Report US commanders incompetent over nine soldiers killed

Report: US commanders 'incompetent' over nine soldiers killed in Afghan battle of Wanat

An unpublished report into one of the US Army's darkest days, when nine soldiers were killed by the Taliban at a remote Afghan outpost, has branded their commanders incompetent.

By Leonard Doyle in Washington
Published: 6:55PM BST 25 Jul 2009
The official report into the battle of Wanat, on July 13 last year, describes the bravery of soldiers who kept fighting even after they were hit. One mortally wounded soldier continued to pass ammunition as he lay dying, and his comrades' bravery and professionalism ensured that the outpost was never overrun.
But cocksure officers conducted themselves so poorly before the battle that they angered the local villagers whom they were supposed to win over, the report states.

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Its findings highlight serious concerns as the US is throwing an extra 23,000 battle-weary troops into a war that is being increasingly questioned in the United States.
The battle showed the increasing military sophistication of the Taliban, and highlighted the vulnerability of combat forces which are now fanning out across Afghanistan in small units with orders to engage with villagers.
After an initial Army investigation which was dismissed by critics in the military hierarchy as whitewash, Douglas Cubbison, a military historian was commissioned to produce a more honest assessment.
His report is directed squarely at US commanders in the field. It suggests that if they do not apply the Army's counterinsurgency doctrine and protect local populations, they could meet the same fate as their fallen comrades at Wanat.
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