The role of special forces in the war in Afghanistan is an obscure subject, as journalists are seldom permitted to even mention their presence in that country. Even if special forces are seen milling about Kandahar Air Field, reporters are forbidden to write about them. In one case, the presence in Afghanistan of Canada's JTF-2 special forces was only revealed when one of their members was killed in Kandahar province in 2007.
Readers of this blog may recall that we were virtually the only place on the internet to cover the allegations of a midnight massacre of civilians by Afghan and foreign (presumably American) special forces in Helmand.
The Obama administration has already indicated rather clearly their intention to increase international interventions, using beefed-up special forces to spearhead such operations. Now the Brits, explicitly wishing to curry favour with the Americans, are seeking to increase their reliance on special forces too:
Special forces to get boost to fight insurgentsRelated:
By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent
The Independent, 27 April 2009
Britain's special forces are to be boosted to prepare the country for long wars of insurgency...
The Defence Secretary, John Hutton, will today outline the new strategy which is being drawn up with the Americans to prepare for years of commitment in Afghanistan and the expectation of other similar conflicts...
SAS units are already being moved from Iraq to join the SBS in Afghanistan as part of a US led surge. This followed a specific request from the Americans who have been working closely with UK special forces in the two conflicts. The thinking behind the review, say officials, is that Britain must "play to its strengths" at a time of scarce resources... (link)
- (February 2008) President Karzai's brother reveals that US special forces are undertaking targeted assassinations in Kandahar province.
- (June 2008) The CBC reports that Canada's JTF-2 are involved in "hunt and kill" operations along with American and British troops. UN rapporteur Phillip Alston has criticized the extra-judicial killings that result.
- (November 2008) In what appears to be a special forces operation, American and Afghan troops supported by NATO forces are accused of beating civilians and destroying property in Balkh province.
- (March 2009) Amnesty International official expresses concern over "impunity" of foreign special forces involved in targeted assassinations.