x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

War logs WikiLeaks: the main points

WikiLeaks obtained 92,000 secret US military documents. The following are among the highlights, according to the Times and the Guardian:

WikiLeaks obtained 92,000 secret US military documents dated from January 2004 to December 2009. The group provided them to The New York Times, The Guardian and the German magazine Der Spiegel. Among the highlights, according to the Times and the Guardian: The Taliban have used portable heat-seeking missiles against US and Nato aircraft, a fact that has not been publicly disclosed by the US military. This type of weapon helped the Afghan mujaheddin defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. Secret US commando units such as Task Force 373, a group of army and navy special operatives, work from a "capture/kill list" of about 70 top militant commanders. These missions, stepped up under the Obama administration, claim notable successes, but have sometimes gone wrong, killing civilians and stoking Afghan ­resentment. The US military employs more and more drone aircraft to survey the battlefield and strike targets in Afghanistan, although their performance is less impressive than officially portrayed. Some crash or collide, forcing US troops to undertake risky retrieval missions before the ­Taliban claim the weaponry. The US Central Intelligence Agency has expanded paramilitary operations inside Afghanistan. The units launch ambushes, order air strikes and conduct night raids. From 2001 to 2008, the agency paid the budget of Afghanistan's spy agency and ran it as a virtual subsidiary. According to the Times, the intelligence reports suggest that Pakistan allows representatives of its spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence, "to meet directly with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organise networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders". The reports indicate, the Times says, that US soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the border, to southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul. The Guardian said the reports offer "an unprecedented insight into the gaping cultural and societal gulfs encountered by US troops trying to win grassroots support for the west's vision of a peaceful … united Afghanistan". The documents contain allegations and statements whose veracity varies, the Times says: "Much of the information - raw intelligence and threat assessments gathered from the field in Afghanistan - cannot be verified … But many of the reports rely on sources that the [US] military rated as reliable."