Entries in Troops (48)


Five NATO Soldiers Killed in Southern Afghanistan

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Five NATO troops were killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan on Saturday.

The troops, members of the International Security Assistance Force, were killed by an improvised explosive device, according to a statement released by ISAF. NATO officials would not confirm the location of the explosion or the nationality of the troops who were killed.

Many of the troops in southern Afghanistan are British or American.

According to BBC News, the deaths bring to total number of coalition troops killed in 2013 to 47, including 37 Americans.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French and Malian Troops Enter Timbuktu

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(TIMBUKTU, Mali) -- The coalition effort to drive Islamist militants out of the North African country of Mali was highlighted Monday by French and Malian troops entering the ancient city of Timbuktu.

While there were reports that the al Qaeda-linked fighters had fled the city, it was unclear whether joint forces had gained full control of Timbuktu, which had been in rebel hands for most of last year.

French defense minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday evening that "French and Malian forces are liberating the city.  It’s not completely finished, but it’s well on its way."

Tragically, the militants allegedly destroyed mausoleums and manuscripts that date back to the 15th century.

Still, most Malians in Timbuktu were said to have been overjoyed with the arrival of government and French soldiers.

In other developments, secular Tuareg rebels, who are allied with the Malian government, claimed to have taken over the northern city of Kidal after Islamist fighters had abandoned it.

The French, who have many nationals living in Mali, began their offensive against the militants earlier this month when the Islamists began moving from their strongholds in the north to the capital of Bamako.

The U.S. and other nations have been providing the French with logistical support to prevent the spread of al Qaeda in the region.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Six Hundred More French Troops Arrive in Mali

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images(BAMAKO, Mali) -- With air strikes having done little to stop the advance of Islamist rebels, France's military will increasingly engage the fighters on the ground in the North African nation of Mali, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian acknowledged on Thursday.

The rebels, who have ties to al Qaeda, have seized much of Mali in spite of attacks on them by French military jets.

As a result, French ground troops have been boosted from 800 to 1,400, and while there's fighting already occurring, Le Drian was hesitant to discuss where the battles were taking place in Mali.

Last week, it was reported that a few dozen French special ops forces embedded themselves with Mali government troops in an effort to stop the rebels.

The escalation of troops by France is a sign of how serious the situation has become while Mali officials anxiously await reinforcements from West African nations that have pledged to deploy thousands of soldiers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French Ground Troops Now Fighting Mali Rebels

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BAMAKO, Mali) -- French ground soldiers are now engaging in direct combat with Islamist militants in the North African country of Mali.

With al Qaeda-based rebels threatening to take over the country, France has deployed ground troops to fight them in addition to launching air strikes.

A spokesman for the French operation said that armored vehicles were sent from Mali's capital of Bamako to recapture the town of Diabaly.

Although Mali has not been a French colony since 1960, there are still many nationals living in the African nation.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said from Paris that French forces were traveling north in Mali to take the fight directly to the Islamists in their own strongholds.

As the U.S. weighs the kind of logistical assistance it can offer the French in Mali, West African defense chiefs meeting in Bamako are discussing what types of troop support West African states can provide the Mali government.

It's believed that as many as 3,000 soldiers could be deployed, but because of the poor economies of certain governments, their presence might be limited to only three months in Mali.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


France Ready to Send More Troops to Mali

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Facing Islamist fighters determined to overrun the country, the French government is on the verge of deploying more troops to the North African country of Mali.

The militants have already taken large swaths of northern Mali and seem poised to enter the capital city of Bamako but French airstrikes are preventing that from happening for now.

France currently has a force of about 1,700 in Mali, with 800 actual soldiers on the ground.  The goal is to bolster Mali government troops while waiting for thousands of soldiers from West Africa.

While stressing that his country has no plans to remain in Mali permanently, French President Francois Hollande is ordering the deployment of more troops to keep the Islamists at bay while awaiting the African peacekeeping force.

The U.S., which has had a counterterrorism operation going on in Mali for several years, says it will continue providing France with intelligence findings from spy planes and drones.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


French Troops Killed in Failed Commando Missions in Somalia and Mali

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- The French Defense Ministry has confirmed the deaths of two French military service members in two military operations launched in Africa over the past 24 hours. One mission was a secret hostage rescue in Somalia, and the other was a very public mission to quash Islamist rebels in northern Mali.

Early Saturday, French commandos launched an unsuccessful raid in Somalia to rescue a French intelligence agent held by al Shabab since 2009. The French Defense Ministry say a hostage was killed in the raid, as was one of the commandos. Al Shabab says they’ve taken a commando hostage and that the original hostage remains alive.  Locals say the commandos flew in on five helicopters to the town of Bulomarer deep in southwestern Somalia. The Ministry says 17 Shabab fighters were killed in the firefight that followed.

Meanwhile in Mali, a French military helicopter pilot was killed during an aerial attack on a rebel command center in northern Mali. Hundreds of French troops were sent to Mali on Friday at the invitation of Mali’s president as rebel forces launched a new offensive out of their haven in northern Mali. "The threat is a terrorist state at the doorstep of France and Europe," French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a briefing on Saturday.  

The U.S. will decide soon on a French request to provide unarmed surveillance drones to help their forces in Mali. They’ve also requested mid-air refueling tankers to assist a French fighter aircraft. Friday morning ECOWAS member nations authorized the immediate deployment of military forces to Mali. There has been talk in the past that if this was to happen that the U.S. might provide cargo planes to move troops and equipment from these neighbor countries into Mali.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Britain Pulling Large Number of Troops Out of Afghanistan Next Year

ISAF Photo by British Royal Army Sergeant James Elmer(LONDON) -- Britain plans to drawdown nearly half of its forces from Afghanistan next year ahead of the near-complete withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition troops by sometime in 2014.

