TIME Military

U.S. Plans to Keep 1,000 Additional Troops in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Travels To Mideast
Mark Wilson—Getty Images Mohammed Ashraf Ghani President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan walks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel down a red carpet during an arrival ceremony at the Presidential Palace on Dec. 6, 2014 in Kabul.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who resigned in November, made the remarks on one of his last diplomatic trips to the country

The U.S. military will keep 1,000 more troops in Afghanistan next year than originally planned, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Saturday. The number of troops in the country will be lowered to 10,800 next year. Originally the U.S. had planned to reduce the force to 9,800 troops.

The delayed withdrawal will not affect long-term troop reduction plans, NBC News reports. In 2016, the U.S. still plans to reduce its troops to 5,500. By 2017, the U.S. will only have an embassy presence in the country.

Hagel made the remarks on a trip to Kabul to meet with Ashraf Ghani, the new president of Afghanistan, which will be one of the last diplomatic trips to the country for the defense secretary, who resigned Nov. 24.

[NBC News]

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 5, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Andrew Quilty‘s work on Pakistani refugees in Afghanistan. Some 100,000 civilians fled the Pakistani military’s offensive against insurgents in North Waziristan this past summer by seeking shelter across the border in Afghanistan. More than 3,000 families ended up at the Gulan Refugee Camp in Gurbuz District in Khost, only to find out another danger was lurking underneath their feet. It turned out the camp is located above a decades old minefield from the time muhajideen were fighting the Russians. Quilty’s compelling photographs capture these unfortunate refugees haunted by weapons of an old war.


Andrew Quilty: Finding Refuge on a Mine Field (Foreign Policy)

William Daniels: Fighting Over the Spoils of War in Central African Republic (Al Jazeera America) These photographs show how natural riches play a part in the conflict often seen purely in ethnic terms | Part of a series of posts on Central African Republic.

Best Photos of the Year 2014 (Reuters)

War’s effect on peace is examined in new Tate show (Phaidon) Tate Modern curator Shoair Mavlian talks about the new exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography.

Elena Chernyshova (Verve Photo) The World Press Photo award-winning Russian photographer writes about one of her photographs from Norilsk.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Dec. 4, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Associated Press photographer Rodrigo Abd’s work on illegal gold mining in Peru. The pictures are from La Pampa, located in the country’s Madre de Dios region, where mining has turned vast areas of untouched rainforest into a scarred, bare, and poisoned wasteland. The government is now trying to tackle the issue, but as Abd’s stunning monochrome panoramic photographs show us, even if they manage to curb illegal gold mining and halt deforestation, wounds inflicted on the land may never heal.

Rodrigo Abd: Peru’s Rainforest Turns to Wasteland From Illegal Gold Mining (NBC News)

Tim Matsui: Lisa: The Legacy of Human Trafficking (MSNBC) Incredibly intimate look at a young West Coast woman’s battle to leave a life of sex work and addiction. | Related feature film: The Long Night.

Souvid Datta: Documenting Drug Addiction in Kabul (TIME LightBox) A look at Afghanistan’s heroin epidemic through addicts and law-enforcement.

AP Photos of the Year 2014 (The Associated Press Images)

Photographing the Moments Between War and Peace (The New York Times Lens) Another look at James Hill’s new book, Somewhere Between War and Peace.

In other news, the 2015 World Photo Photo Contest is now open for entries.

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME portfolio

Documenting Drug Addiction in Kabul

It took 12 visits for photographer Souvid Datta to gain the trust of drug users in Kabul, Afghanistan

Following his recent graduation from the University College of London, Souvid Datta’s first assignment was in Kabul, Afghanistan. In between his time photographing scenes of contemporary Afghan life, the 23-year-old photographer set out to work on a personal project, documenting heroin addiction in the country Afghanistan.

In Kabul, the Pul-e Sukhta bridge has become the meeting point for hundreds of drug dealers and addicts. Datta struggled, at first, to gain their trust, but, after numerous failed attempts with various fixers, Datta tried a new technique.

“I started going back alone, trying to speak to addicts above and around the bridge in Urdu,” he says. “I did this without my camera out.” It’s only after his 12th visit that he started bringing his camera out with him.

In a country ravaged by decades of war, more than one million of Afghans, rich and poor, are addicted to drugs, according to a United Nations report. “Narcotics are becoming a sad kind of equalizer in the sense that you get middle class government workers, mothers, students, and the very poor people from the streets all going down under this bridge to use drugs,” says Datta.

