August 3rd, 2010
10:25 PM ET

New Zealand suffers first combat death in Afghanistan

New Zealand has suffered its first combat fatality in the war in Afghanistan, the New Zealand Defense Force reported Tuesday.

The incident occurred shortly after noon Tuesday in Afghanistan's Bamiyan province, when a Provincial Reconstruction Team patrol of three New Zealand vehicles was attacked by unknown assailants, said the defense force chief in a statement. FULL POST


Filed under: Casualties
Petraeus issues new Afghan directive
August 3rd, 2010
10:21 PM ET

Petraeus issues new Afghan directive

[Update: August 4, 2010] Gen. David Petraeus on Wednesday issued a new "tactical directive" for forces in Afghanistan that emphasizes guidance for the use of force by troops operating in the country.  The directive states that before firing, the commander authorizing a strike must determine that there are no civilians present. If the status of civilians is unknown, firing is prohibited except when certain types of risk to troops exist.

[Original post: August 3, 2010] Gen. David Petraeus is expected to soon issue a new "tactical directive" spelling out his views on how coalition air and ground operations should be conducted in Afghanistan, according to several U.S. and coalition military officials. FULL POST


Filed under: Petraeus
August 3rd, 2010
10:10 PM ET

U.S. sees opportunity in Pakistani floods

The Obama administration is looking to turn crisis into opportunity, hoping its robust response to the devastating floods in Pakistan will help improve its poor image among a skeptical Pakistani public.

Since the floods arrived, the United States has been opening the flood gates of aid, starting with an initial pledge of $10 million in humanitarian relief. U.S. disaster experts were dispatched to Pakistan, and American helicopters fanned out across the affected area, airlifting people to safety and delivering supplies. At Pakistan's request, four Chinook and two Black Hawk helicopters are on the way. FULL POST

August 3rd, 2010
10:03 PM ET
August 3rd, 2010
05:46 PM ET
 Harvesting wheat in Afghanistan
August 3rd, 2010
09:32 AM ET

Bringing in the harvest

In central Afghanistan, in Bamiyan, it's time to harvest the wheat for many farmers and families.  Bamiyan is about 120 miles northwest of Kabul and stands in a lush valley that stretches more than 60 miles through central Afghanistan. The valley is on the former Silk Road that once connected China with Central Asia and beyond.  The town was once home to two nearly 2,000-year-old Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. They were the two tallest standing Buddhas in the world. In addition to destroying the Buddhas, the Taliban also entered the Kabul Museum wielding sledgehammers and smashing 2,500 priceless artifacts stored there.


Filed under: Life and Culture • Photo Spotlight
August 3rd, 2010
09:19 AM ET

Taliban attempt attack on Kandahar air base

A group of Taliban insurgents launched an apparently unsuccessful attack on a major NATO base in Afghanistan Tuesday, according to international forces.

The insurgents used suicide bombers and ground weapons in their attempt to breach the perimeter of Kandahar airfield in southern Afghanistan, said Maj. Michael Johnson, spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). FULL POST

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Filed under: Kandahar • Taliban
August 3rd, 2010
09:14 AM ET

Opinion: Don't give Obama blank check on war

Princeton, New Jersey — Despite all the questions surrounding the war in Afghanistan, congressional Democrats have not challenged the administration's policies since President Obama announced a surge of troops in 2009.

The release of classified documents about the war by the website WikiLeaks seemed to have no impact on Capitol Hill. The same week that the documents were released, the House approved legislation with almost no debate that will provide tens of billions of dollars for the war effort. ...

But Democrats who have doubts about the war can't afford to be silent. When Congress doesn't publicly ask tough questions of the White House, poor decisions have often ensued.

The decision over funding Afghanistan came one week before the the 46th anniversary of the passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964.

Read more from Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, who says a look back at the Gulf of Tonkin incident provides a cautionary tale for today's Afghan war, and that Congress must closely scrutinize a president's decisions on war strategy.

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Filed under: Obama • Voices • Your View