PHOTO: Jonathan and Jesse Leicht pose with a photo of their brother, Marine Cpl. Jacob Leicht, who was killed on Thursday while on patrol in Afghanistan. He was the 1000th U.S. serviceman killed in the Afghan conflict.
According to statements made today, the role of the Islamic Republic of Iran inside Afghanistan is continuing. This is especially apparent in weapons shipments. General Stanley McChrystal, the coalition commander in Afghanistan, today said there is “clear evidence” weapons shipments from Iran have increased. The General also said the fighting in Afghanistan will extend long beyond July 2011, which is the date for the Obama administrations planned draw down of forces to begin. The Afghan National Army still does not have the training to take over next summer.
In a press conference, the General said: “The training that we have seen occurs inside Iran with fighters moving inside Iran. The weapons that we have received come from Iran into Afghanistan.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned in March that significant amounts of Iranian weapons had been discovered during fighting in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Mullen described Kandahar as the spiritual capital of the Taliban and says this battle will be a turning point in the war. 49 coalition troops were in Afghanistan in May, while 53 died in February.
In an article today entitled “We Will Never Defeat the Taliban if They Think We’re Going Home,” Con Coughlin of the London Telegraph says:
With public support for NATO’s military effort rapidly diminishing throughout the West, the Taliban has every reason to believe that it only has to bide its time before the enemy packs its bags and heads home. In which case, Taliban commanders have every right to ask themselves why on earth they should give up the fight, at the very moment that victory lies within their grasp.
Colin Powell: Iran is Training the Afghan Terrorists but UN Response is Weak
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell believes the new United Nations sanctions on Iran are headed for failure, and he views this as a “dangerous situation.” Powell served as Secretary of State during President George W. Bush’s first term and in 2008 he endorsed Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy. This morning he was interviewed on the ABC program “This Week” and said the Iranians are not going to change their behavior :
The Iranians have been around for thousands of years trading and selling and getting around various constraints and whatnot. They’re very clever. And they know what sanctions might be coming. And I’m sure that they have done their own planning and have their own counter-sanctions strategy. I don’t see that this causes sufficient pain that will cause them to say, ‘gee, why didn’t we realize we were so off on this and we’re going to stop all of our nuclear program?’ The nuclear program is there. It’s operating. . . The centrifuges are spinning. They’re producing the material. The policy so far has not caused them to stop doing that, and I don’t think they’re going to give it up easily.
America’s Combat Deaths in Afghanistan Have Just Reached 1000
Memorial Day events throughout America tomorrow will undoubtedly mention the death of Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht of Kerrville, Texas. He was the victim of a land mine in Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan which blew off both of his legs. Leicht was killed on May 27th and the Defense Department acknowledged his passing yesterday.
Leicht, 24, became the 1000th U.S. soldier to die in Operation Enduring Freedom which began nine year ago. He was a 6′ 5″ 200 pound Marine who was born on the Fourth of July in a Navy hospital.
He had begged to return to the battlefield after a bomb took out his Humvee in Iraq. He had driven over two 500-pound bombs hidden beneath the road, and then spent two painful years recovering from face and leg injuries. All the while he was pining for combat in letters from his hospital bed. The recovery was an agonizing ordeal of pins, rods and bolts drilled into his bones.
He finally got back to the front lines, but was killed less than a month into the tour of duty he desperately wanted. His younger brother Jesse said “He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered. He didn’t want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something. His greatest fear was that they would tell him he had to sit at a desk for the rest of his life.” Nine days before Jacob stepped on a bomb in southern Afghanistan, Jesse Leicht enlisted in the Marines.
Jacob Leicht was part of the first offensive which was authorized because of President Obama’s 34,000 troop surge. Helmand province is a Taliban stronghold and NATO forces are focusing on the area because it has an essential role in financing a large portion of all Taliban operations. Helmand is the world’s largest opium-producing region, and it is responsible for 42% of the world’s total production. Afghan opium now accounts for more than 90% of the global supply.