After meeting and documenting some of these drug users, Datta followed Afghan National Police officers and visited a treatment clinic in Kabul where people are offered therapy and given food, clothes and medication. Yet, he says, because of a lack of resources, there’s no follow-up in terms of employment opportunities and counseling. “As soon as people leave, they relapse. That’s no more obvious than in the center itself where you see people coming in for their fourth or fifth time.”

Souvid Datta is documentary photographer based in London.

Adam Glanzman is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter @glanzpiece

TIME Military

The Drumsticks of War

A member of Afghan security forces arrives at the site of a Taliban attack on a foreign aid workers' guest house in the Afghan capital of Kabul
Omar Sobhani / Reuters A member of Afghanistan's security forces arrives at the site of a Taliban attack on a foreign-aid workers' guest house in the Afghan capital of Kabul on Saturday. Three South Africans perished in the attack.

While Americans enjoyed the holiday weekend, their allies in Afghanistan and Iraq grew increasingly weakened

The average American couldn’t be blamed for missing, over the long Thanksgiving weekend, the growing evidence that the deaths of the 6,841 U.S. troops in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may have been in vain. The nation is weary of war, and holiday news media coverage—fallout in Ferguson, Mo., Black Friday gluttony and football—reflected America’s growing disinterest.

But for anyone paying attention, the news over the weekend was decidedly bleak.

Suicide attacks have been averaging one a day in the Afghan capital of Kabul over the past two weeks. On Saturday, the Taliban attacked a guesthouse, killing a South African father and his two teenage children. After detailing the carnage Sunday, Kabul’s police chief quit in despair. The same day, President Ashraf Ghani, unable to form a new government, fired most of the ministers he inherited. The Taliban overran what used to be the biggest British army base in southern Afghanistan, a month after the Brits had turned it over to Afghan security forces. (Later, Afghan forces took it back.)

About 1,400 miles away, in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Sunday that his government has been paying the salaries of at least 50,000 “ghost soldiers.” It’s not like Iraq can afford to pay non-existent troops: al-Abadi also said he has had to toss out his proposed 2015 budget because it was based on selling Iraqi oil at $70 a barrel (it fell to $64 last week, he noted—a cut of nearly 10%). And an Iraqi military helicopter, trying to hit targets belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, killed an innocent pair of brothers Saturday in the town of Yathrib. A second airstrike killed 15 people who were headed to the brothers’ funerals.

Such problems are common in war. They’re just not common after more than a decade of U.S. sacrifice, and repeated pledges by those in charge that such sacrifices will not have been made in vain.

Unfortunately, there’s now no one in charge at the Pentagon. The White House had the temerity to oust Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last Monday—while praising him effusively—without having a candidate to take his place. In the military, that’s called dereliction of duty. During wartime—for those in uniform—it’s punishable by death. For everybody else, it’s just politics.

TIME Afghanistan

London Condemns Kabul Bombing as Taliban Ups Pressure on Afghan Gov’t

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST
Shah Marai — AFP/Getty Images Afghan policemen stand guard at the site of a suicide attack at a foreign guesthouse in Kabul on November 27, 2014.

The militant group appears to be stepping up its campaign of violence in the Afghan capital as foreign forces prepare to withdrawal

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has condemned the Taliban’s “appalling” suicide attack on a vehicle belonging to the country’s embassy on Thursday that killed six people, including two individuals working for the U.K. mission.

“I am deeply saddened to confirm that a British national civilian security team member and an Afghan national working for the embassy were killed in the incident,” said Hammond in a statement. “We will not allow such inhumanity to deter us from continuing our partnership with the Government of Afghanistan.”

The assault on the British convoy was followed by another attack by two Taliban suicide bombers at a foreign guesthouse in a high-end neighborhood in central Kabul, where myriad embassies and international organizations reside. One foreign national was reportedly injured in the blast and an ensuing gun battle.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for both bombings and described the ambush of the British embassy vehicle as a strike against “foreign invading forces,” reports Reuters.

Thursday’s blasts come as the Taliban appears to be orchestrating an increasing number of acts of sabotage and violence against foreign installations across the Afghan capital, just as a lion’s share of the international troops stationed in the country prepare to pullout after 13 years of war. In the last 10 days alone, Kabul has been rocked by at least eight separate blasts, according to Agence France-Presse.

Earlier in the week, NATO confirmed that two foreign soldiers fighting with the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force were killed on Monday after a roadside bomb detonated near a military convoy traveling in Kabul.

