See the Blast Crater From Truck Bomb in the Sept 2013 U.S. Consulate Herat Attack

— Domani Spero
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About a year ago, the U.S. Consulate in Herat was attacked by militants in Afghanistan (see US Consulate Herat Casualties: One Afghan Police, Eight Local Guards Killed and Suicide Bombers Target US Consulate Herat: Locals Reportedly Killed/Wounded, No American Casualties).  The U.S. Consulate in Herat was inaugurated in June 2012 by Deputy Secretary Bill Burns (see Deputy Sec’y Bill Burns Inaugurates U.S. Consulate Herat). The total casualties includes eight members of the Afghan guard force. Seven of the eight killed are listed in the KIA page of the Diplomatic Security Wiki: the five guards, Mohammed Firooz, Mohammed Aref Sediqi, Sayed Ahmed Sadat, Mohammed Ali Ascari, and Mohammed Zoman; the local guard force interpreter Raminone Rastin, and driver, Javid Sarwarri. All  were contract employees.

Diplomatic Security recently published its 2013 report on Political Violence Against Americans and includes the following:

September 13 – Herat, Afghanistan

Taliban-affiliated insurgents attacked the U.S. Consulate using vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. Early in the morning, seven insurgents detonated a truck-borne improvised explosive device outside the Consulate’s entrance. The initial explosion was followed by a second vehicle-borne improvised explosive device minutes later. The insurgents, equipped with small-arms, rocket-propelled grenades, and suicide vests, then engaged U.S. and Afghan security personnel in a sustained firefight, lasting approximately 90 minutes. Eight Afghan guard force members were killed in the violence. Two additional third-country national guard force members were injured.

Screen Shot 2014-08-14

Photo via State Department 2013 Political Violence Against Americans (click on image to see pdf)

An August 2014 OIG inspection report of U.S. Mission Afghanistan (separate post later) says that embassy and military officials told inspectors that the consulate “provides tangible proof of the U.S. commitment to the region. Herat—Afghanistan’s third largest city—is located on key transportation routes and serves as a regional center and economic engine for the west.” Excerpt below:

Rebuilding of the badly damaged consulate building is expected to be completed in summer 2014. Consulate employees were relocated to either ISAF’s Camp Arena or to Embassy Kabul.[snip] The embassy estimates the annual operating cost for Herat is approximately $80 million, most of which is devoted to security.

Despite operational challenges, Consulate Herat is the most productive of the platforms in providing email reporting to the embassy but transmits only a few of its own finished cables. At the time of the inspection, the consulate repairs were nearing completion and the embassy was reviewing the security and life support situations prior to moving personnel back. Once the staff returns, the impediments to sending cables directly should disappear.

Consulate Herat covers the four provinces of western Afghanistan bordering Iran and Turkmenistan: Herat, Badghis, Ghor, and Farah. According to U.S. Embassy Kabul, Consulate Herat is currently headed by Consul and U.S. Senior Civilian Representative Eugene Young William Martin (formerly of USCG Karachi, thanks A!).

Below are some DOD photos in the aftermath of the September 13 attack:

A view in front of the U.S. Consulate, occupied by U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in Herat Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

A view in front of the U.S. Consulate, occupied by U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in Herat Province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, egress from a CH-47 Chinook in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sep. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborates with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, egress from a CH-47 Chinook in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sep. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborates with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, carry equipment into the U.S. Consulate in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, carry equipment into the U.S. Consulate in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, unload equipment from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at the U.S Consulate in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, unload equipment from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at the U.S Consulate in Herat province, Afghanistan, Sept. 14, 2013. Delta Company collaborated with other security and military forces to ensure security for the members of the U.S. Consulate after an enemy attack. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ryan D. Green/Released)

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US Mission Pakistan Gets New Consul Generals for Karachi and for Peshawar

On July 22, USCG Karachi announced the arrival of the new Consul General Michael Dodman to Karachi:

CG Dodman’s prior State Department assignments include Economic Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, and Political and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Prague. He has also served in Ankara and Warsaw, as well as in Washington, DC.

“I am very pleased to be here in Karachi,” CG Dodman said. “I look forward to getting to know this vibrant city and the people of Sindh and Balochistan provinces as I work to strengthen the relationship between our two countries.”

