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- Bear Bottoms
June 12, 2011, 9:53 am
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WASHINGTON — As one of the deadliest battles of the war in Afghanistan raged,
Afghan soldiers ran, hid and even stole personal items from the American
troops fighting and dying at a remote outpost.
When the Oct. 3, 2009, firefight at Combat Outpost Keating ended, eight U.S.
soldiers were dead and 22 more were wounded. A military investigation
released Friday said the 53 Americans at Keating fought heroically, repelling
hundreds of insurgents, but the investigation also faulted U.S. ground
commanders for leaving American troops in a vulnerable position. And the
Afghan troops received a withering appraisal from soldiers who were
interviewed by investigators.
The U.S. has spent billions of dollars since 2001 training and equipping the
Afghan army and police. Afghan security forces capable of defeating
insurgents and terrorists are an essential ingredient in the Obama
administration's plans to begin withdrawing American forces, and senior U.S.
national security officials speak optimistically of progress.
But first-hand accounts from the battle at Keating, detailed in witness
statements included in the investigation, provide a different, highly
One of the harshest came from two Latvian soldiers stationed at Keating and
responsible for mentoring the three dozen Afghan troops at the base in
mountainous Nuristan province near the Pakistan border. In interviews
conducted after the attack, the Latvians told the U.S. investigators that the
Afghan soldiers lacked "discipline, motivation and initiative."
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