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News stories tagged with "afghanistan"

Journalist Brian Palmer
Journalist Brian Palmer

Turning the camera on 'embeds'

Americans have witnessed two wars in the Middle East over nine years and counting. Much of what we know about the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan comes from journalists embedded with U.S. troops.

A new documentary called Full Disclosure takes a self-reflective look at the embedding process and what it means for coverage of the wars. Director Brian Palmer will show the film tonight in Potsdam and take questions afterwards.

Palmer is a journalist who's reported for CNN, the Village Voice, and New York Times Magazine, among others over 20 years. He embedded with marines in Iraq three times. He spoke with David Sommerstein about the film. One scene shows marines hunkered down in a bunker during a deadly mortar attack.

Full Disclosure is showing tonight at 7:15 at the Roxy Theater in Potsdam as a part of the Cinema 10 film series. Palmer will be there for the showing and will take questions afterwards.  Go to full article
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.

An explosive meeting with Afghan elders

The war in Afghanistan continues to proceed with limited success and lots of violence. General David Petraeus said yesterday the Taliban's momentum has been reversed in many parts of the country. But he urged caution over hopes for an American pullback of troops next summer. Photojournalist Bill Putnam recently returned from Afghanistan after a six-week embed with an infantry company in the 101st Airborne. He spent part of that time at Combat Outpost Margah, not far from the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he saw firsthand the challenges U.S. troops face trying to persuade local leaders to turn away from the Taliban. Putnam attended a "shura," or council, one day called by an American Army officer. The meeting was to discuss reports that local elders had been meeting with Taliban leaders in Pakistan. In this audio diary, Putnam reports the meeting went well - with one big exception.  Go to full article

Biden thanks Fort Drum for Iraq success

Vice President Joe Biden says Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade deserves "a hero's welcome" for its work training security forces in Iraq. Biden made a personal visit to the Army base near Watertown yesterday. He said it's the "dawn of a new era in Iraq" as the U.S. prepares to draw down 95,000 troops from the country. The security situation improved so much that Iraqi military and police took control more quickly than expected. That allowed the 2nd brigade to return home three months early. David Sommerstein was at Fort Drum for the vice president's visit and has our story.  Go to full article
NY Times correspondent Jim Dao
NY Times correspondent Jim Dao

Fort Drum's 1-87th: bellwether on progress in Afghanistan

The front page of yesterday's New York Times featured a photograph of Fort Drum Sergeant Brian Keith. He's crying and clutching his wife and six month-old son, moments before leaving them for Afghanistan. The Times is profiling the 1-87th Infantry Battalion of Fort Drum's 1st brigade as a window into the war there. Senior military correspondent Jim Dao was embedded with the unit for its first month of a year-long deployment in Kunduz, a relatively quiet city where violence appears to be escalating. Dao wrote the 1-87th will be "waging a different kind of war" - training Afghan police and helping to strengthen the local government. I spoke to Dao in April, just as the unit was leaving Fort Drum. He checks in again today. Dao says the Fort Drum soldiers arrived in Kunduz and immediately began building relationships with the local police.  Go to full article
A soldier from A Co., 1st of the 187th Infantry, on a hilltop overlooking a search site June 7, 2010.
A soldier from A Co., 1st of the 187th Infantry, on a hilltop overlooking a search site June 7, 2010.

An audio postcard from the mountains of Afghanistan

Yesterday President Obama fired his top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, in the wake of comments he made in Rolling Stone magazine. Pundits applauded McChrystal's replacement, General David Petraeus. But the dismissal has renewed doubts over the military's ability to win the war. Violence is at its highest since 2001. Corruption and poppy production remain serious obstacles.

With thousands of Fort Drum soldiers already in or soon going to Afghanistan, we're examining the war effort from various points of view. Several years ago, photojournalist and ex-soldier Bill Putnam sent us audio diaries from Iraq. Now, Putnam is in the mountains of Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. He's embedded with a unit out of Texas. Today he sends us the first in a series of audio journals.  Go to full article

North Country soldier orients military leaders in Afghanistan

A major reorganization of NATO's southern command in Afghanistan is underway as thousands of fresh US troops arrive in Kandahar. The units are part of President Obama's surge strategy and will play a key role in securing the Taliban stronghold.

Members of the 10th Mountain Division are among the new soldiers to arrive there. The green arrivals need to get oriented, especially those higher up in the chain of command. That task falls to people like Army Captain Sean Kane of Lake Placid. Kane's with Fort Drum's 1st Brigade.

He returned from Afghanistan last week. He told reporter Chris Morris he's enjoying a couple weeks of relaxation with his fiancée after his deployment.  Go to full article
Specialist William Seo (center) with local staff
Specialist William Seo (center) with local staff

Drum soldier helps poor Afghans

The life of a deployed soldier is usually a mix of grueling activity and mind-numbing waiting. There's very little free time for individual pursuits. That's why Fort Drum specialist William Seo's actions are so remarkable. The medic with the 3rd Brigade founded a not-for-profit while he was serving in Afghanistan last year. Some Afghan colleagues are running it while he is back at Fort Drum. Project Help Afghanistan sends things like shoes and school supplies to the war torn country. And it's teaching Afghans how to read and write. The group has raised more than a $100,000 in donations. Seo told David Sommerstein the idea occurred to him as he met a lot of needy people at his clinic in Afghanistan.  Go to full article
Sgt. Jason Goodman of Morristown
Sgt. Jason Goodman of Morristown

Behind the scenes in a well-equipped Army troop

At a media briefing last Friday, Fort Drum commander James Terry updated the status of the 1st Brigade. The brigade based at the Army base near Watertown deployed to Afghanistan earlier this spring as a part of President Obama's troop surge in the country. Terry says the brigade is split in three. He says the 2-22nd is first cohesive battalion to spend all their time training the Afghan Army. Another group of soldiers is training army and local police in northern Afghanistan. And the 1-71st Cavalry is in Kandahar, the country's Taliban hotbed, attached to a Canadian battle unit. Before the 1-71st Cavalry left Fort Drum, David Sommerstein visited with a St. Lawrence County man in the unit. He's in charge of keeping his troop well-equipped. Here's his profile.  Go to full article
Maj. Gen. James Terry, Fort Drum's commander
Maj. Gen. James Terry, Fort Drum's commander

Ft. Drum commander discusses strategy & mental health, in Afghanistan and on post

Fort Drum's commander says the Army post near Watertown is the busiest he's ever seen it. Major General James Terry told reporters at a media briefing Friday that the 10th Mountain Division's headquarters is training to take control of the Kandahar region of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, most Fort Drum soldiers are either in, returning from, or preparing to go to Afghanistan or Iraq. General Terry highlighted efforts to address mental health as the Army continues to struggle with combat trauma and the stress of repeat deployments. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
<em>NY Times</em> correspondent Jim Dao
NY Times correspondent Jim Dao

Fort Drum troops have key role in Afghanistan surge

4,500 soldiers with Fort Drum's 1st Brigade are in the process of shipping out to Afghanistan. They'll be stationed in the northern part of the country for a year. They'll train Afghan police and soldiers and work with local governments. The 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade is a key part of President Obama's surge of 30,000 additional troops.

New York Times military correspondent Jim Dao is embedding with the brigade's 1-87th battalion. He spoke with David Sommerstein from Fort Drum a couple days before the unit deployed. He says the unit represents a new mission in Afghanistan.  Go to full article

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