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News stories tagged with "afghanistan"

Sgt. Shadrach Miller watches President Obama's speech from Maggie's in Watertown.
Sgt. Shadrach Miller watches President Obama's speech from Maggie's in Watertown.

At Ft. Drum, little change despite drawdown

Last night, President Obama unveiled a plan to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the summer, and another 20,000 soldiers by the end of next summer. That accounts for the troop surge Obama began two years ago.

Obama's first stop to sell his new Afghanistan strategy is this afternoon at Fort Drum near Watertown. The President will meet with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division and with families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fort Drum's been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan since the beginning. And as David Sommerstein reports, soldiers don't see their roles changing much yet.  Go to full article
General James Terry faces the press.
General James Terry faces the press.

Drum commander cites progress in Afghanistan

The war in Libya, unrest through the Middle East, and the nuclear crisis in Japan have pushed America's war in Afghanistan down the news agenda.

Fully half of Fort Drum's soldier population is on the ground in Afghanistan. The Army base's commander is in charge of coalition troops in the most dangerous part of the country. General James Terry briefed the media while on leave from Afghanistan last week. David Sommerstein was there and has out report.  Go to full article
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Gillibrand wants combat forces out of Afghanistan by 2014

The 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum has spent much of the last decade in Afghanistan, fighting Al Quaeda and the Taliban.

More than five hundred soldiers and reservists from the North Country are currently serving in that country.

But New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says the time has come for President Barack Obama to set a clear time-table for bringing the troops home. Todd Moe has details.  Go to full article
Reporter Jim Dao
Reporter Jim Dao

New York Times documents 'A Year at War'

This year, a reporter and a photojournalist from the New York Times have been following soldiers from Fort Drum during their deployment to Afghanistan. Through print, photos, videos, and readers' submissions, they've tried to capture the everyday reality of combat in northern Afghanistan for the 1-87th Infantry Battalion.

We've been checking in with reporter Jim Dao throughout the year. He's told us the stories of troops experiencing live fire combat for the first time and of families living through the pain of separation. Today we hear about the everyday stress of the young leaders on the ground in this war, the junior officers. Dao spoke with David Sommerstein.  Go to full article
{credit: Damon Winter, NYT]
{credit: Damon Winter, NYT]

Ft. Drum soldiers fight insurgents and boredom

The first troops of President Obama's surge in Afghanistan have returned home. Some 50 soldiers from the 10th Mountain's 1st Brigade touched down at Fort Drum Wednesday. Over the coming months, the rest of the 3500 member brigade will come home after training the Afghan army and police in the northern part of the country.

According to the Watertown Daily Times, the brigade commander Colonel Willard Burleson says he's seeing signs of progress, including some Taliban insurgents giving up their fight.

Still, the Pentagon reports security gains as "slow" in Afghanistan, with members of the Afghan army also deserting. This as the U.S. military enters a four-year scheduled withdrawl from the country.

The New York Times has been taking a deep look at a teeny slice of the war effort. Through articles, photos, and video, the Times is reporting on one unit of Fort Drum's 1st Brigade, the 1-87th Infantry Battalion. Readers can submit their own photos and videos. Many come from fellow troops and family members.

The latest installment in the Times series came out earlier this week. The article told the story of Delta Company's six day mission against insurgents in the village of Nahr-i-Sufi, near Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. In a nutshell, the article invokes oft-quoted truism of war - that war is abject boredom sprinkled with brief moments of intense action and terror. Reporter Jim Dao says that was the pervading reality on the ground.  Go to full article
Journalist Brian Palmer
Journalist Brian Palmer

Turning the camera on 'embeds'

Americans have witnessed two wars in the Middle East over nine years and counting. Much of what we know about the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan comes from journalists embedded with U.S. troops.

A new documentary called Full Disclosure takes a self-reflective look at the embedding process and what it means for coverage of the wars. Director Brian Palmer will show the film tonight in Potsdam and take questions afterwards.

Palmer is a journalist who's reported for CNN, the Village Voice, and New York Times Magazine, among others over 20 years. He embedded with marines in Iraq three times. He spoke with David Sommerstein about the film. One scene shows marines hunkered down in a bunker during a deadly mortar attack.

Full Disclosure is showing tonight at 7:15 at the Roxy Theater in Potsdam as a part of the Cinema 10 film series. Palmer will be there for the showing and will take questions afterwards.  Go to full article
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.

An explosive meeting with Afghan elders

The war in Afghanistan continues to proceed with limited success and lots of violence. General David Petraeus said yesterday the Taliban's momentum has been reversed in many parts of the country. But he urged caution over hopes for an American pullback of troops next summer. Photojournalist Bill Putnam recently returned from Afghanistan after a six-week embed with an infantry company in the 101st Airborne. He spent part of that time at Combat Outpost Margah, not far from the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he saw firsthand the challenges U.S. troops face trying to persuade local leaders to turn away from the Taliban. Putnam attended a "shura," or council, one day called by an American Army officer. The meeting was to discuss reports that local elders had been meeting with Taliban leaders in Pakistan. In this audio diary, Putnam reports the meeting went well - with one big exception.  Go to full article

Biden thanks Fort Drum for Iraq success

Vice President Joe Biden says Fort Drum's 2nd Brigade deserves "a hero's welcome" for its work training security forces in Iraq. Biden made a personal visit to the Army base near Watertown yesterday. He said it's the "dawn of a new era in Iraq" as the U.S. prepares to draw down 95,000 troops from the country. The security situation improved so much that Iraqi military and police took control more quickly than expected. That allowed the 2nd brigade to return home three months early. David Sommerstein was at Fort Drum for the vice president's visit and has our story.  Go to full article
NY Times correspondent Jim Dao
NY Times correspondent Jim Dao

Fort Drum's 1-87th: bellwether on progress in Afghanistan

The front page of yesterday's New York Times featured a photograph of Fort Drum Sergeant Brian Keith. He's crying and clutching his wife and six month-old son, moments before leaving them for Afghanistan. The Times is profiling the 1-87th Infantry Battalion of Fort Drum's 1st brigade as a window into the war there. Senior military correspondent Jim Dao was embedded with the unit for its first month of a year-long deployment in Kunduz, a relatively quiet city where violence appears to be escalating. Dao wrote the 1-87th will be "waging a different kind of war" - training Afghan police and helping to strengthen the local government. I spoke to Dao in April, just as the unit was leaving Fort Drum. He checks in again today. Dao says the Fort Drum soldiers arrived in Kunduz and immediately began building relationships with the local police.  Go to full article
A soldier from A Co., 1st of the 187th Infantry, on a hilltop overlooking a search site June 7, 2010.
A soldier from A Co., 1st of the 187th Infantry, on a hilltop overlooking a search site June 7, 2010.

An audio postcard from the mountains of Afghanistan

Yesterday President Obama fired his top commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, in the wake of comments he made in Rolling Stone magazine. Pundits applauded McChrystal's replacement, General David Petraeus. But the dismissal has renewed doubts over the military's ability to win the war. Violence is at its highest since 2001. Corruption and poppy production remain serious obstacles.

With thousands of Fort Drum soldiers already in or soon going to Afghanistan, we're examining the war effort from various points of view. Several years ago, photojournalist and ex-soldier Bill Putnam sent us audio diaries from Iraq. Now, Putnam is in the mountains of Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan. He's embedded with a unit out of Texas. Today he sends us the first in a series of audio journals.  Go to full article

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