The Paradox of Boots on the Ground

June 29th, 2010

On a balmy summer’s day in the village of Hiratian in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, locals found the body of eight-year-old Dilawar hanging from a tree of a small fruit farm. Taliban fighters had accused the boy of spying for the American forces and had kidnapped him, strung him up and left his body to sway [...]

New Counterinsurgency Strategy, Same Results

June 5th, 2010

Wardak province, a rustic region of verdant dales and twisting streams that borders Kabul, is home to one of the untold stories of the Afghan war: over the last nine months, U.S. forces have quietly decapitated the Taliban’s leadership in the area. Through dozens of nighttime raids, U.S. Special Operations Forces have succeeded in killing [...]

U.S. Plan to Arm Afghan Milita Founders on Tribal Rivalries

April 27th, 2010

ACHIN, Afghanistan — The detritus of tribal war litters the road that leads into this quiet mountain hamlet in eastern Afghanistan. The charred bodies of vehicles and the skeletal remains of destroyed houses fill the desert that flanks the road. Most of the shops in the main bazaar are shuttered, and some residents have packed [...]

Marjah: Guns Quiet, the Battle for Power Now Begins

March 23rd, 2010

Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan–Weeks after a major United States-led offensive overturned Taliban rule in the southern Afghan town of Marjah, another force continues to hold sway over the population.

“We are ruled by fear now,” says Gul Muhammad, a shopkeeper from the dust-caked market town, speaking by phone. “We don’t know who will ultimately win here, or [...]

Many Afghans Say Surge is the Wrong Strategy

December 1st, 2009

KABUL — Some powerful Afghan politicians and tribal leaders have expressed doubts that more U.S. troops can turn the tide of the war, as President Barack Obama prepares to unveil a new Afghanistan strategy Tuesday.
President Barack Obama has been briefing allies about his plans for Afghanistan. He’s expected to tell the public — and lawmakers [...]

Afghanistan Civilians Hit, Straining U.S. Alliance

September 5th, 2009

By Anand Gopal and Yochi Dreazen
KABUL — An American airstrike on militants in northern Afghanistan killed an unknown number of local villagers, dealing a fresh blow to the U.S. campaign and adding fresh political pressure on NATO members struggling to defend an increasingly unpopular war.
The strike on a pair of hijacked fuel trucks in Kunduz [...]

US Troops in Afghanistan Face Tough Battle: Making ‘Clear, Hold, Build’ Work

July 8th, 2009

In Wardak province, the counterinsurgency model has been difficult to implement, though US forces have already seen some success in the first phase of the effort.
Jaghatu, Afghanistan – Part 2 of a two-part series.
As the US sends more troops to Afghanistan to try to reverse the growing violence, they are relying on the “clear, [...]

In Afghanistan Surge, Soldiers Negotiate a Complex Web of Local Loyalties

July 7th, 2009

As forces of the 10th Mountain Division poured into Wardak Province to combat the Taliban, they’ve also had to battle a cool reception.
Tangi Valley, Afghanistan – Part one of a two-part series.
When the soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division penetrated the insurgent-ridden Tangi Valley in the heart of Wardak Province, they braved rockets and [...]

Many in Afghanistan oppose Obama’s troop buildup plans

March 1st, 2009

Frustration and fear is sparking opposition to plans that would nearly double the size of US forces there.
Kabul, Afghanistan – Parliamentarian Shukria Barakzai says she has an innovative amendment to Washington’s planned injection of up to 30,000 new troops here.
“Send us 30,000 scholars instead. Or [...]

Mini-surge to Test Out US Strategy in Afghanistan

February 18th, 2009

Some 3000 US troops recently deployed to insurgent-heavy provinces near Kabul
Maydan Shahr, Afghanistan – The 3,000 new American troops who arrived in recent weeks in Logar and Wardak provinces, both of which border Kabul, face a formidable challenge: establishing control in areas with little government presence and where insurgents operate freely.
In Band-e-chak, for example, a [...]