Headscarves for female soldiers in Afghanistan defended
1st Lt. Ana Monteiro swings with an Afghan girl at Ariana School in Kabul, Afghanistan.
April 5th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

Headscarves for female soldiers in Afghanistan defended

The top American military officer defended the Department of Defense policy of encouraging female troops to wear headscarves while on duty in Afghanistan, despite criticism the practice makes "second-class warriors."

"Those female service members ... do so as a personal choice," Adm. Mike Mullen wrote to Rep. James Langevin, D-Rhode Island, last week. "They feel this gesture helps them in accomplishing their mission by serving as a sign of courtesy and respect toward the locals."

For years, some American military women have worn headscarves, similar to traditional Afghan hijabs, when interacting with local civilians.

Read the full story on the Belief Blog
Growing up while mom and dad are off fighting a war
Seth Rice touches the TV screen that shows his father, Staff Sgt. Jeff Rice, reading him a book from Afghanistan.
March 8th, 2011
10:27 AM ET

Growing up while mom and dad are off fighting a war

Seth Rice is a 2-year-old boy full of energy, curiosity and emotions. Watching him play with his toys, you don't notice any of the emotional toll that having a parent deploy can take on a little boy.

Let alone having both parents deploy, for nearly seven months simultaneously.

But that's what Seth's parents did, choosing to deploy to Afghanistan together, rather than have one stay home with Seth while the other deployed.

That decision may be hard for some parents to fathom, but for the Rices it was the best option.

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Filed under: Troops
Tension between Petraeus, Afghans over airstrike, children
February 24th, 2011
10:21 AM ET

Tension between Petraeus, Afghans over airstrike, children

The U.S. military is denying Afghan government accusations that Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, callously dismissed concerns of an airstrike burning children in a northwest village.

The accusation, reported by the Washington Post, stemmed from a weekend meeting in Kabul between Afghan officials and the general to discuss an airstrike in Kunar province.

Afghan officials say the strike killed nearly 50 women and children, in addition to 16 insurgents. The International Security Assistance Force said its weapons system video showed that 36 insurgents carrying weapons were killed.

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Filed under: Civilian deaths • Petraeus
September 30th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

How cargo moves through Afghanistan

Of all cargo that flows into Afghanistan, about half (50%) transits Pakistan. There are two main border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Chaman gate and Torkham gate.

About 30 percent of all cargo flows into Afghanistan via the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) and transits Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. There are two major routes on the NDN, one through Russia and the other through the Caucasus. The NDN is used to bring commercial-type cargo (sustainment items like food and spare parts) to U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan.

The NDN does not replace routes through Pakistan, but provides additional transportation options for General Mattis and General Petraeus, and helps prevent any specific route from becoming a single point-of-failure for Operation Enduring Freedom logistics.

The remaining 20 percent of cargo is brought into Afghanistan by air. Most of this cargo is sensitive, which includes such things as weapons, ammunition and critical equipment.

Source: Department of Defense

July 28th, 2010
04:39 PM ET

Shoulder-fired missiles a threat to U.S. troops

Among the 90,000 secret U.S. military documents posted on the internet this week by WikiLeaks are more than a dozen reports of possible attacks on Afghanistan coalition aircraft using heat-seeking shoulder-fired missiles.

It was that type of missile that brought down numerous Soviet military aircraft when the Soviet Union tried to occupy Afghanistan in the 1980s. FULL POST

July 27th, 2010
09:12 PM ET

All out effort to find missing soldier, documents show

When U.S. Army Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl was first discovered missing from his base in southeastern Afghanistan last summer, the commander of his unit quickly ordered "all operations will cease until missing soldier is found."

"All assets will be focused on the DUSTWUN (duty status - whereabouts unknown) situation and sustainment operations," according to one of the 90,000 secret military reports released this week by WikiLeaks. FULL POST

July 27th, 2010
08:59 PM ET

Leaked report: Media led military to re-examine deadly attack

A report among the 90,000 secret U.S. military documents published by a whistleblower website over the weekend shows the confusion that led to what turned into a controversial attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

One leaked document shows how NATO troops were very mistaken in a deadly air attack on two stolen fuel tankers last year. The NATO troops knew that two tankers had been stolen by the Taliban and had found that they were stuck in a
river that the Taliban drivers were trying to cross.