December 17th, 2009
06:22 PM ET

Views from outside the wire

"Outside the wire" is the phrase used for everything beyond the confines and security of a military base. General Stanley McChrystal’s plan for fighting insurgency in Afghanistan calls for troops to engage with the local population and protect the people. To do this, soldiers must go beyond the wire and climb down from their machines to interact face to face in the hope of gaining the trust of a skeptical population.

See more of the photos from outside the wire or check out the views from inside the machine.

December 17th, 2009
05:44 PM ET

Lawmaker: Are contractors paying off Afghan warlords?

Congress is launching a broad-ranging investigation into possible waste, misuse and corruption tied to billions of taxpayer dollars used to support private military contractors in Afghanistan.
Among the questions being raised is whether money provided in a nearly $2.2 billion trucking contract in the war-torn country went to pay off local warlords and the Taliban.

Read more about the investigation

Filed under: Daily Developments
December 17th, 2009
01:21 PM ET

Key lawmakers express concern over combat gear in Afghanistan

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Ike Skelton, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee"]

Two top Democrats on a key House committee have expressed concern over the quality of equipment and training for troops heading to Afghanistan.

The concerns came straight from U.S. troops heading to combat, who recently spoke to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, and Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Texas. The two congressmen relayed these complaints to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen in a letter obtained by CNN.  Read the letter

The congressmen recently met with U.S. troops in Europe, some of them training to deploy and others recovering from combat wounds. Many of the troops passed on some troubling information about their equipment and training that raised concerns with the lawmakers, particularly as the United States escalates its presence in Afghanistan. FULL POST

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Filed under: Pentagon • Troops
December 17th, 2009
11:51 AM ET

NATO chief asks Russia to bolster help for Afghanistan

MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is asking Russia to broaden its presence in Afghanistan with more choppers and expanded police training.

With many nations such as Britain, Italy, Poland, Slovakia recently pledging to send more troops to Afghanistan to augment the U.S. surge, Rasmussen said he is looking for ways Russia "could expand its assistance."

"I have proposed that Russia provide a helicopter package," he told CNN. "I hope the Russians will consider my proposal positively."

Rasmussen said he also spoke with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about expanding its training of Afghan army and police. But the two did not talk about Russia sending troops, Rasmussen said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said in the past that Russia would continue to allow cargo shipments through its territory to help supply NATO forces and maintain its training of Afghan law enforcement and counter-narcotics officials. But he said that Russia would not take on a military role in Afghanistan.

December 17th, 2009
10:57 AM ET

Around the Web: Pakistani politicians lose amnesty

Pakistan's Supreme Court declared on Wednesday that an amnesty that had protected politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari, from corruption and criminal charges, was unconstitutional.

The 17-judge court invalidated the National Reconciliation Order, saying in its ruling that the amnesty "seems to be against the national interest" and "violates various provisions of the Constitution."

The order, passed in October 2007 under then-President Pervez Musharraf, protected thousands of bureaucrats and politicians, including Zardari and his wife, late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, from corruption and criminal charges.

It expired last month.

The supreme court said its ruling revived all cases that had been suspended or withdrawn under the amnesty.

More coverage on the court’s decision: Dawn;  BBC; Wall Street Journal; New York Times.


December 17th, 2009
09:12 AM ET

American filmmaker helps save Afghan baby

She was in Afghanistan to film a documentary, but Dina Fesler's mission changed when she met Rahim, a young boy who was fighting for his life. CNN's Atia Abawi has the story.

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