NATO Reports Increased Attacks in Afghanistan
Monthly trends released by NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in late July indicate that enemyinitiated attacks (EIAs) in Afghanistan rose 11 percent from April through June compared to the same quarter in 2011. June accounted for the highest number of EIAs - which include smallarms fire, rocket fire, roadside bombs and mines - since August 2010.
Some experts attribute the increase to the Taliban gaining momentum. Others say the rise is not indicative of the Taliban's strength but rather the result of forcing the insurgents from population centers to more remote areas, where they scramble to retain safe havens and regain their influence. NATO attributes the rise in attacks to the increased presence of Afghan National Security Forces on the battlefield, improved reporting of attacks against them and this year's shorter poppy-harvesting season, which freed up insurgents earlier than usual.
Despite the numbers, ISAF casualties are actually down, and those in June were fewer than the same month in 2011 and 2010. DoD released the names of 37 Army casualties in July, however, which was the deadliest month in almost a year for coalition troops in Afghanistan. ISAF reported six coalition casualties in the first two days of August.
Women Closer to Combat. Women moved closer to combat in June, when the first female 91M Bradley Fighting Vehicle system maintainer was sworn into the Army at the Beckley Military Entrance Processing Station in Beckley, W.Va.
Twenty-one-year-old Cicely Verstein said she chose that military occupation specialty (MOS) because: "I've always been interested in working on cars. It seemed like an interesting job to me." Verstein has wanted to join the Army since she was 16 and said that she enlisted because she had found a job that appealed to her - not to set a precedent.
Verstein begins basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in November and will move on after that to advanced individual training at Fort Benning, Ga. As a system maintainer she will repair Bradley engines and other parts, diagnose system problems, and ensure that the vehicles are in top condition.
The 91 M MOS is one of six previously closed to women because they were typically colocated with units serving in combat. The other five specialties now open to women are: 91A (Ml Abrams Tank System Maintainer), 91P (Artillery Mechanic), 13M (Multiple Launch Rocket System - MLRS - crewmember), 13P (MLRS Operations Fire Direction Specialist) and 13R (Field Artillery Firefinder Radar Operator).
Korean Armistice Remembered. On July 27, the Army, along with the other services, observed the 59th anniversary of the signing of the Korean War armistice in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., honoring veterans of that 1950-53 conflict. The commemoration included the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, tributes to Korean War veterans at the Memorial Amphitheater, and musical honors by the U.S. Army Band (Pershing's Own) and the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta laid the wreath and spoke later at the Amphitheater. "This is an opportunity to remember and to pay tribute to the 54,246 U.S. servicemembers who lost their lives in the Korean War," he said. "It's also an opportunity to celebrate the heroism, the sacrifices, the sheer grit and determination of the bravery of thousands of Americans who fought in the Korean War."
He also emphasized DoD's commitment to resuming the search for the remains of the more than 7,900 Americans missing in action in Korea. "We will leave no one behind," he said, "until all of our troops come home."
WWII Vets Honored. The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division hosted a ceremony in July honoring the veterans of Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of southern France that began in August 1944. During the celebration, six retired soldiers who participated in the assault - John Singlaub, Paul DonIon, Darryl Egner, Elias Hernandez, Michael Halik and Stanley Siemrzuch - were awarded the French Legion of Honor. …