March 31st, 2010
09:28 PM ET

Around the Web: Secretary Clinton in Canada

The Canadian media has reports on a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – who’s in Quebec for a meeting of G8 foreign ministers - and her comments on Tuesday that the U.S. would like Canada to extend their mission in Afghanistan.

"It's up to Canada to decide how you deploy your forces," Clinton told the CBC’s “The Hour.”

"But I'm not going to sit here and tell you we're happy about it because … that wouldn't be telling you the truth. We'd love to have Canada stay in this fight with us. But again, you know, you've got your own considerations and we respect that."

The Globe and Mail reports Clinton “stoked a political fire under the issue of Canada's planned 2011 withdrawal from Afghanistan when the Secretary of State told a national TV audience that the U.S. would like Canadian troops to extend their stay in the war-torn country.”

FULL POST

March 31st, 2010
08:27 AM ET

Inside a Marine's Javelin missile mission

Editor's Note: CNN camerawoman Mary Rogers accompanied a U.S. Marine Corps unit on Operation Moshtarak in Marjah from its preparations into the first few weeks. A veteran of warzone reporting, she has filmed in places such as Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Iraq, Chechnya, Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. Here is her behind-the-scenes look on filming a firefight involving the Javvelin missile.

Seven days into Operation Moshtarak and Taliban snipers continue to be the bane of the Marines' existence. Just the day before, the Marines had engaged in a ferocious firefight that starts in the late afternoon and goes well into night. On this day they take casualties. One Marine dies.

Expensive ordinance is brought in to play. We see JDAM (guided) bombs dropped from F-16s, Hellfire missiles rocketing off Cobra helicopter gunships and hear the low drone of the A-10 Warthog at night. It's hard to describe this sound. Imagine a lawnmower from hell, mowing down everything in its path. The A-10, with its 30mm canons, can fire thousands of rounds a minute.

Then - time to try the Javelin missile. This is a shoulder-mounted weapon with a sophisticated guidance system, and a six-figure price tag. FULL POST

March 31st, 2010
08:13 AM ET
March 31st, 2010
08:08 AM ET

U.N.: Afghanistan 'world's biggest producer of hashish'

A U.N. report says Afghanistan, the world's biggest producer of opium, is a "major producer of cannabis" and "the world's biggest producer of hashish."

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime's Afghanistan Cannabis Survey issued Wednesday documented large-scale cannabis cultivation in half of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. FULL POST

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Filed under: Drug trade • Life and Culture
March 31st, 2010
08:06 AM ET

At least 13 killed in bike bomb explosion

KABUL, Afghanistan - A bicycle-borne bomb killed at least 13 people and injured 45 others Wednesday in Afghanistan's Helmand province, officials said. FULL POST

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Filed under: Daily Developments
March 31st, 2010
07:32 AM ET

Officials: June push in Kandahar

U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan have their sights set on a June offensive designed to gain control of the southern city of Kandahar from the Taliban, according to U.S. military officials.

The assault on the Taliban's spiritual center will be the second major military operation to rid a southern Afghan city of Taliban control as the U.S. ratchets up pressure under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Officials said the main goal of the offensive is removing the Taliban before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in August. FULL POST

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Filed under: Kandahar • Pentagon • Taliban
March 30th, 2010
04:13 PM ET

Around the Web: Comparing Marjah and Kandahar

The next major battle in Afghanistan is expected to take place in Kandahar, and Yaroslav Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal reports that it might “look completely different from Marjah, where thousands of U.S. Marines fought their way into rural areas under total Taliban control.”  

Trofimov writes: “No combat is needed for coalition or Afghan troops to enter Kandahar city, the Taliban movement's birthplace. Unlike Marjah, this metropolis of one million people has remained under government authority, albeit an increasingly tenuous one, since the Taliban regime's downfall in 2001. U.S. and Canadian patrols rumble through the city every day; a huge coalition base sits in its outskirts.

The Afghan government here, however, has been so weak, predatory and corrupt that more and more Kandaharis have come to view the Taliban as a lesser evil. Changing this perception holds the key to victory in the city—and to the success of the surge, coalition officials say.”

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March 30th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Behind the scenes: The Marines embedded in memory

Editor's Note: CNN camerawoman Mary Rogers accompanied a U.S. Marine Corps unit on Operation Moshtarak in Marjah from its preparations into the first few weeks. A veteran of warzone reporting, she has filmed in places such as Somalia, Sierra Leone, the Congo, Iraq, Chechnya, Israel, the West Bank, Lebanon and Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002. Here is part 2 of her reflections on her time in Marjah and a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges and camaraderie reporting from the Afghan battlefield. (Read Part 1 here)

Many times on assignments there have been people I have been instinctively drawn to (or my camera naturally gravitates to). I do not know why this is. They are people who I will never forget. Most of them spoke a language I did not understand. Not so with the Marines in Marjah. Perhaps what made this assignment so special was that I shared a bond of nationality and language with the men of Alpha Company. Here are a few of my recollections about the men with whom we slogged through Marjah. FULL POST

March 30th, 2010
08:16 AM ET

Inside Asia's largest displacement camp

[cnn-video url=http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/03/28/newton.pakistan.toll.cnn]

Camp Jalozai, Pakistan — The first thing you notice about this camp is the sprawl. U.N. tarps as far as the eye can see. And with the sun blazing already at 10 in the morning, you can only imagine how hot it gets under those tarps.

This is going to be a long summer at this displacement camp, the largest in Asia. There is a mini-heatwave stifling Pakistan right now. Along with the heat, the homeless here can expect diarrhoea, skin rashes and hours of uncomfortable living.

The U.N. officials we met were pretty straight up with us, they said conditions were quite good in the camp compared to some others around the world. FULL POST

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Filed under: Pakistan • Taliban
March 30th, 2010
07:38 AM ET

Mullen meets with Helmand governor

KABUL, Afghanistan  - The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, met with the governor of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan Tuesday.

The meeting took place in Marjah, the spokesman for Gov. Gulab Mangal said. No further details on the meeting were available.

The battle-scarred enclave of Marjah was the site of Operation Moshtarak, where U.S and other troops took on Taliban militants in a massive military offensive.

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Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak