(WASHINGTON TIMES) A government oversight agency says the Pentagon has lost track of more than 40 percent of the $626 million in firearms it has provided to Afghanistan’s security forces, prompting officials to contemplate a “carrot and stick” approach to arming the fledgling military.
A Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction report scheduled to be made public Monday says the Pentagon’s two primary information systems that track weapons sent to Afghanistan — the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database and the Security Cooperation Information Portal — are rife with errors.
Although the oversight agency cannot say at this point whether any of the arms have made their way into neighboring countries such as Pakistan, the flawed tracking methods are fostering fears that militants could gain control of Pentagon-supplied weapons.
Jeffrey Brown, senior audit manager for the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, said those weapons could very well “go on the black market and enter another country.”
“We have no evidence that it has,” he said. “But that wasn’t really in the scope of our audit.”
(FEDERALJACK) In 2008, the Department of Defense bough 20 Italian-made twin propeller military transport aircraft, called G222s, to give to the Afghan military. Turns out, the things aren’t made for the Afghan climate, nor did we buy all the parts necessary for the things to actually FLY. Just another example of the US government burning our taxpayer money.
(RT) An Afghan interpreter arrested on suspicion of torturing and murdering civilians has accused US Special Forces of ordering the atrocities, but denied personal responsibility.
Six weeks ago, Afghan authorities detained Zakeria Kandahari, a translator who says he worked for US Special Forces for the past nine years. Police claim Kandahari took part in the torture and murder of Afghan civilians in Wardak Province. At least nine corpses have been recovered in the region, one belonging to Sayid Mohammed, a local resident who was last seen being taken into US custody and whose body was found mutilated and footless. Mohammed’s corpse was found in close proximity to the Nerk Special Forces base in May.
In documents obtained by Reuters, Afghan investigators say that a cell phone video shows Kandahari beating Mohammed, but the detainee suggested that US Special Forces were responsible for what happened next.
In the document summarizing an interrogation, Kandahari identified three soldiers of the US Special Forces, which he referred to as “Dave, chief of the operations, Hagen and Chris.” He alleged that all three men are fluent in Dari and Pashto and linked them to the killings. Kandahari admitted beating one of the deceased victims, but claims no role in the murder.
“I also kicked him several times while I was taking him to the base,” Kandahari told interrogators. “I handed him over to Mr. Dave and Mr. Hagen, but later I saw his body in a black body bag.”
Wardak residents have long complained that US Special Forces had been secretly abducting local men and boys and subjecting them to interrogation, torture and sometimes death. The Karzai government has never directly accused US forces of doing this, but ordered them to leave Wardak Province in February. The US-led military coalition in Afghanistan has denied involvement in the torture or disappearances, but Kandahari’s interrogation has revealed new details that may shed further light on the mystery.
“Kandahari rejects all allegations leveled to him and links the three soldiers to the killings,” the interview document said. The former translator claims he was low ranking and had no access to the Special Forces’ interrogation rooms.
A senior spokesman for the US Special Forces on Tuesday reaffirmed to Reuters that the US is not responsible for the civilian deaths, and claims that the military already investigated the matter.
“U.S. forces conducted several investigations which determined there was no credible evidence to substantiate misconduct by ISAF or U.S. forces,” the spokesperson said. “Having said that, ISAF takes all allegations of detainee abuse seriously and we will continue to cooperate with the Afghan government on this matter.”
But tensions regarding the matter remain high, and the government’s decision to bar US troops from Wardak means Taliban insurgents have the potential to operate in the region, which is close to the capital.
Kandahari fled the base in January after President Hamid Karzai ordered his arrest. Maj. Gen. Manan Farahi, head of intelligence for the Afghan Defense Ministry, told reporters last week that the abuses against Wardak residents continued after Kandahari fled, suggesting that US troops were behind the torture and killings.
“Everybody knows and you should know that Zakaria Kandahari and these people with him were there with the Americans and were working for the Americans,” Farahi said in early July. “Whether they killed people on their own or were directed by the Americans to kill people, it needs extensive investigation. Now that Mr. Kandahari is in custody most of these things will become clear.”
