December in Afghanistan is traditionally a quiet period in the country’s decades-old war, and coalition troops suffered only 14 deaths last month, half as many as the previous year. Yesterday, General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, submitted a post-2014 plan to the Pentagon, laying out options to keep between 6,000 and 15,000 troops in the country after the official NATO withdrawal. (Current troop levels are around 66,000.) The smaller forces would be mainly focused on counterterrorism operations and engaging members of the Taliban and al Qaeda. These photos show just a glimpse of this conflict over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
Most media attention paid to Afghanistan this month revolved around a scandal involving General David Petraeus and General John Allen, the two most recent U.S. military commanders there. However, that scandal has had little or no impact on daily life in Afghanistan. Of greater concern there is the continued insecurity. As the 2014 withdrawal of NATO troops approaches, people are leaving Afghanistan at a higher rate than they have since 2002. Iran and Saudi Arabia, rivals for regional influence, are making investments in the country’s infrastructure, each hoping to be the stronger partner after 2014. But it’s far from clear what the future will bring. These photos show just a glimpse of this conflict over the past month, part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
Looking back on the troubled wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, many observers are content to lay blame on the Bush administration. But inept leadership by American generals was also responsible for the failure of those wars. A culture of mediocrity has taken hold within the Army’s leadership rank—if it is not uprooted, the country’s next war is unlikely to unfold any better than the last two.
In the month of September 2012, the United States completed its withdrawal of the 33,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan in the “surge” of 2009. However, the U.S. still has 86,000 troops engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom, even as some coalition members are now finishing up their deployments. Also this month, coalition troops have curtailed joint operations with Afghan Army and police forces, due to increased attacks on foreign soldiers by members of the Afghan forces — and heightened tensions resulting from widespread anger over an anti-Islam movie produced in the U.S. Gathered here are images of those involved in this conflict over the past month, as part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.
In August, the 143rd month of the conflict, 53 coalition forces based in Afghanistan were killed — the most in a single month since last September. Of these, five were from New Zealand, five from Australia, three from the UK, one from France, and the rest from the United States — 50 men and 3 women ranging in age from 20 to 55. Collected below are images from the many ceremonies honoring the return of these 53 fallen soldiers. While the photographs may bear some similarities, keep in mind that each one represents a separate individual life lost in Afghanistan just last month.
See more.[Images: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, USMC/Cpl. Mark Garcia, AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, Martin Hunter/Getty Images]
Afghanistan is a tough place of brutal climate and a complex history, and it is written in the faces of most. It is etched as little creases of personal history that tell a broader story, 30 million canvasses painted with too many stories. (The Atlantic)
This month we present a view of Afghanistan seen from the perspective of a single photographer, Martin Middlebrook. He has spent much of the last three years documenting the real lives of ordinary people across Afghanistan, for a project called ‘Faces of Hope’.
When President Obama announced in August 2010 the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq, he complimented the soldiers who had served there for completing “every mission they were given.” But some of military’s most senior officers, in a little-noticed report this spring, rendered a harsher account of their work that highlights repeated missteps and failures over the past decade, in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
There was a “failure to recognize, acknowledge and accurately define” the environment in which the conflicts occurred, leading to a “mismatch between forces, capabilities, missions, and goals,” says the assessment from the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. The efforts were marked by a “failure to adequately plan and resource strategic and operational” shifts from one phase of the conflicts to the next.
From the outset, U.S. forces were poorly prepared for peacekeeping and had not adequately planned for the unexpected. In the first half of the decade, “strategic leadership repeatedly failed,” and as a result, U.S. military training, policies, doctrine and equipment were ill-suited to the tasks that troops actually faced in Iraq and Afghanistan.