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Mar 9th, 2011

Gates Sees War Gains — But Can Afghans Hold Them?

Helmand and Kandahar provinces no longer fully under Taliban control

Image: US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, greets village elders
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, right, greets village elders before meeting with the village council during a visit to Combat Outpost Kowall, Afghanistan, on Tuesday, March 8, 2011. (Photo credit: Mandel Ngan / AP)

By Robert Burns

March 8, 2011

COMBAT OUTPOST SABIT QADAM, Afghanistan — The Taliban are reeling. U.S. and Afghan troops are clicking. The war is going really well. That’s what Pentagon chief Robert Gates heard in two days with troops and commanders. Much less clear: the hoped-for advances in the Afghan government’s ability to provide basic services and extend its authority beyond Kabul, just months before the American troop drawdown begins.

Gates visited some of the most hotly contested parts of the country, where the effects of President Barack Obama’s 30,000-troop surge have been most keenly felt, as the Obama administration considers where to begin withdrawing and thinning out U.S. forces. The defense secretary’s very presence in some far-flung combat bases was meant to show the progress the U.S.-led international military force claims. …

His visit to the Marine outpost in Helmand province was all the more emotional for the presence in Gates’ party of Lt. Gen. John Kelly, whose 29-year-old Marine son, Robert, was killed in Sangin last November [link added]. Kelly was traveling with Gates as his newly announced senior military assistant. His son’s unit, the 3rd battalion, 5th Marine regiment, has suffered more than two dozen combat fatalities since it arrived in Sangin last fall — the most for any U.S. battalion since the war began. …

Full story


3/15/11 Update

Suicide Bomber Kills At Least 33 in Afghanistan

By Rahim Faiez

March 14, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber posing as an army volunteer struck an Afghan army recruitment center in the northern province of Kunduz on Monday, killing at least 33 people, Afghan officials said.

Militants appear to be waging an intense campaign to frighten people from working with security forces and the Afghan government in Kunduz, the target of escalating suicide bombings over the past two years. Violence has increased in the north as international forces have flooded into Taliban strongholds in the south.

Monday’s attack was the second suicide bombing in five days in Kunduz, where al-Qaida, the Taliban and numerous other militant groups, including one from neighboring Uzbekistan, have increased their presence. …

The same recruitment center was targeted in a mid-December attack that killed eight soldiers and policemen. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack. …

The Taliban also claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing Thursday that killed Kunduz police chief Abdul Rahman Sayedkhili and two of his bodyguards as they walked through the city [link added].

In February, a suicide bomber killed 30 people waiting in line for identification cards at another government office [link added].

In October, the Kunduz governor, Mohammad Omar, was killed by a suicide bomber as he prayed in a mosque in neighboring Takhar province. Nineteen other worshippers were killed in the blast. …

Meanwhile, in the south, a civilian car struck a roadside bomb in Zabul province’s Mazana district, setting off an explosion that killed all three men inside, government spokesman Mohammad Rasoolyar said.

To the east, a bomb blast Monday morning killed three Afghan civilians in Nangarhar province’s Sorkh Rod district, the Interior Ministry said. …

Full story


4/6/11 Update

Taliban has strengthened along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, report finds (Scott Wilson, April 5, 2011) – The Obama administration’s semiannual appraisal of progress and remaining challenges facing the United States in Afghanistan and Pakistan, submitted to Congress on Tuesday, April 5, reports that the Taliban insurgency has gained strength in Pakistan’s border regions with Afghanistan in recent months despite the Pakistani government’s sustained government offensive against it. … Full story


Related reports on this site

Gates Talks Afghanistan Strategy (March 7, 2011)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — March 9, 2010

Iraq-Afghanistan Casualties

One year ago today, I provided my weekly report of U.S. military deaths in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Marine Lance Cpl. Nigel K. Olsen, 21, Orem, Utah, died March 4, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Olsen’s family remembers that as a young boy, he wanted to play only army games, wear fatigues and put on face paint. He was shy, but talking about weapons and military history brought him out of his shell.

Olsen grew up the youngest of 10 children and graduated with honors in 2007 from Mountain View High School in Orem. He was an Eagle Scout with a deep sense of patriotism, said his sister Meghan Olsen. One week after he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — March 9, 2009

Bachmann on the Media Circuit

Bachmann sounded the socialism alarm on Thursday.
Bachmann sounds the socialism alarm.
(Photo credit: CNN / Getty Images)

Two years ago today, on March 9, 2009, I reported that Rep. Michele Bachmann had not met face-to-face with constituents at town hall meetings in her district, but was active as ever on the talk show circuit.

3 Responses to “Can U.S. Hold Afghanistan Gains?”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Petraeus Testifies Amid Waning Support for Afghan War Says:

    […] Can U.S. Hold Afghanistan Gains? (March 9, 2011) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Imminent Afghan Spring Offensive Says:

    […] Can U.S. Hold Afghanistan Gains? (March 9, 2011) […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghan War ‘Not Worth Fighting’ Says:

    […] Can U.S. Hold Afghanistan Gains? (March 9, 2011) […]

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