Afghan battle probe a reminder of war’s challenges

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , , , , |

As President Barack Obama grapples with the way ahead in Afghanistan, a decision to launch a new investigation into a deadly firefight is a painful reminder of the challenges the U.S. faces in a country known as the graveyard of empires.

Fought in the small village of Wanat near the Pakistan border, the battle claimed the lives of nine American soldiers and wounded 27 others after their platoon-sized unit was attacked by as many as 200 insurgents during the early hours of July 13, 2008. Accounts of the battle indicate senior commanders may have made serious mistakes, leaving the soldiers short-handed and without critical support needed to blunt such an intense raid.

On Saturday, just days after Army Gen. David Petraeus ordered the inquiry, U.S. forces in Afghanistan endured a stark echo of that tragedy: eight U.S. soldiers were killed when several hundred militant fighters struck two American outposts in the same rugged region in northeastern Afghanistan where the earlier assault occurred.

The emerging story of the 2008 battle along with Saturday’s attack adds new weight to calls by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top officer in Afghanistan, for thousands more American forces to deal with the dicey political, cultural and geographical conditions there.

McChrystal has warned that the Taliban-led insurgency is becoming more potent and that the U.S. is in danger of losing the war unless more troops are sent to turn the tide against a formidable opponent.

But the president’s top national security adviser is downplaying those concerns. Gen. James Jones, a retired Marine Corps general, said Sunday in television interviews that Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling to the Taliban and that al-Qaida’s presence in the country is “very diminished.”

Read more By RICHARD LARDNER on Townhall.com

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