CG Dodman graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and has Masters degrees from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and Boston University.

William Martin, the previous Consul General, recently departed Karachi after a successful two year posting and is en route to his next diplomatic assignment.

Here is CG Dodman asking, “What should I know about Pakistani culture?”

USCG Peshawar, still considered the most dangerous assignment in the Foreign Service is also undergoing change. No announcement was made of the departure of Dr. Marie Richards, who was the Consul General since last year. But she did pin this note on FB last June.

As many of you know, I will be leaving Peshawar very soon.  My time here was always meant to be for only one year due to family responsibilities back home.  The people I have met here in the past year have impressed me deeply with their openness, generosity, and commitment to making Peshawar and KP/FATA what it should once again be: a crossroads of civilizations marked by tolerance, trade and respect for diversity of cultures.  I am grateful for the kindness shown to me by our many contacts and friends, and am confident that my successor will enjoy a similar welcome.

Outgoing USCG Peshawar Consul General Marie Richards visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa industrial estate in Peshawar, touring Frontier Foundry (Pvt) Ltd and Khyber Match (Pvt) Ltd.
(Photo via USCG Peshawar)

And her successor the interim Consul General has released a Ramadan message via YouTube on July 18, 2012. Below is a video message from Consul General Stephen Engelken who was formerly DCM at the US Mission to UNESCO.

It’s summer so we will see a lot more rotation and staffing changes particularly in the AIP posts where assignments are mostly one year rotations (although sometimes two years for senior folks).

Correction: US Mission Pakistan tells me that Steve Engleken is the interim CG in Peshawar.  The new Consul General assigned to Peshawar is Robert Reed who is scheduled to arrive shortly.
Domani Spero

 

 

US ConGen Karachi Sponsors 2012 Pakistan-India Social Media Mela

In June last year, the US Consulate General in Karachi sponsored Pakistan’s first social media summit (see US ConGen Karachi Sponsors Network!! Pakistan’s First Social Media Summit). This year, USCG Karachi with USCG Lahore is hosting the 2012 Pakistan-India Social Media Mela at Karachi’s Avari Towers on July 13-14, 2012.

USCG William Martin (look, no tie!) giving the keynote address at the SMM 2012
(Photo from USCG Karachi/FB)

“Building on the energy and inspiration of the 2011 social media summit, American support encourages peace and prosperity in the subcontinent and the region. PeaceNiche organized the content of the Mela, bringing together some of the most dynamic bloggers and social media practitioners on the subcontinent.”

US Mission Pakistan public affairs teams at the SMM 2012
(Photo via SMM2012/Flickr)

More photos of the event available at:

USCG Karachi Photos via FB
USCG Lahore Photos via FB
Social Media Mela 2012 via Flickr

Domani Spero

Round-Up: Headgears in the Foreign Service

Headgear, headwear or headdress is the term for any element of clothing worn on one’s head for a variety of purposes — for protection, fashion, social convention or religious purposes.  And our foreign service has bunches of this:

US Embassy India

Former US Ambassador to India, Tim Roemer wearing a colorful turban during a visit to Jodhpur
(Photo from US Embassy India/Flickr)

US Mission Japan

FSO Margot Carrington (aka “Amerikan Omaru“) during her Kabuki Diplomacy in Fukuoka, Japan. Wearing her hair in a yakkoshimada.
(Photo screen grab from YouTube)

US Mission Afghanistan

Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry during a provincial trip. Shown in the photo wearing a Lungei
(Photo by Brian H Neely/Department of State)

Unidentified woman in a red scarf included in a photo set of Ambassador Olson’s trip to Paktika Province.
(Photo by Brian H Neely/Department of State)

Dr. Laura Tedesco, archaeologist, U.S. Embassy Kabul, checks out the ongoing excavation at the Towers of Ghazni (Bahlan Shah Minar) in Ghazni, Afghanistan on Wednesday, October 26, 2011. She’s shown in the photo wearing a bullet proof vest and what looks like a black Kevlar bullet proof ballistic helmet
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker checks on construction at the new U.S. Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 25, 2011. Shown here wearing a construction hard hat.
(S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)

Public Affairs Officer Donna Welton wearing a gorgeous headscarf listens to the speakers during inauguration of the LLC in Maimana on January 31, 2012.
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

