More Afghan war still?

This video is called END WAR. NATO Helicopter Slaughters 9 Children Collecting Firewood In Afghanistan, US Apologizes.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Top general demands US keep “robust” combat force in Afghanistan

23 March 2012

Marine Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told Congressional committees this week that a “robust” American combat force must remain in the country next year.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday and the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, Allen claimed that the decade-old US war in Afghanistan remained “on track”, despite acknowledging that recent months have been “trying”.

Allen was referring to a string of incidents that have underscored the growing tensions between the US military forces and the Afghan population after more than ten years of foreign occupation. These included the release of a video in January showing US Marines laughing and urinating on the bodies of slain Afghans; the burning of copies of the Koran at the US Bagram air base, which triggered nationwide rioting; and, most recently, the horrific massacre of 16 Afghan civilians, most of them women and children, by US Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on March 11.

“My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013,” General Allen told the Senate panel.

When Generals Love Their Wars Too Much: here.

US Troops Guarding Afghanistan To Get Guards To Guard Them From Their Afghan Guards: here.

US charges soldier with 17 counts of murder in Afghan massacre: here.

The US has had to pay compensation for the people killed and injured when US troops murdered 17 civilians earlier this month: here.

Afghans have been excluded from the judicial process after the shooting that left 16 dead. No wonder anti-US feeling is growing: here.

No U.S. access to sites of Afghan killings, officials say: here.

First Western Journalist to Speak With Survivors Of The Panjwai Massacre: here.

The Latest Twist In The Panjwai Massacre Tale: Witnesses Gone: here.

Twenty years in the making, Suzanne Bauman and Jim Burroughs’ remarkable film Shadow of Afghanistan is finally available on DVD and VOD, distributed by Cinema Libre: here.

William Rivers Pitt, Truthout: “At this moment, tens of thousands of Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world are under arms and in peril, engaged in conflicts that serve only to prolong this terrible, endless age of war. At this moment, millions of innocent people are cowering somewhere because of it. Make no mistake: someone is, at this moment, bathing in riches at the expense of those soldiers, their families and the untold scores of civilians whose only crime was getting in the way of the first, best and biggest payday of this new century”: here.

Buddy Bell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence: “After the end of World War II, a group of nations in the north Atlantic established NATO to impede Russian influence over the reconstruction of Europe and to facilitate their own…. After the Cold War ended, the U.S. rebranded NATO and extended its mandate as a defender of liberty in regions beyond the north Atlantic. Seeing military action as a suitable solution to various global conflicts, it has had the effect of sowing discord and violence instead of alleviating these problems”: here.

USA: Andrew Bacevich on Changing Our Military Mindset (Video). Bill Moyers, Moyers & Co.: “This week, on an all-new Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers and Bacevich explore the futility of ‘endless’ wars, and provide a reality check on the rhetoric of American exceptionalism. ‘Are we so unimaginative, so wedded to the reliance on military means that we cannot conceive of any way to reconcile our differences with groups and nations in the Islamic world, and therefore bring this conflict to an end?’ Bacevich tells Moyers”: here.

British troops in Afghanistan are keeping two men locked up even though the deadline has passed to hand them over to the Afghan authorities: here.

British teenager arrested for Facebook comments criticizing Afghan war: here.

Robert Bales Charged: Military Scrambles To Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghanistan Massacre: here.

Why the Huffington Post Needs to Immediately Retract Mark Benjamin’s Afghanistan Massacre Report. Jeffrey Kaye, Truthout: “A March 25 article by Mark Benjamin at The Huffington Post seriously misled readers about a link between the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine and the mass murder in Afghanistan attributed to Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Relying on a document he wrongly identified, and with zero evidence backing up his claims, Benjamin’s headline stated ‘Military Scrambles to Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghan Massacre.’ As a matter of journalistic ethics, Benjamin should apologize to his readers and retract the story”: here.

Support In U.S. For Afghan War Drops Sharply, Poll Finds: here.

Maddow Writes on America’s Love Affair With War. Rachel Maddow, The Crown Publishing Group: “It’s not just the small-potatoes post-9/11 Homeland spending that feels a little off mission. It’s the big-ticket stuff too. Nobody ever made an argument to the American people that the thing we ought to do in Afghanistan would be to build a brand-new neighborhood in that country’s capital city full of narco-chic McMansions and buildings with giant sculptures of eagles on their roofs … But that is what we built”: here.

