The Afghan government will start planning how it will phase out of private security contractors without endangering development projects, it said Wednesday. The move is seen as a bow to international pressure to delay implementation of a ban on contractors that was scheduled to take effect by the end of the year. The United States had previously expressed concern about the ban, saying that if implemented the move would leave critical aid personnel unprotected and unable to continue their work. FULL STORY
Even as NATO military officials try to minimize public attention on their role in assisting the Afghan government's meetings with Taliban and insurgent leaders, there are growing indications the program is now part of official NATO and U.S. policy.
There is extreme reluctance to spell out exactly how troops are helping.
A top International Security Assistance Force military officer told CNN
Wednesday "this issue has gotten too much over-emphasis of our role."
The goal now is to draw a picture showing an Afghan government-led peace
process as the only hope for the Taliban and insurgent fighters looking for a
way to escape further bloodshed at the hands of the coalition.
COMBAT OUTPOST DURANI, AFGHANISTAN (CNN) — The armed Black Hawk helicopter lands along an open road in a remote valley. A small group of U.S. soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade kneel in the underbrush, weapons ready. They secure the landing zone for the less than one minute the chopper will be on the ground as we jump out quickly.
From the landing strip, it's a short climb up the hill to Combat Outpost Durani where just a couple of dozen soldiers are manning the post.
The first thing the soldiers tell us is everything is pretty calm in this region. But when I ask when is the last time the base got hit, they acknowledge there was enemy fire just the night before.
But this outpost is all about everything but combat. The small number of troops on this remote hillside are really on the front line of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy for the war in Afghanistan. FULL POST
Vicenza, Italy (CNN) - He's only 25 now, an Army paratrooper stationed at the headquarters of the 173rd Airborne at a sprawling base near Vicenza in northern Italy.
As the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, Sal Giunta has had plenty of media attention heaped on him. But this staff sergeant is determined to make the medal, at least symbolically, belong to others.
"When I first heard that they were putting me in for the Medal of Honor, I felt lost, I felt kind of angry, I felt, I think, angry," he said in an exclusive interview. "Just because, you know, this is so big. This is, it came at such a price. It came at the price of a good buddy of mine, not just Brennan. But Mendoza. Mendoza died that night as well. And people want to put a medal around my neck." FULL POST
From Drew Griffin, CNN Correspondent
Tapes obtained by CNN of interrogations of a group of U.S. servicemen charged with the unprovoked killings of Afghan civilians describe gruesome scenes of cold-blooded murder carried out under the influence of illegal drugs.
The following is a partial transcript of those tapes, between a military investigator and Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, one of the five U.S. soldier charged with the premeditated murder of three Afghan civilians.
"So we met this guy by his compound, so Gibbs walked him out, set him in place, was like standing here," said Morlock, detailing how, on patrol earlier this year and under the command of his sergeant, Calvin R. Gibbs, he and others took an Afghan man from his home, stood him up and killed him.
"So, he was fully cooperating?" the military investigator asks on the tapes.
"Yeah," Morlock responds. FULL POST
WASHINGTON - Twelve U.S. soldiers face a variety of charges in what military authorities believe was a conspiracy to murder Afghan civilians and cover it up, along with charges they used hashish, mutilated corpses and kept grisly souvenirs.
Five soldiers face murder charges, while seven others are charged with participating in a coverup. All of the men were members of a 2nd Infantry Division brigade operating near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010. FULL POST
As many as 2,000 additional troops - including a number of U.S. forces - may be headed to Afghanistan in the coming weeks under a plan being proposed by Gen. David Petraeus, CNN has learned. FULL POST
WASHINGTON — One of the key goals of the new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is to try to settle the debate on what the significance is of the July 2011 date, according to an International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) official familiar with Petraeus' thinking.
After a month in the job where he stayed mostly out of public view, the general is preparing a round of interviews with media outlets.
The significance of July 2011 in the Afghanistan war continues to be a question that the administration is struggling to answer clearly.
U.S. military officials are stressing that any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011 could be fairly minor and will be based on conditions on the ground. When asked if the number of troops to be withdrawn in July could be relatively small, a senior U.S. military official told reporters "we still think that's the case." FULL POST