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Entries in Kabul (4)

Monday
Feb272012

Pentagon Identifies Americans Killed in Kabul Shooting

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has confirmed the identity of the second American high-ranking Army officer who was killed in a shooting inside Afghanistan's Interior Ministry as Maj. Robert Marchanti of Baltimore, Maryland.

Afghan police believe the shooting, which occurred in one of the most secure government complexes in the country and also took the life of Lt. Col. John Loftis of Paducah, Kentucky, was carried out by a 25-year-old Afghan police officer. The incident, in addition to widespread protests, was believed to be part of a violent reaction to the U.S. military's admission it had burned some copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Protests simmered down Monday, but the threat to Americans remains high, U.S. officials said. Monday morning, two suicide bombers drove a car into the gates of a U.S.-led base in eastern Afghanistan, triggering an explosion that killed nine Afghans, according to local officials. In all, about 40 people have been killed since the Koran-burning admission.

Marchanti, who was a 20-year physical education teacher and served with the Maryland National Guard, was identified earlier Monday as one of the fallen in the shooting by family and friends.

"He kept calling me his little girl, and I kept getting so angry about it as I got older. I was like, I'm not a little girl anymore. But now I wish he could come back so I could tell him that I'm still his little girl," his only daughter, Leah Marchanti, told ABC News' Baltimore affiliate ABC2News.

The main suspect in the case, identified by local officials as Abdul Saboor Salangi, is still on the loose.

Two days before the shooting that claimed Marchanti and Loftis' lives, two other American soldiers were killed by a member of the Afghan Army at a base in eastern Afghanistan.

In response to the shooting in the Interior Ministry, all foreign advisors were withdrawn from all ministries, signaling a crisis that one senior NATO official called a "game changer," a moment in the war that will cause the U.S. to question the transfer of security responsibility through close mentoring and training to Afghan soldiers and police.

The shootings revealed that plans to embed smaller U.S. units inside larger Afghan units may expose American service members to more cases of fratricide than they would normally be in conventional deployments. They also revealed that despite 10 years of training and a $21 billion spent just in the last two years, the Afghan National Security forces – who will be responsible for securing the entire country within 16 months -- are still riddled with untrustworthy soldiers and police officers.

Despite all those concerns, U.S. and NATO officials have tried to calm fears by pointing out Afghan police have died defending U.S. bases from angry protestors -- a sign, they said, they are improving and are trustworthy. The officials have also given public interviews declaring their commitment to transition and to continuing multi-billion dollar efforts to rebuild Afghanistan.

But while those statements may help calm fears in Washington, they do not solve a fundamental problem in Afghanistan: severely decreased trust on both the U.S. and Afghan sides.

Afghan officials are still upset over the admitted Koran burning and said they want assurances another one won't happen again in the future. American officials are likewise furious over "green-on-blue" attacks from Afghan security officials and want assurances another one won't happen in the future.

U.S. and Afghan officials admit that much of the progress they've made in the war is at risk until both sides reassure the other.

When asked whether NATO forces in Afghanistan could guarantee another Koran burning would not happen, NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson said, "Nobody can guarantee that things are never going to happen. Nobody can guarantee that never again a shooting will happen between people who are partnered with each other."

Asked whether the Interior Ministry could guarantee whether another "green-on-blue" incident would not happen, Interior Minister Sediq Seddiqi said, "The only guarantee is time."

Trying to explain why a 25-year-old Afghan driver turned his gun on American colleagues, he added, "People go crazy sometimes when they see something really bad or strange, especially the Afghans, who have gone through many, many bad years of bloodshed," he said, referring to the Koran burning.

But both Seddiqi and Jacobson echoed each other in another way, when they tried to reassure the other side that everyone was working as hard as possible to avoid making the same mistakes.

"We should take more measures to build more trust and confidence. This is in our hands," Seddiqi said, "and of course we will take more measures to make sure these incidents do not happen in the future."

Jacobson's version: "We will do everything in our ability as it was promised by the commander [to] make actually sure that across the nations of this coalition, everybody is aware not only of the sensitivity of what happened in this incident, but also about the consequences and is aware how important it is to respect the habits and the traditions of the country that we're serving in."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul092011

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Arrives in Afghanistan on Surprise Visit

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL) -- New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan on a surprise visit Saturday that marks his first tour to the war-ravaged country since assuming his new position a week ago.

