May 31st, 2010
08:29 AM ET

Investigation after civilian deaths: More training needed

The U.S. military said it has completed its investigation into the February 21 incident in which dozens of Afghan civilians were killed and concluded that more training is needed.

The investigation "cites several shortcomings in training, communication and decision-making, and offered numerous recommendations," a U.S. military release said. FULL POST


Filed under: Civilian deaths • NATO • Pentagon
May 13th, 2010
10:58 AM ET

Military proposes medal for troops showing restraint

U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan could someday be awarded medals for restraint that prevents civilian casualties in combat.

The possibility is under consideration by the staff of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, McChrystal's spokesman.

The idea of rewarding battlefield restraint was proposed by British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, who is in charge of the international forces in southern Afghanistan. Sholtis said the idea is still in its "conceptual stage." FULL POST

April 29th, 2010
01:14 AM ET

Report: Violence up nearly 90 percent in last year

WASHINGTON — Violence in Afghanistan is up nearly 90 percent from this time last year, according to a new Pentagon report submitted to Congress Wednesday.

Despite that increase and a 240 percent spike in roadside bomb attacks - a major factor in overall violence statistics - and increasing Taliban tactics to discredit President Hamid Karzai's government with shadow governments, some officials said they are seeing encouraging trends. FULL POST

April 28th, 2010
03:59 PM ET

To drone or not? Hearing questions drone attacks' legality

WASHINGTON — Congress delved Wednesday into the politically explosive issue of unmanned drone attacks, questioning the legality of operations increasingly used to combat al Qaeda and Taliban militants in countries such as Pakistan.

In the eight years of George W. Bush's presidency, unmanned aircraft - or drones - attacked militant targets 45 times.

Since President Barack Obama took office, the numbers have risen sharply: 51 last year and 29 so far this year. FULL POST

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Filed under: Drone strikes • Obama • Pakistan • Pentagon
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 26th, 2010
12:58 PM ET

Fighting the Taliban, one text message at a time

WASHINGTON  - As the U.S. military and its NATO allies intensify their campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Obama administration also is revamping its messaging in the region with a robust strategic communications strategy employing new technologies to fight extremism.

For years the Taliban and al Qaeda owned the airwaves with strong anti-American propaganda, which was met with a weak U.S. effort to counter it.

"We found that Afghans in the most-troubled, insurgent-held areas lived in information wastelands dominated by militant propaganda," the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said last week. "We are fighting back with a revamped strategy that puts the people and their ability to communicate at the forefront of our effort."

The new strategy, Holbrooke's advisers say, attempts to control the "narrative," rather than respond to the extremist version of events, as part of a new approach to empower Afghans and Pakistanis with 21st century media technologies.

In Afghanistan, that means building capacity for communications, investing in infrastructure - including construction of radio stations and setting up cell phone and television towers. FULL POST

March 17th, 2010
07:25 AM ET

Pentagon probes alleged ad hoc spy ring

Washington - The Department of Defense has launched an investigation into whether a $24 million contract to gather information about developments in towns and villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan may have been inappropriately used instead to run an ad hoc spy ring, according to U.S. military officials.

Read the full story from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr

March 16th, 2010
03:12 PM ET

Petraeus warns tough fighting ahead in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - The war in Afghanistan will get tougher before it gets easier, the general in charge of military operations in the region told a Senate committee Tuesday.

Gen. David Petraeus - the head of Central Command, which includes both Afghanistan and Iraq in its area of responsibility - told the Senate Armed Services Committee that as the United States institutes its surge of 30,000 troops and NATO increases operations, the fighting is "likely to get harder before it gets easier" because "the enemy will fight back."

Petraeus said in his opening statement to the committee that the fighting in 2010 will be difficult and will include "setbacks." But he also said the violence will not be as high as it was half a year ago, before the Obama surge strategy was instituted.

FULL POST

March 10th, 2010
06:24 PM ET

Another contract for controversial contractor

WASHINGTON – Just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would review allegations of misconduct in Afghanistan by the company formerly known as Blackwater, the Department of Defense announced the company had won another multi-million dollar contract to operate in Afghanistan. FULL POST

March 10th, 2010
07:13 AM ET

Gates ends Afghanistan trip as Iran's Ahmadinejad begins his

KABUL, Afghanistan - After surveying training camps in eastern Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates hinted Wednesday that U.S. troops could be leaving earlier than the announced July 2011 troop withdrawal date.

Without giving details, Gates said that any early pullout and hand over of control to Afghan forces "would have to be conditions-based."

"We will begin that transition no later than July 2011, but the pace will depend also on conditions on the ground," Gates said after watching training exercises at Camp Blackhorse, where Afghan soldiers are trained by U.S. and British forces. FULL POST