The Independent Election Commission, while formally opening the presidential race on Monday, gave candidates until October 6 to submit their nomination papers.
REMARKS AS PREPARED BY DEPUTY SECRETARY ASHTON B. CARTER AT THE UNITED STATES CONSULATE IN HERAT, AFGHANISTAN
DOD News- September 14, 2013 - Good afternoon! I’m here in Afghanistan for a few reasons: First and foremost, to thank you for all that you do. Second, to see what you need, and to make sure that those of us back at the Pentagon are working to ensure you get it. And third, to speak with Afghan military and civilian leadership about how we’re supporting them as they secure their country.
Now the individuals that attacked here yesterday did what they did because they wanted to get headlines. They are getting headlines, and certainly the impression from what I’ve seen here is that the headline they’re getting is that
they got defeated.
They were defeated in just a few minutes. And not only were they defeated, but there was an overwhelming and incredibly confident American, Afghan, and Coalition response – which included you – ready to deal with the situation.
We are grateful that you arrived when you did. Secretary Hagel and I were getting updates as the situation unfolded and we were incredibly impressed. You should be very proud. I hope that when you call home tonight, and speak with your spouse, or parents, or kids, you tell them that I thanked you for what you did, since I know they stand behind you. Thank you, and well done.
View the following for photos from the consulate visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/depsecdef/sets/72157635511926863/
DOD News-Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the following readout of Deputy Secretary of Defense Carter's meetings with senior ISAF, Coalition and Afghan officials Sept. 13- 16:
While in Afghanistan, Deputy Secretary Carter met with Minister of Defense Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Minister of Interior Umar Daudzai, and members of the Afghan Parliament in Kabul to stress the importance of a timely conclusion to the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) and timely, free, and fair 2014 Afghan elections. He also noted the tremendous progress made by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) this fighting season, the first in which they've assumed full lead.
Deputy Secretary Carter also met with U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and General Joseph Dunford to discuss progress made on concluding the BSA, supporting the ANSF, and setting conditions for a stable and secure Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond.
In addition to the series of high level meetings, Deputy Secretary Carter visited International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Afghan forces in Bastion, Shindand, Gardez and Ghazni to commend them on their ongoing efforts and successes. He thanked Polish forces at Ghazni and the 203rd Afghan National Army Corps at Gardez.
He also visited Herat to pay tribute to the men and women ipacted by the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate, and to praise Afghan and ISAF forces for their quick and decisive action.
Story by Staff Sgt. Brandon McIntosh - (CJSOTF-AFG) KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - Afghan National Army special forces and commandos from the 3rd Special Operations Kandak withstood an attack by an estimated 90 Taliban fighters, killing more than 60 Sept. 12 in Kandahar province’s Mya Neshin district.Afghan National Army special forces and commandos from the 3rd Special Operations Kandak move to higher ground to gain advantage over the Taliban during a clearing operation Sept. 12, 2013, in Mirza Kalay village, Mya Neshin district, Kandahar province. Commandos killed more than 60 Taliban the 12-hour gun battle. (Photo courtesy of Afghan National Army)
The elite Afghan soldiers were clearing the Mirza Kalay village when they were ambushed by the Taliban force. The 3rd SOK soldiers endured a 12-hour gun battle, fending off shoulder-fired rockets, small arms weapons and machine gun fire.
Taliban fighters employed a variety of tactics from several positions in an attempt to thwart the 3rd SOK soldiers’ operation. The elite Afghan force, however, repelled each Taliban try, ultimately forcing their retreat.
The 3rd SOK’s success in this operation is not only attributed to their fighting skills, but their ability to gather and
refine intelligence. Such increased capabilities greatly contribute to operations planning, making them well prepared to face enemy threats.
Independent operations, such as this, are also more common among Afghan special operations forces. Afghan special forces and commandos consistently engage insurgent forces in austere regions of the country to expand their security footprint as U.S. and NATO forces retrograde from remote outposts.
The operation also shows Afghan special operations’ ability to protect civilians amid the Taliban’s disregard for staging ambush’s near villages and urban areas, Lt. Col Sher Mohammad, 3rd SOK commander, said.
Samiullah Retool, 8, was shot in the chest while his family met with the Afghan commandos.
