Entries in Army (22)


VIDEO: Taliban Ambush Witnessed by ABC News

ABC News(NURISTAN, Afghanistan) -- The mission was Afghan-led and run with 10 or so American soldiers bringing up the rear. The goal was to sweep through a series of remote mountain villages and reclaim the valley where Taliban insurgents were believed to be heavily entrenched.

It was exactly the kind of mission the Afghan National Army would need to carry out as U.S. forces begin their drawdown across the country. It was also a perfect test case for the key question at this stage of the war: Can the Afghans go it alone?

They set out early Thursday morning from the small base at Kalagush, the only base for U.S. forces in Nuristan Province. It's a tiny base protecting a long, winding river valley that heads north into the further reaches of the province.

Nuristan has long been a transit point between the Afghan border with Pakistan, and the city of Kabul, which militants seek to penetrate to launch attacks.

With the Afghans in the lead, the troops moved through the first village without incident -- the Americans in their support role, watching and waiting.

"OK, let's go up there," said Capt. Marcus Morgan. "That's a Taliban flag right there."

The Afghan forces were just leaving that first village, marching along a mountain ridge about five miles from Kala Gush, when the first bursts of incoming fire came.

"Where's that coming from?" someone said over the radio.

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Taliban fighters, perhaps lying in waiting, had ambushed the Afghan troops along the ridge. The Afghan troops fired back, beginning a sustained firefight that lasted about 10 minutes.

Because of a new mandate allowing U.S. forces to only give advice, American soldiers stayed back, forcing the Afghan troops to make decisions on their own.

But with mortars and heavy machine-gun fire surrounding the troops, and tempers flaring among the Afghans, one Afghan commander asked the Americans for air support. Within minutes the Afghan forces had power from the air, and the airstrikes ended the battle.

Back at Kalagush, this much was clear: The Afghan forces had performed well in some areas, but were terribly lacking in others.When the Afghans were called upon to fight, they did and they fought bravely.

Despite that, they suffered from serious command issues. The Afghan commander did not appear to have the support and loyalty of his own brigade. At times, his second in command openly criticized him, shouting at him for not sending enough fighters up to a plateau that was the scene of some of the heaviest fighting.

In the end, it took American air power to win the fight. And even after jets had taken out the militants' positions, the Afghan commander refused to push further into the valley for fear it could put more troops at risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Remains of Last Missing Soldier in Iraq Identified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The remains of Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie, the last American service member still missing in Iraq, have been positively identified.

Altaie was serving as an Army interpreter when he was kidnapped in October 2006, after he snuck off his base in Baghdad to visit his Iraqi wife.

Ever since then, the Iraqi-born soldier from Ann Arbor, Mich., has been listed as Missing-Captured by the Defense Department.

Army spokesman Troy Rolan said that on Saturday, Feb. 25, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover, Del., “used scientific methods on an unknown set of remains and positively identified them as those of missing-captured Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie.”

Army officials did not have further details about the circumstances surrounding his death or how his remains were discovered.  One official said the remains had been found in Iraq earlier in the week.

McClatchy Newspapers first reported the identification of Altaie’s remains, citing family members who told the news service that a military casualty officer had knocked on the family’s home in Ann Arbor at 1 a.m. Sunday to personally convey the news.  An Army official confirmed that account to ABC News.

Altaie’s brother, Hathal Altaie, told McClatchy, “We’ve been waiting for five years, suffering, not knowing if he’s alive or dead.  This was not the news we wanted, of course, but it’s better than staying like that, without ever knowing what happened to him.”

At the time of Altaie’s capture, the U.S. military in Iraq conducted massive efforts to locate the missing soldier.

Relatives told McClatchy the Iraqi government had turned over his remains to the United States on Feb. 22, but the family was only notified after forensics tests at Dover confirmed his identify.

Altaie was presumed to have been kidnapped by Iraqi insurgents who months after his capture released a video showing he was alive, but little more was heard after that.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghan Soldier Turns Gun on Australian Mentors, Injures Three

REZA SHIRMOHAMMADI/AFP/Getty Images(SYDNEY) -- For the second time in two weeks, an Afghan soldier has turned his gun on his Australian mentors, and in response, the Australians have disarmed a unit of the Afghan army.

The incident took place in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan on Tuesday when an Afghan soldier fired his AK-47 and a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) at his Australian mentors, seriously injuring three of them, according to the Australian army.

The Australians then disarmed the Afghans, to whom they are slowly transitioning responsibility for security.  The Australian army said they did so "as a precaution."  It's not clear how long the Afghans will be disarmed.

Two weeks ago, another Afghan soldier opened fire on his Australian mentors -- that time in Kandahar -- killing three and injuring seven.

On at least 15 occasions this year, an Afghan police officer or soldier has shot his mentors.  That is more than the total number of such incidents in the last five years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


American Service Member Dies in Iraq; Second this Month

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- The U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday announced the death of an Army service member in Iraq, marking the second time this month an American has been reported dead in that country.

“Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro, 29, of Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., died Oct. 21 in Tallil, Iraq,” the Defense Department said Tuesday. “He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.”

No further information was released regarding the circumstances of Shapiro’s death.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Military Leaving Much of Its Hardware in Iraq

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon is intent on removing most of its soldiers from Iraq in the coming months.  But much of the equipment that has been sent there over the years is staying put.

Rather than box and ship everything back to the States, the military has decided instead to give much of its small and large weaponry to the Iraqi army and police.

During the past year alone, the Pentagon estimates it has allowed the Iraqi to keep in the neighborhood of 2.5 million pieces of equipment with a price tag of about $250 million.

