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Entries in War in Afghanistan (17)

Monday
Mar252013

U.S. and Afghanistan Reach Agreement on Control of Bagram Prison

Kevin Horan/Stone(WASHINGTON) -- After negotiations and delays, the International Security Assistance Force has turned control of Bagram detention facility to the Afghan government.

The prison was a main topic of conversation when Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel traveled to Afghanistan earlier this month. Previous attempts to hand over the detention facility were delayed by concerns that Afghan officials would release high-risk detainees.

According to the New York Times, Bagram was the only remaining American prison for long-term detention in Afghanistan, and the agreement to turn over control is a key to widning down the war in Afghanistan.

A Pentagon spokesman told the Times that, "the transfer will be carried out in a way that ensures the safety of the Afghan people and coalition forces by keeping dangerous individuals detained in a secure and humane manner in accordance with Afghan law."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct012012

Suicide Attack Kills Three NATO Troops in Afghanistan

ABC News(KABUL, Afghanistan) – Another suicide attack in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of three more NATO troops Monday. The attack comes just a day after the 2,000th American casualty of the war in Afghanistan.

The insurgent crashed a motorcycle equipped with IEDs into a U.S. military convoy traveling in the eastern province of Khoost. According to local officials, three American ISAF soldiers and 11 civilians, including an ISAF-contracted translator, were killed in the attack. Another 50 or so were injured. 

The Taliban has claimed responsibility.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Sep302012

Two-Thousandth US Soldier Killed in Afghanistan

Afghanistan iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD, Pakistan) – Another somber milestone for the United States Military, as the 2,000th American soldier was killed in Afghanistan Saturday. According to the Los Angeles Times, a U.N. civilian contractor was also killed in what’s being described as an inside attack by a member of the Afghan security force. Three Afghan soldiers were also killed and four were wounded.

The attack, the Times reports, took place at a checkpoint in Wardak province. Though a local police chief describes the shootout as a misunderstanding, NATO issued a statement saying it suspects the killings were the result of an inside attack, and that a NATO-Afghan force investigation is already underway.

According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 50 coalition soldiers have been killed by insider attacks in 2012, and 15-percent of all NATO deaths in Afghanistan are caused inside shootings.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug022012

Russia's President Fearful of Hasty Pullout from Afghanistan

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(MOSCOW) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin turns out to be a hawk when it comes to the international military involvement in Afghanistan.

Putin believes it's in his country's best national interest that the Taliban and its allies are ultimately defeated.

Throughout the war, Moscow has cooperated with the U.S. and NATO, which needs to use Russian land and airspace to transport equipment and supplies to its forces in Afghanistan.

As it happens, Putin is not eager to see the coalition pull up stakes and leave in 2014 as is the plan to allow Afghan forces to take over security responsibilities.

Putin says that the U.S. and its allies should complete the job it started almost 11 years ago to ensure that Afghanistan doesn't become a training ground for terrorists that helped lead to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May212012

Afghan President Thanks US for ‘Your Taxpayers’ Money’

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai thanked the United States on Sunday for shouldering much of the cost for the decade-old war in Afghanistan, as the NATO alliance readies to hand over primary responsibility to Afghan security forces.

“I’m bringing to you and to the people of the United States the gratitude of the Afghan people for the support that your taxpayers’ money has provided us over the past decade, and for the difference that it has made to the well-being of the Afghan people,” Karzai said after his meeting with President Obama ahead of the start of the NATO Summit.

The two leaders met in Afghanistan earlier this month where they signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement outlining plans for the U.S.-Afghan relationship from the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014 through 2024.

Obama said on Sunday that the NATO Summit will be largely devoted to “ratifying” the plan to draw down U.S. and NATO forces and to “painting a vision, post-2014, in which we have ended our combat role.”

“The Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues,” he said.  “Both of us recognize that we still have a lot of work to do, and there will be great challenges ahead.  The loss of life continues in Afghanistan; there will be hard days ahead.  But we’re confident that we are on the right track, and what this NATO Summit reflects is that the world is behind the strategy that we’ve laid out.”

Karzai reaffirmed his commitment to the transition process and to the completion of the withdrawal in 2014, “so that Afghanistan is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and our other allies.”

Sitting alongside Obama, Karzai told reporters his country is “looking forward to an end to this war” and that they are “fully aware of the task ahead and of what Afghanistan needs to do to reach the objectives that we all have of a stable, peaceful and self-reliant Afghanistan.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr122012

Afghan War Support Hits New Low; Many Urge Mental Health Checks

U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Dexter S. Saulisbury(NEW YORK) -- Support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped to a new low in ABC News/Washington Post polls, surpassing even the war in Iraq at its most unpopular.  Six in 10 Americans believe most Afghans themselves oppose the U.S. mission.  And after a shooting rampage allegedly by a U.S. soldier, eight in 10 say the military should improve mental health monitoring and limit combat duty alike.

Two-thirds of Americans now say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a new high that matches peak opposition to the Iraq war almost exactly five years ago.  Support for the Afghanistan war, at just 30 percent, is 3 points lower than the lowest on record for Iraq.

Views on the war were virtually as negative last spring, then improved after the killing of Osama bin Laden.  The subsequent erosion follows the U.S. military’s inadvertent burning of the Koran and other Muslim holy texts at Bagram Air Base in February, violent protests that followed and, separately, the massacre of 17 Afghan civilians in Kandahar in March, allegedly by a U.S. service member.

