Entries in Soldiers (34)


Three Americans Killed in 'Insider Attack' in Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PATIKA, Afghanistan) -- An apparent insider attack has killed three Americans in the Patika region of Afghanistan.

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform turned his weapon on his American trainers early Saturday, killing three. Two of the trainers were U.S. soldiers. According to BBC News, when the man began firing, a number of international troops fired back at him.

In an unrelated attack, an Italian soldier was killed with a grenade in the Farah province. According to BBC News, the International Security Assistance Force is terming that incident an "insurgent attack." Three additional Italian soldiers were wounded in the attack, says BBC News.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Claims Soldiers Were Beheaded by Militants from Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistani authorities alleged on Monday that 13 of its soldiers were killed by militants who crossed over the northwestern border from Afghanistan.

The heads of seven soldiers among the dead were later found without their bodies, the Pakistanis said.

It's believed Islamabad will use this incident, in which 14 militants were also slain, to bolster its contention that Afghanistan also harbors members of al Qaeda and other extremists groups.

Pakistan has been under pressure by Washington and Kabul to go after the Taliban and its allies, who use the vast, untamed northwestern region to hide from government forces.

More times than not, Taliban and al Qaeda leaders operating in Pakistan are killed in missions by CIA unmanned drones rather than Pakistani troops.

Reacting to the latest assault on his troops, Pakistan's newly-chosen Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf told reporters in Karachi, "Pakistan has strongly protested with Afghanistan on the cross-border attacks and I will also take up this issue with [President Hamid] Karzai."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pakistani Troops Killed by Militants Near Afghan Border

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Six Pakistani troops were killed on Sunday by militants near the country's northwest border with Afghanistan, according to a Pakistan military official.

The soldiers were patrolling the border in the Upper Dir district, across from Afghanistan's Kunar province, when they came under attack by militants from Afghanistan.  Eleven militants were also killed in the firefight.

Sunday's incident is the second attack in the same area in the past three days.  Such attacks have strained relations between both countries before and the current string of attacks has potential of doing the same.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Apologizes for Photos of Soldiers With Enemy Remains

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- For the second time in three months, the most senior U.S. officials in Afghanistan have had to condemn images of soldiers disrespecting the bodies of their enemies.

On Wednesday, even before the Los Angeles Times had published photos it had obtained that appear to show American soldiers posing next to the mutilated remains of Taliban insurgents in 2010, America's top diplomat and military commander rebuked the soldiers in the photos and promised investigations.

The U.S.'s quick response Wednesday, and in January -- when video of U.S. Marines urinating on insurgents' bodies was called "inexplicable" -- appear to be attempts to convince an already skeptical Afghan public that not all Americans serving in Afghanistan treat dead bodies in ways that are forbidden by Islam.

But in this case, Afghan and American officials both said they did not expect that the new photos -- only two out of 18 given to the Los Angeles Times, according to the newspaper -- would incite widespread protest. Many Afghans shrug when they see evidence of U.S. mistreatment of Taliban fighters, and in the case of previous scandals, many Afghans have shown they are more incensed by mistreatment of religious texts, most notably the Quran, than they are of fellow Afghans.

Still, U.S. officials rushed to try and get ahead of the story, releasing almost simultaneous statements approved by senior officials in the State Department and the military.

"This behavior and these images are entirely inconsistent with the values of ISAF and all service members of the fifty ISAF countries serving in Afghanistan," said Gen. John Allen in a statement, referring to the U.S.-led coalition, the International Security Assistance Force. "These actions undermine the daily sacrifices of thousands of ISAF troops who continue to serve honorably in Afghanistan."

Added U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker: "Such actions are morally repugnant, dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and civilians who have served with distinction in Afghanistan, and do not represent the core values of the United States or our military."

The Los Angeles Times reported that the photos were taken in 2010, when members of the 1st brigade, 82nd airborne served in Zabul, a small province in southern Afghanistan.

The photographs depict two separate incidents, according to the newspaper. In one, the soldiers arrived at a police station to inspect body parts of a bomber who had blown himself up. As Afghan police officers are holding up the corpse's legs, two Americans pose for a photo, grinning with their thumbs up.

In the second incident, which the newspaper said occurred a few months later, the same platoon was called by Afghan police to take fingerprints of Taliban fighters who had mistakenly blown themselves up when a bomb they were burying in the road exploded early. One soldier places the dead bomber's hands on another soldier's shoulder as the photo is snapped.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a soldier from within the unit provided the photos on condition of anonymity. He told the newspaper that, in the second case, the soldiers in the photograph "were frustrated, just pissed off -- their buddies had been blown up by IEDs [improvised explosive devices]… so they sort of just celebrated" when they realized the insurgents had accidentally killed themselves.

U.S. officials did not dispute the authenticity of the photos, which they said the newspaper first showed them in the last few weeks.

"It needs to be fully investigated and that investigation is already underway," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Wednesday in Brussels. "Wherever these facts lead we'll take the appropriate action."

The newspaper reported that seven soldiers appear in the photos, and the military has "identified almost all the individuals," according to Christopher Grey, spokesman for the Army's Criminal Investigative Command.

The Los Angeles Times reported that military officials requested they not to print the photos, but that it decided to go ahead in part because the soldier who gave the newspaper "expressed the hope that publication would help ensure that alleged security shortcomings at two U.S. bases in Afghanistan in 2010 were not repeated."

That seemed to suggest that the soldier objected to what his fellow soldiers had done and believed their actions and possibly those of his commanders helped reduce the unit's security. Around the time the photos were taken, two Taliban attacks on two of the brigade's bases killed half a dozen soldiers -- bases that the soldier who provided the photos told the newspaper were not sufficiently protected.

Los Angeles Times editor Davan Maharaj said that publication "would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops."

In Brussels, however, Panetta chastised the newspaper, saying its decision could endanger troops serving in Afghanistan.

"This is war and I know that war is ugly and it's violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing… but neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people," Panetta said. "We had urged the L.A. Times not to run these photos and the reason for that is those kinds of photos have been used by the enemy to incite violence and lives have been lost as a result of the publication of similar photos in the past. So we regret that they were published."

The same brigade is now back in Afghanistan, although not the entire unit. U.S. officials Wednesday suggested that few, if any, of the soldiers in the photos had been redeployed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Australia's Military Leaving Afghanistan Ahead of Schedule

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Coalition troops are heading home from Afghanistan one year earlier than scheduled but they won't be American soldiers.

Australia, one of Washington's most dependable allies in the war, has announced that it will pull out virtually all of its 1,500 boots from Afghanistan before the end of 2013, rather than 2014 as previously planned.

The exit strategy was announced Tuesday by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who declared, "This is a war with a purpose, this is a war with an end."

All told, Australia has lost 32 soldiers during the 10-year-long conflict with another 218 wounded.

According to Gillard, the accelerated withdrawal was made possible by Australia helping to secure Oruzgan province while the training of the Afghan National Army has gone better than expected.

She said her government would continue to help finance the fragile Afghan democracy and provide training for Afghan forces during the coming years.

Polls show that an overwhelming majority of Australians want to end the military commitment in Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two NATO Troops Shot and Killed by Man in Afghan Army Uniform

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Two NATO service members were fatally gunned down in southern Afghanistan Monday by a man wearing an Afghan army uniform, according to local officials.

The attack took place at a base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, a spokesman for the provincial governor said.  The gunman, who opened fire at the entrance of the base, was also killed.

The identities of the two fallen soldiers have not been confirmed, but initial reports say they were British.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Marines in Afghanistan Ordered to Disarm Before Panetta's Speech

Chris Turner/Pool Photo(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In a sign of possible frayed nerves in the military, U.S. Marines were asked to lay down their weapons on Wednesday before entering a tent where Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was scheduled to speak.

It happened in Afghanistan's Helmand province after Panetta had met with tribal elders in nearby villages, assuring them that the U.S. mission was on track.  The unusual order came just days after a U.S. Army staff sergeant went off base and allegedly killed 16 Afghan civilians in their homes.

The 200 Marines were inside a tent at Camp Leatherneck along with Afghan guards and troops from other countries waiting for Panetta to arrive when they were told abruptly by Sgt. Major Brandon Hall to exit the tent, leave their weapons elsewhere and return unarmed.

It's an unusual break from protocol since Marines are expected to be armed at all times.

Afghan guards in the room, along with other foreign troops, were also unarmed during Panetta's address.  A defense official told reporters there was no heightened threat, but that the order to disarm was done to be "consistent" so that Americans troops wouldn't be the only ones carrying weapons.  The request reportedly did not come from Panetta or his team.

The order for the Marines to put down their weapons came from Major Gen. Mark Gurganus, according to a press pool report.  Gurganus said that since the Afghan soldiers were unarmed, he did not want them treated differently, but said it was not because of the shooting this weekend.

"You've got one of the most important people in the world in the room," he said.  "This is not a big deal."

This is Panetta's third trip to Afghanistan and, arguably, his most important.  The visit was planned months in advance, but carries additional significance.  It comes at a time of deeply strained U.S.-Afghan relations.

Addressing NATO troops at Camp Leatherneck, Panetta addressed last Sunday's massacre directly, which included nine children and three women, some of whose bodies were found with deep burn marks.

"We will not allow individual incidents to undermine our resolve," he said.  "We will be tested, we will be challenged by the enemy, by ourselves, and by the hell of war itself," he said.

He added, "Our strategy is working."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chinese Soldiers Play Pass the Grenade?

JupiterImages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Chinese military inspires wonder and fear in some quarters – particularly in this day and age when China and the United States engage in a near-daily mutual bashing over issues ranging from trade and currency policy to Taiwan and human rights.

Today, though, the Chinese military is inspiring…well, a lot of head-scratching. What is it we’re watching here? Is it “military training”? A bizarre form of Russian Roulette? A really dangerous form of “Hot Potato”?

This strange, minute-long piece of videotape purports to show a People’s Liberation Army training exercise. A half-dozen soldiers toss a live explosive, one to the other, in a small circle.

Then, not a moment too soon, they toss the grenade into what looks like a sand pit at the circle’s center, and take a kind of synchronized leap away from the pit. Synchronized grenade-diving. The grenade explodes, with six Chinese soldiers safely on their stomachs. And then it’s time to try again.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Two ISAF Troops Killed by Man Posing as Afghan Soldier

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Two service members of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) were killed in eastern Afghanistan Thursday when a man wearing an Afghan National Army uniform turned his weapon against them, the ISAF said in a statement.

Per policy, the ISAF did not identify the soldiers, but the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack, said their militant killed French soldiers inside a base in the Tagab district of Kapisa province.

The ISAF said it is investigating the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan: Is It Working?

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury/Released(WASHINGTON) -- Counterinsurgency may not be the buzzword it was in 2009, when President Obama was deliberating strategy for the war in Afghanistan -- but it is still the Army's prevailing strategy in the war that passed the 10-year mark this weekend, a military official said.

So how are we doing with our latest strategy?

It's not so easy to tell, according to the official -- Lt. Col. John Paganini, the director of the U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Center -- because there's no easy way to measure its success and no specific end date on the books, though officials are aware U.S. war resources may be limited.

Part of the problem with measuring success, Paganini said, is that a central point of the strategy is to be nimble and willing to change methods as needs change.

"Every day is a challenge to be adaptive," Paganini said.  "So we can't say, 'Well, today we're doing really well,' because everything is adaptive."

The goal of the counterinsurgency strategy is to defeat Taliban and affiliated insurgents by helping to bolster the Afghan government and its security forces, winning the hearts and minds of Afghans, reintegrating and reconciling former insurgents into society and helping to kick-start a functioning national economy.

President Obama ordered a surge of U.S. military forces and government officials into Afghanistan in 2009 to accomplish the strategy's early objectives.

Paganini said that the strategy has changed since the beginning of the war.  In the last three or four years, the Army has shifted from focusing on the enemy to building sustainable, long-lasting programs run by Afghans at every government level.

"We are becoming adaptive to overcome the insurgency," Paganini said, "not just those who are out to kill us or apply military force against us, or the protectors of the society of the host nation, but it really also gets after, 'Why does the insurgency exist?  What are the conditions that allow the population to either passively or actively support an external entity that wants to degrade the ability of the host nation government's security force?'"

For example, he said, the biggest thing the Army eliminated was "the idea in the minds of the Afghan citizenry and the Afghan leaders that this is an external problem with external solutions."

"Reinforce the notion that they already have that this is their problem, and their solutions are going to fix this problem," he said.  "And I think what you've seen -- from the initial stages of an awareness of [the idea that Afghans hold the key to their fate], to an acceptance of that, to a practice of it -- that's where you've seen significant gains."

Paganini said changing the minds of Afghans could take generations.

"Is victory inevitable?" he asked.  "No, because there are so many conditions that are out there.  But we are clearly on the path for it. ... It could take generations.  It could take, you know, the people of Afghanistan one or two iterations with some semblance of an election and feedback mechanisms that let them see that this is good."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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