Reuters | Kabul | Mon Jan 11, 2010 | 4:41pm IST
Three U.S. service members were killed on Monday afternoon in a fight with insurgents in southern Afghanistan, NATO-led forces said in a statement. Last year was by far the deadliest year of the Afghan war for Western forces. Both the United States and Britain lost more than twice as many troops as in any previous year, the vast majority of them killed by roadside bombs. NATO forces dealt with over 7,200 of these bombs, or improvised explosive devices, in 2009, up from just 81 in 2001.
U.S. President Barack Obama is sending in 30,000 extra troops as part of his new war strategy, to try to turn the tide. Other NATO countries are sending some 7,000 more. No further details about the deaths on Monday were immediately available.
BBC NEWS | 2009/12/03 | 10:19:21 GMT
Italy is to send about 1,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, say reports. The move comes two days after US President Barack Obama announced that America was sending 30,000 more forces to Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. Mr. Obama has asked NATO allies to increase their deployments in Afghanistan, but several European nations are reluctant to do so. The alliance’s foreign ministers meet in Brussels for two days of talks expected to focus on the US request.
In an interview published on Thursday, Italy’s Defence Minister, Ignazio La Russa, confirmed reports that Rome would send about 1,000 extra soldiers to the country. Mr. La Russa told the Corriere della Sera newspaper suggestions in the media that 1,500 soldiers could be sent were “just a hypothesis.” He said the figure was “a maximum quota which we would never reach,” reported ‘Reuters’ news agency. Italy currently has 3,200 soldiers serving in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the conflict was a test of NATO’s “credibility” and that it was “clear that Italy must finish the job started with NATO.”
America has asked for 10,000 more forces from NATO allies to help win a war that has in recent months turned increasingly bloody. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said other NATO countries will provide at least 5,000 extra personnel, and “probably a few Continue reading
NYT | December 2, 2009
President Obama announced Tuesday that he would speed 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in coming months, but he vowed to start bringing American forces home in the middle of 2011, saying the United States could not afford and should not have to shoulder an open-ended commitment. Promising that he could “bring this war to a successful conclusion,” Mr. Obama set out a strategy that would seek to reverse Taliban gains in large parts of Afghanistan, better protect the Afghan people, increase the pressure on Afghanistan to build its own military capacity and a more effective government and step up attacks on Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
“America, we are passing through a time of great trial,” Mr. Obama said. “And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.” The military escalation Mr. Obama described and defended in his speech to a national television audience and 4,000 cadets at the United States Military Academy here, the culmination of a review that lasted three months, could well prove to be the most consequential decision of Mr. Obama’s presidency. In his 33-minute address, he sought to convince an increasingly skeptical nation that the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the continued existence of Al Qaeda across the border in Pakistan — what he called a “cancer” on the region — were direct threats to the United States, and that he could achieve the seemingly contradictory goals of expanding American involvement in the war even as he sought to bring it to a close. Continue reading
Bloomberg | November 25, 2009 | 18:37 EST
The U.S. and Israel are trying to force Russia to halt the sale of an $800 million missile system to Iran that will help protect nuclear plants, the commander of the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said. “Delay in the delivery of Russia’s S-300 missile system to Iran is the result of pressure from the U.S. and Israel,” state-run Press TV cited Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying yesterday in Tehran. Russia and Iran signed the agreement for the sale of the S- 300 surface-to-air system in 2007. Iran will “pursue its implementation through legal bodies” if the sale is delayed, Press TV cited military spokesman Brigadier General Mohammad Hassan Mansourian as saying two days ago.
Iran, under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt enriching uranium, is this week holding military exercises to assess its capability to protect nuclear plants. The government in Tehran rejects assertions by the U.S. and its European allies that its nuclear program is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. The Iranian program is for peaceful use, such as electricity production, the government says. While Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, limited refining capacity forces it to import about a third of its gasoline. Russia hasn’t violated its Continue reading
ABC News | RACHEL MARTIN | Nov. 15, 2009
Uptick in Violence Takes Its Toll on the Troops; Same Group of Soldiers on Repeat Tours
As President Obama weighs his decision about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, another factor has come into play, the declining morale of U.S. troops there. It has been eight years since the first U.S. combat troops put boots on the ground in Afghanistan and many of them have since been deployed three, four or even five times. The strain is taking its toll. According to a recent report by the U.S. Army, soldiers’ perception of their units’ morale has dramatically decreased over the past two years. In 2007, the percentage of soldiers who said their units’ morale was high was 10.2 percent. In 2009, only 5.7 percent reported high morale.
Barbara Van Dahlen is a psychologist and founder of Give an Hour, an organization that provides free mental health services to service members and their families. “We are seeing the wear and tear on this military population, absolutely,” Van Dahlan says. “They’re tired. That’s what people kind of say over and over again,” she says. “You meet with families, you talk with people on base, they’re tired. They’re still doing their job. They’re still dedicated to the mission, but they’re tired.” The war in Afghanistan now rivals the Revolutionary War and Vietnam as the longest American war in history, but military experts say the war in Afghanistan is different in one key way. Unlike the other long wars, this Continue reading
NYT | WILLIAM J. BROAD | November 20, 2009
In a new report, a secretive federal panel has concluded that programs to extend the life of the nation’s aging nuclear arms are sufficient to guarantee their destructiveness for decades to come, obviating a need for a costly new generation of more reliable warheads. The finding, by the Jason panel, an independent group of scientists that advises the federal government on issues of science and technology, bears on the growing debate over whether the United States should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or, instead, prepare for the design of new nuclear arms. Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona and other Republicans have argued that concerns are growing over the reliability of the United States’ aging nuclear stockpile and that the possible need for new designs means that the nation should retain the right to conduct underground tests of new nuclear weapons. The testing issue is expected to flare in the months ahead when the Obama administration submits the test ban treaty for ratification by the Senate, where it faces a tough fight. The White House is building a case that advanced technologies make any additions to the nuclear arsenal unnecessary and would also allow the United States to verify that other countries are refraining from underground testing. Continue reading
Reuters | Thu, Nov 19 | 05:27 AM
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is to be sworn into office for a second full term on Thursday as he struggles to rebuild a tarnished reputation and convince the West he is still a credible partner after eight years of war. His inauguration comes against the backdrop of a rising Taliban insurgency, doubts over Karzai’s legitimacy after an election tainted by fraud and complaints his government is riddled with corruption. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her first visit to Afghanistan as the top U.S. diplomat, and her British, French and Turkish counterparts are among 300 foreign dignitaries to attend the ceremony at the presidential palace in Kabul. “There is now a clear window of opportunity for President Karzai and his government to make a new compact with the people of Afghanistan, to demonstrate clearly that you’re going to have accountability and tangible results that will improve the lives of the people,” Clinton said in the Afghan capital on Wednesday.
U.S. President Barack Obama will announce soon whether he will send up to 40,000 more troops to fight an increasingly unpopular war. He said on Wednesday he aims to bring the conflict to an end before he leaves office. “My preference would be not to hand off anything to the next president. One of the things I’d like is the next president to be able to come in and say ‘I’ve got a clean slate’,” he told CNN. General Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants tens of thousands of additional troops, warning that without them, the war will probably be lost. Continue reading