(RT) As the U.S. army rushes to complete its pull-out from Afghanistan, parts of the country are already turning into huge junkyards. The Pentagon is destroying U.S. vehicles and other military equipment, despite the war already having cost American tax payers more than 630 billion dollars.
(SPREAD LIBERTY NEWS) Police in an area of Afghanistan where 109 British troops died and hundreds were wounded trying to secure peace are riddled with corruption, child abuse, drug taking, kidnap and murder, a devastating investigation by Panorama revealed last night. Weapons, ammunition and fuel paid for by UK taxpayers are being openly sold by Afghan officers – possibly to end-up with the Taliban – while senior police refuse to crackdown of the abuse of young boys by their officers. Some officers appear drug-addicted, others are kidnapping civilians for ransom while in the past five weeks, four boys suspected of having been used as ‘sex slaves’ have been shot – one in the face – while attempting to escape from police commanders believed to have abducted them from their families. Three have died.
(HUFFINGTON POST) As reported in the New York Times last week, a significant number of innocent Afghans continue to be killed by US and NATO forces despite new rules issued by Gen. Stanley McChrystal meant to help reduce civilian casualties. Indeed, the number of Afghans who have been killed or hurt by troop shootings at convoys and military checkpoints has basically remained the same since McChrystal announced his directives.
“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” said McChrystal during a recent video-conference with troops, the Times reported.
Talking Points Memo has obtained a longer transcript of McChrystal’s statements, which you can read in full here.
McChrystal spokesman Tadd Sholtis tried to place the general’s comments in context in an email to TPM: “The general was urging his forces to exercise courageous restraint (by suggesting that it is unlikely that erratic behavior at a checkpoint constitutes a threat) while also expressing sympathy for the confusing and threatening situations in which both soldiers and Afghans find themselves” Sholtis wrote.
From McChrystal’s remarks:
We really ask a lot of our young service people out on the checkpoints because there’s danger, they’re asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it. That doesn’t mean I’m criticizing the people who are executing. I’m just giving you perspective. We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.
(RT) The United States’ post-9/11 actions in Afghanistan have already earned the operation the distinction of being America’s longest-running war, and promises on the verge of being shattered could cause an expected end to be still a ways in the future.
Despite repeated pleas from US President Barack Obama to conclude the war in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a leading official with the State Department tells reporters this week that the United States is readying plans that will leave boots on the ground for the unforeseeable future, perhaps long after the Obama-insisted deadline comes and goes.
Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, reportedly told the press on Tuesday that upcoming negotiations in the region will iron out how and who will be left overseas after 2014 to allegedly engage in counter-terrorism efforts and assist Afghans with military training.
According to a report published this week in Foreign Policy, Grossman says the State Dept. will soon start up a round of talks with overseas officials with the goal of establishing a game plan for how America will conduct itself after the war is considered over.
Josh Rogin with Foreign Policy writes, “the point of the upcoming negotiations is to agree on an extension of the US troop presence well past 2014, for the purposes of conducting counter-terrorism operations and training and advising the Afghan security forces.”
Grossman adds that the State Dept. has already held meetings to discuss “how we will manage our forces going forward in Afghanistan,” and now must begin negotiations to figure out a number of factors, including who and how many troops will be left behind.
The why, of course, is to aid Afghans unable to fend against insurgency on their own after the US military formally walks away. Just last week, however, US Vice President Joe Biden said he opposes assisting the Afghans any further once the operation hits the 2014 deadline.
“The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We’ve decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose,” Mr. Biden said during last week’s debate against Paul Ryan, the GOP running mate vying for an Executive Branch position under Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney. “And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It’s their responsibility to take over their own security. That’s why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we’ve agreed on a gradual draw-down so we’re out of there by the year — in the year 2014.”
“It is the responsibility of the Afghans to take care of their own security,” Mr. Biden added. “We are leaving in 2014, period, and in the process, we’re going to be saving over the next 10 years another $800 billion. We’ve been in this war for over a decade. The primary objective is almost completed. Now all we’re doing is putting the Kabul government in a position to be able to maintain their own security. It’s their responsibility, not America’s.”
Earlier this week, officials with NATO confirmed that allied troops composed in part with US soldiers will remain in Afghanistan after the 2014 deadline, but strictly in an advisory role.