Military Operations in the 2000s

Operations in Afghanistan


July - December

Materials arranged chronologically.

Chivers, C. J., et al. "View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan." New York Times, 25 Jul. 2010. []

On 25 July 2010, a "six-year archive of classified military documents" was released on the Internet by WikiLeaks. The documents consist of "some 92,000 reports spanning parts of two administrations from January 2004 through December 2009.... [T]he documents sketch a war hamstrung by an Afghan government, police force and army of questionable loyalty and competence, and by a Pakistani military that appears at best uncooperative and at worst to work from the shadows as an unspoken ally of the very insurgent forces the American-led coalition is trying to defeat....

"Secret commando units like Task Force 373 -- a classified group of Army and Navy special operatives -- work from a 'capture/kill list' of about 70 top insurgent commanders. These missions, which have been stepped up under the Obama administration, claim notable successes, but have sometimes gone wrong, killing civilians and stoking Afghan resentment....

"The Central Intelligence Agency has expanded paramilitary operations inside Afghanistan. The units launch ambushes, order airstrikes and conduct night raids. From 2001 to 2008, the C.I.A. paid the budget of Afghanistan's spy agency and ran it as a virtual subsidiary....

"As the Afghanistan war took priority under the Obama administration, more Special Operations forces were shifted from Iraq to conduct secret missions. The C.I.A.'s own paramilitary operations inside Afghanistan grew in tandem -- as did the agency’s close collaboration with Afghanistan's own spy agency. Usually, such teams conducted night operations aimed at top Taliban commanders and militants on the 'capture/kill' list.... The expanding special operations have stoked particular resentment among Afghans -- for their lack of coordination with local forces, the civilian casualties they frequently inflicted and the lack of accountability."

Gorman, Siobhan. "CIA Man Is Key to U.S. Relations With Karzai." Wall Street Journal, 24 Aug. 2010. []

According to "U.S. officials as well as current and former diplomats and military figures," the CIA's station chief in Afghanistan is being used by the Obama administration "to troubleshoot Washington's precarious relationship with President Hamid Karzai" and, thus, "has become a pivotal behind-the-scenes power broker in Kabul.... The station chief's position became more crucial following the June [2010] firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, perhaps the only other senior American who had a close relationship with Mr. Karzai....

"The station chief, a former Marine in his 50s, is known to some colleagues by his nickname, 'Spider.' ... Besides his relationship with Mr. Karzai, he serves the more traditional role of running CIA operations in Afghanistan, a growing component of the war. The CIA is expanding its presence there by 20% to 25%, in its largest surge since Vietnam. The several hundred officers assigned to Afghanistan outnumber those in Iraq at the height of that war."

Whitlock, Craig, and Greg Miller. "U.S. Covert Paramilitary Presence in Afghanistan Much Larger Than Thought." Washington Post, 22 Sep. 2010. []

The CIA has trained and deployed in Afghanistan "a well-armed 3,000-member Afghan paramilitary force collectively known as Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams.... The existence of the teams is disclosed" in Bob Woodward's Obama's Wars. More broadly, however, "interviews with sources familiar with the CIA's operations, as well as a review of the database of 76,000 classified U.S. military field reports posted last month by the Web site WikiLeaks, reveal an agency that has a significantly larger covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan than previously known."

CNN Wire Staff, "Official: CIA-Trained Force Targeting Militants in Pakistan," 22 Sep. 2010, quotes a "U.S. official" as saying: "You're talking about one of the finest Afghan fighting forces, which has made major contributions to security and stability." Kimberly Dozier and Adam Goldman, "US Official: CIA Runs Elite Afghan Fighting Force," Associated Press, 22 Sep. 2010: "Modeled after U.S. special forces, the Counterterrorist Pursuit Team was set up in the months following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2002 to penetrate territory controlled by the Taliban and al-Qaida and target militants for interrogations by CIA officials."

Mazzetti, Mark, and Eric Schmitt. "C.I.A. Steps Up Drone Attacks on Taliban in Pakistan." New York Times, 27 Sep. 2010. []

According to U.S. officials, the CIA. "has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan.... As part of its covert war in the region, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft thus far in September, the most ever during a single month, and more than twice the number in a typical month.... Over all the spy agency has carried out 74 drone attacks this year, according to the Web site The Long War Journal, which tracks the strikes. A vast majority of the attacks -- which usually involve several drones firing multiple missiles or bombs -- have taken place in North Waziristan." See also, Greg Miller, "CIA Steps Up Drone Attacks in Pakistan Amid Fear of al-Qaeda Terror in Europe," Washington Post, 29 Sep. 2010.

Miller, Greg. "CIA Backed by Drones in Pakistan." Washington Post, 3 Oct. 2010. []

According to U.S. officials, the CIA is escalating its operations in Pakistan with "an arsenal of armed drones and other equipment provided by the U.S. military." This is "a signification evolution" of the CIA's "controversial targeted killing program.... The intensification of the drone campaign is unprecedented in scale. According to records kept by the New America Foundation, the 22 strikes the CIA is known to have carried out in September nearly doubled the previous monthly record.... It was unclear whether the drones lent to the CIA by the military are being flown by CIA personnel.... CIA drone flights are restricted to 'flight boxes,' or boundaries set by the Pakistanis." See also, Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, "C.I.A. Steps Up Drone Attacks on Taliban in Pakistan," New York Times, 27 Sep. 2010.

Kausek, Jeffrey [Capt/USMC]. "Taking Counterinsurgency to the Countryside." U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings 136, no. 11 (Nov. 2010): 34-37.

"The successful strategy used in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan, where winning over the resiliant rural populace is the answer to winning the war."

CNN. "Pakistan Denies U.S. Request to Expand Drone Access, Officials Say." 22 Nov. 2010. []

Two senior Pakistani military officials have told CNN that "Pakistan has rejected a U.S. request to expand drone access to more of the country." However, Pakistan has "agreed to expand intelligence-sharing with the United States, including enhancement of intelligence using CIA officials in the country.... The United States made the request, to extend drone use into the western Pakistan city of Quetta and other tribal areas near the Afghan border, about three weeks ago, a senior NATO military official told CNN."

"Four suspected militants were killed [on 22 November 2010] in a suspected U.S. drone strike in the tribal region, intelligence officials told CNN. On [21 November 2010], at least five suspected militants were killed in a suspected drone strike. The [22 November 2010] strike was the 95th this year, compared with 52 strikes in 2009, according to a count by CNN's Islamabad bureau."

Devine, Jack. "The CIA Solution for Afghanistan." Intelligencer 18, no. 1 (Fall-Winter 2010): 7-8. [Originally published as an Op-Ed piece in Wall Street Journal, 29 Jul. 2010]

The author, who was chief of the CIA Afghan Task Force 1986-1987, argues: "There is no 'victory' to be had there. But we can prevent it from becoming a haven for al Qaeda with a covert strategy based on Predator drones and alliances with local leaders."

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