Military Operations in the 2000s

Operations in Afghanistan

(Operation Enduring Freedom)



Materials arranged chronologically.

Smith, R. Jeffrey, Candace Rondeaux, and Joby Warrick. "2 U.S. Airstrikes Offer a Concrete Sign of Obama's Pakistan Policy." Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2009, A1. []

On 23 January 2009, there were "[t]wo remote U.S. missile strikes that killed at least 20 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in northwestern Pakistan.... The separate strikes on two compounds, coming three hours apart and involving five missiles fired from Afghanistan-based Predator drone aircraft, were the first high-profile hostile military actions taken under Obama's four-day-old presidency.... At least 132 people have been killed in 38 suspected U.S. missile strikes inside Pakistan since August, all conducted by the CIA."

Friedman, George. "Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands." New York Times, 4 Feb. 2009. []

The Op-Ed writer argues that the tenuous supply lines into Afghanistan means that the United States should "rely less on troops, and more on covert operations.... Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting.... The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks.... What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence."

Coghlan, Tom, Zahid Hussain, and Jeremy Page. "Secrecy and Denial as Pakistan Lets CIA Use Airbase to Strike Militants." Times (London), 17 Feb. 2009. []

A Times investigation has found that the "CIA is secretly using" Shamsi airfield "in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan.... Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 [JP8] aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon's fuel procurement agency."

DeYoung, Karen, and Joby Warrick. "Drone Attacks Inside Pakistan Will Continue, CIA Chief Says: Panetta Calls Strikes 'Successful' at Disrupting Insurgents." Washington Post, 26 Feb. 2009, A10. []

On 25 February 2009, CIA Director Leon Panetta said in his first news briefing since taking the job that "U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue."

Ghosh, Bobby, and Mark Thompson. "The CIA's Silent War in Pakistan." Time, 1 Jun. 2009, 38-41.

"In the fight against al-Qaeda, pilotless drones [Predator and Reaper] are redefining warfare. But they could be doing more harm than good."

Pincus, Walter. "High-Tech Balloon to Help Forces Keep Watch." Washington Post, 20 Aug. 2009. [http://www.]

According to U.S. and Afghan military officials, "[a] state-of-the-art observation balloon with round-the-clock video and sound surveillance capability has been installed several thousand feet above Kabul." The aerostat "has a full-motion video camera that can pan 360 degrees and provide nonstop, instant surveillance.... Aerostats have been used since 2004 at forward operating bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. Most have crews of five working in 12-hour shifts.... More than a dozen aerostats were used in Iraq to provide permanent surveillance over towns and cities, including Baghdad, and there are plans to install additional units in Afghanistan for better coverage of its cities and towns."

Risen, James, and Mark Mazzetti. "C.I.A. Said to Use Outsiders to Put Bombs on Drones." New York Times, 21 Aug. 2009. []

According to government officials and current and former employees, Xe Services (the former Blackwater) contractors, "at hidden bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan,... assemble and load Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser-guided bombs on remotely piloted Predator aircraft, work previously performed by [CIA] employees.... The role of the company in the Predator program highlights the degree to which the C.I.A. now depends on outside contractors to perform some of the agency's most important assignments." The contractors are "not involved in selecting targets or actual strikes. The targets are selected by the C.I.A., and employees at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Va., pull the trigger remotely."

Vanden Brook, Tom. "U.S. Shifts Spy Planes to Afghan War." USA Today, 23 Aug. 2009. []

"The U.S. military has sent more spy planes to Afghanistan and moved others there from Iraq.... In July 2008, 75% of spy planes, including drones such as Predators and Reapers, were devoted to Iraq and 25% to Afghanistan, according to Pentagon figures. As of this month, 66% are in Afghanistan compared with 33% in Iraq."

Lake, Eli. " Petraeus to Open Intel Training Center." Washington Times, 24 Aug. 2009. []

Gen. David Petraeus is establishing Central Command's own intelligence organization, the Center for Afghanistan Pakistan Excellence. The center "will train military officers, covert agents and analysts who agree to focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan for up to a decade." It will be headed by "Derek Harvey, a retired colonel in the Defense Intelligence Agency.... Harvey said the center would focus on integrating all sources of information to develop strategic products for both war fighters and decision makers in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He believes that too much reliance is placed "on intelligence sources and ... what is coming from provincial reconstruction teams, civil-affairs officers, commanders and operators on the ground" is not being fully integrated. Harvey "dismissed claims" that the CIA had been "cut out of the loop," noting that "the CIA had detailed many analysts to support his new center."

