Newsweek - US Special Forces,
Witnesses In Eastern
Afghanistan Say Operation Mountain
Sweep Was A Disaster


NEW YORK (PRNewswire) -- The official story from U.S. troops in Afghanistan is that Operation Mountain Sweep -- a weeklong hunt for Qaeda and Taliban fugitives in eastern Afghanistan in August -- was a resounding success. But as Contributing Editor Colin Soloway reports, U.S. Special Forces, Afghan villagers and local officials living in or near the valley say the mission was a disaster. Witnesses claim that American soldiers of the 82nd Airborne division succeeded mainly in terrorizing innocent villagers, and setting back counterinsurgency and intelligence operations in the area by at least six months.
But officers in the 82nd insist their men did nothing wrong. In response to queries from Newsweek, public-affairs officers even characterized the Special Forces involved in Mountain Sweep as "prima donnas" who were damaging the war effort by complaining to the press, reports Soloway in the October 7 issue (on newsstands Monday, September 30).
Since March, some 50 soldiers from several Special Forces A-teams have been operating in eastern Afghanistan, working to win the villagers' trust and cooperation. Then on August 19, American commanders sent some 600 action-hungry members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, Third Battalion, charging into the area. "We just couldn't believe they were acting that way. Every time we turned around they were doing something stupid. We'd be like, 'Holy s--t, look at that! Can you believe this!'" Another said: "They were acting like [Osama] bin Laden was hiding behind every door. That just wasn't the way to be acting with civilians." Special Forces working in the region say that since Mountain Sweep, the stream of friendly intelligence on weapons caches, mines and terrorist activity has dried up.
After the mission, the two SF teams submitted an "after-action review." Newsweek has not seen the document, but sources say it describes in detail the problems the teams witnessed and suggests ways to avoid such problems in the future. The report set off a storm of recriminations. Col. James Huggins, commander of Task Force Panther, of which the Third Battalion is a part, says every platoon and squad leader in the battalion was questioned under oath, and their statements did not support the teams' charges. Accounts from villagers and local officials in the area back up the Special Forces' version of what happened on Operation Mountain Sweep. Officers involved have been accused of leaking classified reports to Newsweek and have been subjected to internal military investigations.


This Site Served by TheHostPros