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US Troops Cleared In Afghan Civilian Deaths During November Fight In Kunduz
The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday that 33 Afghan civilians were killed and 27 others wounded in a battle in northern Afghanistan in November involving U.S. and Afghan forces.
The deaths occurred as U.S. warplanes launched airstrikes during an operation aimed at capturing Taliban commanders in Kunduz province, the military said in a statement announcing the findings of a two-month investigation.
During the joint U.S.-Afghan operation that began Nov. 2 in Boz-e Kandahari village, Taliban fighters opened fire from inside civilian buildings, prompting U.S. warplanes to carry out airstrikes to protect the soldiers, the investigation found.
The military said its forces acted in self-defense.
“The civilians who were wounded or killed were likely inside the buildings from which the Taliban were firing,” the military said in a statement. “In addition, a Taliban ammunition cache was struck and exploded, which also destroyed multiple civilian buildings and may also have killed civilians.”
The military said its investigation determined that U.S. forces “used the minimum amount of force required” to protect the ground troops.
Two U.S. soldiers and three Afghan army commandos were killed in the operation, along with 26 Taliban militants, including three commanders, the military said. Several other U.S. and Afghan soldiers were wounded.
“Regardless of the circumstances, I deeply regret the loss of innocent lives,” said Gen. John Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Nicholson said he wanted to assure the Afghan government “that we will take all possible measures to protect Afghan civilians.”
The operation came as the U.S. military stepped up efforts to help Afghan troops secure the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan’s fifth largest and the capital of Kunduz province. The Taliban had briefly seized it in the fall of 2015 and has threatened to recapture it in recent months.
In October 2015, a U.S. airstrike in the provincial capital hit a hospital belonging to the Doctors Without Borders medical charity, killing 42 people. The Pentagon later disciplined 16 soldiers for mistakes that led to the airstrike, though none faced criminal charges.
Thursday’s announcement did not assuage the anger of victims’ families. Reza Taimory, a 29-year-old farmer whose house was destroyed, lost seven members of his family in the attack, he said.
“Why did the Americans target civilians?” Taimory asked. “If there’s justice, then I want them to be followed and punished.”
©2017 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.