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Obama’s Watch: 39 Months, 69 Percent of Afghan War Casualties


Obama’s Watch: 39 Months, 69 Percent of Afghan War Casualties
By Edwin Mora

– Although President Obama has only served 39 months in office, 69 percent of the U.S. military fatalities in the more then 10-year-old war in Afghanistan have occurred on his watch.

Through April 30, the Defense Department had reported that 1,844 U.S. military personnel have been killed in and around Afghanistan while deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom, which was launched in October 2001 after al Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon.

According to CNSNews.com’s comprehensive database on Afghan war casualties, at least 1,275 of the 1,844 U.S. troops killed in Operation Enduring Freedom have been killed since Jan. 20, 2009, when Barack Obama was inaugurated as president.

In the more than 10 years the U.S. military has been fighting in Afghanistan, each of the three deadliest years have been during Obama’s presidency. The deadliest year was 2010, when 497 U.S. service personnel gave their lives in Afghanistan. The second deadliest year was 2011, when 399 U.S. service personnel gave their lives in Afghanistan. And the third deadliest year was 2009, when 303 U.S. service personnel gave their lives in Afghanistan.

Afghan casualties

Month-by-Month U.S. Casualties in Afghan

In recent years, some U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have come at the hands of the Afghan forces that the U.S. military is seeking to train so that they can defend their own country. Since 2007, when the Pentagon began tracking these killings, 54 U.S. soldiers have been killed by Afghan troops.

On March 22, Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, testified in Congress that as of that point 52 U.S. service personnel in Afghanistan had been killed by Afghan forces. Of those 52, Gen. Allen said, six had taken place this year alone.

Since Gen. Allen’s testimony, two more U.S. casualties at the hands of Afghan forces have come to light.

On March 16, the Associated Press reported that the Pentagon failed to identify a U.S. soldier killed by Afghan forces in February. On May 1, the Associated Press reported that on April 25 a U.S. Army special forces soldier had been killed by Afghan forces.

CNSNews.com’s detailed count of U.S. military fatalities in Afghanistan is derived from official casualty reports issued by the Department of Defense (DOD), augmented by information taken from ISAF and media accounts.

The database includes all U.S. military personnel who died or were fatally injured in and around Afghanistan while supporting military efforts in Operation Enduring Freedom, which covers multiple countries.

CNSNews.com’s total count of U.S. fatalities in and around Afghanistan includes 12 U.S. troops who died in Pakistan and three who died in the Arabian Sea while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

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Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

Afghan schoolgirls poisoned in anti-education attack

By Mohammad Hamid

– About 150 Afghan schoolgirls were poisoned on Tuesday after drinking contaminated water at a high school in the country’s north, officials said, blaming it on conservative radicals opposed to female education.

Since the 2001 toppling of the Taliban, which banned education for women and girls, females have returned to schools, especially in Kabul.

But periodic attacks still occur against girls, teachers and their school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most support.

“We are 100 percent sure that the water they drunk inside their classes was poisoned. This is either the work of those who are against girls’ education or irresponsible armed individuals,” said Jan Mohammad Nabizada, a spokesman for education department in northern Takhar province.

Some of the 150 girls, who suffered from headaches and vomiting, were in critical condition, while others were able to go home after treatment in hospital, the officials said.

They said they knew the water had been poisoned because a larger tank used to fill the affected water jugs was not contaminated.

“This is not a natural illness. It’s an intentional act to poison schoolgirls,” said Haffizullah Safi, head of Takhar’s public health department.

None of the officials blamed any particular group for the attack, fearing retribution from anyone named.

The Afghan government said last year that the Taliban, which has been trying to adopt a more moderate face to advance exploratory peace talks, had dropped its opposition to female education.

But the insurgency has never stated that explicitly and in the past acid has been thrown in the faces of women and girls by hardline Islamists while walking to school.

Education for women was outlawed by the Taliban government from 1996-2001 as un-Islamic.