With 9,000 forces currently deployed mostly in three provinces, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce on Wednesday that he will order 4,000 soldiers back home in 2013 and may go beyond that if the situation on the ground warrants it.

Cameron came to his decision based on assessments from his top officers in Afghanistan's Helmand province and after conferring with his security team in London.

The British leader also informed President Obama about the plan to essentially halve the number of his forces in Afghanistan.  Obama still hasn't revealed what his drawdown plans are for 2013, with about 67,000 American boots still on the ground after more than 11 years of war.

It's also expected that other NATO members with soldiers in Afghanistan could follow Britain's lead and begin an accelerated withdrawal of their forces in the coming months.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has often spoken about having coalition troops leave his country sooner than later as his national army and police are poised to assume all security responsibilities despite some trepidation from the Pentagon that his optimism may be premature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pentagon on Benghazi Troop Movements: ‘Swift Action’ on Night of Attack

GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- A day after the release of a new timeline of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Pentagon has released new details about  the military forces moved that night in case they were needed in the region.

The timeline released Thursday by a senior U.S. intelligence official revealed the major role that CIA security forces in Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya, played in responding to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

On Friday, Pentagon spokesman George Little provided new details of U.S. military movements made the night of the attack in case they were needed.

Little said that within a few hours of the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered U.S. military forces to move to Sicily in preparation for an uncertain situation in Libya.

“This department took swift action,” said Little. “It did respond, the secretary ordered forces to move."

“We were prepared for a range of contingencies in the course of this very tragic incident,” said Little. “We were ready for the need to augment security measures at our facilities in Libya, if called upon.  We were prepared for the possibility, for instance, of a hostage situation, as well.  These were all the things that we were looking at for an event we did not know was going to happen in Benghazi that night. ”

According to Little, Panetta ordered forces to move towards the naval air station in Sigonella, Italy, after conferring with Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Carter Ham, the commander of U.S. Africa Command who was in Washington for regularly scheduled meetings.

Among the units ordered by Panetta on the night of the attack to Sicily, which is less than 500 miles from Libya, were two special operations teams that were moved to  Sigonella.

As previously reported, one of the units came from a U.S. military base in “Central Europe.” And Little disclosed that Panetta also ordered another team from the United States to head to Sigonella.  Little refused to describe what kind of unit was sent from the U.S., though it was presumably a special operations team trained for hostage rescues.

Little said both the units “did not arrive until after the entire sequence of events was complete. … They were in Sigonella many hours after the attacks.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that it can take hours for troops to be organized and transported to where they might be used.  He added that at the time they were ordered to move, policy makers "did not know when the attacks would end.”  Little said that, in theory, a hostage situation in Benghazi could have lasted for days.

“We didn’t have forewarning of this tragic event in Benghazi,” Little said. “The entire U.S. government was starting from a cold start.”

Another new detail disclosed Friday was that Panetta ordered the deployment of not one, but two platoons of specially trained Marines to protect U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya.

Based in Rota, Spain, the platoons headed to Sigonella for possible deployment to Libya.  One platoon was dispatched on Sept. 12 to protect the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.  The other platoon was to have gone to Benghazi to secure the consulate compound, but was never sent after it was determined that all U.S. personnel had been evacuated from Benghazi.

Little reaffirmed that no other American aircraft were involved over Libya the night of the attack beyond the unarmed surveillance drone that arrived 90 minutes into the attack.  As for reports that an AC-130 gunship could have been dispatched over Libya at the time of the attack,  Little was clear that “there was no AC-130 within a continent’s range of Benghazi” that night.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NATO Troops Resume Partnered Operations in Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that most NATO forces in Afghanistan are once again partnering with Afghan security forces.  Last week NATO commanders in Afghanistan significantly scaled back partnered missions between NATO and Afghan troops as a precautionary measure in the wake of insider attacks and the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

At a Pentagon news conference Panetta said, "I can now report to you that most ISAF units have returned to their normal partnered operations at all levels.”

Last week, NATO commanders issued a new directive ordering that most partnered operations had to be approved by the one- and two-star generals in charge of regional commands in Afghanistan.

NATO commanders in Afghanistan stressed the scale-back was a temporary move, even though it was seen as a major setback for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Just back from a trip to Afghanistan, Dempsey said he did not have the precise percentage, but said partnering was at the levels previous to the change.

“The leaders I had spoken to had resumed operations as they had been previously organized,” said Dempsey.  “And so it was my assessment coming back that the command had kind of restored to its previous norm. But it’s changing all the time.”

Dempsey could not say precisely whether partnered operations were back to 90 percent of all operations in Afghanistan, but said, "Yeah, as far as I know sitting here in Washington, 8,000 miles away.”

A Defense official said Thursday that even though most NATO forces have resumed partnering with their Afghan counterparts, the directive remains in place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Britain Mulling Quicker Withdrawal from Afghanistan

ISAF Photo by British Royal Army Sergeant James Elmer(LONDON) -- Britain is considering hastening the pace of its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The goal of the U.S. and its coalition allies is to pull out virtually all forces by sometime in 2014 in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan government.

While the U.S. currently has an estimated 67,000 soldiers in the country, Britain is second most with 9,000.

British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is now suggesting that his government could order thousands of troops out of Afghanistan in a year from now because he is "surprised by the extent to which they have been able to draw back and leave the Afghans to take the lion's share of the combat role."

Hammond also stressed that the British drawdown would be coordinated by how the U.S. sees the situation develop in Afghanistan a year from now.

He emphasized that while the Afghan military has seemed to improve at a faster rate than expected, the government is lacking when it comes to taking diplomatic steps to end the nearly 11-year war.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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