Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stratfor: "Iraq Endgame is Near"

The article below is from (The above photo of an Iraqi soldier is from

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Iraq Endgame

by George Friedman
August 18, 2009

Though the Iraq war is certainly not over, it has reached a crossroads. During the course of the war, about 40 countries sent troops to fight in what was called “Multi-National Force-Iraq.” As of this summer, only one foreign country’s fighting forces remain in Iraq — those of the United States. A name change in January 2010 will reflect the new reality, when the term “Multi-National Force-Iraq” will be changed to “United States Forces-Iraq.” If there is an endgame in Iraq, we are now in it.

The plan that U.S. President Barack Obama inherited from former President George W. Bush called for coalition forces to help create a viable Iraqi national military and security force that would maintain the Baghdad government’s authority and Iraq’s territorial cohesion and integrity. In the meantime, the major factions in Iraq would devise a regime in which all factions would participate and be satisfied that their factional interests were protected. While this was going on, the United States would systematically reduce its presence in Iraq until around the summer of 2010, when the last U.S. forces would leave.

Two provisos qualified this plan. The first was that the plan depended on the reality on the ground for its timeline. The second was the possibility that some residual force would remain in Iraq to guarantee the agreements made between factions, until they matured and solidified into a self-sustaining regime. Aside from minor tinkering with the timeline, the Obama administration — guided by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whom Bush appointed and Obama retained — has followed the Bush plan faithfully.

The moment of truth for the U.S. plan is now approaching. The United States still has substantial forces in Iraq. There is a coalition government in Baghdad dominated by Shia (a reasonable situation, since the Shia comprise the largest segment of the population of Iraq). Iraqi security forces are far from world-class, and will continue to struggle in asserting themselves in Iraq. As we move into the endgame, internal and external forces are re-examining power-sharing deals, with some trying to disrupt the entire process.

There are two foci for this disruption. The first concerns the Arab-Kurdish struggle over Kirkuk. The second concerns threats to Iran’s national security.

The Kurdish Question

Fighting continues in the Kirkuk region, where the Arabs and Kurds have a major issue to battle over: oil. The Kirkuk region is one of two major oil-producing regions in Iraq (the other is in the Shiite-dominated south). Whoever controls Kirkuk is in a position to extract a substantial amount of wealth from the surrounding region’s oil development. There are historical ethnic issues in play here, but the real issue is money. Iraqi central government laws on energy development remain unclear, precisely because there is no practical agreement on the degree to which the central government will control — and benefit — from oil development as opposed to the Kurdish Regional Government. Both Kurdish and Arab factions thus continue to jockey for control of the key city of Kirkuk.

Arab, particularly Sunni Arab, retention of control over Kirkuk opens the door for an expansion of Sunni Arab power into Iraqi Kurdistan. By contrast, Kurdish control of Kirkuk shuts down the Sunni threat to Iraqi Kurdish autonomy and cuts Sunni access to oil revenues from any route other than the Shiite-controlled central government. If the Sunnis get shut out of Kirkuk, they are on the road to marginalization by their bitter enemies — the Kurds and the Shia. Thus, from the Sunni point of view, the battle for Kirkuk is the battle for the Sunni place at the Iraqi table.

Turkey further complicates the situation in Iraq. Currently embedded in constitutional and political thinking in Iraq is the idea that the Kurds would not be independent, but could enjoy a high degree of autonomy. Couple autonomy with the financial benefits of heavy oil development, and the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq becomes a powerful entity. Add to that the peshmerga, the Kurdish independent military forces that have had U.S. patronage since the 1990s, and an autonomous Kurdistan becomes a substantial regional force. And this is not something Turkey wants to see.

The broader Kurdish region is divided among four countries, Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. The Kurds have a substantial presence in southeastern Turkey, where Ankara is engaged in a low-intensity war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), members of which have taken refuge in northern Iraq. Turkey’s current government has adopted a much more nuanced approach in dealing with the Kurdish question. This has involved coupling the traditional military threats with guarantees of political and economic security to the Iraqi Kurds as long as the Iraqi Kurdish leadership abides by Turkish demands not to press the Kirkuk issue.

