Afghanistan: Leon Panetta signals end to US combat role

By | February 2, 2012

A Police Mentoring Team and members of the Afghan national police patrol through a poppy field near Combat Outpost Castle, Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 29. PMT routinely patrol the area searching for improvised explosive devises, looking for Taliban influence, and interacting with the local populace while mentoring the ANP. – link

The US will seek to wind down combat operations in Afghanistan during 2013, more than a year before a deadline for withdrawal, the defence secretary says.

Speaking while travelling to a Nato summit, Leon Panetta said the US hoped to switch to a role training and supporting Afghan forces.

His comments are the first time a senior US official has given a timetable for transition.

Some 68,000 troops are due to remain in Afghanistan after the end of 2012.

There are currently some 99,000 US troops in the country, with 22,000 scheduled to return home during this year.

Until now, though, there had been now word on how the Pentagon planned to manage the main bulk of the drawdown, committing only to a full withdrawal of troops by the end of 2014.

“Hopefully by mid- to the latter part of 2013 we’ll be able to make a transition from a combat role to a training, advice and assist role,” Mr Panetta said en route to Brussels, site of the Nato summit.

He stressed that dangers would remain while Afghan forces were trained up to take over security duties in many areas currently wracked by conflict. …

via BBC News – Afghanistan: Leon Panetta signals end to US combat role.


A U.S. Marine with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, patrols a poppy field in the Garmsir District of Helmand province. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark O’Donald/Released)

These photos have been released by the Department of Defense and ISAF over the last few years. Some of the photos discuss instances of troops helping with the destruction of poppy fields. Many of the photos do not mention anything related to destruction or removal of poppies.  Instead, they describe how troops “patrol” through and around the fields. In one instance, a US soldier even seems to be even helping with cultivation. In a recent report from Geraldo Rivera which aired in late April on Fox News, a USMC Lt. Col. indicated that US forces encourage the Aghans to grow different crops, however, out of fear of losing stability poppy cultivation is tolerated and even supported. In November 2009, the Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad Khodaidad stated that the majority of drugs are stockpiled in two provinces controlled by troops from the US, the UK, and Canada. He also said that NATO forces are taxing the production of opium in the regions under their control and that foreign troops are earning money from drug production in Afghanistan.

via PublicIntelligence.Net

Afghanistan now supplies over 90 percent of the world’s heroin, generating nearly $200 billion in revenue. Since the U.S. invasion on Oct. 7, 2001, opium output has increased 33-fold (to over 8,250 metric tons a year).

The U.S. has been in Afghanistan for over seven years, has spent $177 billion in that country alone, and has the most powerful and technologically advanced military on Earth. GPS tracking devices can locate any spot imaginable by simply pushing a few buttons.

Still, bumper crops keep flourishing year after year, even though heroin production is a laborious, intricate process. The poppies must be planted, grown and harvested; then after the morphine is extracted it has to be cooked, refined, packaged into bricks and transported from rural locales across national borders. To make heroin from morphine requires another 12-14 hours of laborious chemical reactions. Thousands of people are involved, yet—despite the massive resources at our disposal—heroin keeps flowing at record levels.

Common sense suggests that such prolific trade over an extended period of time is no accident, especially when the history of what has transpired in that region is considered. …

via |, November 24, 2008


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