Tag Archives: US Military

Adding More Proof ‘War Is Over’ Is a Myth, NATO Commander Warns of Inevitable Deaths to Come

‘The war in Afghanistan has not ended’

By Sarah Lazare
January 10, 2015
Common Dreams, January 9, 2015

 

A U.S. Army helicopter taking off from Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2012. (Photo: DoD/public domain)

A U.S. Army helicopter taking off from Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2012. (Photo: DoD/public domain)

 

The public should expect more U.S military casualties in Afghanistan, the top commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) recently warned, in the latest sign that, despite U.S. claims, the war is not actually over.

“All of us as commanders have reminded our senior leadership … the war in Afghanistan has not ended, [just] the combat mission for NATO,” General Philip Breedlove told Stars and Stripes, according to an article published Thursday.

“It’s hard to say, but we are going to continue to have [U.S.] casualties” in Afghanistan, Breedlove continued, according to journalist Carlo Munoz. “It is going to be unavoidable.”

Meanwhile, Afghan society continues to pay a steep price for U.S.-led war and occupation of Afghanistan, which has been waged over 13 years and counting.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reports that 2014 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the global body began making such reports in 2009. Civilian casualties overall were up 19 percent from 2013, rising to 33 percent among children, UNAMA reports. These numbers do not include the impact of social upheaval, mass displacement, poverty, and starvation on the Afghan population.

Breedlove’s statements come amid fresh revelations that the Obama administration still considers Afghanistan an “area of active hostilities” and therefore has determined that drone reforms ostensibly aimed at reducing civilian deaths do not apply in the country.

Furthermore, they follow numerous Obama administration maneuvers to prolong the war, including the signing of the Bilateral Security agreement with Afghanistan, which extends U.S. presence at least another decade, and the passage of an order authorizing a more expansive U.S. military mission at least through this year.

 

 

After 11 Years Without Charge Or Trial, 5 Men Released From Guantánamo

All of those transferred had been recommended for release at least since 2009

By Sarah Lazare
December 31, 2004
Common Dreams

 

Protest at the White House against torture and abuse in Guantanamo Bay and Bagram U.S. military prisons February 27, 2009. (Photo: mike.benedetti/flickr/cc)

 

Five men, each of whom spent more than 11 years detained in the Guantánamo Bay without charge or trial, have been transferred from the U.S. military prison in Cuba to Kazakhstan, the Pentagon announced Tuesday.

Two of the men—Adel Al-Hakeemy, 49, and Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti, 48—are Tunisian nationals. Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, 46; Mohammed Ali Hussain, 36; and Sabri Muhammed Ibrahim al Qurashi, 44, hail from Yemen. All have been cleared by a national security task force since at least 2009.

Al-Lufti arrived at the prison in 2003 with severe health issues, including heart problems that required a pace-maker. Leaked U.S. military documents show that he was recommended for release in 2004, and it is still not clear why he was incarcerated for another ten years.

Al-Hakeemy is described by the UK-based legal charity Reprieve as a “chef by training who worked at several restaurants in Bologna, Italy.” Reprieve states, “Adel had moved to Pakistan to get married. He and his wife were living in Afghanistan at the time of the 2001 invasion, and Adel was seized and sent to Guantánamo as he fled the war zone.  Adel suffered severe beatings during his initial period in U.S. custody, particularly at the U.S. base in Kandahar.”

Cori Crider, Reprieve’s Strategic Director and al-Hakeemy attorney, said in a statement released Wednesday, “All Adel wants now is to regain his health, see his daughter, and start his life again. We are very encouraged by this wave of releases at the end of 2014, and hope we see more of the dozens of cleared men left in Guantánamo rejoin their families early next year.”

According to journalist Carol Rosenberg, detained men “typically depart as they arrived—in shackles with blindfolds and ears muffled.” In this instance the transfer got off to a “shaky start,” Rosenberg reports, as the aircraft which was to fly them from the prison on Monday was forced to return due to mechanical problems. The five men successfully departed on Tuesday.

Those released are now “free men,” a senior Obama administration official told the New York Times. The exact terms of the transfer to Kazakhstan were not immediately clear.

The release means that 127 people are still captive in the military prison, which has been slammed for its “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” treatment, including torture. Twenty-eight men were transferred from the prison this year, including four to Afghanistan and six to Uruguay in the month of December, as Obama pledges to speed up the closure of the prison, now nearing its 13th year.

The transfer comes just days after State Department envoy Cliff Sloan, charged with negotiating transfers from Guantanamo, resigned his post, in what was described by the New York Times as “another blow to President Obama’s efforts to close a facility that top administration officials say is a blight on the country’s international standing.”

“We hope the January 1 departure of State Department Guantánamo envoy Cliff Sloan will not interrupt the momentum of transfers,” said the Center for Constitutional Rights in a statement released Wednesday. “It is imperative that President Obama appoint Sloan’s successor without delay and continue emptying the prison.”

After 13 Years, US-Led Afghanistan War is Officially Over but Nightmare Goes On

The war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of about 3,500 foreign troops—at least 2,224 of them American soldiers—and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians

By Deirdre Fulton
December 28, 2014
Common Dreams

 

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell, right, and ISAF Gen. Hans-Lothar Domrose attend a ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Gen. John Campbell, right, and ISAF Gen. Hans-Lothar Domrose attend a ceremony at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

 

With little fanfare, the United States and NATO formally ended the longest war in U.S. history with a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan on Sunday, leaving observers to wonder what—if anything—was achieved.