During his visit, Panetta is expected to meet with some of the 100,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Afghanistan, as well as with top commanders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Enroute to Afghanistan, Panetta told reporters traveling with him that meeting with the troops is one of the main purposes of his trip.

"One of the things I've already had to do is sign condolence letters to the families. And it makes me that much more aware of the great responsibility we have to support these men and women and to do everything we can to support their families," he said.

Panetta also said that in his new capacity as Defense Secretary, the defeat of al Qaeda will remain an important goal and he believes that the U.S. "is within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda and I'm hoping to be able to focus on that."

Referring to his previous role as CIA Director he said, "I think we have undermined their ability to conduct 9-11 type attacks" adding, "I think we have them on the run."

Specifically he referred to 10 to 20 key al Qaeda leaders that have been identified in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa who "if we can be successful in going after them I think we can really undermine their ability to be able to do any kind of planning to conduct any kind of attack on this country...that's why I think it's within reach. Is it going to take some more work? You bet it is. But I think it's within reach."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr292011

8 Service Members Killed in Kabul Shooting Identified

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has released the identities of the eight Air Force airmen killed this week in a shooting at the Kabul International Airport. Their remains are expected to return to Dover Air Force Base by Friday night.

  • Maj. Philip D. Ambard, 44, of Edmonds, Wash.  He was assigned to the 460th Space Communications Squadron, Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.
  • Maj. Jeffrey O. Ausborn, 41, of Gadsden, Ala.  He was assigned to the 99th Flying Training Squadron, Randolph Air Force Base, Texas.
  • Maj. David L. Brodeur, 34, of Auburn, Mass.  He was assigned to the 11th Air Force, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
  • Master Sgt. Tara R. Brown, 33, of Deltona, Fla.  She was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Joint Base Andrews, Md.
  • Lt. Col. Frank D. Bryant Jr., 37, of Knoxville, Tenn.  He was assigned to the 56th Operations Group, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
  • Maj. Raymond G. Estelle II, 40, of New Haven, Conn.  He was assigned to Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
  • Capt. Nathan J. Nylander, 35, of Hockley, Texas.  He was assigned to the 25th Operational Weather Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
  • Capt. Charles A. Ransom, 31, of Midlothian, Va.  He was assigned to the 83rd Network Operations Squadron, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.


An Afghan Air Corps pilot, angered by an argument with nine American trainers at a Kabul airport, pulled a gun on the Americans and killed them, officials said Wednesday. The shooter then apparently shot and killed himself.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec082010

Ultimate Sacrifice: U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan Think War Is Winnable

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment(KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan) -- From Afghanistan's forbidding mountains to the most remote villages, U.S. forces have been fighting a long, relentless battle to bring security to the Afghan people.

In Helmand and Kandahar, the two provinces where most of military and economic efforts are focused, there has been a sharp improvement in the lives of Afghans, but that has been more than offset by deterioration in other parts of the country.

"It's a very, very tough battlefield for our young company commanders, our young sergeants on the ground, making life and death decision every day," said Maj. Gen. John Campbell, commander of the 101st Airborne Division. Campbell commands all forces in the volatile eastern part of the country.

The toll on his troops has been staggering. In July, just five weeks into his tour, he told us 27 of his soldiers had been killed. In September, he said it was up to 76.

Today, Campbell said, it has reached 96.

"I've lost 96 heroes straight from the 101st and I've lost another 45 attachments from the 101st. So it's been a big toll," he said.

The toll is especially personal for some.

Sgt. Christian Gatison is a seasoned soldier, having served for 11 years, with two previous deployments in Iraq. This is his first deployment in Afghanistan.

He can't utter the name of his fallen friend, Sgt. Shaun Mittler, because it is too painful.

Mittler, a 32-year-old father of a young daughter from Austin, Texas, was killed this July in an enemy attack.

While Kabul is now relatively secure, with troops expected to begin thinning out there first in July 2011, it seems that all those stationed at remote combat outposts around the country know someone who has died.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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