The internal report was marked not only “secret” but also “Noforn”, ie
not to be shared with the foreign elements of the coalition. And the
source of this anxiety is explicit: “The knowledge that TF 373
conducted a HIMARS strike must be protected.” And it was. This crucial
fact remained secret, as did TF 373’s involvement.
What happened on Sunday?
The process of choosing targets reaches high into the military
command. According to their published US Field Manual on Counter
Insurgency, No FM3-24, it is policy to choose targets “to engage as
potential counter-insurgency supporters, targets to isolate from the
population and targets to eliminate”.
Just to maintain the current deadlock, General Nicholson has asked for
“a few thousand” more troops, some of whom he would expect to come from
other members of NATO. A further loosening of the rules of engagement
and an increase in the air-power available to him would also help. John
McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told
General Nicholson that instead of playing “not to lose”, America needed
a strategy to defeat the Taliban.
BBC research earlier this year found that the Afghan government had full
control over just 30% of the country, with the rest of the country under
significant threat from the Taliban, and, to a lesser extent, IS.
2【|ˈvi:əmənt| ① (ADJ-GRADED) 激情的;激烈的;暴烈的 If a person or their actions or comments are vehement, the person has very strong feelings or opinions and expresses them forcefully.】
a vehement denial/attack/protest, etc. 强烈的否认、攻击、抗议等
The Islamic State group (IS) said it had carried out the attack.
Voter registration began this month for legislative elections which are
due to take place in October.
The plan was to launch five rockets at targets in the village of
Nangar Khel where TF 373 believed Libi was hiding and then to send in
ground troops. The result was that they failed to find Libi but killed
six Taliban fighters and then, when they approached the rubble of a
madrasa, they found “initial assessment of 7 x NC KIA” which
translates as seven non-combatants killed in action. All of them were
children. One of them was still alive in the rubble: “The Med TM
immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR.” After 20
minutes, the child died.
On balance, that seems unlikely. An administration that sees countering
“radical Islamic extremism” as its overriding strategic priority would
find it hard to justify leaving Afghanistan to its fate. The defence
secretary, Jim Mattis, is reviewing plans “for a path forward”. He and
the national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, both served in
Afghanistan. Their instinct will be to recommend that Mr Trump set a
bolder objective than Mr Obama was willing to endorse and refrain from
setting timetables that ignore military reality.
Children were standing in line with their parents waiting to register
when the bomb went off on Sunday morning.
Barack Obama had tired of Afghanistan. What will his successor do?
The legislative elections later this year will be followed by a
presidential poll in 2019.
Some of these “non 373” operations involve the use of unmanned drones
to fire missiles to kill the target: one codenamed Beethoven, on 20
October 2008; one named Janan on 6 November 2008; and an unnamed Jpel
target who was hit with a hellfire missile near Khan Neshin on 21
August 2009 while travelling in a car with other passengers (the log
records “no squirters [bodies moving about] recorded”).
Hello, I’m Mary Marshall with the BBC News. The number of people killed
in the Taliban bomb attack in the Afghan capital Kabul has risen to 95.
A further 158 others were injured. The Red Cross in Afghanistan has
condemned the use of an ambulance to carry out an attack,saying it could
be illegal under International Humanitarian Law. Our South Asia editor
Joemy Giverin reports. The ambulance packed with explosives blew up
close to a fortified area of the city near a hospital, but also offices
used by the government, security forces and foreign missions. The street
was crowded and most of the dead were local civilians. It’s the Taliban
second major attack in Kabul in a week. The current 【1】surgent
violence comes as the US increases its support for Afghan forces,
including more air strikes on militant targets and made government
claims that it’s finally winning the war against the Taliban and other
An international force of 12,600 remains in Afghanistan, of whom 8,400
are Americans. About 2,500 are special forces who carry out raids
against terrorist targets, such as al-Qaeda and the local branch of
Islamic State, but not the Taliban. The rest are there to “train, advise
and assist” the Afghan security forces, including the police. Under
rules of engagement first laid down by Mr Obama and only slightly
relaxed last summer, the NATO troops could only come to the aid of their
Afghan allies when they were facing a defeat that might have “strategic”
implications—a criterion that commanders in the field had difficulty
Dashte Barchi is heavily populated by members of Afghanistan Shia Muslim
minority, who have been targeted by IS for their religion in the past.
Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies,
an author of many critical reports on the conduct of the war, says that
too little of the training takes place with forward combat units, where
it would be of most use. Close air support, which was vital for NATO,
has dwindled. In 2011 nearly 35,000 combat sorties were flown; in the
first ten months of 2016 that had fallen to 4,500. The number of
missions to evacuate casualties has dropped from nearly 3,000 in 2011 to
■ 21 March: A suspected IS suicide bomb attack near a shrine in Kabul
kills at least 31 people celebrating Persian New Year
The log refers to an unnamed “elder” who is said to have “stated that
the children were held against their will” but, against that, there is
no suggestion that there were any Taliban in the madrasa where the
What will Mr Trump do? In keeping with his mantra of “America first”, he
might conclude that Afghanistan is a hopeless case, with its divided,
dysfunctional government and a thriving insurgency that still draws
support from Pakistan, a supposed American ally. He could leave the
bickering regional powers—Pakistan, India, Iran, China and Russia—to
sort it out.
■ 27 January: Taliban militants drive an ambulance laden with
explosives into a Kabul secure zone, killing at least 100
The military in Mali says at least 14 soldiers have been killed in an
attack in the northof the country. Nearly 20 others were injured. The
suspected Islamic militants overran a military base in Soumpi 100
kilometers southwest of Timbuktu. Islamic attacks have increased in
recent months. Earlier this week, 26 civilians were killed when their
vehicle hit a land mine【地雷】 in central Mali. World news from the
There were no immediate details of how the bomb was detonated by the
attacker but the force of the blast also destroyed cars.
In many cases, the unit has set out to seize a target for internment,
but in others it has simply killed them without attempting to capture.
The logs reveal that TF 373 has also killed civilian men, women and
children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its
The multibillionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is the latest
high-profile figure to be released in Saudi Arabia after a major
anti-corruption drive was launched in November. He is reported to have
been freed this morning from detention in a luxury hotel in Riyadh. With
more details, here is our Middle East analyst Sebastian Usher. In hot
cash terms【流资上看】, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal has been the
biggest catch of all in the Saudi purge with an extraodinary array of
business interests across the world. He is estimated to be worth some 17
billion dollars. He denied any charge has been made against him and
expressed his total support forthe efforts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman towards a new Saudi Arabia. He 【2】vehemently dismissed a
report, but he had been asked to hand over six billion dollars as the
price ofhis release as well as rumors that he been tortured.
A suicide bomb attack at a voter registration centre in the Afghan
capital Kabul has killed at least 57 people, officials say.
prioritised effects list）。
Another wounded man, who wept as he spoke from his hospital bed, told
local channel Ariana TV, “I don’t know where my daughters are. God damn
Even then, Mr. Cordesman argues, Mr Trump will also have to pep up
Afghanistan’s political leaders. Corruption, as much as insecurity, has
stymied international efforts to revive Afghanistan’s sickly economy.
Without some progress on that front, no amount of external military
support will kill off the insurgency.
Afghanistan’s interior minister told the BBC earlier this year that both
IS and the Taliban were targeting civilians to provoke people against
the government and create chaos.
A joint targeting working group meets each week to consider Target
Nomination Packets and has direct input from the Combined Forces
Command and its divisional HQ, as well as from lawyers, operational
command and intelligence units including the CIA.
■ 10 March: A Taliban attack in the western province of Farah kills 24
“They all wanted to vote,” he added.
Field 马努al on Counter
It maybe America’s longest war, but during his election campaign Donald
Trump barely mentioned Afghanistan. When he did, it was somewhat
baffling: at one point, he said that America could not pull all its
troops out because neighbouring Pakistan had nuclear weapons. As the
insurgents of the Taliban prepare for a spring offensive against the
American-backed government, there is still no indication of what the new
administration’s approach will be.
“I found myself covered in blood, with dead people – women and children
- around me,” Rasuli, 26, recalled when he spoke to AFP news agency from
his hospital bed in the city.
The consequences have been dire. In testimony to the Senate Armed
Services Committee in February, the American commander in Afghanistan,
General John Nicholson, warned that current American troop levels are
inadequate to prevent the Taliban from continuing to retake territory,
especially in Helmand province, the heartland of the insurgency, and
Kunduz. SIGAR (the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan
Reconstruction, a post created by Congress) reckons that the proportion
of the country under uncontested government control fell during the 12
months to November 2016 from 72% to 57%, although about 64% of Afghans
still live in uncontested areas and only 8% in areas fully under the
Taliban’s control (see map).
Recent major attacks in Afghanistan
In spite of this tension between political and military operations, TF
373 continued to engage in highly destructive attacks. Four months
later, on 4 October, they confronted Taliban fighters in a village
called Laswanday, only 6 miles from the village where they had killed
the seven children. The Taliban appear to have retreated by the time
TF 373 called in air support to drop 500lb bombs on the house from
which the fighters had been firing.
Mr Obama further encouraged a resurgent Taliban by suggesting he wanted
to end even America’s modest training mission before leaving office.
However, faced with the possibility that the government might fall to
the insurgency if he exercised this so-called “zero option”, Mr Obama
relented, doing just enough to preserve what has become a miserable
Why are voters being targeted?