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article imageAfghanistan: Mounting casualties and Karzai's demands

By Karl Gotthardt     Mar 2, 2013 in Politics
This has been a particularly violent week in Afghanistan. While only one US soldier was killed in action this week and 14 wounded, the targeting of Afghan Security Forces by insurgents is on the rise and this week nine Afghan Police members were killed.
This week's Department of Defense report indicates that one US soldier was killed in action (KIA), while 14 others were injured. The US soldier, Staff Sargent Jonathan D. Davies, was killed on February 22 in Helmand province as a result of hostile fire. While the number of NATO casualties have decreased significantly with five killed so far this year, the insurgents are stepping up the targeting of Afghan security forces, especially Afghan Local Police (AFPOL).
NATO came under fire and President Karzai accused US Special Forces (SF) of furthering the insecurity and instability. Karzai has often complained about the number of civilian casualties killed by NATO air strikes and in Afghan villages by night raids. Last year during the Chicago summit, Karzai reached a deal with President Obama to withdraw US forces from Afghan village and return them to their bases. Afghan security forces will be taking the lead in the majority of operations, with the US only providing back up.
Karzai's complaints and actions regarding civilian casualties were escalated this week, when Karzai ordered SF units out of Wardak province. As reported in Digital Journal Karzai gave NATO two weeks to get allied forces out of the jurisdiction. Locals have been complaining of torture, searches and raids.
Accusing US Special Ops of furthering insecurity and instability, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered that these forces leave Maidan Wardak within two weeks. Karzai has often complained of the number of civilian casualties attributed Allied forces.
In another report in Digital Journal Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Karzai, announced that US forces were responsible for misconduct. He said that the Taliban were infiltrating local militias trained and funded by the US to attack the Taliban and control security in local areas. An attack earlier this week killed 17 local police. This attack was alleged to have been carried out by Taliban infiltrators.
The announcement of Karzai's order came at a press conference in Kabul. Aimal Faizi, a presidential spokesman announced that US forces were responsible for misconduct.
The Taliban are infiltrating local militias funded and trained by the US to attack the Taliban and control security in local areas. A recent attack that killed 17 local police was carried out by Taliban infiltrators.
Earlier reports, such as this one in Digital Journal, did not go into details about the attack. The New York TImes now reports that several members of the Afghan Local Police drugged 17 of their fellow police officers and then executed them. They then stole all their weapons and fled after setting a police vehicle afire. Afghan officials subsequently said that the attackers were Taliban infiltrators. The Taliban said that the attack was in revenge for atrocities and crimes carried out by these forces against local people.
Karzai is demanding control of clandestine Afghan armed troops and has ordered a delegation to identify all armed units that work with coalition forces. Karzai has given international forces three months to hand them over. Karzai's latest demands will, in likelihood, impact US plans for a residual force, which will include special forces.
If implemented—could jeopardize security in nearby Kabul, that Afghans are sharply divided on the value of the Special Forces, and that the decree brings into question America’s strategic plans for counterterrorism operations here after conventional troops leave by the end of 2014.
Although the recent death of the student and the disappearance of the nine men finally triggered the Karzai government to act, Afghans in the province have lodged numerous complaints in the past. “We have received more than 500 complaints from people, by telephone and by people coming in to the provincial governor’s office,” Mohammed Rafiq Wardak, head of the Provincial Council, tells TIME.
While Karzai demands control of clandestine militias working for NATO and the lead of Afghan security forces, there is a major worry for local Afghans and non government organizations about the security of the country without NATO troops. FOX News reports that the impending withdrawal of NATO troops means more than a loss of firepower, but that international aid and fear of declining security is an impediment to provide aid to many regions of the country.
Meanwhile NATO is mulling over beefing up the strength of Afghan security forces to 120,000, more than the 100,000 previously planned for. A residual force of 8-12,000 is in discussion. Most of these troops would come from the US. NATO troops would be required to train, advise and carry out special operations and air support for Afghan forces.
Despite the reassurance that has been given by politicians and military brass, the almost 12 year old war has not left the country any safer. There are serious doubts that the Karzai government can extend its reach throughout the country. Some of Karzai's demands are political posturing to gain support from local war lords and officials. The final chapter of the Afghan war is yet to be written and the future doesn't look very friendly.
Roll of casualties casualties
Below are this week’s updated DOD casualty figures:
Op Enduring Freedom Total Deaths KIA Non Hostile WIA
Afghanistan Only------------2048--------1707-----341------18299
Other Locations----------------118----------11------107
DOD Civ Casualties--------------3-------- ----1--------2
Worldwide Total-------------2169-------- 1718------450----18299
Accumulated 2012 Casualties:
KIA Non Combat Deaths WIA
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