Over 13 years, U.S.-led war in Afghanistan claimed the lives of about 3,500 foreign troops (at least 2,224 of them American soldiers) and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians; most experts agree that the country is as violent as ever and that the death toll will continue to rise. Many say the war is over in name only.

“Afghanistan’s war is as hot as it has been since the U.S.-led invasion following the 9/11 attacks overthrew the Taliban,” Lynne O’Donnell writes for the Associated Press. Some 5,000 members of Afghanistan’s security forces—army, police and armed rural defense units—have died this year fighting the Taliban, according to Karl Ake Roghe, the outgoing head of EUPOL, the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan.

And while the ceremony marked the end of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a new flag for the international mission “Resolute Support” was immediately unfurled.

In late September, the U.S. and Afghanistan signed a controversial Bilateral Security Agreement that allows for U.S. training, funding, and arming of the Afghan military; establishes long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan with access to numerous bases and installations in the country; and extends immunity to U.S. service members under Afghan law.

Stars and Stripes set the scene in Kabul: “During an hour-long ceremony in a drab gymnasium at the headquarters of the military coalition that has battled against insurgents for 13 years, generals hailed the end of a mission, while struggling to explain the parameters of what will still be a substantial military operation in Afghanistan.”

There will still be roughly 11,000 American troops in Afghanistan next year as part of the Resolute Support mission to train, advise and assist Afghanistan’s roughly 350,000 security forces. ISAF spokesman Lt. Col. Christopher Belcher told Stars and Stripes that there would be a total of roughly 17,500 foreign troops in Afghanistan next year, which the publication notes is “far more than the 12,000-13,000 U.S. and NATO officials have been saying would be part of Resolute Support. Belcher could not say where those additional troops would be coming from nor when or why the decision was made to increase their number.”

As Dan De Luce writes for Agence France-Presse:

Instead of a sense of triumph at the close of the longest conflict in America’s history, there is mostly regret and fatigue over a war that claimed the lives of more than 2,300 American troops and cost more than a trillion dollars.

U.S. commanders insist the Afghan security forces will hold the line in a stalemate with the Taliban. But some officials fear a repeat of Iraq, in which an American-trained army virtually collapsed in the face of a jihadist onslaught.

A large majority of Americans now say the war was not worth it, and only 23 percent of US soldiers believe the mission has been a success, according to recent polls.

That sentiment is largely shared in the UK. “[I]n Afghanistan, Britain has just suffered a humiliating defeat, the worst in more than half a century and, arguably, ranking with the worst in modern times,” Will Hutton argues at the Guardian.

“But the US, although much more effective than the patronising British, was, at a meta strategic level, wrong,” he continues. “The war against terrorism, developed by George W Bush in the hours after 9/11 with little consultation with his own military or cabinet, let alone his allies, is one of the great failures of the rightwing mind. The reflex reaction to an act of mass terror was not to outsmart, out-think and marginalise the new enemy—it was to get even by being even more violent, lawless and vicious, leading Nato into the Afghan quagmire, and the coalition in Iraq. Two trillion dollars later and hundreds of thousand dead and displaced, the world is predictably much less safe for the west than it was—and jihadism is much more entrenched.”

Buried Within Omnibus Bill, a ‘Long-Term Blank Check for War Spending’

Analysts warn that “emergency” war spending fund, which was supposed to be temporary, has become permanent fixture that inflates Pentagon’s budget

by Sarah Lazare
December 12, 21014
Common Dreams

 

army_1.jpg

A U.S. Army helicopter taking off from Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Oct. 3, 2012. (Photo: DoD/public domain)

 

The government funding bill that narrowly passed the House of Representatives on Thursday has been widely criticized, including from within Congress, as a give-away to Wall Street. However, its 1,600 pages raise numerous other red flags for activists and analysts, including a bloated military budget and what journalist Julia Harte calls “a long-term blank check for ‘war’ spending.”

The bill approves $554 billion overall in Pentagon spending—in keeping with the trajectory of a country that spends more on the military than the next 11 countries combined. As Dave Gilson points out in Mother Jones, this sum means that total Pentagon funding during 2015 is “close to what it got during the height of the Iraq War” and “close to its highest level since World War II.”

When this sum is broken down, its sources raise further concerns, say analysts.

Buried within the budget is $64 billion in military funding from what is called the Overseas Contingency Operations. Established in 2001 under a different title, the OCO was supposed to be for “temporary” emergencies relating to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it has become a permanent, and seemingly bottomless, source of funding for war. Even President Obama noticed this in 2008, when he issued the campaign promise to reign in abuse of emergency war spending.

As Harte writes for the Center for Public Integrity, “The OCO budget isn’t subject to spending limits that cap the rest of the defense budget for the next seven years; it’s often omitted altogether from tallies of how much the military spends each year; and as an ’emergency’ fund, it’s subject to much less scrutiny than other military spending requests.”

Furthermore, Lindsay Koshgarian points out for National Priorities Project, included within the bill is a “spending spree for defense contractors,” which includes $479 million for F-35s and war ships. In addition, the bill green-lights $5 billion for the expanding U.S.-led war in Iraq and Syria, despite the fact that that military operation still has not been approved—or even subject to real debate—in Congress.