Ambassador Richard Olson, the Coordinating Director for Development and Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Kabul wearing a Lungei (or headdress that is worn by men) during a visit to Paktika, Afghanistan. The Turban is a symbol of honor and is respected everywhere it is worn; it is a common practice to honor important guests by offering them one to wear.
(Photo from US Embassy Kabul/Flickr)

US Mission Pakistan

Dr. Marilyn Wyatt, with her husband, US Ambassador to Pakistann Cameron Munter participated in an interfaith dialogue on at Faisal Mosque’s International Islamic University. She’s shown above wearing a long, multi-purpose scarf (a dupatta?) that is essential to many South Asian women.
(Photo from US Embassy Pakistan/Flickr)

Ambassador Cameron Munter during a tour of a complex of three newly-inaugurated schools in KP Province. The schools were rebuilt with U.S. government support after their destruction in the 2005 earthquake. He is shown here wearing a pakol, a soft, round-topped men’s hat, typically of wool worn by many all over Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Screen grab from YouTube video)

William Martin, US Consul General in Karachi wearing a traditional Sindhi Cap and Ajrak cloth. A Cap and Arjak Day is celebrated by the people of Sindh, province of Pakistan to express their loyalty to the Sindhi culture and it’s cultural symbols.
(Photo from USCG Karachi/FB)

U.S. Consul General Carmela Conroy gets ready to enter the vulture compound for feeding time, complete with head and dress cover. (Photo taken during the Earth Day Celebration in April 2011 at the ‘Vulture Conservation Center’ in Changa Manga.
(Photo from USCG Lahore/FB)

Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of USAID with a cap and ajrak, during the launch of the USAID funded National Reading Program at Government Girls Primary/Secondary School in Sultanabad, Karachi
(Photo from USCG Karachi/Flickr)

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton and her delegation observe a moment of silence at the shrine of Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, Bari Imam, near Islamabad.U.S. Secretary of State’s Visit to Shrine of Sufi Saint Bari Imam, Islamabad, 29 October 2009.
(State Dept. photo via US Embassy London/Flickr)

US Embassy Switzerland

United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Donald S. Beyer Jr (2nd from right) wearing a red hard hat visits the CERN LHC Large Hadron Collider. CERN, also the birthplace of the Internet. Photo taken in the CMS Cavern with an analogue camera due to strong magnetic field. (Photo from US Embassy Bern/Courtesy of CERN)

US Embassy Marshall Islands

Ambassador Campbell with program manager Ken Taggart from the Waan Aelon in Majel, Canoes of the Marshall Islands program. Shown in the photo with the traditional floral headress.
(Photo from US Embassy Majuro/FB)

US Embassy Cameroon

US Embassy Yaounde, Cameroon – Ambassador Jackson (second from the left) and Mrs. Jackson (first from the left) wearing hats at the parade on International Women Day presided over by Cameroon First Lady Chantal Biya. [US Embassy Photo)

US Embassy Micronesia

Ambassador Peter Prahar provides remarks at the Pacific Partnership 2011 Closing Ceremony on July 14. Shown here wearing a floral headress popular in the islands
(Photo from US Embassy Micronesia/FB)

US Embassy Malaysia

Via US Embassy Malaysia: “On September 28, 2011, Ambassador Paul Jones reached the hearts and minds of more than 700 Orang Asli (indigenous people) in Rompin, Pahang. He was accompanied by Malaysian Ambassador to the U.S., Dato’ Sri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis. Students, teachers and village elders greeted Ambassador Jones and delegation at the entrance of the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kedaik. This was followed by a welcoming greeting by the village head, Boo Hsuan who then presented them with traditional headgear and sashes made from coconut leaves.”
(Photo from US Embassy Malaysia website)

US Mission China

Consul General Linda Donahue shows Monkey and Pig (with respective mask and hat) how easy it is to use the new DS-160 online visa application form.
(Photo from US Embassy Beijing/Flickr)

US Embassy Lebanon

U.S Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman greets American evacuees (wearing protective headgears) as they board U.S. Marines helicopter which will take them from the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Aukar at the northern edge of the capital Beirut in Lebanon to Cyprus on Tuesday, July 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian via militaryphotos.net)

A Special Mention – from Afghanistan

via

Maj. Gen. John Toolan dances (in full Afghan gear) during a farewell dinner for distinguished members of the Afghan governmental and police forces and II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) senior officers on March 8. (Photos by Chief Petty Officer Leslie Shively)

Sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s not, but neither last … we hope you enjoy this round-up.