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Panetta Safe After Security Breach Near His Plane…..American Troops Asked to Disarm Before Meeting

Panetta Is Safe After Breach Near His Plane at Afghan Base

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By ELISABETH BUMILLER

KABUL, Afghanistan — A tense visit to Afghanistan by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta got off to an unscripted start when a stolen truck sped onto a runway ramp at the British military airfield as his plane was landing. Mr. Panetta was unhurt, but Pentagon officials said the Afghan driver emerged from the vehicle in flames.

No explosives were found on the Afghan national or in the truck, the officials said, and the Pentagon was so far not considering the episode an attack on Mr. Panetta. But it reinforced the lack of security in Afghanistan at the start of his visit, the first by a senior member of the Obama administration since an American soldier reportedly killed 16 Afghan civilians, mostly children and women, in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. The two-day trip, unannounced as usual for security reasons, had been planned months ago, but has taken on a new urgency since the Sunday massacre.

Mr. Panetta, like President Obama, has denounced the killings and vowed to bring the killer to justice, a message he is to deliver in person to President Hamid Karzai and top Afghan defense and interior officials. The killings have further clouded the strained Afghan-American relations.

Mr. Panetta was landing at Camp Bastion, a British air field that adjoins Camp Leatherneck, a vast Marine base in Helmand Province, which abuts Kandahar.

Mr. Panetta and his aides were aware of the incident shortly after it happened, about 11 a.m., but he continued as planned with remarks to Marines and international troops at Camp Leatherneck and then headed as scheduled for a trip to a remote combat outpost, Shukvani, in western Helmand. The episode was not disclosed until nearly 10 hours after it occurred, well after Mr. Panetta had arrived in Kabul from the south.

George Little, the Pentagon press secretary, said the stolen truck never exploded, counter to some early reports.

Mr. Little said Mr. Panetta was never in danger but he could not explain the Afghan’s motive or whether he was a suicide attacker aiming for Mr. Panetta’s plane. Nor could he explain why the Afghan was on fire. “For reasons that are totally unknown to us at this time, our personnel discovered that he was ablaze,” Mr. Little said. “He ran, he jumped on to a truck, base personnel put the fire out and he was immediately treated for burn injuries.”

Mr. Little said an investigation was ongoing and he did not yet have all the facts. “We cannot confirm in any way, shape or form at this time that this stolen vehicle was in any way tied to the secretary’s arrival or his visit,” Mr. Little said.

In a sign of the nervousness surrounding the visit, Marines and other troops among the 200 people gathered in a tent at Camp Leatherneck to hear Mr. Panetta speak were abruptly asked by their commander to get up, place their weapons — M-16 and M-4 automatic rifles and 9-mm pistols — outside the tent and then return unarmed. The commander, Sgt. Maj. Brandon Hall, told reporters he was acting on orders from superiors.

“All I know is, I was told to get the weapons out,” he said. Asked why, he replied, “Somebody got itchy, that’s all I’ve got to say. Somebody got itchy; we just adjust.”

Normally, American forces in Afghanistan keep their weapons with them when the defense secretary visits and speaks to them. The Afghans in the tent were not armed to begin with, as is typical.

Later, American officials said that the top commander in Helmand, Maj. Gen. Mark Gurganus, had decided on Tuesday that no one would be armed while Mr. Panetta spoke to them, but the word did not reach those in charge in the tent until shortly before Mr. Panetta was due to arrive.

General Gurganus told reporters later that he wanted a consistent policy for everyone in the tent. “You’ve got one of the most important people in the world in the room,” he said. He insisted that his decision had nothing to do with the shooting on Sunday. “This is not a big deal,” he said.

In his remarks to the group, Mr. Panetta said, “We will be challenged by our enemies, we will be challenged by ourselves, we will be challenged by the hell of war itself.”

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Mr. Panetta also flew to a remote military base in western Helmand, Combat Outpost Shukvani, where American Marines fight alongside troops from Georgia, the former Soviet republic. The battalion commander of the 750 Georgian troops, Lt. Col. Alex Tugushi, lost both legs in a homemade bomb explosion in December; he is recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, where President Obama has visited him.
Related

Obama Promises Thorough Inquiry Into Afghan Attack (March 14, 2012)
Home Base of Accused Soldier Has Faced Scrutiny (March 14, 2012)
Kyrgyzstan Wants Military Role to End at U.S. Base (March 14, 2012)

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Mr. Panetta read a letter to the Georgians from Colonel Tugushi that said in part: “Unfortunately, I could not complete my service with you. But I am proud of all of you — those who have fallen and those who continue to serve. You are all heroes who will go down in Georgian history.”

Mr. Panetta told the troops in Helmand that the rampage on Sunday would not change the administration’s plans to withdraw 23,000 American troops from the country by the end of the summer and the remaining 68,000 by the end of 2014, although some could remain longer if the Afghans and Americas negotiate a long-term agreement.

Early in the day, a roadside bomb struck a minivan in Helmand at about 1 a.m., destroying the vehicle and killing eight civilians. Until then, American commanders had said that Helmand was relatively quiet after the massacre, unlike Panjwai, the district in Kandahar where the rampage occurred. Militants there attacked a memorial service for the 16 victims on Tuesday when an Afghan government delegation was present, firing machine guns and assault rifles from their motorcycles and killing at least one Afghan soldier; a motorcycle bomb went off Wednesday near where the same delegation was staying in Kandahar city, killing a security officer.

Mr. Panetta told reporters on his plane on Monday that the killings in Panjwai were a horrific part of the decade-old conflict in Afghanistan.

“War is hell,” he said. “These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place, they’ve taken place in any war, they’re terrible events, and this is not the first of those events, and it probably will not be the last.” He added: “But we cannot allow these events to undermine our strategy.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: March 14, 2012

A news alert and a headline on an earlier version of this article mischaracterized the initial reports of the incident at the base in Afghanistan. The Pentagon officials did not refer to the stolen car igniting; they described a flaming man emerging from the stolen car.

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Officer accuses U.S. military of vast Afghan deception

Officer accuses U.S. military of vast Afghan deception
By Stephen C. Webster

An internal report on the occupation of Afghanistan, penned by an active-duty military officer and published weeks ago — but not released by the Pentagon — was leaked on Friday by Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings, who called the 84-page examination “one of the most significant documents published by an active-duty officer in the past ten years.”

The document, written by Lt. Col. Daniel L. Davis, explains there has been a 12-year-long cover-up of the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. Davis was the source of a New York Times feature last Sunday, which cited his report but did not release it.

The Pentagon has since launched an investigation of Davis for possible security violations.

Davis reportedly wrote two versions — one classified and one not — and briefed four members of Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Senior Pentagon officials also have the report, but they’ve decided not to release it. For that reason, the unclassified report was published by Rolling Stone on Friday afternoon.

“As I will explain in the following pages I have personally observed or physically participated in programs for at least the last 15 years in which the Army’s senior leaders have either “stretched the truth” or knowingly deceived the US Congress and American public,” Davis explains in his introduction.

“What I witnessed in my most recently concluded 12 month deployment to Afghanistan has seen that deception reach an intolerable low. I will provide a very brief summary of the open source information that would allow any American citizen to verify these claims. But if the public had access to these classified reports they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes. It would be illegal for me to discuss, use, or cite classified material in an open venue and thus I will not do so; I am no WikiLeaks guy Part II.”

He essentially concludes that America’s top generals should be placed under oath and questioned about incidents detailed in the report.

The report is available to read here (PDF).

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This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home


By Daily Mail Reporter

A dozen US soldiers are facing trail accused of being part of a ‘kill team’ that allegedly killed Afghan civilians in an arbitrary fashion – and they even collected their victims’ fingers as trophies of war.

