Afghanistan after the massacre

This video is called Anger in Afghanistan.

US President Obama and British Prime Minister Cameron used a joint press conference Wednesday to stress there would be no shift in Afghanistan war strategy in the wake of the massacre of 16 civilians in Kandahar: here.

From Trend news agency in Azerbaijan:

Afghans protest civilian killings blamed on US soldier

15 March 2012, 10:02 (GMT+04:00)

Hundreds of Afghans gathered in a southern city Thursday to protest the killings of civilians allegedly at the hands of a US soldier, officials said.

“The protestors are shouting anti-American slogans,” said Hekmatullah Kochi, spokesman for the 404 Police Corps, a regional Afghan police headquarters. “They say they want the Americans to leave the country.”

The protest took place in Qalat, the capital of Zabul province. It borders volatile Kandahar province, where a US soldier allegedly went door to door Sunday, killing 16 Afghans, mostly women and children, while they slept, DPA reported.

Afghans have expressed anger over the killings and have demanded a public trial in an Afghan court of the US soldier, but the unidentified suspect was flown out of the country Wednesday, the Pentagon said.

The soldier has been in US military custody since surrendering on his return to his base in Kandahar after the rampage. CNN cited an unnamed defence official as saying he had been flown to Kuwait.

The Afghan parliament said patience with the foreign troops in the country has run out.

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta was on a two-day visit to Afghanistan to try to contain the fallout. He was scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday, officials said.

Death in Afghanistan: The Spiritual Cancer of PTSD is Spreading: here.

8 thoughts on “Afghanistan after the massacre

  1. Days after Afghanistan massacre, suspect nameless

    Associated Press

    OLYMPIA, Wash. — The U.S. serviceman suspected in the massacre of more than a dozen Afghan civilians is a 38-year-old father of two who served three tours in Iraq and is based in Washington state. Still, days after the slayings, the military has kept under wraps one of the most salient details — his name.

    Military officials said it was military policy not to release the name until charges are filed. But military experts said this case seems unusual.

    “This is unprecedented in my experience,” said Eugene Fidell, who teaches military law at Yale University. “It’s very strange.”

    Fidell speculated that the military was focused on ensuring the safety of the soldier’s family.

    Information has also been limited inside the military. Jill Barber, a wife of a staff sergeant in the same battalion as the suspect, said she learned of the Sunday shooting only from news coverage. She said her husband wasn’t allowed to call her for more than a day after the shooting and that soldiers can get in trouble for talking about it.

    “They shut everything down over there,” Barber, of Yelm, about 60 miles south of Seattle, said Monday. “I didn’t even find out about it from him. They’re not allowed to say anything.”

    It’s typical for the military to put stringent controls on communication in the aftermath of deaths or injuries, including the shutdown of Internet and telephone access on a combat zone base, often for 24 hours. If a soldier is wounded but his injuries are not life-threatening, military officials will allow him or her to call next of kin on a satellite phone, but they are instructed not to mention others having been hurt or killed — and an officer or an NCO stands at the bedside to make sure that rule is followed.

    Jeffrey Addicott, who previously served as the senior legal adviser to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, said the military has increasingly used the shutdown of communications to control information. He said soldiers who are aware of the identity of the suspect likely have orders from superiors not to speak about it and have probably had their electronic devices confiscated so nothing leaks out.

    Addicott said he can’t think of any other case where a name has been held back for this long, but he thinks it may be necessary in this case to help contain any backlash. He fears that extremists may try to seek revenge for the killings, perhaps by targeting the soldier’s family.

    “I think it’s probably a good thing that we don’t have to release his name,” Addicott said.

    In this instance, military officials haven’t even officially confirmed that the soldier was based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Seattle. That information came from sources who spoke to The Associated Press and other media organizations and spoke only on condition of anonymity. Base spokesman Joe Piek referred any questions to military leaders in Afghanistan.

    The suspect was flown out of Afghanistan on Wednesday evening to what officials describe as a pretrial confinement facility. Military leaders haven’t publicly discussed details about the suspect, though officials have anonymously described him as a 38-year-old father of two who has been in the military for 11 years. He’s served three tours in Iraq and began his first deployment to Afghanistan in December.

    The soldier is with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. He was attached to Camp Belambai, home to a village stability force that pairs special operations troops with villagers to help provide neighborhood security.

    Authorities said the suspect attacked two small villages close to his base in southern Kandahar province. An Afghan official said he was shown a surveillance video of the soldier returning to his base, laying down his weapon and raising his arms in surrender.

    There have been other circumstances where military officials have taken their time in releasing information about soldier suspects, such as in the deliberate thrill killings of three Afghan civilians during patrols by another Lewis-McChord based unit in 2010.

    Just after the last of those killings, in May of that year, a whistleblower told Army investigators about the unjustified killings. The officers quickly identified which killings the whistleblower was talking about, and within days they had arrested a dozen soldiers — five for potential involvement in the deaths, and the rest for a series of other misdeeds, including taking body parts from the dead and drug use.

    Vague word of the arrests leaked out about two weeks later. The Army released the name of one of the central figures in the case, Jeremy Morlock, in early June after he had been charged with murder. It did not release the other names and charges until mid-June.

    While that case was largely unknown until the military released information, this week’s case was immediately known across the globe.


    Associated Press writers Manuel Valdes near Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Shannon Dininny in Yakima and Robert Reid in Cairo, Egypt, contributed to this report.


  2. Afghanistan massacre casts pall over village operations

    1:27 AM, Mar. 15, 2012

    The village where a U.S. sergeant is accused of a massacre probably had a very close, daily relationship with the Green Berets who protected the village and taught people there how to defend themselves from the Taliban, military experts say.

    Although the accused soldier was not part of the Special Forces based near the rural village in Panjwai district, he was a member of the “conventional troops” who supported the Special Forces in a relatively new concept in the decade-long war known as “village stabilization operations,” or VSO.

    Balandi, in the southern province of Kandahar, was one of about 60 villages designated a VSO, where Special Forces troops are trying to prepare Afghans to maintain their own security once NATO troops depart for good.

    It’s a precarious and at times stressful balancing act for the Special Forces, who must be both warriors and mentors while living among a population in which the Taliban and its sympathizers lurk, says Marine Col. Willard Buhl, an active-duty officer.

    “It’s a 24/7 life-danger environment you are in,” says Buhl, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who served alongside Special Forces units. “The Special Forces are particularly vulnerable because they aren’t very large and embed with the local population.

    “You have to be always on your guard, but you have to demonstrate that you trust your host with you life.”

    VSOs differ from conventional military bases and smaller “combat outposts” where the majority of the fighting with militant groups such as the Taliban takes place.

    At the VSOs, NATO troops have cleared the Taliban from control and are helping the villagers keep the Taliban out for good and prevent them from returning to recruit men as fighters or to tax farmers to fund their insurgency.

    In a VSO, highly skilled special operations troops situate themselves next to and sometimes inside rural villages that have been cleared of the Taliban and work with the local leaders daily to establish police and intelligence operations.

    While the popular perception of the Special Forces is that of a lethal squad of Taliban hunters, much of what they do in the VSO is “non-kinetic,” that is, non-lethal operations.

    At the VSO in the eastern Afghan province of Paktia, Special Forces soldiers worked with local leaders and were close to newly trained members of the Afghan Local Police, or ALP, an addition to the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces that will be largely responsible for security in the thousands of rural villages where the vast majority of Afghans live.

    The special operations troops also go out on patrols and raids, sometimes at night, to kill or capture Taliban operatives.

    Special Forces operations are largely off-limits to journalists, and their activities go unreported except for the occasional release of a statement by the military.

    Members of the Special Forces are especially adept at working with local leaders because of their extensive training and language skills. They often dress in local clothing and grow out their beards to look like Afghan men.

    Special Forces form close relations with the ALP commanders, and there is a growing list of villages asking for a VSO to chase away the Taliban, according to the International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led organization that oversees military operations in Afghanistan.

    The accused soldier, who has not been named by the Pentagon, was among the regular Army forces that provide support for Special Forces’ day-to-day operations. He had served three tours in Iraq and was on his first tour in Afghanistan.

    Regular Army troops often work side-by-side with their elite counterparts and endure the same rugged conditions and pressures of operating in a war zone, experts say.

    “A 38-year-old staff sergeant on this fourth deployment is usually as calm and collected as they come,” says JD Johannes, a researcher with the McCormick Foundation’s Cantigny First Division Museum, which documents U.S. conflicts.

    “It may be a long time,” before the public knows exactly what happened and why, Johannes says.

