February 10th, 2010
06:54 PM ET

Charlie Wilson dead at 76

Former congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas died Wednesday at age 76, a Texas hospital said. The flamboyant congressman inspired the book and movie "Charlie Wilson's War," which told the story of Wilson's efforts to get weapons to mujahedeen fighters after Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

In the early 1980s, Wilson, a staunch anti-Communist, decided to help Afghan rebels in their war against the invading Soviet Union. Over several years, working behind the scenes, his efforts to raise funds through his defense subcommittee and to negotiate support from Middle Eastern countries helped the Afghans take the upper hand and eventually forced the Soviets out of the country.

Some people criticized the 2007 film because it didn't do much to highlight what happened in Afghanistan after the Soviets left: the Taliban's takeover of the country and al Qaeda's use of the nation as a base. Wilson was asked in 2008 about the consequences of helping the mujahedeen fighters.  "I don't think there was a serious blowback," Wilson said. "I think there was the point that [author] George Crile made in the [book's] epilogue, that the Muslims saw that they took down one superpower and then the radical ones thought they could take down another one. But they're wrong."

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Filed under: Daily Developments
February 10th, 2010
11:31 AM ET

Photo Spotlight: Snow in Kabul

A snowfall in Kabul this week means an opportunity for sledding and fun for children. Winter is school vacation time in Afghanistan. (Photo courtesy Fardin Waezi of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.)

What's the weather like in Afghanistan? Check out the forecast

Filed under: Life and Culture • Photo Spotlight
February 10th, 2010
07:24 AM ET

Afghan forces, citizens key to Marjah victory after battle ends

Coalition forces in Afghanistan will face two enemies when they invade the Taliban stronghold of Marjah: the enemy and the clock, military experts say.

The U.S.-led offensive Operation Moshtarak, which is expected is start any day, is being described as the largest military operation in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001.

But the most important battle will take place after the shooting stops, several military experts say. The Marjah offensive will feature the largest presence of Afghan national army troops in any battle to date, yet what these troops do afterward will be critical, they say.

“This is a great opportunity for Afghan security forces to establish their bona fides,” says Lt. Col. Michael E. Silverman, an Iraq war veteran and a counterinsurgency training consultant for the U.S. Army.

 “We’ll never have enough U.S. forces to hold a place in the middle of Afghanistan,” Silverman says. “It’s going to have to be the Afghan forces that are going to take the lead in holding places.” FULL POST

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Filed under: Marjah • Operation Moshtarak • Troops