Metro-East News

Roger That: Green Berets believed Afghan hospital destroyed by U.S. was under Taliban control

The Army Green Berets who requested the Oct. 3 airstrike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital, but they believed it was under Taliban control, The Associated Press has learned. The information adds to the evidence the site was familiar to the U.S. and raises questions about whether the attack violated international law, according to Military Times.

A day before an American AC130 gunship attacked the hospital, a senior officer in the Green Beret unit wrote in a report that U.S. forces had discussed the hospital with the country director of the medical charity group, presumably in Kabul, according to two people who have seen the document.

The attack left a mounting death toll, now up to 30 people.

With an initial military assessment confirming civilian casualties in the bombing of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz by an American warplane, Gen. John F. Campbell, the American commander in Afghanistan, has appointed a two-star general from another command to conduct an independent investigation, his office said in a statement on Saturday

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The F-35 helmet is back in the news again after news reports emerged that F-35 pilots weighing less than 136 pounds were grounded due to concerns with the plane’s ejection seat, according to Air Force Times.

“What we found was if the pilot has a helmet on his head or her head and that helmet weighs more than 4.8 pounds, then the neck loads on that light-weight pilot — by a very little bit — exceed what we would consider to be perfectly safe,” said Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, program executive officer for the F-35 Joint Program Office. Tests showed that a lighter-weight pilot’s neck could snap during an ejection at slow speeds.

“Today our helmets weigh about 5.4 pounds, so we’re talking about six ounces of weight to get out of the helmet,” Bogdan told the House Armed Services subcommittee on tactical air and land forces Oct. 21. “We need a lighter helmet, it’s as simple as that.”

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The Air Force Times had previously reported that F-35 pilots will be wearing the most advanced and expensive helmet ever.

The helmet will give pilots quicker access to the information they need to see and has special cameras to “see” through the bottom of the plane. But it will cost an estimated $400,000 per helmet — more than four times as much as the Air Force paid for head wear for other aircraft such as the F-16.

Helmets for all the F-35s scheduled to be purchased will cost at least $1 billion, Air Force Times estimates.

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The West has failed utterly to understand the appeal of the Islamic State narrative, much less to develop effective counternarratives, according to a provocative and disturbing article on the Daily Beast website by Islamic terrorism expert Scott Atran.

As U.S. troops and their allies stage commando raids to rescue prisoners slated for slaughter by the so-called Islamic State, it’s easy to lose sight of a central and potentially determining fact about the fight against the Islamic State, or ISIS: “This is, fundamentally, a war of ideas that the West has virtually no idea how to wage, and that is a major reason anti-ISIS policies have been such abysmal failures,” wrote Atran, director of research in anthropology at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris and a senior research fellow at Oxford University.

The big takeaway from Atran’s article: The appeal of the Islamic State is rooted in the reality of Muslim dominance of middle Eurasia until the European industrial revolution, and rejection of the Western world order imposed after the Ottoman collapse—an order that has failed the region in all its tried and various forms, whether nationalist authoritarianism, socialism, fascism, communism, democratic liberalism, or constitutional monarchy.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

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