“We were gathered in a small house talking with the commandos when the Taliban started shooting,” Mullah Said Retool, Samiullah’s older brother, said.
The commandos provided cover fire and provided initial treatment for the young boy. After the Taliban retreated, the commandos carried Samiullah to a nearby Afghan military post, where he was further evaluated, and then
airlifted to medical facilities on Forward Operating Base Ripley in Tarin Kowt district, Uruzgan province.
“I am very happy the commandos were there to help,” Mullah Said said. “They saved his life today.”
Samiullah’s wounds are not life threatening, but he remains under evaluation at the medical center.
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Leslie Long GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – (CJSOTF-AFG) - U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter recognized four American and two Polish army soldiers for valor Sept. 15 at Forward Operating Base Ghazni in eastern Afghanistan.
Polish 2nd Lt. Karol Cierpica, U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Lester Edwards, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Nate Abkemeier, and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. DaRelle LaMarque received the Bronze Star Medal for valor. Polish Lt. Col. Krzysztof Slomski, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Tomas Sobanski, and U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Michael Clemens received the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for valor.
“This morning we recognize exceptional soldiers from three exceptional armies [American, Polish, and Afghan] joined here together in Afghanistan, showing exceptional partnership, military professionalism, skill and success,” Carter said.
An unknown number of Taliban fighters initiated the complex attack Aug. 28 on FOB Ghazni. The attack began with a car bomb exploding to gain access through the perimeter wall. Within seconds of the blast, 10 insurgents wearing suicide vests filed into the compound.
The initial response force, including those recognized in the ceremony, believed they were going to the blast site to provide first aid for potential wounded. Rather they were met by the suicide bombers who also were armed with assault rifles. At least 10 minutes of intense close combat ensued. Most of the coalition troops fought through
gunshot and shrapnel wounds, but they eventually killed all of the suicide bombers before they could reach populated areas of the camp.
Meanwhile, Taliban fighters positioned in the mountains and along the outskirts of the base fired mortars, shoulder-fired rockets machine guns and threw hand grenades. Afghan forces found a second car bomb near the base and were able to secure it before it could be used. Carter awarded two Afghan soldiers with certificates of appreciation for rending the second car bomb safe.
Rocket and mortar fire continued sporadically throughout the afternoon and into the night.
When the fighting was done, one U.S. soldier and one Polish soldier were killed during the attack. Several U.S., NATO and Afghan troops sustained injuries.
Carter lauded their bravery and concerted efforts to protect their fellow military members.
“The victory you had over the enemy here a few short days ago is a small example of the victory coalition and Afghan forces are having throughout the country,” Carter said.
The acts of bravery during this day of intensive close quarters combat did not end with the men recognized
by Carter. More men met the enemy head on, including at least four U.S. service members whose actions were pivotal during the battle. Those individuals have also been recommended for valorous awards in keeping with their considerable contributions.
“What these soldiers showed was not only acts of extreme courage and bravery. They displayed tremendous acts of skill, initiative and fortitude all wrapped up in one event,” U.S. Army Col. Patrick Roberson, commander of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan, said. “Most people probably would not have taken the risks they did – exposing themselves to the enemy in the open with no cover. But they were only thinking
about engaging the enemy, not their personal safety.”
Story by Staff Sgt. JaJuan Broadnax BADAKHSHAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan- (CJSOTF-AFG)- Afghan National Army special forces and commandos finished a nine-day operation Sept. 14, clearing numerous Taliban strongholds in Badakhshan province’s Warduj valley.
The elite 5th Special Operations Kandak soldiers teamed up with fellow soldiers from the Afghan National Army’s 209th Corps. The combined Afghan force killed more than 50 enemy fighters, including Mullah Qasi, a Taliban sub-commander.
The joint force cleared several villages and uprooted insurgent safe havens throughout the valley. One such refuge allegedly belongs to Taliban shadow governor Qari Fasaihuddin.
Afghan Special Forces and commandos are highly-skilled and lethal soldiers. They are specially trained to answer their nation‘s call for a variety of missions, including rapid response to terrorism, counter-insurgency operations and internal defense missions.
Ridding insurgents from Warduj valley allows Afghan security forces the opportunity to establish checkpoints throughout the area, ultimately reconnecting the valley to Faizabad, the provincial capital.