Domani Spero

 

 

USCG Karachi: Controversial Actor/Director Sean Penn Visits Pakistan’s Sindh Province

USCG Karachi’s Consul General William Martin and two-time Academy Award winning actor, screen writer and director Sean Penn visited Badin‘s flood affected areas in Pakistan’s Sindh province and distributed USAID provided assistance to people at two camps. Sean Penn won for his roles in Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008).  But no controversy here, Sean Penn reportedly refused to talk to the media, saying that the purpose of his visit was solely to interact with the flood survivors.

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

Below Hollywood Actor Sean Penn pays his respects at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi on March 24, 2012.

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

Sean Penn receives ajrak at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine on March 24, 2012

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

More photos from US ConGen Karachi here.

Blogger, Mahin Maher writes:

Those of us who are a little more familiar with Sean Penn’s work figured that he probably came to learn about the place. I was impressed by the fact that he declined to speak to the media, saying that he was there to speak to the people of Badin who were hit by rain-caused flooding in 2011. This was the second year of devastation for the province. Many people are still displaced.
[…]
Penn met the Kohli people of Badin. They are a tribe which has been mostly ignored in terms of development. There was only one literate man who could converse with Penn, I was told.
[…]
I am grateful to Penn for visiting at a time when most Americans don’t think of coming here. I blame our government and myself and other privileged people for not helping the Badin people or less privileged. It is not Sean Penn’s job to come and help us if we don’t help ourselves. I just hope that Mr Penn visits again.

The Tribune Express and a host of other local news covered the visit:

Martin and Penn visited Karim Bux Jamali and Dargah Shah Gurio villages in Badin and handed out blankets, quilts, kitchen items and other goods among the people. Later, they also distributed relief goods to a village near Peero Lashari at Talhar road.
[…]
Martin, while talking to the media, said that the US has provided goods worth more than $25 million for the flood victims. The USAID has distributed 60,000 emergency shelters in addition to health clinics, which provided medical treatment to over a million people. He added that in the immediate aftermath of the flood, 1.6 million people were supplied water while food was provided to 1.2 million people. An emergency nutrition programme for 16,000 families is still going on, he said. Talking about the relations between Pakistan and the US, Martin said that the relations are slowly being restored as the ‘confusion’ which stemmed from the Salala check post attack dispels.

Domani Spero

US Mission Pakistan: Our diplomats in action … do they even sleep?

Below is a photo of her last visit to Balochistan, in the company of our Consul General in Karachi William Martin.  Poor guys looked worn and stressed out but went on to talk to the press, anyway.  Photo below did not come from the embassy press shop but lifted from The Baloch Hal.

The new ambassador to Pakistan, Ambassador Munter has been quite visible since his recent arrival in Islamabad with his wife, Marilyn Wyatt. It was noted elsewhere in local Pakistani news, that this is the first time that at a US envoy has brought his wife to post in ten years.  Three days after arrival in country, Ambassador Munter and his wife  participated in flood relief efforts conducted by Pakistan and U.S. military and helped distribute flood relief supplies at a World Food Program distribution point at Hassan Khan Jamali, Sindh Province, Pakistan. This is the ambassador’s first trip to flood-affected areas of Sindh since arriving in Pakistan Oct. 27.  We have seen several photos of the new ambassador posted both at the embassy website and its Facebook page, most recently visiting Lahore; we can’t tell as yet if this is the new normal from the embassy’s press shop.  But take a look …

Ambassador Cameron Munter offloads a 40 kilogram bag of flood relief supplies

from a U.S. military helicopter in Hassan Khan Jamali,

Jacobabad district, Sindh province, Pakistan, October 30.

Photo from US Embassy Islamabad

The ambassador is not the first diplomat we’ve seen lugging 40 kg bags, of course.  Ambassador Munter’s CG in Karachi, who hit the ground running when the superflood unfolded this past summer has been known to do some cargo offloading himself.  Take a look ….

Photo from US Consulate General Karachi/Facebook