Still, whatever the constitutional and political arrangements between Iraqi Kurds and Iraq’s central government, or between Iraqi Kurds and the Turkish government, the Iraqi Kurds have a nationalist imperative. The Turkish expectation is that over the long haul, a wealthy and powerful Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region could slip out of Baghdad’s control and become a center of Kurdish nationalism. Put another way, no matter what the Iraqi Kurds say now about cooperating with Turkey regarding the PKK, over the long run, they still have an interest in underwriting a broader Kurdish nationalism that will strike directly at Turkish national interests.

The degree to which Sunni activity in northern Iraq is coordinated with Turkish intelligence is unknown to us. The Sunnis are quite capable of waging this battle on their own. But the Turks are not disinterested bystanders, and already support local Turkmen in the Kirkuk region to counter the Iraqi Kurds. The Turks want to see Kurdish economic power and military power limited, and as such they are inherently in favor of the Shiite-dominated Baghdad government. The stronger Baghdad is, the weaker the Kurds will be.

Baghdad understands something critical: While the Kurds may be a significant fighting force in Iraq, they can’t possibly stand up to the Turkish army. More broadly, Iraq as a whole can’t stand up to the Turkish army. We are entering a period in which a significant strategic threat to Turkey from Iraq could potentially mean Turkish countermeasures. Iraqi memories of Turkish domination during the Ottoman Empire are not pleasant. Therefore, Iraq will be very careful not to cross any redline with the Turks.

This places the United States in a difficult position. Washington has supported the Kurds in Iraq ever since Operation Desert Storm. Through the last decade of the Saddam regime, U.S. special operations forces helped create a de facto autonomous region in Kurdistan. Washington and the Kurds have a long and bumpy history, now complicated by substantial private U.S. investment in Iraqi Kurdistan for the development of oil resources. Iraqi Kurdish and U.S. interests are strongly intertwined, and Washington would rather not see Iraqi Kurdistan swallowed up by arrangements in Baghdad that undermine current U.S. interests and past U.S. promises.

On the other hand, the U.S. relationship with Turkey is one of Washington’s most important. Whether the question at hand is Iran, the Caucasus, the Balkans, Central Asia, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Afghanistan, Russia or Iraq, the Turks have a role. Given the status of U.S. power in the region, alienating Turkey is not an option. And the United States must remember that for Turkey, Kurdish power in Iraq and Turkey’s desired role in developing Iraqi oil are issues of fundamental national importance.

Now left alone to play out this endgame, the United States must figure out a way to finesse the Kurdish issue. In one sense, it doesn’t matter. Turkey has the power ultimately to redefine whatever institutional relationships the United States leaves behind in Iraq. But for Turkey, the sooner Washington hands over this responsibility, the better. The longer the Turks wait, the stronger the Kurds might become and the more destabilizing their actions could be to Turkey. Best of all, if Turkey can assert its influence now, which it has already begun to do, it doesn’t have to be branded as the villain.

All Turkey needs to do is make sure that the United States doesn’t intervene decisively against the Iraqi Sunnis in the battle over Kirkuk in honor of Washington’s commitment to the Kurds.

In any case, the United States doesn’t want to intervene against Iraq’s Sunnis again. In protecting Sunni Arab interests, the Americans have already been sidestepping any measures to organize a census and follow through with a constitutional mandate to hold a referendum in Kirkuk. For the United States, a strong Sunni community is the necessary counterweight to the Iraqi Shia since, over the long haul, it is not clear how a Shiite-dominated government will relate to Iran.

The Shiite Question

The Shiite-dominated government led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is no puppet of Iran, but at the same time, it is not Iran’s enemy. As matters develop in Iraq, Iran remains the ultimate guarantor of Shiite interests. And Iranian support might not flow directly to the current Iraqi government, but to al-Maliki’s opponents within the Shiite community who have closer ties to Tehran. It is not clear whether Iranian militant networks in Iraq have been broken, or are simply lying low. But it is clear that Iran still has levers in place with which it could destabilize the Shiite community or rivals of the Iraqi Shia if it so desired.

Therefore, the United States has a vested interest in building up the Iraqi Sunni community before it leaves. And from an economic point of view, that means giving the Sunnis access to oil revenue as well as a guarantee of control over that revenue after the United States leaves.

With the tempo of attacks picking up as U.S. forces draw down, Iraq’s Sunni community is evidently not satisfied with the current security and political arrangements in Iraq. Attacks are on the upswing in the northern areas — where remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq continue to operate in Mosul — as well as in central Iraq in and around Baghdad. The foreign jihadists in Iraq hope such attacks will trigger a massive response from the Shiite community, thus plunging Iraq back into civil war. But the foreign jihadists would not be able to operate without some level of support from the local Sunni community. This broader community wants to make sure that the Shia and Americans don’t forget what the Sunnis are capable of should their political, economic and security interests fall by the wayside as the Americans withdraw.

Neither the Iraqi Sunnis nor the Kurds really want the Americans to leave. Neither trust that the intentions or guarantees of the Shiite-dominated government. Iraq lacks a tradition of respect for government institutions and agreements; a piece of paper is just that. Instead, the Sunnis and Kurds see the United States as the only force that can guarantee their interests. Ironically, the United States is now seen as the only real honest broker in Iraq.

But the United States is an honest broker with severe conflicts of interest. Satisfying both Sunni and Kurdish interests is possible only under three conditions. The first is that Washington exercise a substantial degree of control over the Shiite administration of the country — and particularly over energy laws — for a long period of time. The second is that the United States give significant guarantees to Turkey that the Kurds will not extend their nationalist campaign to Turkey, even if they are permitted to extend it to Iran in a bid to destabilize the Iranian regime. The third is that success in the first two conditions not force Iran into a position where it sees its own national security at risk, and so responds by destabilizing Baghdad — and with it, the entire foundation of the national settlement in Iraq negotiated by the United States.

The American strategy in this matter has been primarily tactical. Wanting to leave, it has promised everyone everything. That is not a bad strategy in the short run, but at a certain point, everyone adds up the promises and realizes that they can’t all be kept, either because they are contradictory or because there is no force to guarantee them. Boiled down, this leaves the United States with two strategic options.

First, the United States can leave a residual force of about 20,000 troops in Iraq to guarantee Sunni and Kurdish interests, to protect Turkish interests, etc. The price of pursuing this option is that it leaves Iran facing a nightmare scenario: e.g., the potential re-emergence of a powerful Iraq and the recurrence down the road of age-old conflict between Persia and Mesopotamia — with the added possibility of a division of American troops supporting their foes. This would pose an existential threat to Iran, forcing Tehran to use covert means to destabilize Iraq that would take advantage of a minimal, widely dispersed U.S. force vulnerable to local violence.

Second, the United States could withdraw and allow Iraq to become a cockpit for competition among neighboring countries: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria — and ultimately major regional powers like Russia. While chaos in Iraq is not inherently inconsistent with U.S. interests, it is highly unpredictable, meaning the United States could be pulled back into Iraq at the least opportune time and place.

The first option is attractive, but its major weakness is the uncertainty created by Iran. With Iran in the picture, a residual force is as much a hostage as a guarantor of Sunni and Kurdish interests. With Iran out of the picture, the residual U.S. force could be smaller and would be more secure. Eliminate the Iran problem completely, and the picture for all players becomes safer and more secure. But eliminating Iran from the equation is not an option — Iran most assuredly gets a vote in this endgame.

Re-post this article with credit to

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Charles M. Grist

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Attacker Picks the Wrong Victim - A Military Man

From the Associated Press:

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Victim Beats Serial Attacker, Police Say

JACKSON, Miss. (Aug. 12) - Police had been watching Vincent Goff for years, convinced he was the masked man who sexually assaulted couples at gunpoint on the Mississippi coast. But before investigators closed in, they say Goff picked the wrong victim and was beaten nearly to death with his own rifle.

Goff, a 37-year-old unemployed Biloxi man with a wife and two stepsons, was being held Wednesday in the Harrison County Jail after spending five days in a hospital recovering from severe head wounds.

Little is known about Goff's background or the unidentified man who beat him so hard that the wood stock of the rifle broke. But authorities say Goff's arrest caps a terrorizing series of attacks that began on the sandy banks of the Biloxi River in 2006.

Goff allegedly approached a man and woman last Thursday afternoon on an isolated logging road in Harrison County and forced them into the woods with a rifle, Sheriff's Maj. Ron Pullen said Wednesday.

They were forced to strip off their clothes and told to perform sexual acts when the male victim, described as a physically fit member of the military in his mid-30s, wrestled the gun away.

"He beat him until the stock broke over his head and then continued to beat him until he thought he had him incapacitated," Pullen said.

As the victims were getting dressed and calling police, the attacker staggered to his car and sped away.

A deputy pulled Goff over based on a description of the car and tag number. The officer called for medical assistance and Goff ended up in an intensive care unit, Pullen said. He needed numerous staples to close the gashes in his head.

Goff was charged with six counts of kidnapping, five counts of sexual assault, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of molesting an underage girl for crimes dating back to 2006. He does not have an extensive previous criminal record.

Pullen said he doesn't think Goff has a lawyer and would likely be appointed a public defender. Goff's home phone number was disconnected Wednesday.

Pullen said investigators were awaiting the results of DNA tests on previous victims when the latest attacks occurred. The results came back Friday while Goff was still hospitalized and allegedly linked him to the 2006 crimes.

The first suspected assault was on construction workers who came to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to find jobs in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Pullen said. The man and woman had not been able to find a place to stay and were camping on the banks of the Biloxi River. A masked attacker approached early that morning, pointed a rifle and made the couple disrobe.

"He forced them to do sexual acts on each other and then he participated in it," Pullen said.

A man and underage teenage girl were assaulted in a nearly identical attack only a few months later. The attacks become increasingly violent, though the victims were not badly hurt, Pullen said.

Over the next few years, there were other attempted assaults in the area by a masked man with a rifle — one couple escaped by jumping into the river and swimming to the other side, Pullen said.

While Goff was under surveillance earlier this year as a suspect in an indecent exposure incident, investigators said they saw him steal a purse from a woman at the beach. That, along with the indecent exposure charges and other evidence, persuaded a judge to issue a warrant for a DNA test two weeks ago. Pullen said Goff's DNA matched that found at some of the crime scenes.

Harrison County Assistant District Attorney Charles Wood said the case would be presented to a grand jury.

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More proof that being a criminal is an act of stupidity...

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Overflow Crowd For Clermont Soldier's Funeral

This article comes from the Orlando Sentinel. The above photo shows members of the Patriot Guard Riders who attended the funeral of this American warrior:

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Clermont soldier's funeral draws overflow crowd

By Stephen Hudak
Sentinel Staff Writer

CLERMONT - Friends and relatives are gathering this afternoon to remember Army Spc. Alexander J. Miller of Clermont, who was killed July 31 in Afghanistan.

An overflow crowd turned out for visitation for Miller, 21, at First United Methodist Church of Clermont, where the funeral will follow at 2:30 p.m.

Miller, who attended East Ridge High in Clermont, died from injuries sustained after insurgents used rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire to attack his unit. He was with the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), based in Fort Drum, N.Y.

Kandace Freeland, 21, of Clermont, a longtime friend of Miller's who created a tribute page to the fallen soldier on Facebook, said, "I know he's watching over us. He's still protecting us, just in a different way."

Among those who showed up were 101 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a volunteer group that honors fallen soldiers. Carl Swofford, 65, of Altamonte Springs, the group's ride captain for the funeral, understands what Miller's family is going through. His son, Warrant Officer Justin Swofford, 24, was killed in 2002 when a Florida Army National Guard helicopter crashed during an exercise at a training area at Camp Blanding near Starke.

Carl Swofford wore a gold star lapel pin on his T-shirt, which signifies that he has lost a child in the service.

"A lot of us have lost sons or daughters. A lot of us have family or friends serving. A lot of us are retired military," Swofford said. "Some of us just plain appreciate the military and what they do."

Last week, upon receiving the news, his mother, Sue Miller, told the Orlando Sentinel, "This is what he wanted to do his whole life. He wanted to serve his country."

