More U.S. soldiers killed themselves last month than in recent Army history, according to Army statistics released Thursday, confounding officials trying to reverse the grim trend.
The statistics show that 32 soldiers killed themselves in June, the highest number in a single month since the Vietnam era. Twenty-one of them were on active duty while 11 were in the National Guard or Army Reserve in an inactive status. Seven of those soldiers killed themselves while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army numbers.
The U.S. military is investigating whether American taxpayer dollars from a more than $2 billion contract are being used to pay off Afghan insurgents in return for not attacking contractors.
The issue at hand is whether contractors working for the U.S. government in Afghanistan are paying protection money to local security companies, which in turn give the money to Afghan insurgents so they will not attack the contractors. FULL POST
WASHINGTON — Key senators questioned on Tuesday the progress and planning for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Opening a hearing on Afghanistan, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, questioned the ratio of U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanstan troops, urging for a faster ramping up of Afghan security forces.
"Progress towards the goal of Afghans taking the lead in operations has been unsatisfactory. Today operations in Afghanistan are excessively dependent on coaltion forces," Levin said. FULL POST
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The U.S. Army is recalling 44,000 Advanced Combat Helmets (ACH), some of which are being used by troops already deployed in combat zones in Afghanistan, because of a concern they do not meet ballistic and other standards required by the Army.
The Army recalled the helmets, which are standard issue for all soldiers, last Thursday after receiving ballistic test results that showed the helmets did not meet the services requirements, according to Brig. Gen. Peter N. Fuller, chief of testing and buying equipment for soldiers. Watch CNN's Chris Lawrence's report on the recall
The recall was triggered after the Army was told by the Department of Justice of an ongoing investigation into the company that makes the helmets, ArmorSource LLC, formerly Rabintex USA LLC.
WASHINGTON – As the U.S. military starts a drawdown of troops in Iraq, it finds itself in the midst of the largest logistical movement of weapons, vehicles and other equipment since the build-up to World War II, according to the general in charge of the operation.
Millions of pieces of equipment, from large mine resistant troop carriers and Humvees to the smallest of pieces like cots and combat radios, are being thoroughly scrutinized as they come out of Iraq and mostly sent to the war effort thousands of miles away in Afghanistan to help in the troop build up there, according to the commander of the operation, Lt. Gen. William Webster.
U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan have their sights set on a June offensive designed to gain control of the southern city of Kandahar from the Taliban, according to U.S. military officials.
The assault on the Taliban's spiritual center will be the second major military operation to rid a southern Afghan city of Taliban control as the U.S. ratchets up pressure under the command of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Officials said the main goal of the offensive is removing the Taliban before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in August. FULL POST
A U.S. Army officer who was awarded for valor after his combat outpost in Afghanistan was attacked has also received a letter of reprimand for failing to secure the base before the attack, according to Army officials. Such a letter normally would prevent career advancement.
Capt. Matthew Myer received the Silver Star for his part in repelling a Taliban attack on his small combat outpost in July 2008.
WASHINGTON – Just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would review allegations of misconduct in Afghanistan by the company formerly known as Blackwater, the Department of Defense announced the company had won another multi-million dollar contract to operate in Afghanistan. FULL POST
WASHINGTON – Citizens of Marjah remain very skeptical of U.S. troops and the Afghan government that has moved in and taken over the southern Afghanistan town, according to the U.S. general in charge of the operation.
U.S. Marine Corps Brig. General Larry Nicholson said on Thursday that 20 days into the operation to rid the area of Taliban influence, the public is concerned about what the new Afghan government is going to be able to do for them.
"We are in competition every day for the confidence and support of the population – we're in competition with the Taliban," Nichols told reporters at the Pentagon during a video-teleconference briefing from Helmand province. "We have a very narrow window of opportunity here in Marjah to make that first impression and you get one shot at it," he said. FULL POST
The news that two Taliban "shadow governors" have been detained in Pakistan underscores the reality that in Afghanistan there are, in effect, two governments.
There is the formal government of federal and local officials, backed by the United States and elected by the Afghan people. The other is run by the Taliban and governs by fear and intimidation of the population, but also at times provides services the legitimate government does not.
The Taliban version operates out of the public view and very much in the background of everyday life, hence the term "shadow government" - even though the commander of coalition forces in southern Afghanistan says regional shadow governors are known, "broadly speaking."