Haddick, Robert. "The CIA Finds Job Security in Afghanistan." Foreign Policy, 2 Oct. 2009. []

On September 20, 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported that "the CIA's head count in Afghanistan will increase to 700, led by increases in paramilitary officers, intelligence analysts, and operatives tracking the behavior of Afghan government officials." All of the options for U.S. policy in Afghanistan share "a requirement for greater CIA participation. Options that have fewer U.S. military forces directly providing security imply more Afghans providing security. This will require greater employment of U.S. liaison officers and advisors from both the U.S. military and the CIA's clandestine service."

Blas, Anne K. [LTCOL/USAF] "Intelligence in Afghanistan: Why Is It Hard?" American Intelligence Journal 27, no. 1 (Fall 2009): 49-54.

"The Intelligence Community is fully engaged in Afghanistan, pouring resources into the effort, yet complaints about U.S. policy in Afghanistan frequently cite the lack of intelligence.... After eight years in Afghanistan, why do we still struggle with intelligence? Intelligence challenges in Afghanistan can be framed around three key areas." First, there is the sheer size of the problem. Second, there is the problem of supporting multiple and disparate customers in an ill-defined operational structure. And third, there is no real "intelligence organization" in Afghanistan, but rather "a collection of pieces of other organizations."

Scahill, Jeremy. "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan." The Nation, 23 Nov. 2009. []

"At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, 'snatch and grabs' of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus."

Shane, Scott. "C.I.A. Authorized to Expand Use of Drones in Pakistan." New York Times, 4 Dec. 2009. []

Officials said this week that President Obama "has authorized an expansion of the C.I.A.'s drone program in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas.... American officials are talking with Pakistan about the possibility of striking in Baluchistan for the first time.... The political consensus in support of the drone program, its antiseptic, high-tech appeal and its secrecy have obscured just how radical it is. For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war." American officials say that despite public criticism in Pakistan of the drone attacks, the Pakistan government "privately supplies crucial intelligence, proposes targets and allows the Predators to take off from a base in Baluchistan."

Risen, James, and Mark Mazzetti. "Blackwater Guards Tied to Secret Raids by the C.I.A." New York Times, 11 Dec. 2009. []

According to former company employees and current and former intelligence officers, "[p]rivate security guards from Blackwater Worldwide [now known as Xe Services] participated in some of the C.I.A.'s most sensitive activities -- clandestine raids with agency officers against people suspected of being insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and the transporting of detainees.... Several former Blackwater guards said that their involvement in the operations became so routine that the lines supposedly dividing the Central Intelligence Agency, the military and Blackwater became blurred."

R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick, "Blackwater Tied to Clandestine CIA Raids," Washington Post, 11 Dec. 2009, adds that "the involvement of Blackwater's officers in raids is likely to raise new questions about the degree to which deadly actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were outsourced to contract personnel who operated without direct contractual authority or without the kind of oversight and accountability applied to CIA and military personnel."

Mazzetti, Mark. "Blackwater Loses a Job for the C.I.A." New York Times, 12 Dec. 2009. []

According to CIA spokesman George Little on 11 December 2009, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta has canceled "a contract with the security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide [now Xe Services] that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan."

Warrick, Joby. "Suicide Bomber Attacks CIA Base in Afghanistan, Killing at least 8 Americans." Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2009. []

According to U.S. officials, "[a] suicide bomber blew himself up [on 30 December 2009] inside an Afghan military base used by the CIA, killing at least eight Americans.... The blast also wounded eight people, several of them seriously." Forward Operating Base Chapman in the eastern province of Khost "serves as an operations and surveillance center for the CIA near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border." See also, Alissa J. Rubin and Mark Mazzetti, "Afghan Suicide Bomber Killed C.I.A. Operatives," New York Times, 31 Dec. 2009.

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