One Vivid, Horrible Reason McChrystal Wants Control of Special Forces in Afghanistan
In February, U.S. Special Operations Forces raided a house in Gardez, in the eastern district of Paktia, searching for Taliban militants. They killed two men they believed to be insurgents. A NATO statement at the time said that soldiers also “found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed.”
But last night, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s command announced the results of an investigation into the raid that calls the initial account into question. From an official statement:
A thorough joint investigation into the events that occurred in the Gardez district of Paktiya province Feb. 12, has determined that international forces were responsible for the deaths of three women who were in the same compound where two men were killed by the joint Afghan-international patrol searching for a Taliban insurgent.
The two men, who were later determined not to be insurgents, were shot and killed by the joint patrol after they showed what appeared to be hostile intent by being armed. While investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence, they concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.
The statement has a vague explanation for the February report about the women being bound and gagged: “this information was taken from an initial report by the international members of the joint force who were not familiar with Islamic burial customs.” Presumably that means the women were shrouded, but that’s hard to square with U.S. forces being responsible for the actual killing. Additionally, The New York Times further reports that the “lack of forensic evidence” about those dead women civilians may be attributable to Special Operations Forces digging “bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the nature of their deaths.”
Last month, McChrystal, himself a former Special Operations commander, took greater control over the Special Operations chain of command in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s move was an attempt to end a semi-autonomous war effort that can too often place a giant asterisk on his strategy of prosecuting the war through protecting the civilian population. One area he apparently left untouched is detention operations. Will there be further clarifications in the future about ultimately-untrue statements about the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan?