THE PATRIOT-NEWS

CONTINUED FROM A1 G NATION & WORLD

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2010 G A9

PURPLE
Continued from Page A1 front with him. The gunner and the squad medic were in the back. He said his squad leader kept yelling for him to drive, and the medic kept asking if everyone was OK. Because his adrenaline was so high, he didn’t realize he was injured until he looked down and saw blood. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the jaw and the elbow. He said the scab on his jaw is starting to turn into a scar, and his elbow is almost healed. He still has shrapnel in his elbow and jaw. Although he said he was angry and nervous, he kept his composure. When he told his family what happened, they were shocked and nervous about the seriousness of his injuries, he said. His grandmother, Susan Shakespeare of Hummelstown, said she spoke to him soon after the attack. “He called me. He said, ‘Nana, I’m OK. I’m OK.’ And he kept repeating that. He told me what happened,” she said. Then his sergeant got on the phone and assured her that he was all right, she added. He’s served in Iraq since July. Before that, he was in Korea for a year, then Fort

ANALYSIS U.S. commander Gen. David Petraeus highlights the success
of special-ops missions to show that the Afghan war can be won.

The other body count
BY KIMBERLY DOZIER
The Associated Press
Submitted photo

Defense Secretary Robert Gates presents a Purple Heart to 2008 Cedar Cliff graduate Shawn Mason. Stewart in Georgia. His father, Robert Mason of New Cumberland, said he’s just glad his son is alive. “I pray for him every day,” he said. “I worry about him all the time.” Mason said he’s proud to serve his country. The Purple Heart has a special meaning for the soldier. “What the Purple Heart means to me is that I was willing to put my life on the line for others, and I feel it shows great courage,” he said. Mason said he’s learned several tips on how to spot an attacker that he hopes will come in handy. “Unfortunately, with all the training in the world, some things are impossible to prevent,” he said.

Hamburg man to receive posthumous Medal of Honor
WASHINGTON G President Barack Obama is awarding a posthumous Medal of Honor to an Air Force chief master sergeant who braved enemy fire to help three wounded comrades before suffering fatal wounds during combat in Laos in 1968. The White House said Obama will present the medal Sept. 21 to the three sons of Richard Etchberger of Hamburg. According to the White House, Etchberger showed “conspicuous gallantry” on March 11, 1968, when he deliberately exposed himself to enemy fire to help his comrades into rescue slings to be airlifted to safety.
— The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan ● he new top commander in Afghanistan is talking up a weapon that has been kept in the shadows for years — special-operations missions to kill or capture key insurgents — to try to convince skeptics the war can be won. More than previous commanders, Gen. David Petraeus has released the results of special-operations missions — 235 militant leaders were killed or captured in the last 90 days, 1,066 more rank-and-file insurgents killed and 1,673 detained — to demonstrate that the Taliban and their allies are also suffering losses as NATO casualties rise. Petraeus told reporters traveling Friday with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, that in the past 24 hours, special-operations forces carried out eight missions, capturing three targeted individuals. Four more were believed killed or detained, Petraeus said. Accentuating the positive is part of Petraeus’ media style, developed when he commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and was widely credited with helping turn the tide in that war. Since taking command, Petraeus has used a series of high-profile media interviews to try to reverse the wave of pessimism about the war, especially within Congress and the American public. Playing up missions by special-operations forces — Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Army Rangers and Green

T

BRENNAN LINSLEY, The Associated Press

A member of the Tactical Command Post of the 101st Airborne Division looks for a Taliban position in Zhari. Berets — offers a way to demonstrate that the U.S. and its NATO partners are taking the fight to the Taliban. Petraeus has shared key heretofore classified data with reporters at a level of detail that surprised many U.S. officials here and in Washington. Special-operations missions are at their highest tempo, with nearly 4,000 carried out between May and August, according to officials here. U.S. officials are sensitive to the suggestion that Petraeus is using the spec-ops successes for public effect, perhaps because it harks back to the largely discredited body counts of the Vietnam War. But back in Washington, the release of information was warmly welcomed in some quarters, offsetting the daily drumbeat of rising U.S. casualties. At least 28 U.S. service members have been killed in the past week. Special-operations troops have been in Afghanistan since the conflict began in 2001, working with the antiTaliban Northern Alliance to drive the Taliban from power after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and later to pursue al-Qaida leaders. Last fall, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander in Afghanistan, stepped up the tempo, broadening the missions to include killing or capturing midlevel commanders in the Taliban and their allies in the Haqqani network. What’s new is that Petraeus and his aides are talking about it. By highlighting their successes, Petraeus could earn bankable political capital that he will need if he recommends that Obama slow the drawdown of U.S.

troops that the president promised will begin in July. This does not mean that Petraeus is shifting emphasis from traditional counterinsurgency strategy — clearing territory, holding it, building on it and then turning it over to the Afghan government. Demonstrating progress is difficult in a war fought in hundreds of small, scattered engagements, where front lines do not move and where cities do not fall. That’s where the specops raids come in. The mystique of elite, highly trained commandos swooping down on an unsuspecting Taliban leader in the dead of night plays well back home, especially at a time when much of the news from Afghanistan focuses on rising American deaths and frustration with the Afghan government. Heavy use of special-operations forces is not without risk. Afghans from President Hamid Karzai to village elders complain that night raids offend Afghan culture and turn the population against the international coalition. U.S. officials insist that an Uzbek militant leader was killed in a helicopter strike on his convoy Thursday in the northern province of Takhar. Karzai and the local governor dispute this, saying the convoy contained a candidate for parliament and his campaign workers. A U.S. defense official here says armed special-ops actions are the exception. The official said one special-operations task force recorded no shots fired in 973 out of 1,225 missions in the 12 months ending in August. The targets simply gave up without a fight.

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