It looks like this blog will be around for a while, as President Obama announces U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan, and will engage in combat against al Qaeda. [Apparently bombing Taliban and hospitals is not "combat."] The current force level of 9,800 will be maintained through "most of next year," with a reduction to 5,000 to follow. However, no date for full withdrawal is proposed.
Oh, about those "non-combat" drone strikes. The Intercept has another leaker who provides details on the drone war. [Warning: Annoying GIF at the link that may cause an epileptic seizure.] For those who prefer a summary, The Hill hits the high points:
Collateral damage, don't you know.According to documents leaked to The Intercept, the Operation Haymaker campaign killed 219 people between January 2012 and February 2013, but only 35 were the intended targets.During one five-month stretch of the campaign, nearly nine out of 10 people who died in airstrikes were not direct targets, The Intercept reported.All 200 deaths, however, were declared "EKIA," or “enemy killed in action," even though there was no definitive evidence they were enemy targets.“If there is no evidence that proves a person killed in a strike was either not a [military-age male], or was a MAM but not an unlawful enemy combatant, then there is no question,” said the source who leaked the documents to The Intercept. “They label them EKIA.“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the source continued. When “a drone strike kills more than one person, there is no guarantee that those persons deserved their fate. … So it’s a phenomenal gamble.”
MSF was not informed in advance and did not give permission for the intrusion. "The incident violated an agreement with investigators that MSF "would be given notice before each step of the procedure involving the organization's personnel and assets.""Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear," it said in a statement, adding that an MSF team had arrived at the hospital earlier in the day.
MSF has also raised the death toll from the bombing to 24, saying that 2 missing staff members are presumed dead.
Tom Engelhart on the massive failure of intelligence that led to the Kunduz debacle.
NYT's Allisa Rubin on the Taliban's war on women in Kunduz. "In a methodical campaign, the Taliban relentlessly hounded women with any sort of public profile, looted a high school and destroyed the offices of many of the organizations that protected and supported women in Kunduz." Many leaders of women's programs and causes in Kunduz will not return due to threats.