She described her son, who hoped to attend the University of Central Florida after the Army, as "smart, funny and full of life."

Miller is also survived by brother Richard Miller, 23, of Clermont, and half brothers John Miller of California and Jason Grove of Tennessee.

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Our condolences to the family, friends, and fellow warriors of Specialist Miller.

Charles M. Grist

Monday, August 10, 2009

Army Ranger's Heart Lives On

Rangers lead the way - even after they have made the ultimate sacrifice:

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The Heart of a Hero Beats On

'The Worst Thing That Could Happen' Becomes Another's Chance to Live

By Mark Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cpl. Benjamin Kopp gave his life. And then he saved one.

An Army Ranger who had been on his third tour of duty, Kopp was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. Sadly, it's a familiar story: a young man dead before his time, shot by unnamed enemies on the other side of the world.

But this time, there was a renewed life, too. Kopp wanted to be an organ donor. And after he died, his heart was transplanted into a family member's friend who had a rare form of congenital heart disease.

"How can you have a better heart?" said a grateful Judy Meikle, 57, of Winnetka, Ill., who is still recovering from the surgery. "I have the heart of a 21-year-old Army Ranger war hero beating in me."

Kopp's mother, Jill Stephenson of Rosemount, Minn., said that in addition to her son's heart, doctors removed his kidneys, pancreas and liver for transplant.

"It helps my sorrow; it eases my pain. It really does," Stephenson said. "I know that Ben wanted to help save lives . . . and it really prolongs Ben's life and honors his memory so much and honors me in that we could save other lives."

Kopp had served two tours of duty in Iraq when he left this spring for Afghanistan. On July 10, his unit attacked a Taliban safe haven in Helmand province, according to the 75th Ranger Regiment. The fight lasted several hours, resulting in the deaths of more than 10 Taliban fighters, but Kopp was shot in the leg.

He was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District.

"Initially, it was really comforting to have him be there" on U.S. soil, Stephenson said. "And then it was tough to see him in that condition. . . . He looked like a big strong guy. But he was full of tubes and cords and wires."

The doctors at Walter Reed raised the possibility of organ donation with Stephenson, but she said there was never much question that it would happen. Kopp had talked about it and indicated his preference both on his driver's license and in his living will with the Rangers. And organ donation wasn't something new for the family.

"I lost a brother 27 years ago. He was only 11, and our family donated his organs," Stephenson said. "And I had that sitting in my heart all these years."

On July 18, Stephenson posted an online journal entry telling family and friends about Kopp's passing and said that they were going to donate his organs.

Maria Burud, Stephenson's first cousin in Chicago, had been following Kopp's condition on the Web site. What occurred next was happenstance.

Burud and Meikle are friends who had worked together in the 1980s. Burud knew that Meikle needed a heart transplant, and Stephenson happened to see her cousin's message in time.

Stephenson had been told that the family could designate an organ recipient if the person was eligible for a transplant. At the time, Stephenson didn't think she knew anyone on the eligibility list.

"It's a pretty unusual coincidence that somebody knows somebody who needs a heart," said Dr. Michael Shapiro, chair of the Organ Transplantation Network/United Network for Organ Sharing ethics committee.

Meikle knew it might not work out, that Kopp's heart might not be a match. "It's a million-to-one shot," she said. It had taken her seven months to get on the eligibility list because she needed to build up a tolerance for heparin, a drug used to prevent blood clots during heart surgery. But she got a call later that day from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

In the early hours of July 20 –– two days after Kopp died –– Meikle had her transplant surgery at Northwestern. She is resting at home in Winnetka, a Chicago suburb. She was on the heart transplant waiting list for 77 days, less than a third of the national average time. (Across the country there were 2,861 candidates on the waiting list for a heart transplant as of July 31, the latest data available from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.)

"Ben and Jill were so courageous that something good came out of something that was the worst thing that could happen to someone," Meikle said. "I'm just the luckiest woman alive."

At Arlington on Friday, Kopp's friends and family gathered on the southern side of Section 60, where many of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried. Among the mourners were Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Minnesota Sen. Al Franken (D), who is from St. Louis Park, the same town as Kopp's mother.

