Obummer subjects night raids to Afghan approval

Bring the boys home!

Afghanistan and US sign ‘night raid’ deal  (Al Jizz)

US hands over Afghan night raids– Afghan forces now to lead all raids which had made US forces so unpopular in country under new agreement

Gee, I wonder what made the raids so “unpopular?” Was it because they were so effective and they caught so many al Qaeda fighters?

Afghanistan gets veto power over NATO night raids-The US has relinquished control of controversial night-time raids inAfghanistan, giving Kabul an effective veto on operations to capture and kill insurgent leaders which US generals have long said are critical to success in the decade-old war. (Grunard)

Afghan forces will approve and lead all raids, and hold and interrogate all Afghan prisoners, according to an agreement signed on Sunday by the Afghan defence minister and the top US and Nato general in Afghanistan.

“If the Afghans don’t want to go and do something, we are not going to force them to do it. They are going to decide who to go after,” a US military officer involved in the negotiations said of the deal.

The night raids, often in insurgent-dominated territory, have generated huge resentment among Afghans, both because of civilian deaths in operations that have gone wrong and through more general anger over intrusions into homes and on families.

President Hamid Karzai has for years condemned them as a violation of Afghan sovereignty and demanded they stop.

“This is big progress. It is what our president and our people have been asking for since years [ago],” said Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, of the memorandum of understanding that handed the raids to Afghan control.

Foreign commanders countered to Karzai’s complaints that the ability to take out Taliban leaders was critical to making progress against battle-hardened insurgents able to hide among the civilian population and retreat to safe havens across the Pakistani border.

Although the deal may constrain them, it allows raids to continue and will also mean responsibility for any civilian deaths or allegations of mistreatment will be shared by an Afghan partner.

“After today, in the framework of special operations, only Afghan special forces will be able to search residential places,” the defence minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, said at the signing ceremony for the memorandum, agreed on Sunday after months of negotiation.

All raids will also have to be approved in advance by an Afghan co-ordination centre, staffed by officers from the police, army and intelligence service.

The agreement helps Washington move further towards disentangling its troops from the war in Afghanistan, which is almost certain to be still underway in some form after 2014, when all foreign combat forces are due home.

“This is the definition of transition,” said a senior US official involved in the negotiations.

“It’s doing what we said we were going to do, transition to Afghan lead for security, and that will be in conventional operations, it will be in these special operations, it will be across the board.”

The deal was also critical to paving the way to a longer-term strategic partnership agreement, which will lay out the terms of the two nations’ relationship from 2015.

The US wants an agreement sealed before a major Nato conference in Chicago next month, when allies are expected to agree long-term funding for Afghan security forces.

“Today we are one step closer to the establishment of the US-Afghan strategic partnership,” General John Allen, commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, said at the signing ceremony.

The US has agreed to provide support including air transport, medical evacuation and intelligence gathering and analysis, and help increase the number of Afghan special forces.

For now, a shortage of trained Afghan special forces means US forces are likely to remain substantially involved in carrying out night raids. Washington said last week that while 97% of night raids are now joint operations involving Afghan forces, only about 40% were Afghan-led, according to the Associated Press.