Inside the Ring

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Another artist showing this weekend is Frank Rodel, who also was imprisoned by the East Germans. “I was not allowed to study in the German Democratic Republic and had to endure the complete loss of all personal freedoms, individual rights and dignity for more than three years while a political prisoner,” he said.

“As a result of being completely stripped of my individuality and freedom, a counterreaction developed — the complete focus on art, which I see as the most individual of all lifestyles,” he said. “The American way of life is, from the European point of view, the one that is the most intensely tied to the concept of freedom. For this reason, it has special meaning for me to display my paintings in the United States.”

The exhibit is being hosted by Breakthrough Art Organization, a Washington group that promotes the work of artists who have overcome life’s obstacles.

“Understanding the risks these artists took to freely express themselves allows us to appreciate our basic freedoms in a very tangible way,” said Breakthrough Art founder Jeff Thinnes.

The exhibit, “Breakthrough! Twenty Years After German Unification,” is free and open to the public from 12 noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday at the Pepco Edison Place Gallery, 702 Eighth Street NW in Washington. The exhibit runs through Oct. 8.

Hunter’s passion

Fresh from a private Pentagon briefing on Wednesday, Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, tells Inside the Ring that the command in Afghanistan has made great strides in defeating hidden bombs by doing something basic — watching the roads.

Mr. Hunter, who deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as a Marine Corps officer, has been pushing the Pentagon to adopt in Afghanistan what is known as ODIN — observe, detect, identify, neutralize.

In recent months, it has done just that, setting up a special task force and sending in more surveillance aircraft and contractors to constantly watch the routes where Taliban insurgents hide deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

“The best stuff is, they’ve really cut down on the IEDs in Regional Command-East, dramatically,” Mr. Hunter told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough. “The reason is, it’s mimicking Iraq in the way we were able to cut down on IEDs with the surge, plus the capability of task force ODIN, which is up and operation in RC-East.”

Mr. Hunter’s argument is that electronic assets like jammers and detection devices are fine, but the best tactic to stop IEDs is to watch the roads where they are planted and then kill or capture the enemy in the act.

He said the command is focusing ODIN tactics in the east because of its key economic and military routes that are favorite targets of the Taliban.

“Nobody knows they are having success doing this,” he said.

The briefing was provided by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), which spends over $3 billion annually to counter the biggest killer of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The task force doing the ODIN mission in Afghanistan is called Falcon Strike. Since its recent surge, the JIEDDO office said, it has killed 43 enemy involved in IED placements. Falcon Strike has reduced IEDs along major eastern supply routes by almost 50 percent, it said, compared with a year ago.

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About the Author
Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz

Bill Gertz is a national security columnist for The Washington Times and senior editor at The Washington Free Beacon ( He has been with The Times since 1985.

He is the author of six books, four of them national best-sellers. His latest book, “The Failure Factory,” on government bureaucracy and national security, was published in September 2008.

Mr. ...

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