Kopp's mother and father, Duane Kopp, were handed folded flags. Stephenson clutched her flag as her boyfriend, Pat Vos, tried to console her. Kopp's father slowly ran his hands over the blue material dotted with white stars.

Several Rangers from Kopp's unit had come up from Fort Benning on Thursday. "They're Ben's brothers. Those are his brothers-in-arms, and those guys are all very shook up about losing Ben," Stephenson said. "They've all sworn that I've gained them as sons now."

As the funeral ended, they lined up to greet their comrade's parents, a series of uniformed men in tan berets, bowing as they offered hands and hugs from aching hearts.

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Our condolences to the family of this brave American warrior.

Charles M. Grist

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Father, A Son, And A Tattered Flag

Here's story from AOL about a Vietnam veteran, his son who served in Iraq, and a tattered American flag (another such flag shown above):

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Dad Refuses to Take Down Tattered Flag
By Suleiman Wali, for AOL News

(Aug. 5) - It might be strange to hear that there's an uproar over an American flag that's being displayed by a Vietnam veteran in honor of his son who's serving in Iraq. But it's not who's displaying it that's got many people in a Fresno, Calif., neighborhood upset -- it's what the flag looks like.

Tattered and torn, Louis Haros' flag still flies above the front lawn of his home, despite months of protests from several neighbors. But Haros, 71, has refused to bring it down until his son, Paul, returns from his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"I made a promise to my son and I'm going keep it," Haros told AOL News Wednesday. "He was the one who put it up, and he would be the one to bring it down."

That ceremony will come soon. Paul Haros, 39, has already returned from Iraq. He had been undergoing medical check-ups at a military base in Wisconsin this week and is scheduled to be reunited with his father in Fresno on Thursday.

"When he comes back, we'll replace it with new one that a motorcycle club gave me," Haros, a veteran of the Vietnam war, said.

Haros said the flag his son put up was originally in "good shape," but that the weather took its toll.

"I never dreamed it would get in the condition it had gotten," he said.

Now, faded and with a huge tear across the bottom, the flag has become an eyesore for many people in the military-heavy block.

"One of my neighbors banged on my door late one night and brought me a new flag to put up," Haros said. "They didn't want to listen to me about why I had my flag up. They just said it was a disgrace."

Haros acknowledges that with the recent media attention he's gotten, his detractors have calmed down. But some neighbors are still upset.

"I'd been watching that flag fall apart," Bryan Walters Sr., a Navy veteran, told "It had been getting more and more tattered every day, and it was just breaking my heart."

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A Vietnam veteran made a promise to his Iraq war veteran son, and I support his efforts to keep that promise. When the son takes down the flag, it will be a greater tribute to that flag than simply exchanging it for a new one from K-Mart...

Charles M. Grist

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Soldier Receives Posthumous Medal of Honor for Actions in Afghanistan

The Army News Service is reporting on the first soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during Operation Enduring Freedom, SFC Jared Monti (above photo):

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First Soldier to receive Medal of Honor for valor in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 24, 2009) -- Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, who was killed in Afghanistan June 21, 2006, will receive the Medal of Honor for his valor in combat, the White House has announced.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to award Monti's Medal of Honor Sept. 17, to his parents in a White House ceremony. His father Paul Monti currently lives in Raynham, Mass., where his son was born and raised.

Monti, 30, was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, when he was killed in Gowardesh, Afghanistan, in a battle with enemy forces using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. He displayed immeasurable courage and uncommon valor, according to the White House release, which goes on to say he sacrificed his own life in an effort to save his comrade.

Monti was born Sept. 20, 1975, and graduated from Bridgewater-Raynham High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 1993. He attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Okla.

His previous military decorations include: the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, five Army Commendation Medals, four Army Achievement Medals, three Good Conduct Medals, and three National Defense Service Medals.

He was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class.

Monti will become the sixth servicemember to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the first Soldier to receive the nation's highest award for valor in Afghanistan.

Navy Lt. Michael Murphy is the only other servicemember to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.

The Army's Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith and Spc. Ross McGinnis have received the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq.

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Charles M. Grist