16 thoughts on “Afghan dead bodies as US military trophies

  1. Returning soldiers have more car crashes: study

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:06 a.m. EDT

    By Ben Berkowitz

    BOSTON (Reuters) – Military personnel have 13 percent more car accidents in which they are at fault in the six months after returning from overseas duty than in the six months prior, a USAA study revealed on Tuesday.

    USAA, a major insurer catering specifically to the armed forces and their families, based its study on 171,000 deployments by 158,000 of its members over a three-year period ending in February 2010, when combat was still raging in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In many cases, USAA found, soldiers took the driving style that kept them alive on the streets of Baghdad and Kabul and applied it to the suburban roads at home.

    The results were most dramatic for returning members of the Army and Marines, whose accident rates rose 23 percent and 12.5 percent, respectively. (Rates were up 3 percent for the Navy and 2 percent for the Air Force).

    Not surprisingly, given the experience many soldiers had with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other roadside obstacles in combat zones, USAA found “objects in the road” to be the most cited of the 13 accident causes it studied.

    The insurer also found a direct correlation between the number of deployments and the rate of accidents — those deployed three or more times had 36 percent more incidents, those deployed twice had 27 percent more and those deployed only once had 12 percent more accidents. A 2009 military study found that, since 2001, deployments for reservists had averaged from 8 to 14 months in duration.

    There was also correlation by age (soldiers under 22 were involved in more wrecks than those over 29) and by rank (the more senior a soldier the lower the number of accidents).

    “USAA has shared its research with each military branch’s safety center commanders. USAA has also shared the study with academics and traffic safety experts and has taken steps to make USAA members aware of the behind-the-wheel risks for returning troops,” the company, which had 8.8 million members as of the end of 2011, said in the report.

    The Army’s Office of Public Affairs declined to comment on the results of the study, saying it was the company’s research project and not the government’s.

    The USAA survey adds to the growing body of data on the psychological and physical effects of deployment to war zones.

    The U.S. Army said in January that violent sex crimes committed by active-duty soldiers have almost doubled over the last five years, due in part to the trauma of war. In March, Army researchers said one in five soldiers returning from Afghanistan or Iraq after a concussion develop chronic headaches.

    (Reporting By Ben Berkowitz; editing by Gunna Dickson)

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  3. Son’s habits changed after Afghan mission, mother tells suicide hearing


    OTTAWA— From Friday’s Globe and Mail

    Published Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012 10:32PM EDT
    Last updated Friday, Apr. 27, 2012 8:11AM EDT

    After Afghan war veteran Stuart Langridge returned to Canada, Sheila Fynes said she saw a “marked change” in her son.

    Rather than the “happy-go-lucky” and energetic boy she remembered, the corporal stopped sleeping well and started having nightmares, Ms. Fynes told a public interest hearing into her son’s suicide Thursday.

    More related to this story

    Probe into corporal’s death examines why suicide note was kept secret 14 months
    Military failing families of fallen soldiers, ombudsman says
    Lawyer describes ‘emotional’ chat with U.S. soldier accused in Afghan massacre

    The Military Police Complaints Commission is investigating the handling of the case, focusing on concerns brought forward by Ms. Fynes and her husband. Among their allegations are that investigations into Cpl. Langridge’s death by the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service were inadequate and biased, aiming to exonerate Canadian Forces members of responsibility.

    “After Afghanistan,” Ms. Fynes said, “he tried very hard to still be good at what he was doing. But there was a difference … he played his cards really close to his chest.”

    The corporal, who also served in Bosnia, returned from Afghanistan in 2005. He was drinking excessively and using cocaine by 2007, said his mother, who maintains he was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. He attempted suicide several times, was hospitalized and stayed at a rehab centre before he was found hanging at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton in March, 2008. He was 28.

    When Ms. Fynes and her husband returned to their Victoria home on March 15, 2008, there was a message waiting and the call display said “DND.” Ms. Fynes said she knew immediately that her son had killed himself.

    She had recently come back from Alberta, where she had been visiting the corporal in hospital following a suicide attempt, Ms. Fynes told the hearing. He had returned to the base with specific conditions, she said, among them that he would be watched 24/7.

    “It’s the last time I will ever go against what my instinct tells me,” she said, responding to questions from the commission lawyer. “I believed someone I didn’t know, who said that my son was safe.”

