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KABUL, Afghanistan - An investigation into claims that international troops killed scores of civilians in northeast Afghanistan escalated into a feud Tuesday between President Hamid Karzai and senior U.S. military officials who cited a report that Afghan parents have been known to discipline children by burning their hands and feet.
Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar described comments made by Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of communications for the U.S.-led coalition, also known as International Security Assistance Force, as being "outrageous, insulting and racist." He demanded a clarificat
I think if Walter Cronkite were alive he would likely be pronouncing the War in Afghanistan ‘unwinnable’ long about now.
In the days before one of the fiercest battles in America's eight-year war in Afghanistan, Army Capt. Benjamin Pry argued for more surveillance flights to help his beleaguered unit of fewer than 50 soldiers. Since moving into a new outpost on July 8, 2008, they had struggled with shortages of water, fuel, food and heavy machinery to help defend against an enemy attack that they believed would eventually come. Lacking excavating equipment, the troops dug fortifications by scraping the rocky soil with spades and bare hands. Then on July 12, headquarters commanders diverted drones — remotely operated planes outfitted with cameras to spot enemy movements — to another area. Pry argued so hard to undo that decision that he said he breached professional etiquette. Still, he was unsuccessful.
The 254-page unreleased study challenges the Army's official battle investigation, which had concluded that leaders displayed "sound military analysis" and that no blame could be placed on commanders. Cubbison noted suspect decisions by commanders, who allowed an understaffed platoon to plant itself in hostile territory without adequate support. In the Wanat battle study, Cubbison concluded that: • No senior commander visited Wanat before establishing it as an outpost, and it was "highly questionable" whether these commanders exercised due diligence when they ordered a platoon to move there. • The lack of heavy equipment to fortify defenses and the lack of intelligence support directly contributed to the casualties suffered last July 13.
In early July, American military intelligence learned that a force of 300 foreign and local fighters had massed around another remote base, named Bella, but the Americans completed a planned pullout before they could be attacked. Bella had been occupied by Chosen Company, part of the Second Battalion of the 503rd Infantry, and Chosen had just finished a 15-month deployment in one of the most rugged and dangerous parts of Afghanistan. Like the rest of their brigade, they were literally days from going home.
The assault on Wanat began just before dawn with a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine-gun fire. There were 45 American and 25 Afghan soldiers at Wanat—a relatively large force—but they had erected almost no fortifications around themselves. Instead, they were relying on concertina wire and a ring of armored Humvees to keep them safe. Judging by the sequence of targets in the first few minutes, the American military believes that the Taliban probably had a detailed plan of the base; it also believes that both local police and a district governor were complicit in the attack.
The fight lasted four hours and didn’t end until aircraft showed up and started strafing the perimeter of the base. Nine Chosen Company soldiers were killed and 21 were wounded. Over half the Americans at the base had been hit. It was the single costliest firefight of the war.
Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline
A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan. A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.