In an ABC/Post poll last month, after the Koran burning and related protests, opposition to the war increased from 54 percent to 60 percent, with just three in 10 believing Afghans themselves supported U.S. efforts in their country.  Now, after the civilian massacre, opposition to the war has risen by another 6 points, to 66 percent, and the belief that Afghans support the war has dropped by 8 points, to 22 percent.

The drop in views that Afghans themselves support U.S. efforts makes a difference.  This poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that among those who think most Afghans back the war, a majority -- 53 percent -- think it’s been worth fighting.  Among those who think Afghans are opposed to what the U.S. is trying to accomplish, however, just 22 percent think the nation’s longest war has been worth it.

While there’s been speculation about the possible role of post-traumatic stress disorder or battlefield fatigue in the attack on Afghan civilians, the public divides, 44-43 percent, on whether this was an isolated incident or indicative of broader problems with the way the U.S. military monitors the mental health of service members.

Still, apart from the specific incident, there is a broad sense that the military should be doing more to track mental health -- 79 percent say so -- and to limit the amount of time active duty service members are deployed to combat areas, favored by an almost identical 80 percent.  Just 14 and 15 percent, respectively, think the military already is doing enough mental health monitoring and that time limits on deployments are not needed. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

Hillary Clinton Defends US Mission in Afghanistan Before Lawmakers

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on the hot seat Tuesday, answering congressional lawmakers' questions about the recent turmoil in Afghanistan resulting from the burning of Korans at Bagram Airfield.

With Afghans furious over the desecration of their most revered religious materials, leading to the killings of several American military personnel, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski pressed Clinton to justify continuing the mission in Afghanistan when Army Maj. Robert J. Marchanti II of Baltimore was shot in the head while inside the supposedly secure Interior Ministry.

Mikulski asked, "What do I tell his family today?  Was it worth it?  Because they're angry.  People in Maryland are angry."

The senator said that while the U.S. went into Afghanistan to protect national security after the nation was attacked on 9/11, relations with the Afghans have become nearly unworkable.

Clinton acknowledged that there was no justification for the killing of an American officer under any circumstance.

However, the nation's top envoy insisted, "We have both made progress on the principle reason we were there -- security.  Because of our platform and our presence in Afghanistan, we've been able to target terrorists, particularly top al-Qaeda operatives including (Osama) bin Laden in their safe havens.  And we have made progress in helping the Afghan people."

As Clinton was getting clobbered on Capitol Hill, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave his support to the administration's position when he told a seminar in Washington, D.C. that the U.S. and its coalition allies "are showing remarkable restraint and professionalism under very difficult circumstances."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan042012

Taliban's New Qatar Office Could Hasten Afghan War Peace Talks

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what could wind up being a giant step toward ending the 10-year long war in Afghanistan, the Taliban has announced that it will open a political office in Qatar.

Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, would not say when the office would actually open.

It's also unclear whether this is a move by the Taliban to finally enter into serious negotiations to end the conflict or if the group is simply reiterating its demand that the U.S. and its NATO allies withdraw from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

Washington prefers to see the glass as half-full, given that the Taliban is overwhelmingly outmanned and out-equipped in the war despite showing no signs of surrendering or abandoning attempts to overthrown the fragile Afghan government.

Since almost the onset of the war, U.S. officials have maintained that it would end through a political solution, not an all-out military victory.

The wild card throughout the decade has been the role of Pakistan, which provides safe haven to the Taliban, al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists while at the same time, claiming to fight terrorists that also want to overthrow the regime in Islamabad.

If and when the office in Qatar opens, the U.S. and its allies would likely meet Taliban intermediaries there to work out some kind of reconciliation process.  The last attempts at talks ended badly last September when lead Afghan peace negotiator Burhanuddi Rabbani was killed by an assassin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Lauds Progress in Afghanistan

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta presented a mostly upbeat assessment about the progress of the Afghanistan war while visiting President Hamid Karzai in Kabul Wednesday.

Panetta's view is that this past year will mark "a very important turning point in the war."

It was less than two years ago that the Taliban seemed to have gained the upper hand on the Afghans and their coalition allies but Panetta stressed that the momentum has shifted with the U.S., NATO and national forces establishing security in critical areas that had once been enemy strongholds.

Panetta did not want to come off sounding overly optimistic, adding, "We have not won.  We have not completed this mission.  But I do believe we are in the process of making significant progress here."

The defense chief noted that while al Qaeda has been marginalized, Afghan forces have become more capable since they “are absolutely essential to the ultimate success of our efforts here."

Panetta also said that Afghanistan would remain a base to conduct spy operations despite the fact that the CIA recently lost a drone over Iran.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Dec142011

NATO Commander Wants More Allied Trainers with Afghan Forces

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. and NATO could have less of a direct military role in Afghanistan next year by virtue of a new plan being devised by Gen. John Allen, the commander of NATO forces in that country.

Allen unveiled his proposal on Tuesday that would involve embedding U.S. and coalition troops inside Afghan security units.  In this way, NATO hopes that national forces will become better trained, enabling its foreign allies to become the watchers, instead of the leaders, of missions against the Taliban.

This new paradigm might also help the U.S. to speed up its planned military withdrawal.  By next September, there will be 68,000 American boots in Afghanistan with the goal of having most troops out by sometime in 2014.  The White House would like to accelerate this timetable if possible, much to the chagrin of war hawks in Congress who charge the administration with being too eager to end the conflict for the sake of political expediency.

For the moment, there are only a small number of U.S. and NATO trainers deployed within Afghan units as coalition forces normally take the lead in practically all missions against enemy forces.

Allen's plan would entail more experienced officers and non-commissioned officers working with Afghan soldiers but he would cut back on the number of armed troops that generally accompany the Afghans.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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