    Much of the probe is focusing on a suicide note that Cpl. Langridge left for his family, one that requested a small funeral. They weren’t given it, or even told about it, for 14 months. The delay prompted public apologies from the Canadian Forces, but the cause of the delay remains unclear.

    It took months for Ms. Fynes to be told that she was designated as the next of kin, she said, which happened after the family filed a complaint about delays. Originally the family was told the soldier’s ex-girlfriend was still designated, leading to complications including her planning the funeral, Ms. Fynes said.

    Recently updated paperwork indicating the change of next of kin was lost behind a cabinet in the office of Cpl. Langridge’s boss, the probe has heard. It was found within days of his death but took months to get to the family, according to witnesses.

    Another complication was that Cpl. Langridge’s death certificate contained errors, even after she tried to have it corrected three times, she said.

    Previous witnesses have suggested that everything possible was done to care for the soldier before his death, including access to addictions counsellors on the base, said commission lawyer Mark Freiman. But Ms. Fynes, who only paused a few times during her emotional testimony, rejected that everything possible was done.

    Earlier, she recalled what her son said to her when he tried to turn things around once before his death: “I need to get back to the business of being a good soldier.”

    The witness before Ms. Fynes on Thursday was Lieutenant-Colonel Gilles Sansterre. The former commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service is one subject of the family’s complaints.

    The hearing was heated as he fielded repeated questions from lawyers for the family and the commission about why an operating procedure wasn’t changed in writing – to include reference to quickly informing families about suicide notes – until 2011. More than a year before that, following Cpl. Langridge’s death, officials said the procedures had been changed.

    Lt.-Col. Sansterre said the need to give notes to families quickly was communicated verbally before it was written into the procedure.


  4. Kandahar army shooting kills 2

    AFGHANISTAN: An Afghan soldier shot dead a US service member and a local interpreter and injured three Nato soldiers in Kandahar province on Thursday.

    There have been at least 16 such attacks against occupation forces this year.

    Three US soldiers were killed in a bomb blast in a separate attack on Thursday in the country’s east, according to Nato, which did not release further details.


  5. Number of suicides in military rises as troops return home from Afghanistan

    By: The Canadian Press

    30/04/2012 6:28 PM

    OTTAWA – The number of suicides in the Canadian military rose last year as thousands of soldiers returned home from the battlefields of Afghanistan.

    The Department of National Defence says 19 men and one woman died by suicide in the Canadian Forces in 2011, up from 12 in 2010.

    The department cautions against reading too much into the statistics, saying there’s no proof they signal an upward trend.

    In a statement on their website, the department says suicide rates among serving military personnel are lower than those of the Canadian population.

    According to statistics provided by the military, 187 soldiers have committed suicide since 1996.

    That’s more than the number of soldiers killed during the 10 years Canadians spent fighting the war in Afghanistan; of the 158 soldiers who died, at least three are believed to have committed suicide in the field.

    Canada’s combat role in Kandahar ended in the summer of 2011, though there are still several hundred troops training Afghan forces.

    A recent parliamentary study estimated that almost 3,000 of the soldiers who served there can be expected to suffer from a severe form of post-traumatic stress disorder and 6,500 will suffer from mental health issues.

    The study said the risk of suicide is a major concern with stress-related injuries. And while the rate of suicide among serving soldiers is less than the population, a study done by the military did find that former soldiers have a higher risk of suicide than average Canadians.

    The Canadian Forces have increased mental health screening and awareness programs since 2009 and returning soldiers must attend post-deployment sessions with mental health staff.

    But Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natyncyzk told a Senate committee that even using the gold standard of recruitment and all the screening techniques available, it’s impossible to identify all soldiers who are vulnerable.

    “One suicide is too many,” Natyncyzk told the committee Monday.

    “And we have too many every year.”

  6. AP EXCLUSIVE: US not reporting all Afghan attacks

    Monday – 4/30/2012, 4:25pm ET
    An Army carry team marches away from a transfer case containing the remains of Staff Sgt. Dick A. Lee Jr. Sunday, April 29, 2012 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. According to the Department of Defense, Lee, 31, of Orange Park, Fla., died April 26, 2012 in Ghazni province, Afghanistan from injuries sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. (AP Photo/Steve Ruark)

    AP National Security Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) – The military is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops.