Amid the uptick in violence are signs U.S. President Barack Obama is reevaluating his earlier promise to end combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of the year. The New York Times reported late last week that the White House’s calculus in the country appears to have shifted, after a new plan was authorized that will allow American troops to continue fighting Taliban insurgents there well into 2015.

TIME Afghanistan

5 Dead in Suicide Blast on British Embassy Vehicle in Kabul

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul
Omar Sobhani—Reuters Afghan security forces inspect the site of a suicide attack on a British embassy vehicle in Kabul on Nov. 27, 2014

KABUL, Afghanistan — A British embassy worker was among five people killed in a suicide attack in the Afghan capital on Thursday, a senior police official told NBC News. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast which targeted a vehicle on Kabul’s Jalalabad Road. At least 31 others, including three embassy staff, were injured, the senior police officer added. General Ayoub Salangi, the Afghan deputy interior minister, told Reuters the bomber was riding a motorcycle.

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Foreign Office told NBC News that “a British embassy vehicle was attacked in Kabul this morning.” He added: “We are working with Afghan officials to establish details.”…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME the backstory

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Photojournalism Daily is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Fritz Hoffman‘s work on America’s major hazardous waste sites, known as Superfund sites. The Superfund program is a government initiative that was created in 1980 to address the nation’s most environmentally toxic locations after a scandal at Love Canal. There are more than 1,700 of these sites and, despite more than $40 billion of taxpayer money spent on cleanup efforts, at least 1,300 of them are reportedly still contaminated. Around one in six Americans, or some 49 million people, live within three miles of these sites, often without ever realizing it. Hoffman’s photographs offer a compelling look at this environmental issue.


Fritz Hoffman: Wasteland (National Geographic)

Diego Ibarra Sanchez: Pakistani Refugees Are Streaming Into Afghanistan (The New York Times) These photographs show how the flood of refugees from Afghanistan to Pakistan has been turned on its head.

Dominic Bracco II: Aqui Vivimos (Burn Magazine) Bracco’s project on Honduras, one of the most violent countries in the world, was a finalist for Burn magazine’s Emerging Photographer Fund.

The Salt of the Earth – official trailer (YouTube) Trailer for Wim Wenders’ and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s eagerly anticipated documentary on Sebastião Salgado.

Scout Tufankjian (The Armenian Weekly) The photographer interviewed about documenting Armenian communities around the world for her Armenian Diaspora Project.


Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.


TIME Terrorism

Terrorism-Related Deaths Up 60% Last Year, Study Says

AFGHANISTAN-UNREST-ATTACKS
Farshad Usyan—AFP/Getty Images An Afghan policeman is seen through the wreckage of a taxi which was destroyed by a suicide attack targeting a vehicle convoy of Afghan lawmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan on Nov. 16, 2014.

More than 80% of the deaths occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria

Nearly 18,000 people were killed in terrorist-related incidents last year, a 60% increase from the previous year, a new study found. Deaths have increased five-fold since 2000.

The report, compiled by the Institute for Economics & Peace, attributes the increased terrorist activity to the growing influence of “radical Islamic groups.” Two thirds of the fatalities came at the hands of ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the report said.

“Given the theological nature of the problem it is difficult for outside actors to be influential,” Steve Killelea, institute executive chairman, said in a statement.

As the number of deaths has expanded, the location of attacks has remained limited. More than 80% of the deaths occurred in just five countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria.

TIME Afghanistan

Female Afghan Lawmaker Survives Apparent Assassination Attempt

Afghanistan
Rahmat Gul—AP Afghan security forces carry the body of a civilian after a suicide attack in Kabul that targeted Shukria Barazkai, a prominent female member of Afghanistan's parliament, Nov. 16, 2014.

Shukria Barakzai suffered only "small injuries" after a bomb blast

A prominent female member of Afghanistan’s parliament survived what appeared to be a assassination attempt in Kabul on Sunday, authorities said.

At least three people were killed and 22 injured in a bomb blast targeting the car of lawmaker and vocal Taliban critic Shukria Barakzai, the Los Angeles Times reports.

She suffered “small injuries” after a suicide bomber tried to crash his car into her armored vehicle before detonation, said Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Sediqqi also dismissed reports that Barakzai’s daughter, who frequently travels with her, was killed in the attack.

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack, and no other group has claimed the bombing as their own.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the attack was an act of terrorism and called for an investigation. Women make up approximately one-quarter of Afghanistan’s parliament.

[Los Angeles Times]

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