.
Good stuff is this ‘Alive in Afghanistan’. It is 09:00 here on the East Coast. A quick lookover the internet at the MSM sites (Fox, CNN, MSNBC, WSJ, NYT, WP, and so on) and the reporting seems fairly consistent with regards to the elections. The decision from Scotland to release the Lockerbee bombing member, Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, is getting a bigger splash than the Afghan elections. Most are reporting some violence, but the themes seem to run mostly along “Afghans risk their lives to vote” (source FOX News) and “Unexpectedly Smooth” (source WP). There is some reporting of attacks in Kandahar and Kabul (source WSJ), but I don’t see anything too far to the left or right…I don’t expect the media will shift from these themes since the morning editor’s meetings are over and the top themes of the day already chosen for the daily news cycle.
It will be interesting to see what the UN voting commission and others give the elections with regards to fairness and corruption. I digress for now since we don’t get too far ahead of ourselves…great reporting on your end keep it up.
The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/20/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.
There was a great photo of two women voting in the NY Times this morning. Those women are very brave, and all I have is unending admiration them.
Thanks for the update. Have yet to hear news from my other half, but as they say, no news is good news. Do hope Gaz gets the BBQ situation under control.
“My buddy Gaz sends the following from Kandahar; at 1915 we have counted 37 explosions in the city. That is a lot of rocket fire and one has to wonder how that happens given the counter battery radar, aircraft and other sensors ringing the city.”
I’ll tell you how it happens: ISAF puts a restriction on ALL fire missions in populated areas. That’s how.
48 hours post-election and it seems the majority of the MSM and the administration are hailing the elections as a success. I have a sneaking suspicion that run-off’s may be in order depending on how many ballot boxes actually make it and are counted. I am not sure that Abdullah Squared brings more to the table than Karazai but I guess time will tell?!?
Anyway COIN continues — whack-a-mole raids, infantry patrols from combat outposts, dodging IEDs while traveling on the major MSRs, and the ever present indirect fire attacks that rain on our soldiers and marines inside FOBs all across the country. Somewhere in all this we’re training and equipping ANA, ANP, and ABP troops to ‘take over’ the task of security so we can go home.
The next major event is to see what GEN McChrsystal reports back to the Administration in the next couple of weeks. I am sure more bodies (whether civilian and/or military) will be in order, plus some realistic expectations of what is ‘achievable’ inside Afghanistan. I tend to believe this administration will take the easy route out and opt for ‘containment of the Taliban’ to ‘reduce the potential safe havens for Al Qaeda inside Afghanistan’….not sure what that means but probably some form of legitimate Taliban will be allowed to exist and the ‘irreconciliables’ will be rounded up (supposedly…rather they will remain inside Al Qaeda’s true safe haven — Pakistan).
The otherside of this problem is trying to minimize corruption inside the Afghan military and government to the point of self-ruin. Anyone who has dealt with the NDS, ANA, or ANP know their ranks are riddled with turds and you can’t trust them in the least. Much like other countries I have traveled to (Philippines, Thailand, Mexico, and others) the corruption isn’t across all ranks but unfortunately those few idealists with the morals and values worth anything aren’t enough to dilute the vile of those who are in charge and running the country…
Interestingly, there is this talk of “…disrupting, dismantling, and eventually defeating Al Qaeda, its allies, and safe havens…” and …”to prevent their return to Afghanistan or Pakistan.” I find this to be most intriguing and can’t wait to see what ideas the US MIL-GOV authorities come up with as a solution. Since the FATA region of Pakistan has been and will continue to be the hometown for the mujahid of Al Qaeada ideology, I am curious to see how this administration will rid Al Qaeda of this most important safe haven? Are we going to invade Pakistan? Are we going to demand politically and militarily that Pakistan deliver good on ridding the FATA of Islamic crazies?!? Good luck with either of those options as I don’t see anyone inside the Pentagon or at Foggy Bottom with the horses to bring any of those ideas to the table.
Miram Shah, Bannu, and Quetta could all use a good “house cleaning” Fallujah style but don’t expect that to happen anytime ever….there isn’t the US manpower nor the US political will to cross that border and rid the Taliban and Al Qaeda of their safe haven, so again I am curious to see this play out as policy.
Anyway, this daily diatribe is over…for now…
Stay safe out there….
We live next door to Gaz in KC and also watched the rockets whistle in, ostensibly targetting the ANA Kandak directly behind us (they did manage to land a couple rockets there and reportedly killed a retired General who was visiting). The rocket that landed near AWK’s compound south of us killed a woman and her little girl – these people were IDPs from Khakrez who recently relocated to KC – many relatives in KC that are extremely pissed to say the least. Most of these rockets were coming from south of District 6, Malajat area, and we were sending in reports of approximate Point of Origin all day. Finally in the late afternoon ISAF sent a couple OH-58s to search the area, and the ANA drove over in the vicinity and laid siege on the side of an empty mountain as a “show of force”. I heard reports that the ANP captured two INS with rocket tubes or something when the OH-58s were there, don’t know how true that is. In any event, reports coming from the residents of Malajat are that public support for the INS has dropped to zero in the area after this rocket offensive; an important factor given that Malajat was previously almost 100% in support of the INS. I’ll be interested to see if ISAF can capitalize on this IO opportunity or if the much-more-capable INS Psy Ops cell will somehow turn this back on us again.
Once again Great stuff babatime, I too was in Kabul on the Election Day, it was pretty quite, with the exception of gun fight between ANP and the unknown bad guys in the Carte Naw area. Although the whole incident was filmed by TOLO TV’s reporter, but at the end he was beaten up by the police and his film was confiscated, (so much for the freedom of press).
I believe the incumbent Karzai will be re-elected, but boy the corruption and insecurity is going to increase big time. IEC reported the turn out was between 40% and 50%, but from my conversation of three poling stations; the turnout was merely around 10 to 15%.
Credible reports from Logar the southern neighbour of Kabul province indicated that in the districts of Baraki, Kharwar and Tangi of warkad the turn out was absulutly ZERO. The bad guys are still very active in the southern part of the country; this is despite the American troop surge in the Area.
I believe the bad day is still to come; it is the day when the Northern Panjsheri Abdullah is announced as FAILED. They have already issued the threats of coming out to the streets of Kabul with their Kalashnikovs.
The five simultaneous car bombs in the southern city of Kandahar destroyed the offices of a Japanese construction company, killing women and children and wounding at least 64 people in the bloodiest such attack since July last year.
Blasts kill 36 in Kandahar as preliminary Afghan election results are declared
Holy crap! Are you guys alright down there?!
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