Much of the stuff is office supplies from the bases set up in the country, including much-needed air conditioners.

However, the Iraqis are also getting Army tanks in the deal, which will come in handy in their battle with al Qaeda and various militia groups.

Describing the massive giveaway, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton explains, "It's all sunk costs.  It's money that we spent and we're not going to recoup."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Czech Army Cracks Down on Overweight Soldiers -- The Czech army is smaller than it was when it was part of the Soviet Bloc, yet its soldiers are getting bigger.

When commanders discovered that one out of every two Czech soldiers is overweight -- with some 3,500 falling into the "obese" category -- the Defense Ministry launched a battle against the bulge.  The Financial Times reports top brass have ordered military cooks to sling low-fat chow to its soldiers, and also provide diet pills to the military.

The report says the Czech troops' weight problem is a reflection of the Czech Republic's growing obesity issue.  In fact, the military is thinner than the Czech civilian population in general: one in three Czechs are said to be obese, according to The Financial Times, compared to one in seven of the country's fighting men and women.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pentagon Unsure of Quality of Soldiers' Body Armor 

US [dot] Army [dot] mil(WASHINGTON) -- There's a pretty good chance that soldiers currently serving overseas or ones previously deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan wore armor that didn't adequately protect them from bodily harm.

A new Pentagon report finds that bullet-blocking plates for body armor were improperly tested by the Army.  The plate were the products of contracts awarded between 2004 and 2006.

As a result, the military doesn't know with 100 percent certainty whether five million pieces of equipment can adequately protect American service personnel from gunfire.

The audit conducted on the armor plates, known as ballistic inserts, says that tests were either incomplete or based on inconsistent ballistic test rounds.  Some examinations weren't even done because of the necessity of rushing the bullet-block plate to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even before the audit took place, the Army said it has enhanced its testing techniques "to provide the best body armor possible to the soldier."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two US Service Members Dead in Iraq

Antenna Audio, Inc./Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Two American service members died Saturday in Iraq when enemy forces attacked their unit with what U.S. Central Command called indirect fire.

The fatalities are the first U.S. deaths reported for the month of April.

The names of the dead have not yet been released.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Afghan Soldier Turns On, Kills Coalition Counterpart

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BAGHLAN, Afghanistan) -- A person wearing an Afghan army uniform turned his gun on the coalition soldier he was working with Friday, killing him and another soldier in the northern district of Baghlan. Other coalition soldiers then fired at the Afghan soldier, wounding him critically.

Local police say the two soldiers were German. At least eight others were injured in the attacks.

These kinds of shootings have increased in the last year. This is the second case in just the last month. On Jan. 20, an Afghan soldier killed two Italian soldiers before escaping a base in western Afghanistan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


With Mubarak Gone, Egyptian Army Moves to End Cairo Protests

Photo Courtesy - ABC News (CAIRO) -- The Egyptian government warned protesters Monday to finally leave the streets of Cairo and hauled away truckloads of tents and blankets, but knots of defiant protesters remained in the square demanding even more political changes while labor unions demonstrated for pay raises.

The protests have dwindled since Mubarak left office on Friday, but some demonstrators still remain. As Mubarak's portrait was removed from state buildings, rumors spread that he had fallen ill and was in a coma.

Mubarak is reportedly at his residence in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, 250 miles away from Cairo.

A little more than 48 hours after Egyptians toppled the government of Hosni Mubarak, the military has taken over the country's leadership and called for an end to the strikes. The military forced protesters and journalists off Tahrir, or Liberation, Square in Cairo, telling foreign reporters that only locals were allowed in the area.

A spokesman for the Armed Forces Supreme Council read a statement on television, its fifth so far, giving a not-so-gentle nudge to the people to get off the streets. He said the sit-ins and protests disrupt and stop the "wheels of production" and have negative repercussions on the national economy.

Protesters were divided over whether to continue demonstrating. Some are calling for a return to normal life while others, more skeptical, say they won't leave until they see real change. Most people want to see an immediate end to the controversial emergency law that has been in place almost continuously since 1967 and gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.

The military has promised swift presidential elections, but only a handful of viable opposition leaders have emerged and a concrete date has yet to be set. Among the contenders is Ayman Nour, a politician who was jailed when he challenged Mubarak in 2005 and became the first to announce his intention of running for the presidency.

Egypt itself is growing calmer and business is slowly returning to normal, though tourism has yet to return as international travelers remain jittery about the security situation in the region.

Tourism is the backbone of Egypt's economy, but the foreigners fled the country when the protests began in late January.

"Just to tell everyone that Egypt is safe and come back, we are ready to host a lot people, maybe millions and millions like we used to have. So we are ready. Please come to Egypt," said tour guide Shahindar Adel, one of many in the tourism industry that paraded outside the Pyramids Monday.

Holding signs like "Peace, freedom and love" and "Come to Egypt, you are safe here," the demonstrators pleaded for tourists to return.

Looting at Egypt's national museum was far worse than known, with more than a dozen priceless treasures stolen, including a small statue of a goddess holding King Tut.

Meanwhile, among Egypt's allies, there is anxiety over what the future entails for the entire region. Egypt is one of the United States' closest allies in the region and only one of two Arab countries that recognizes Israel.

Egypt's high military council is headed by Defense Minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, known to be relatively friendly to western governments. He was made deputy prime minister just two weeks ago in an effort to appease protesters.

Shoukry said the United States can count on the same kind of support from Egypt that it had before.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio