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 26th, 2010
12:53 PM ET

CNN Poll: Jump in optimism on Afghanistan

Americans are growing more optimistic about the war in Afghanistan and opposition to the war has dropped below the 50 percent mark for the first time in nearly a year, according to a national CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Friday. FULL POST

Filed under: Decision: Afghanistan
March 26th, 2010
09:07 AM ET

ISAF: Afghan civilians killed by troops in accident

KABUL, Afghanistan - Investigators say troops accidentally caused the deaths of two civilians in eastern Afghanistan when they returned fire after an insurgent attack, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Friday.

The attack - which took place Wednesday in the Bak district of Khost province - prompted a joint ISAF-Afghan force to respond with "indirect fire," according to the results of a preliminary military investigation. Indirect fire refers to shooting from a position without a direct line of sight to the target. FULL POST

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Filed under: Daily Developments
March 26th, 2010
08:53 AM ET

Fierce reader debate over fast food, movies at U.S. bases

On Thursday,'s Brad Lendon wrote in Afghanistan Crossroads about a blog post that appeared on the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan blog this week, announcing the military was cutting back on "non-essentials" for U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. This included closing restaurants such as Burger King, Dairy Queen, Orange Julius and Pizza Hut on bases and dropping first-run movies from base theaters.

The reader response was fiery. FULL POST

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Filed under: Troops
March 26th, 2010
07:58 AM ET

Pakistan military: 5 soldiers, 21 suspected militants killed

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A pre-dawn attack in Pakistan's tribal area killed five Pakistani soldiers and 21 suspected militants, the military said Friday.

The deadly fighting started when a check point came under attack in the village of Kalaya in northern Orakzai district, according to a statement from Inter Services Public Relations, which coordinates military information for the media. FULL POST

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Filed under: Pakistan
March 26th, 2010
07:56 AM ET