Afghanistan War

65 articles
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My Terrifying Night With Afghanistan's Only Female Warlord

Inside the stronghold of Commander Pigeon, “collector of lost and exiled men.”

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America's Last Prisoner of War

The story of Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who walked off his base in Afghanistan only to be captured by the Taliban.

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The Great Taliban Jailbreak

On the escape of hundreds of insurgents from Kandahar’s Sarposa Prison through a tunnel dug from the outside, and an unlikely suspect: the jail’s former warden.

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The Growing Menace

On the ground with U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

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The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret

How killing by remote control has changed the way we fight.

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The Invisible Army

The expansion of private-security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan is well known. But armed security personnel account for only about sixteen per cent of the over-all contracting force. The vast majority—more than sixty per cent of the total in Iraq—aren’t hired guns but hired hands. These workers, primarily from South Asia and Africa, often live in barbed-wire compounds on U.S. bases, eat at meagre chow halls, and host dance parties featuring Nepalese romance ballads and Ugandan church songs. A large number are employed by fly-by-night subcontractors who are financed by the American taxpayer but who often operate outside the law.
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The Mystery of Why Marine Noah Pippin Went AWOL

The search for a missing soldier.

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Beyond The Battlefield: Afghanistan's Wounded Struggle With Genital Injuries

"I remember lying on my side, dust everywhere, and I looked down and saw my arms were split open and squirting blood and I had just two bloody stumps above my knees," said Marine 1st Lt. James Byler, 26, who was blown up a few weeks before Mark Litynski. "My first coherent words to my Marines were, 'Hey! check my nuts!'
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At Home, Asking How ‘Our Bobby’ Became War Crime Suspect

From a small Ohio town to Afghanistan, a portrait of the perpetrator of a massacre.

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The Siege of September 13

Inside the attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

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The War Ends Here

Fighting to the finish in the most dangerous region of Afghanistan.

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Burning Man

On a U.S. soldier burned to the verge of death and the virtual-reality video game doctors used as treatment when he came home.

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Guantanamo: An Oral History

On Thanksgiving weekend, I received a phone call informing me that we had just captured approximately 300 al-Qaeda and Taliban. I asked all our assistant secretaries and regional bureaus to canvass literally the world to begin to look at what options we had as to where a detention facility could be established. We began to eliminate places for different reasons. One day, in one of our meetings, we sat there puzzled as places continued to be eliminated. An individual from the Department of Justice effectively blurted out, What about Guantánamo?
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The Shot That Nearly Killed Me

War photographers tell the stories behind their most harrowing images.

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Pvt. Danny Chen, 1992–2011

A glimpse into the life and death of a soldier who committed suicide while on duty in Afghanistan:

The Army recently announced that it was charging eight soldiers — an officer and seven enlisted men — in connection with Danny Chen’s death. Five of the eight have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide, and the coming court-martial promises a fuller picture of the harrowing abuse Chen endured. But even the basic details are enough to terrify: What could be worse than being stuck at a remote outpost, in the middle of a combat zone, tormented by your superiors, the very same people who are supposed to be looking out for you? And why did a nice, smart kid from Chinatown, who’d always shied from conflict and confrontation, seek out an environment ruled by the laws of aggression?

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From Pakistan to Afghanistan, U.S. Finds Convoy of Chaos

What happened when Pakistan shut down the vitally important Karachi to Kabul trucking line.

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Barack and Hamid's Excellent Adventure

On the occasion of Hamid Karzai’s visit to the White House, a fever dream tour of the Afghanistan war through the eyes of the leaders who gave birth to its narrative.

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Echoes from a Distant Battlefield

The battle of Wanat—the most scrutinized engagement in the Afghanistan War—seen from three perspectives: a dead soldier, his father, and his commander.

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The Ally From Hell

Inside the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan:

The U.S. government has lied to itself, and to its citizens, about the nature and actions of successive Pakistani governments. Pakistani behavior over the past 20 years has rendered the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism effectively meaningless.

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Bad Guys vs. Worse Guys in Afghanistan

Inside the Afghan Local Police, who are accused of killing and raping villagers, and are believed to be the United States’s last shot in Afghanistan.

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Our Man in Kandahar

Abdul Raziq, a 33-year-old warlord, is an increasingly powerful player in Afghanistan and the recipient of substantial U.S. support. He may also be the perpetrator of a civilian massacre.

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Brutal Haqqani Clan Bedevils U.S. in Afghanistan

The Haqqani family, an organized crime militia dubbed the “Sopranos of the Afghanistan war,” will almost surely outlast the U.S. occupation and thus seize tremendous power after the U.S. exits.

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The Journalist and the Spies

The death of the journalist who exposed dark secrets about Islamic extremism in Pakistan’s military.

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Martyrdom and 9/11

An essay on the evolving narrative of martyrdom in the Islamist and secular worlds.

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Pashean Play

At a dinner party, the author meets one of Afghanistan’s last remaining maskhara  an entertainer, thief and murderer.

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The Prisoners of Guantánamo

The life history of an unassuming Sudanese man, Noor Uthman Muhammed, who has spent the last nine years in Guantánamo Bay prison.

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The Agony and the Ecstasy

A clinical test is underway to evaluate MDMA—ecstasy—as a treatment for PTSD.

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Vetville

Alan Beaty’s Tennessee farm serves an unofficial halfway house for Marines struggling with their return to civilian life.