    Copyright 2012 USA TODAY


  3. Afghans angry over removal of accused US soldier

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan lawmakers expressed anger Thursday over the U.S. move to fly an American soldier accused of killing 16 civilians out of the country to Kuwait, saying Kabul shouldn’t sign a strategic partnership agreement with Washington unless the suspect faces justice in Afghanistan.

    Negotiations over the agreement, which would govern the presence of U.S. forces in Afghanistan after most combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014, were tense even before the shooting deaths of the civilians, including nine children, in southern Kandahar province on Sunday.

    The U.S. flew the soldier out of the country on Wednesday evening, said U.S. officials. The U.S. military said the transfer did not preclude the possibility of trying the case in Afghanistan.

    But that didn’t appease Afghans upset at the move.

    “It was the demand of the families of the martyrs of this incident, the people of Kandahar and the people of Afghanistan to try him publicly in Afghanistan,” said Mohammad Naeem Lalai Hamidzai, a Kandahar lawmaker who is part of a parliamentary commission investigating the shootings.

    The U.S. informed Afghan leaders that the soldier was going to be moved and “they understood,” said U.S. Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, deputy commander of American forces in Afghanistan. Moving the suspect will allow the U.S. to provide pretrial confinement, access to legal representation and the ability to ensure fair and proper judicial proceedings, he said.

    Afghan government officials have not responded to request for comment on the transfer.

    The Pentagon has said the U.S. does not have appropriate detention facilities in Afghanistan.

    In Kuwait, U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Col. David Patterson said Thursday that the detention unit there, known as a Theater Field Confinement Facility, holds pre-trial detainees and post-trial confinees for a limited amount of time.

    He would not confirm any further details about the case.

    The Kuwait detention facilities have been used for other U.S. troops. The most prominent detainee recently was Army PFC Bradley Manning, who was held there after he was taken into custody in Baghdad in 2010 for allegedly leaking government documents in the WikiLeaks case.

    Abdul Khaliq Balakarzai, another Kandahar lawmaker, said President Hamid Karzai should respond to the U.S. decision to move the soldier by refusing to sign the strategic partnership agreement.

    “If the trial was in Afghanistan, the people would see that America doesn’t like this soldier and wants to punish him,” said Balakarzai. “But unfortunately America ignored our demand.”

    Haji Abdul Ghani, a tribal elder from the area of Panjwai district where the shooting spree occurred warned the U.S. move would cause “people to rise up and increase the hostility between Afghanistan and America.”

    U.S. officials have expressed their shock and sadness over the massacre and have promised a thorough investigation. But they have resisted calls both at home and in Afghanistan to speed up the withdrawal of American troops in the wake of the tragedy.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited Afghanistan on Wednesday, the first American official to visit the country since the shootings.

    His visit was marred by a bizarre incident in which an Afghan man crashed a stolen truck at an airfield in southern Afghanistan as the defense secretary’s plane was landing and then exited the vehicle in flames.

    Scaparotti, the deputy U.S. commander, told reporters traveling with Panetta in Kabul that he believed the man — an interpreter working for foreign forces — was targeting a group of U.S. Marines assembled on the ramp, not the defense secretary. He said it would have been difficult to know which plane the defense secretary was aboard.

    “There was a puff of smoke and he came out engulfed in flames,” Scaparotti said.

    The man died Thursday of extensive burns, said the U.S. commander.

    No one in Panetta’s party was hurt. The defense secretary was told about the incident after he got off the aircraft.

    Authorities were not able to talk to or get any information from the driver before he died.

    A U.S. military official said a British soldier was injured when he tried to stop the driver from stealing the truck on the base. The Afghan man hit the British soldier with the truck as he was driving away. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident is still being investigated.

    The U.S. Army staff sergeant accused of carrying out the shooting spree in Kandahar has been identified as a married, 38-year-old father of two who was trained as a sniper and had served three tours in Iraq, where he recently suffered a head injury.

    The U.S. has not released the name of the soldier partly because of security concerns for the individual and his family, said Scaparotti.

    The U.S. soldier allegedly slipped out of his small base in southern Afghanistan before dawn Sunday, crept into three houses and shot men, women and children at close range, then burned some of the bodies. By sunrise, there were 16 corpses.

    The suspect was taken into custody shortly afterward.

    (Copyright (c) 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

    Read more:


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