Monday, October 12, 2015

AFGHANISTAN - What's Next?

"Top U.S. commander recommends revising Afghan drawdown plan" PBS NewsHour 10/6/2015

NOTE:  Being retired military, I can tell you that a AC-130 Gunship is NOT a precision weapon.


SUMMARY:  Gen. John Campbell acknowledged at a Senate Armed Services hearing that a strike against a target that turned out to be a Doctors Without Borders hospital was an American decision, made within the U.S. chain of command.  Campbell also said he's proposed extending the U.S. presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2016 deadline laid out by the president.  Judy Woodruff reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan went before the Senate Armed Services Committee today and recommended altering the plan to withdraw American troops in that country.  He also shed more light on the deadly incident earlier this week in which a civilian hospital was mistakenly attacked by U.S. aircraft.

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL, Commander, U.S. Forces – Afghanistan:  To be clear, the decision was a U.S. decision made within the U.S. chain of command.  A hospital was mistakenly struck.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  That mistake killed at least 22 people Friday in Kunduz.  Today, General John Campbell, facing committee chair Senator John McCain acknowledged it was an American decision to strike.

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL:  The Afghan forces on the ground requested air support from our forces that are on the ground.  Even though the Afghans request that support, it still has to go through a rigorous U.S. procedure to enable fires to go on the ground.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, Chair, Armed Services Committee:  But there was no forward air controllers, American forward air controllers on the ground?

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL:  Sir, we had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires.

JUDY WOODRUFF:  Initial accounts had said the AC-130 Gunship fired in support of the American troops.  The evolving story has led Doctors Without Borders to demand a fully independent investigation.

New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen:

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN (D), New Hampshire:  Do you have any reason to object to having an independent investigation done by the U.N. or another independent body of what happened?

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL:  Ma’am, I have trust and confidence in the folks that will do the investigation for NATO, the folks that will do the investigation for DOD and the Afghan partners.  And so, you know, all the very, very tough questions that we’re all asking, they will get after that.

SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN:  But, as I understand your answer, then, you wouldn’t object to and would cooperate with an independent body?

GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL:  I would let my higher headquarters or senior personnel make that decision.

"Should the U.S. keep a significant military presence in Afghanistan?" PBS NewsHour 10/6/2015


SUMMARY:  With a surge by the Taliban and the Islamic State's entry into Afghanistan, does the future role of the U.S. military in that country need to evolve?  Judy Woodruff talks to Scott Smith of the United States Institute of Peace and retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, former commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan; about keeping troops on the ground, and the strike on Doctors Without Borders.

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