Study: Four Hundred Afghan Women Jailed for “Moral Crimes”: here.

Afghanistan Chronicles, Part 6: Near Ground Zero and in Af-Pak Region, Two Labyrinths : here.

Allies pay in blood while others plot to exploit Afghanistan’s rich natural resources: here.

15 thoughts on “More Afghan war still?

  1. Top Commander: U.S. Needs “Significant Combat Power” In Afghanistan

    Xinhua News Agency
    March 23, 2012

    U.S. needs “significant combat power” in Afghanistan: U.S. commander

    WASHINGTON: John Allen, commander of the U. S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Thursday that the U.S. will need to maintain “significant combat power” in Afghanistan next year.

    “My opinion is that we will need significant combat power in 2013,” Allen said at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

    Approximately 90,000 American troops are currently stationed in Afghanistan, with 23,000 of them due home by this summer and 68,000 remaining there. There has been no schedule set for the withdrawal of the remaining troops.

    “Sixty-eight thousand is a good going-in number, but I owe the president some analysis on that,” Allen said…

    U.S. military leaders have long argued for keeping a substantial number of combat troops in Afghanistan through 2014…

    But as the relationship between Washington and Kabul soured in recent months in the aftermath of the massacre of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier and the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base, Americans’ support for the decade-long war seemed to be waning and more are in favor of a faster withdrawal.

    The White House on Thursday dodged questions about whether the administration thinks there’s a will among the American public to support that large of a military presence, as Allen suggested, in Afghanistan next year.

    “What General Allen was referring to is that 68,000 troops which will remain after the withdrawal of the surge forces is a good number going into the period of the post-surge-withdrawal period,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his press gaggle on route Columbus, Ohio.


    Afghanistan: Merkel Honors Germany’s First Post-WW II War Dead

    North Atlantic Treaty Organization
    Allied Command Operations
    March 22, 2012


    CAMP MARMAL, Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan: German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived here on Monday, 12 March, to visit with members of German armed forces supporting the NATO mission. Merkel, who last visited Afghanistan during December of 2010, had planned to also visit German soldiers at the base known as Provincial Reconstruction Team Kunduz, which is about 200 kilometers to the east of Mazar-e Sharif…

    Merkel paid tribute to the camp’s ceremonial site honoring fallen soldiers, met with Regional Command North Commander, Maj. Gen. Erich Pfeffer, visited various locations around Camp Marmal, and was shown new German military vehicles. After eating lunch with troops at the German dining facility, Merkel addressed German and NATO soldiers at Planet Mazar, the camp’s open atrium.

    She mentioned that because the Kunduz visit was cancelled, she was able to spend more time at Camp Marmal, allowing her more time to see the collaboration between German and NATO soldiers…

    Merkel, who was elected as German Chancellor in 2005, was accompanied by four-star General Volker Wieker, who is the Inspector General, or Chief of Staff, of the German armed forces. According to the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) web page, as of February 1, Germany is the third largest contributor of troops (4,818) in support of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, only behind the United Kingdom and the United States.

    By U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Oscar A. Troncoso


    Pentagon Chief: Kyrgyz Air Base Critical To NATO Afghan War Effort

    Trend News Agency
    March 22, 2012

    Pentagon’s head: Kyrgyz Manas critical to sustain US efforts in Afghanistan
    V. Zhavoronkova

    Baku: The U.S Manas Transit Centre in Kyrgyzstan is critical in terms of sustaining NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan, U.S Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said in his report on last week’s trip to Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and the UAE.

    “That transit center is critical to sustaining our efforts in Afghanistan, and provides us with the ability to move personnel in and out of the war zone, to execute aerial refueling sorties, and to transport air cargo in and out of theater,” American Forces Press Service quotes Panetta.

    He said Kyrgyzstan and its Central Asian neighbors serve as key links in the logistical supply lines into Afghanistan known as the Northern Distribution Network, which has proven extremely important in recent months.

    The U.S. air base, renamed as the Transit Center, was established at the Manas International Airport in Bishkek in December 2001, and today it involves about 1,200 soldiers. The base is an important part of the NATO Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan. The agreement on the deployment of the U.S. air base in Kyrgyzstan is valid until 2014.