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The All-American

In Afghanistan and other zones of international crisis with John Kerry:

Why, then, does Kerry bother? Why is he racing back and forth to put out the fires being set by a serial arsonist? I asked him about this on the short flight from Kabul to Islamabad. Kerry tried to put the best possible face on what he had learned. Despite the warlords in Kabul, he said, Karzai had appointed some talented officials at the provincial and district levels. “It’s a mixed bag,” he concluded gamely. Kerry knew Karzai’s failings as well as anyone, but he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan’s president, because he was not prepared to abandon Afghanistan. But why not?

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America's 'Detainee 001'

John Walker Lindh’s father on why his son is an innocent victim of the War on Terror.

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Just Desert

On the life of an American soldier AWOL in Canada:

I asked him what it's like to have the entire U.S. Army after you, and he thought for a moment and said slowly, "It's like I'm carrying a heavy rock in my backpack." This is as close to introspection as McDowell gets.

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A Beast in the Heart of Every Fighting Man

What if soldiers from ‘Kill Team’ (and others who have murdered innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq) aren’t simply the “few bad apples” that military writes them off as?

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Into the Valley of Death

The 20 soldiers in Second Platoon try in vain to hold down a strategic outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, “among the deadliest pieces of terrain in the world for U.S. forces.”

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Brotherhood

On Sebastian Junger’s War and the documentary Restrepo by Tim Hetherington, who was killed in Libya yesterday.

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The City of Broken Men

Nearly every American soldier injured in Iraq or Afghanistan is treated—for a few days at least—at a single hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.

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Anatomy of an Afghan War Tragedy

A behind-the-scenes look at a U.S. attack against civilians near Khod: “the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe.”

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A Battle in Baghlan

Embedded with an Afghan warlord:

This is a local insurgency, often with local causes: a corrupt district governor, predatory police, or abuses by the local militias, the arbakis.

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The Kill Team

How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them.

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Spy Games

On January 27th in Lahore, an American named Raymond A. Davis stopped his Honda Civic and shot two Pakistani men, then made a failed attempt to flee. Beyond those basic facts, little is agreed upon, and the murders have ignited a diplomatic crisis, which only intensified with the revelation that Davis was a CIA subcontractor.

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The Master of Spin Boldak

An undercover report on Afghanistan’s drug-smuggling border police that is now heavily used for intelligence training.

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Opium Wars

Stuck between the Taliban and the U.S. Military, Afghanistan’s farmers risk their lives both when they grow, and when they refuse to grow, fields of poppies.

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Afghanistan's Hidden Taliban Government

How the Taliban reestablished itself as both a “quasi government” and a military force, and what that success means for the Pentagon’s plan to pass responsibility to Afghan forces by 2014.

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If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be the Taliban

At tourism’s wildest frontier; guided tours of Afghanistan.

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Last Stand in Kandahar

The apparatus of counterinsurgency and occupation has funneled billions of dollars into Afghanistan, and much of it has ended up in the hands of insurgents. For those who have profited—be it through aid, extortion, corruption or legitimate business—there is very little incentive to bring the conflict to an end.

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Oh! What a Lucrative War

How to spend $1.2 million per month on your laundry in Kuwait; the system of kickbacks and non-competitive contracts that made Halliburton/KBR the near-exclusive contractor in the Iraq war zone.

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A Protocol of Barbarity

400,000 Wiki-leaked reports that confirm the minute-by-minute misadventures of a “military at war with its own inner demons” in the unforgiving terrain of Iraq.

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The Last Patrol

After nearly a year in Afghanistan—during which almost half of their unit was killed or injured—paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne have one more mission before they go home.

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Obama’s Afghanistan Choice

According to this excerpt from Woodward’s Obama's Wars, the president’s military advisors gave him only one option: send an additional 40,000 troops. Obama pushed back.

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War Games

Movies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have failed to connect with viewers, but video games on the topic have broken sales records.

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The Anarchic Republic of Pakistan

“There is perhaps no other political-military elite in the world whose aspirations for great-power regional status, whose desire to overextend and outmatch itself with meager resources, so outstrips reality as that of Pakistan.”

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America’s New Cavalry

Some call them “flying lawnmowers.” The entire fleet is decades old. The Pentagon almost junked them in 2008. And yet the tiny Kiowa helicopter has become America’s air weapon of choice in Afghanistan.

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Jesus killed Mohammed

How the U.S. Army went evangelical and turned a war into a crusade.

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Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy

The boyish CEO of America’s largest and most controversial mercenary force, Blackwater, also happened to be a C.I.A. agent.

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The War Logs: View is Bleaker…

Selections from the leaked documents about the war in Afghanistan portray a military effort that is ineffective and frequently absurd. (Part of the NYT War Logs series.)

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This Is War

How USAID workers are trained for work and danger in Afghanistan.

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The Networker

Saad Mohseni, Afghanistan’s first media mogul and a business partner of Rupert Murdoch, produces everything from nightly news broadcasts to the controversial Afghan version of American Idol.

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The Runaway General

“Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”

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Lost in the Jihad

How the case against John Walker Lindh collapsed.

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Afghanistan: ‘So This is Paktya’

Night raids by the “Hash Monster” and other perils facing American soldiers at a remote base in the wilderness of the Paktya Province as they attempt to turn over power to the Afghan Army.

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The Professor of War

David Petraeus, father of the surge and the uncontested “most competitive” man in the military.

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Hunting the Taliban in Vegas

In trailers just minutes from the Vegas Strip, Air Force pilots control predators over Iraq and Afghanistan. A case study in the marvels—and limits—of modern military technology.