This lil piggy.......

Five soldiers have been charged with the killing three Afghan men ‘for sport’. And seven more are accused of covering up the murders.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to come out of the Afghan war, the deaths are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan.

But the father of one of the five accused of murder said today he tried to warn the Army that troops in his son’s unit had killed civilians.

Accused: Emma and Christopher Winfield's son Adam, 22, tried to to tell the Army about the civilian killingsAccused: Emma and Christopher Winfield’s son Adam, 22, tried to to tell the Army about the civilian killings

By the time suspects were arrested in May, two more Afghans were dead.

Christopher Winfield said his son Adam, 22, was so disgusted after the first killing that he sent Facebook messages home asking for help.

Winfield called the Army and a military hot line asking officials to investigate – to no avail.

His son’s lawyer said he was ordered to shoot at the third victim but deliberately shot high.

An Army spokeswoman declined to comment about whether the base received any tips about the case.

The new details about Winfield’s efforts to alert the Army and his son’s pleas raised questions about the Army’s handling of the case and its system for allowing soldiers to report misconduct by their colleagues.

The soldiers have been accused of conspiracy and premeditated murder.

The highest ranking of them is Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, who, with Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, are accused of taking part in all three killings.

Pte Andrew Holmes is charged with murder in the first killing, and Specialist Michael Wagnon is charged in another. Both deny the charges.

Whistle-blower: But Adam Winfield's words and fears fell on deaf ears, according to his parentsWhistle-blower: But Adam Winfield’s words and fears fell on deaf ears, according to his parents

Winfield is charged with murder in the final killing, and his lawyer insists he was ordered to shoot after Gibbs hit the civilian with a grenade. Winfield deliberately shot high and missed, he said.

Gibbs has denied the charges. His lawyer said his client maintains that the shootings were ‘appropriate engagements’ and denies involvement in any conspiracy to kill civilians.

The soldiers, all assigned to the 5th Stryker Brigade, deployed in July 2009 and were stationed at a base in Kandahar Province.

Gibbs, 25, arrived in the unit late last year and soon began discussing how easy it would be to kill civilians, some in the platoon told Army investigators.

The first indication for Christopher Winfield and his wife, Emma, that something was amiss came on January 15, the day of the first killing.

‘I’m not sure what to do about something that happened out here, but I need to be secretive about this,’ their son wrote them in a Facebook message.

On February 14, he told his parents what happened in a lengthy internet chat: Members of his unit on patrol had killed ‘some innocent guy about my age just farming.’

He said he did not witness the killing.

But, he wrote, those involved told him about it and urged him to ‘get one of my own.’

He said that virtually everyone in the platoon was aware of what was going on, but no one seemed to object.

He added: ‘If you talk to anyone on my behalf, I have proof that they are planning another one in the form of an AK-47 they want to drop on a guy.’

He continued that he didn’t know who to trust and feared for his safety if his comrades learned he was talking to authorities.

‘Should I do the right thing and put myself in danger for it. Or just shut up and deal with it,’ he asked his parents.

‘There are no more good men left here. It eats away at my conscience everyday.’

In statements to investigators, at least three platoon members said Gibbs directly threatened Winfield.

One soldier, Private first class Justin Stoner, who reported hashish smoking in the unit, said he was beaten by several platoon members.

Gibbs and Morlock then paid him a visit, with Gibbs rolling out on the floor a set of severed fingers, he told investigators.

Morlock told him that ‘if I don’t want to end up like that guy … shut the hell up.’

The killings eventually came to light when the soldier who had reported the drug use told investigators that Morlock ‘had three prior kills that none of which I believe were actually justified.’

Preliminary hearings in the case are expected to begin this autumn.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/travelnews/article-1310540/Twelve-US-soldiers-face-trial-Afghan-civilians-killed-sport–whistle-blower-originally-ignored.html#ixzz0z9qzxQ6n