    The U.S.-led coalition routinely reports each time an American or other foreign soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But The Associated Press has learned it does not report insider attacks in which the Afghan wounds _ or misses _ his U.S. or allied target. It also doesn’t report the wounding of troops who were attacked alongside those who were killed.

    Such attacks reveal a level of mistrust and ill will between the U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan counterparts in an increasingly unpopular war. The U.S. and its military partners are working more closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility to them by the end of 2014.

    In recent weeks an Afghan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers but missed the group entirely. The Americans quickly shot him to death. Not a word about this was reported by the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, as the coalition is formally known. It was disclosed to the AP by a U.S. official who was granted anonymity in order to give a fuller picture of the “insider” problem.

    ISAF also said nothing about last week’s attack in which two Afghan policemen in Kandahar province fired on U.S. soldiers, wounding two. Reporters learned of it from Afghan officials and from U.S. officials in Washington. The two Afghan policemen were shot to death by the Americans present.

    Just last Wednesday, an attack that killed a U.S. Army special forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Andrew T. Brittonmihalo, 25, of Simi Valley, Calif., also wounded three other American soldiers. The death was reported by ISAF as an insider attack, but it made no mention of the wounded _ or that an Afghan civilian also was killed.

    The attacker was an Afghan special forces soldier who opened fire with a machine gun at a base in Kandahar province. He was killed by return fire.

    That attack apparently was the first by a member of the Afghan special forces, who are more closely vetted than conventional Afghan forces and are often described by American officials as the most effective and reliable in the Afghan military.

    Coalition officials do not dispute that such non-fatal attacks happen, but they have not provided a full accounting.

    The insider threat has existed for years but has grown more deadly. Last year there were 21 fatal attacks that killed 35 coalition service members, according to ISAF figures. That compares with 11 fatal attacks and 20 deaths the previous year. In 2007 and 2008 there were a combined total of four attacks and four deaths.

    ISAF has released brief descriptions of each of the fatal attacks for 2012 but says similar information for fatal attacks in 2011 is considered classified and therefore cannot be released.

    Jamie Graybeal, an ISAF spokesman in Kabul, disclosed Monday in response to repeated AP requests that in addition to 10 fatal insider attacks so far this year, there have been two others that resulted in no deaths or injuries, plus one attack that resulted in wounded, for a total of 13 attacks. The three non-fatal attacks had not previously been reported.

    Graybeal also disclosed that in most of the 10 fatal attacks a number of other ISAF troops were wounded. By policy, the fact that the attacks resulted in wounded as well as a fatality is not reported, he said.

    Asked to explain why non-fatal insider attacks are not reported, Graybeal said the coalition does not disclose them because it does not have consent from all coalition governments to do so.

    “All releases must be consistent with the national policies of troop contributing nations,” Graybeal said.

    Graybeal said a new review of this year’s data showed that the 10 fatal attacks resulted in the deaths of 19 ISAF service members. His office had previously said the death total was 18. Most of those killed this year have been Americans but France, Britain and other coalition member countries also have suffered fatalities.

    Graybeal said each attack in 2012 and 2011 was “an isolated incident and has its own underlying circumstances and motives.” Just last May, however, an unclassified internal ISAF study, called “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility,” concluded, “Such fratricide-murder incidents are no longer isolated; they reflect a growing systemic threat.” It said many attacks stemmed from Afghan grievances related to cultural and other conflicts with U.S. troops.

    Mark Jacobson, an international affairs expert at the German Marshall Fund in Washington and a former deputy NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said attacks of all types are cause for worry.

    “You have to build up trust when working with partners, and years of trust can be destroyed in just a minute,” Jacobson said. No matter what the motivation of the Afghan attacker, “it threatens the partnership.”

    Until now there has been little public notice of non-fatal insider attacks, even though they would appear to reflect the same deadly intent as that of Afghans who manage to succeed in killing their foreign partners.

    Gen. Mohammad Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the army has tightened its monitoring of soldiers’ activities recently and, in some cases, taken action to stop insider attacks.

    For example, “a number of soldiers” have been arrested for activity that might suggest a plot, such as providing information on army activities to people outside the military, he said. Some have been dismissed from the Army, but he did not provide figures.

    U.S. officials say that in most cases the Afghans who turn their guns on their supposed allies are motivated not by sympathy for the Taliban or on orders from insurgents but rather act as a result of personal grievances against the coalition.


    Associated Press writer Heidi Vogt in Kabul contributed to this report.

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