War

CIA bomber’s video urges more attacks

The Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA employees in a suicide attack in Afghanistan said in video clips broadcast posthumously Saturday that all jihadists must attack U.S. targets to avenge the death of Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.

Footage showed Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi — whom the CIA had cultivated as an asset against al-Qaida — sitting with Mehsud’s successor in an undisclosed location. It essentially confirmed the Pakistani Taliban’s claim of responsibility for one of the worst attacks in CIA history, though a senior militant told The Associated Press that al-Qaida and Afghan insurgents played roles, too.

American soldier morale sinking in Afghanistan

Morale has fallen among soldiers in Afghanistan, where troops are seeing record violence in the 8-year-old war, while those in Iraq show much improved mental health amid much lower violence, the Army said Friday.

It was the first time since 2004 that soldier suicides in Iraq did not increase. Self-inflicted deaths in Afghanistan were on track to go up this year.

Though findings of two new battlefield surveys are similar in several ways to the last ones taken in 2007, they come at a time of intense scrutiny on Afghanistan as President Barack Obama struggles to craft a new war strategy and planned troop buildup. There is also new focus on the mental health of the force since a shooting rampage at Fort Hood last week in which an Army psychiatrist is charged.

Sept. 11 terror suspect headed to New York for trial

Self-proclaimed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other Guantanamo Bay detainees will be sent to New York to face trial in a civilian federal court, an Obama administration official said Friday.

The official said Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce the decision later in the morning.

The official is not authorized to discuss the decision before the announcement, so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Bringing such notorious suspects to U.S. soil to face trial is a key step in President Barack Obama’s plan to close the terror suspect detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obama initially planned to close the detention center by Jan. 22, but the administration is no longer expected to meet that deadline.

General wants 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan

A request from the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan for additional troops has been transferred to President Barack Obama for review and has started working its way through the military chain of command, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

The request, which General Stanley McChrystal submitted to Defense Secretary Robert Gates last month, recommends adding up to 40,000 additional U.S. and NATO troops next year, according to congressional officials.

Obama, who has launched a review of his six-month-old counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, has not decided on whether to send more troops as recommended by McChrystal to try to reverse gains by a resurgent Taliban, officials said.

Civilian, military leaders at odds over Afghan war

In early March, after weeks of debate across a conference table in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the participants in President Obama’s strategic review of the war in Afghanistan figured that the most contentious part of their discussions was behind them. Everyone, save Vice President Biden’s national security adviser, agreed that the United States needed to mount a comprehensive counterinsurgency mission to defeat the Taliban.

U.S. troops ‘depressed, disillusioned’ in Afghanistan

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taliban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

Little or no oversight over war costs

During a routine check of a watch tower at a U.S. military base in Kuwait, an Army sergeant found the guard leaning back in a chair, his sunglasses on, apparently sound asleep. When the soldier woke the guard, an employee of a defense contractor named Combat Support Associates, he denied he’d dozed off while on duty.

“It’s so weird that I can close my eyes for one second and then you appear out of nowhere,” the guard said, according to the sergeant’s March 2008 inspection report.

Afghanistan: Obama’s war, Obama’s Vietnam

Even before he became president, Barack Obama made the war in Afghanistan his own priority.

With the nomination locked up, he made a high-profile visit to Kabul shortly before the Democratic convention, where he met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who didn’t seem the liability then he does now. Obama said Afghanistan should be “our central focus, the central front in our battle against terrorism.” He promised to dispatch two to three more combat brigades to Afghanistan even as he called for an accelerated U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

True to his word, Obama sent 21,000 more troops earlier this year, bringing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan to 68,000 on top of the 38,000 NATO troops there now.

McChrystal: More troops or Afghan war is lost

The situation in Afghanistan is serious and growing worse and without more boots on the ground the United States risks failure in a war it’s been waging since shortly after the terror attacks of September 2001, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, says in a confidential report.

“Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by President Barack Obama.

Details of McChrystal’s assessment were first reported late Sunday by The Washington Post. The newspaper posted a link to the report on its Web site, with some operational details withheld at the request of the Pentagon.

More American troops headed for Afghanistan

The US military was looking at freeing up more troops for combat in Afghanistan as President Barack Obama warned there would be no "quick" victory in the war.

With Afghans heading into crucial elections Thursday, US defense officials said the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, was weighing cutting back desk jobs and other support staff to free up more soldiers for combat.

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