American Morning

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September 3rd, 2010
11:12 AM ET

Plugged in: Here I come Pakistan

CNN correspondent, Kaj Larsen is traveling to Pakistan and will be blogging about his experience. Catch all his stories here and on CNN's American Morning.

I began packing for Pakistan the night before my flight. For some people packing for a journey is an exercise in organization, utilizing applications like packing pro and making lists. For me, its more like a foray into fortune telling. Where do I think Ill be in 48 hours, what will I be filming, is it going to be monsooning, am I sleeping on the ground or in at the Intercontinental?

Compounding the confusion is that covering 3rd world disasters is an organic process. On some stories the itinerary is straightforward, you show up, you go to the hotel, you go to an interview. In Pakistan it’s the opposite. Nearly 20% of the country is underwater. Millions of IDPs (internally displaced persons) are without food, shelter, or water. Until you actually get on the ground, its hard to know exactly where you are going or how you are going to get there. Where are the hardest hit areas, where are the most refugees, and does the security situation allow you to get there to tell the stories of those affected. Its an exercise in controlled improvisation, or to paraphrase former Secretary of Defense Rumsfield, there are a lot of “known unknowns and a few unknown unknowns.”

Filed under: You Have to See This
September 3rd, 2010
10:32 AM ET

50,000 reasons Iraq is not over

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="BAGHDAD – SEPTEMBER 1: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L), U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (C) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen (R) stand during the U.S. national anthem during U.S. Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony September 1, 2010 in Baghdad, Iraq. "]

By David I. Levy, Production

The President announced the end of combat operations in Iraq on Tuesday. On Wednesday, The Vice President ceremonially handed the mission over to the Iraqis.

So, are we done in Iraq? No, and the administration never really said we were. We are transitioning to a new mission in Iraq, more politically and diplomatically focused.

But it's just so tempting to focus on the "end of the combat operations" part. The fact that is 50,000 troops are going to remain in Iraq. That is a huge commitment.

The number 50,000 stuck in my head when I heard it, and after some googling, I remembered why.  50,000 is almost the same number of soldiers and civilians I served with when I was in the Air Force stationed in Germany.  The Kaiserslautern Military Community, or KMC, is about 53,000 people and is the largest military community outside the United States. 

That means we're keeping a force in Iraq that's almost as large as our largest overseas military community.  Or, let's compare that to another country, Korea.  The official website of the U.S. 8th Army in Korea states that "U.S. troop level in Korea presently stands at 28,500 in the force."

So while 50,000 troops reflects a steep drawdown from active combat operations, it's still a huge number among our installations overseas.  The President didn't mention how many civilians there will be.

But that's only until 2011, right?  Well, maybe.  The Iraqis can ask us to stay and there's good reason to think they might.  Sectarian violence remains a big problem and Iraq's parliament still hasn't formed a coalition government.  Iraqis also have some issues to work out with their neighbors, Iran and Turkey.  We're friendly with Turkey, but Iran has been a thorn in our side, to say the least.

So while Operation Iraqi Freedom may be over, let's remember this is only a transition, not the end.

Filed under: Iraq
September 3rd, 2010
09:55 AM ET

Commanding general on Afghanistan surge

Editor's Note: As part of an ongoing series “A Soldiers Story,” CNN's Jason Carroll follows Sgt. Randy Shorter and his unit as they head into Afghanistan. Catch their stories on our AMfix blog, and CNN's American Morning in September.

Filed under: A Soldier's Story
September 3rd, 2010
05:59 AM ET

LIVE Blog: Chat with us during the show

Editor's Note: Welcome to American Morning's LIVE Blog where you can discuss the "most news in the morning" with us each week day. Join the live chat during the show by adding your comments below. It's your chance to share your thoughts on the day's headlines. You have a better chance of having your comment get past our moderators if you follow our rules: 1) Keep it brief 2) No writing in ALL CAPS 3) Use your real name (first name only is fine) 4) No links 5) Watch your language (that includes $#&*) 6) Stay relevant to the topic.

Earl skirts across Outer Banks, flooding coastal areas

Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina (CNN) - A weakened Hurricane Earl brushed North Carolina's Outer Banks overnight, flooding coastal highways and sending residents inland.

"In multiple locations, waves have crashed over the tops of the dunes and are now flooding several portions of the main state highway on both the north and south sides through the Outer Banks. This is all happening south of the area called the Oregon Inlet," CNN's David Mattingly reported from the community of Waves. "The water is six to eight inches deep and seems to be getting deeper by the minute."

Ben McNeely from Charlotte, North Carolina, was riding the storm out in the community of Manteo.

"We're in the middle of the island," McNeely said. "Surf's up, waves are up ... We're fully surrounded by water." Read more

President mulls new measures to spark economy

Washington (CNN) - After a week mostly focused on Iraq and Mideast diplomacy, it's back to the economy for President Barack Obama, who will deliver remarks Friday on the August unemployment numbers.

Then, Obama is scheduled to give two big speeches next week to try and frame his administration's response to the recession, less than two months ahead of a midterm election where Democratic majorities in the House and Senate are on the ropes.

Senior aides confirm the president recently asked his economic team to come up with various proposals he could roll out to show that amid high anxiety across the nation, he's still working hard to jump-start the economy, including more federal spending on infrastructure projects and tax cuts popular with the business community such as a permanent extension of the research and development tax credit. Read more

Chicago gang leaders hold press conference

300 people were shot in July in Chicago, 33 died. And Chicago's police chief Jody Weis is trying to do something about it. He brought in gang leaders for a surprise meeting and gave them an ultimatum: stop the killing or they, and their gangs, will be targeted. Some gang leaders and community leaders were less than thrilled and yesterday called a press conference of their own. Saying they can't be held accountable for other's actions.

Sound off: We want to hear from you this morning. Add your comments to the LIVE Blog below and we'll read some of them on the show.

Filed under: American Morning • LIVE Blog • Top Stories