Entries in Night Raids (5)


Afghanistan and U.S. Sign Deal on Night Raids

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Afghanistan and the United States signed a deal on night raids on Sunday, The Washington Post reports.

Under the agreement, an Afghan force that was just created -- the Afghan Special Operations Unit -- will search houses and compounds to arrest suspected insurgents, and U.S. forces will provide support that is only required or requested. The deal resolved a major source of friction between the United States and President Hamid Karzai, who has repeatedly called for an end to the raids.

Around 3,000 night raids have been conducted over the past 14 months, according to U.S. officials, who also said that suspects were apprehended 81 percent of the time. Many Afghans have complained that the raids violate their privacy, create panic and result in civilian casualties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Ready to Cede Control of Nighttime Raids to Afghanistan

John Moore/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. and Afghanistan are on the verge of a deal that would give President Hamid Karzai's government more control over covert nighttime raids on Afghan homes, a practice that has driven a wedge between the once tight relations between the two countries.

American and Afghan officials familiar with knowledge of the deal say the Afghan military would take the lead role in the raids designed to hunt down Taliban militants while the U.S. would have some say in how the actual raids are conducted.

The nighttime raids have been a thorn in Karzai's side because innocent civilians have been caught in the crossfire.

Furthermore, ordinary Afghans have not been able to distinguish the difference between the raids and an incident last month in which 17 civilians were slain allegedly at the hands of an American Army sergeant.

A pact on the nighttime raids as well as the transfer of control of Bagram prison to the Afghan military should help repair relations between Washington and Kabul.

An agreement was due to have been signed Wednesday, but there is an apparent hold-up over who gets custody of detainees in the raids once a warrant is issued.  The U.S. would like at least temporary custody in order to interrogate prisoners.

If and when the pact does get agreed upon, the U.S. and Afghanistan can move forward on a strategic deal that will outline responsibilities once Americans and NATO forces are withdrawn from the country in 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghan President: End Night Raids and US Troops Can Stay Past 2014

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In his first public endorsement of a plan to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond a stated 2014 withdrawal date, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said NATO would have to stop conducting night raids if the Afghan people would continue to support troops’ presence.

Karzai’s pronouncement at a huge gathering of Afghan political and tribal leaders echoes his past criticisms of night raids, which infuriate most Afghans but is seen by the U.S. as its most successful tool against the Taliban.

But the statement still could prevent a problem for the United States, which is hoping that the “loya jirga” endorses a long-term presence of U.S. troops without bucking a key U.S. condition: that night raids continue -- although possibly led by Afghan special forces.

The 2,000-member jirga will debate for four days the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan as well as how to negotiate with the Taliban.  Its concluding statement will not become law, but in recent days, U.S. officials were confident jirga delegates would not challenge any conditions the U.S. has set on the long-term strategic agreement.  If it does, then the difficulties that the U.S. and Karzai have already had over trying to find agreement on night raids as well as detention rules and the presence of U.S. troops in cities will only be exacerbated.

“Our condition is that America and NATO in Afghanistan should stop searching Afghan houses.  That’s not acceptable,” Karzai said.  “We don’t accept night raids on our houses, we won’t accept it at all.”

Throughout his speech, Karzai described Afghanistan as an old lion that still has some bite.

“We are ready for strategic agreement between a lion and America,” he said. "The lion doesn’t want his children taken away by someone during the night...The lion is the king, and it rules in his own soil.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Challenging the US Military’s Favorite Tactic in Afghanistan

John Moore/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The tactic that the U.S. military in Afghanistan calls its safest and most effective tool to capture or kill insurgent leaders actually helps turn the Afghan population against the United States, according to a new report released Monday by the liberal Open Society Foundations.

Every night, in an average of eight locations across the country, small teams of special operations forces storm over the walls of Afghan homes, looking for mid-level commanders it believes facilitate or lead insurgent activity against Western troops and the Afghan government, military officials say. According to statistics provided by the military, 85 percent of night raids end without a shot being fired and “just over” 50 percent lead to the capture or death of the target.

But Monday’s report argues that a five-fold percent increase in night raids and a similar increase in detentions from the raids in the last two years have imperiled more civilians than ever before and reinforced Afghan perceptions that the U.S. military uses “night raids to kill, harass, and intimidate civilians with impunity.” That perception, in turn, can push the Afghan population toward the insurgents and against the very people who are there to protect them.

“We’re sacrificing long term interests for short-term gains. You can have a night raid and maybe it will get a terrorist that you’re looking for, perhaps it allows you to gain more information. But in the process, you’ve probably turned that entire family, perhaps their entire community, perhaps their entire tribe, against you,” Erica Gaston, the report’s primary author, told ABC News.

The findings challenge the military’s argument that killing or capturing commanders -- despite the acknowledged risk to Afghan sensitivities -- can help tip the balance away from insurgents. They are especially relevant as the U.S. is expected to rely more on small, pinpointed raids as tens of thousands of troops begin leaving Afghanistan.

The report credits the U.S. military for improving night raids since the uptick began in 2009. It says the intelligence seems more accurate, the partnering with Afghan special forces has risen dramatically, and the troops are more respectful of women in the homes they raid. But despite those improvements, the report says Afghan anger over the raids has “reached a boiling point” and inflamed the population so much, they cause “blowback that endangers not our only own troops but also Afghan civilians,” as Gaston put it in the interview.

Military spokesmen in Afghanistan say night raids are the safest way to target militant leaders. They say civilian casualties during night raids count for only one percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan. Above all else, the military argues they are effective.

Military officials said NATO plans to study the report, and that reviews of night raids are ongoing. But they indicated there is no intention to reduce the number of night raids -- 2,900 in the last 12 months, according to a senior NATO official.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Military Changes Ground Rules for Afghan Night Raids

Photo Courtesy - ISAF/U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs(WASHINGTON) -- The United States military has changed a handful of rules governing Special Operations Forces raids in Afghanistan that are designed to kill or capture high-level leaders, in an attempt to address Afghani concerns over a tactic of the war there that has increased by a factor of five in the last year.

The operations, widely known as night raids because the overwhelming majority take place in darkness, have exasperated Afghan President Hamid Karzai's administration.  Karzai himself recently said they "have to go away" and represent a "continuing disagreement" with the United States.

Barging into an Afghani's house anytime without permission is considered rude; doing so at night is considered offensive and incites extreme anger, even among those who support the U.S.  But U.S. commanders have lauded the night raids, saying they have led to the capture or death of hundreds of mid-level commanders and have given the military a much better understanding of insurgent networks.

The changes appear to be an attempt by the U.S. miltary to address Afghan concerns without significantly altering how it uses the night raids, which were mentioned positively in the annual Afghanistan-Pakistan review released by President Obama Thursday.

According to a senior NATO official, the changes include:

--  Providing, in writing, a point of contact to the family of anyone taken in a raid.

-- Handing receipts to family members if U.S. or Afghan special operations forces take any items from their compound.

-- Videotaping "as much as possible" on the raid.  This is to defend against future accustaions and also move slowly toward an arrangement with the Afghan criminal justice system to provide evidence for prosecution.

-- Improving communication directly with the Presidential Palace in Kabul.  Teams will now provide real-time video and/or intelligence directly into a joint International Security Assistance Force/Karzai office so as to avoid the situation when the president or his direct advisors do not know about the raids.

Some of these changes were first reported in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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