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U.S. officers may face discipline after 2008 Afghan ambush left 9 soldiers dead

WASHINGTON — A military investigation into an ambush that left nine Americans dead recommends that the Army consider taking disciplinary action against three U.S. commanders who oversaw the 2008 mission to send troops to a remote Afghan outpost.

The investigation into the bloody battle at Wanat, near the border with Pakistan, was undertaken in the fall at the urging of Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Nine soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded during the July 2008 attack at the outpost, which raged for several hours. Among the dead was 1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, whose father, a retired Army colonel, pushed for more than a year to persuade the Pentagon to launch an inquiry into the battle.

The military's report, almost 4,000 pages long, has been sent to Gen. Charles Campbell, head of U.S. Army Forces Command, to determine whether formal disciplinary action should be taken against the officers.

"We remain in close contact with the families of our fallen from this battle, and they will be invited to a comprehensive briefing on the investigation following Gen. Campbell's actions," Army Secretary John McHugh said in a statement. Campbell could decide that no officers should be disciplined.

The investigators will release the report after Campbell has made his decision and the families of the deceased soldiers have been briefed on its contents.

The Wanat attack and an October 2009 ambush in the village of Kamdesh that killed eight soldiers led U.S. commanders to pull troops from many remote villages that were the scenes of some of the heaviest fighting of the war. Instead, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has pushed U.S. troops into the larger river valleys, where they are supposed to focus on protecting the population instead of chasing the enemy.

Fast facts

U.S. plans assault

U.S. Marines and the Afghan army plan a major assault on Taliban fighters in Marjah, the last major community under Taliban control in what had been a largely lawless area of the Helmand River valley, Col. George "Slam" Amland, deputy commander of Marine forces in southern Afghanistan, told reporters Wednesday. It is to be the first major offensive since President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and many of the Marines set to participate arrived as part of the surge.

Times wires

U.S. officers may face discipline after 2008 Afghan ambush left 9 soldiers dead 02/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:09pm]
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