  2. Georgia’s NATO Afghan Role: Expeditionary Warfare Beyond Your Borders

    March 21, 2011

    Georgia: Tbilisi Enhancing Its Afghan Troop Commitment
    By Molly Corso

    -The US military attaché in Tbilisi, Col. Jeff Hartman [said] saying that “it advertises what I think is a key NATO need, which is the ability to generate combat power, the ability to generate infantry battalions for expeditionary warfare, warfare beyond your borders.”

    While some NATO members may be skittish about the alliance’s continuing involvement in Afghanistan, Georgia remains firmly committed, and will soon rank as the mission’s largest non-NATO supplier of troops.

    The deployment may have the unswerving support of President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration, but officials in Tbilisi do not seem eager to engage in public discussion at home about the presence of Georgian troops in Afghanistan…

    President Saakashvili has regularly authorized increases in the number of Georgian soldiers operating in Afghanistan under the auspices of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). In addition, Saakashvili has pledged repeatedly to stay with the NATO mission until the end. The deployment is largely seen as a reflection of Tbilisi’s fierce determination to gain full membership in the Atlantic alliance.

    By 2013, Georgia is expected to have 1,685 troops in Afghanistan; a number that has gotten the attention of top brass both in Washington and at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Tbilisi currently has a reported 940 soldiers clearing mines, guarding roads and fighting insurgents in southern Helmand province. Reinforcements are preparing for deployment later in March.

    Georgia’s willingness to participate “without caveats” — meaning Georgian soldiers can go wherever necessary — “is not the case even with most of our allies,” commented William Lahue, the NATO liaison officer in the South Caucasus. The contribution has made the country an “extremely valued” partner for the United States and the alliance, he added.

    The US military attaché in Tbilisi, Col. Jeff Hartman, agreed, saying that “it advertises what I think is a key NATO need, which is the ability to generate combat power, the ability to generate infantry battalions for expeditionary warfare, warfare beyond your borders.”

    While appreciated by NATO commanders, Georgia’s participation in the Afghan campaign is something that flies under the radar of most Georgians at home. Debate about Georgia’s role in the war is largely non-existent, noted military affairs journalist Giorgi Tskvitava. Information about those killed and wounded in action is rarely publicized. Little is known, for example, about the 15 soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan since Georgia joined the ISAF mission in 2004.

    NATO’s special representative to the Caucasus and Central Asia, James Appathurai, made the cover of the pro-government news weekly Tabula this week, but the Q&A did not delve too deeply into the Afghan mission. “It is very important for the country to show that it is not just a problem, but that it also can solve a problem, and in this mission Georgia is doing exactly that,” Appathurai said.

    Two opposition figures — Kakha Kukava, leader of the tiny Free Georgia party, and Labor Party leader Shalva Natelashvili — want to launch a campaign against both Georgia’s NATO goals and its Afghanistan presence…

    It appears that Saakashvili tends to see those who question Georgia’s role in the ISAF mission as unpatriotic. “Those who say that we should not be part of this operation are footmen of [Russian Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin and of Russia, no matter if they state that they support NATO and the EU,” he said during a February 26 speech.

    “If we want to have a state, we should have an army. And if we want to have an army, we should be in…international combat missions no matter how painful it might be,” Saakashvili added.

    Molly Corso is a freelance journalist who also works as editor of, a monthly publication by the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia.


  3. US pays out after troop rampage

    AFGHANISTAN: Kandahar provincial council member Agha Lalai said on Sunday that the United States has paid out $50,000 (£31,500) in compensation for each of the 17 people killed in the March 11 rampage by one or more US soldiers.

    The money was handed to families at the governor’s office on Saturday, he said.

    Wounded people received $11,000 (£6,900). Recipients were reportedly informed that the money was from US President Barack Obama.

    Village elder Jan Agha confirmed the figures, although a spokesman for the US-led occupying Isaf alliance refused to do so and said: “Isaf does not make restitution for losses resulting from combat, combat-related activities or operational necessity.”


  4. Three NATO Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

    Voice of America News
    March 24, 2012

    3 NATO Troops Killed in Afghanistan

    NATO says three of its service members lost their lives in Afghanistan Saturday.

    A NATO statement says one of the soldiers died in a bomb blast in southern Afghanistan, another one in an insurgent attack in the west, and the third one as a result of a non-battle related injury in the east.

    The nationalities of the soldiers were not released.


    Italian Soldier Killed, Five Injured In Afghanistan

    Xinhua News Agency
    March 25, 2012

    One Italian soldier killed, 5 injured in Afghanistan

    -Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.

    ROME: Italy’s Defense Minister said on Saturday one Italian soldier with the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was killed, and five others were injured from a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

    Michele Silvestri, a 33 year-old military who was married with a child, reportedly died due to mortar fire from Taliban fighters at a base in Gulistan district of western Afghan Farah province.

    Five wounded soldiers were transported by helicopter to a military field hospital, the ANSA news agency said.

    Rome has deployed 4,200 forces to Afghanistan as part of the military alliance, and has lost a total number of 49 soldiers in the country since 2004.


  5. Afghan Soldier Kills Two NATO Counterparts

    Russian Information Agency Novosti
    March 26, 2012

    Afghan Soldier Kills Two NATO Soldiers

    Moscow: An Afghan soldier opened fire on NATO troops in the south of the country on Monday morning, killing two soldiers, local media reported.

    The incident occurred at a military base in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province.

    “The gunman was shot and killed,” Al Jazeera reported, quoting NATO spokesman Major Jason Waggoner. He declined to provide further details.

    Twenty soldiers from coalition forces in Afghanistan have been killed by Taliban sympathisers in the Afghan National Army and police since 2002.


    Afghan War: 88 NATO Soldiers Killed So Far This Year

    Khaama Press
    March 25, 2012

    Explosion kill NATO soldier in southern Afghanistan
    By Ghanizada

    NATO-led International Security Assistance Force officials following a press release on Sunday announced a NATO service member was killed following a roadside improvised explosive device explosion in southern Afghanistan.

    The statement further added the incident took place on Saturday in southern regions of the country.

    ISAF did not disclose further information regarding the exact location of the incident and nationality of the deceased soldier.

    The International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan generally does not disclose the identities of NATO service members who are killed in Afghanistan, saying, “It is ISAF policy to defer casualty identification procedures to the relevant national authorities.”

    This comes as another NATO service member was killed following an insurgent attack and 5 others were wounded in western Afghanistan while another NATO service member died of non-battle related injuries in eastern Afghanistan.

    At least 88 NATO service members including 51 US troops, 11 British troops and 26 soldiers from the other countries have been killed since the beginning of 2012 in Afghanistan.


  6. Afghan Massacre: Truth Of Events Remains Elusive

    Villagers Give Conflicting Accounts About What Really Happened

    By Peter Shadbolt, CNN

    POSTED: 11:57 pm CDT March 29, 2012
    UPDATED: 1:51 am CDT March 30, 2012

    Getting to the truth of the events that led to one of the worst massacres of the war in Afghanistan may be as long and tortuous as the conflict itself.

    Reporter Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS, one of the first western journalists to visit the villages where a U.S. soldier allegedly shot 17 people dead, told CNN that while she felt the villagers were telling the truth, some of their accounts were conflicting.

    “I did sense that they were upfront and their stories were heartfelt,” Hakim said. “(But) there were some disparities between the stories.

    “I spoke to mainly children and it is always difficult to assess whether a child is actually aware of what they saw,” she said. “Some of the children I spoke to told me that they only saw one American in their house. The eight-year-old girl that I spoke to said she saw several Americans in her house.”

    Hakim said she also spoke to a woman whose husband had been shot in the head, who gave a horrific account of having dragged his body into the house and how his brains fell out into her hands.

    “She told me she saw 15 to 20 Americans in her house,” Hakim said.

    One element she found surprising in covering the story was that there have not been the same protests over the massacre as Afghanistan saw over issues such as the recent burning by U.S. soldiers of copies of the Koran.

    While the U.S. has apologized over the incident, it has done nothing to quell anger.

    “It seems that a religious attack on their religion and their Koran … affected them more.” Hakim said. “They are grieving at the moment but that doesn’t mean there won’t be revenge attacks.”

    After the massacre, she says she was told that villagers loaded up a truck with the dead and attempted to drive them to the American base but were turned back by locals and elders who told them there would be a trial and that justice would be served.

    “There’s a lot of outrage that the American soldier was actually taken out of Afghanistan 48 hours after the attack,” Hakim said.

    “They told me that if an Afghan soldier had done something similar in the United States would that soldier have been taken out of the United States and brought back to America and put on trial here (Afghanistan)?

    “This is something that has outraged the people here to a large extent,” she said.

    One of the difficulties for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, she says, is that he is effectively playing to several audiences: the first his allies in the U.S. military and the international community, the second the Afghan people and his opponents in the Taliban.

    The shooting has severely strained the rapport between the U.S. and Karzai who, after the shooting, said that relations between the two countries were at the “end of the rope.” Two Afghan provincial council members said the United States has paid the victims’ families a total of $860,000 — $10,000 for each of the six wounded survivors, and $50,000 apiece for the 16 dead. While the suspect has been charged with 17 counts of murder, Afghan authorities have said there were 16 people killed in the massacre.

    “It’s a difficult juggling act for him (Karzai) and it’s certainly a thankless job but at this stage he really is pushing for freedom of the press when it comes to this particular story,” Hakim said.

    The U.S. military has maintained that the shooting with work of a single soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who walked away from a U.S. military base and was acting alone.

    U.S. military officials have yet to gain access to the sites where the Afghans were killed in Kandahar, an obstacle that could make it more difficult to prosecute the soldier accused of the multiple homicides.

    Bales’ attorney, John Henry Browne, told CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” on Wednesday that it was “not a traditional crime scene,” making it tough for prosecutors to make a case.

    “There is no crime scene. The military has not even been back to the villages where this allegation stems from. They haven’t been back there. So there’s no crime scene, there’s no DNA, there’s no fingerprints, there’s no confession,” he said.

    “You know, the Afghan people traditionally, I understand, and understandably, bury their dead very quickly. So it’s going to be a tough case for the prosecutors.”

    Copyright CNN 2012


  7. Policeman kills nine of his fellows

    AFGHANISTAN: A policeman killed nine of his fellow officers as they lay sleeping in a village in Paktika province on Friday in an attack that police blamed on the Taliban.

    Yayakhil district police chief Dawlat Khan Zadran identified the gunman as Asadullah, who goes by one name.

    He said the gunman was assigned to a small command post when he woke up at 3am before using his assault rifle to kill the nine men sleeping inside the post.

    Asadullah then took their weapons and piled them in a pickup truck before making his escape, Mr Khan reported.


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  9. UK says report of Afghan plot to kill envoys is credible

    Posted: Friday, 30 March 2012 05:00PM

    By Mohammed Abbas

    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s outgoing ambassador to Afghanistan said on Friday there was “some credibility” to reports that an Afghan governor plotted to kill the U.S., French and British envoys to Kabul in 2009, but that there was not enough evidence for a trial.

    U.S. investigators allege former governor Ghulam Qawis Abu Bakr ordered a 2009 suicide bombing that killed two U.S. soldiers, and that he plotted to kill the U.S., French and British ambassadors in November 2009, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday.

    The investigators also accuse him of involvement in acts of extortion and corruption, according to a summary of the investigation shown to the newspaper. U.S. officials are pressing the Afghan government to prosecute him.

    Abu Bakr denies the allegations and does not wish to speak to the media, the Wall Street Journal quoted his son-in-law Mohammed Iqbal Safi, a member of the Afghan parliament, as saying.

    President Hamid Karzai has rejected requests for a trial because of the lack of evidence, the newspaper said, a stance echoed by outgoing British Ambassador William Patey.

    “I think there is some credibility to the story … I don’t think there was ever sufficient evidence to initiate a prosecution against the governor, but I know that governor was subsequently removed by President Karzai,” Patey told reporters in London by video link from the Afghan capital.

    A series of killings by Afghan forces of foreign troops, the alleged massacre of 17 Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, the burning of copies of the Koran at a NATO base and other recent incidents have strained ties between Washington and Kabul.

    Three foreign soldiers, two of them Britons, were shot dead by Afghan security forces personnel on Monday in the latest round of so-called insider killings which have raised deep concerns about the reliability of NATO’s local allies.

    On Friday, police said an Afghan policeman drugged nine colleagues and shot them dead as they slept.

    Patey labeled the insider killings “isolated incidents”.

    “I think there is a tendency in a country where there has been so much violence for so long, that disputes, individual issues, tend to end in violence in a way that wouldn’t be true of other countries,” he said.

    “I’m not sure you can discern a pattern,” he said.

    (Editing by Tim Pearce)
    (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012.


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