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US: No Change in Afghan Strategy After Shooting Spree

Afghan men investigate the site of a shooting incident in Kandahar province, March 11, 2012
Afghan men investigate the site of a shooting incident in Kandahar province, March 11, 2012

As the U.S. military investigates the shooting deaths of 16 Afghan civilians allegedly by a U.S. soldier, the White House is emphasizing the importance of pressing ahead with President Barack Obama's overall strategy and timetable in Afghanistan.

The house-to-house shooting spree, allegedly by a U.S. Army staff sergeant, was the latest blow to an already fragile U.S.-Afghanistan relationship.

In his telephone call on Sunday to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, President Obama called the incident tragic and shocking, adding that it did not represent the "exceptional character" of the U.S. military or the "respect that the U.S. has for the people of Afghanistan."

Watch a related report by Luis Ramirez

The incident came only a few weeks after apparently accidental burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan.  The deadly demonstrations that followed resulted in the shooting deaths of six U.S. soldiers by Afghan counterparts.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday referred to the U.S. military's investigation.  After the Quran burning incident last month, President Obama apologized to Afghanistan's people.  And Carney said America's overall strategy remains on track.

"I am sure there will be discussions ongoing between U.S. military leaders as well as civilian leaders in Afghanistan and the Afghan government in the wake of this incident.  But our strategic objectives have not changed and they will not change," Carney said.

Carney said the situation in Afghanistan is difficult, with significant challenges for U.S. troops.  But, he said, U.S. and NATO forces are there to enhance American security interests by disrupting, dismantling and ultimately defeating al-Qaida.

The United States and its NATO partners have set 2014 as the target date for ending their combat mission in Afghanistan, while seeking to turn over security responsibilities to Afghan government forces more quickly before then.

Asked whether President Obama is concerned that the latest incident places Americans in Afghanistan in jeopardy, Carney said Mr. Obama is always very concerned about the welfare and well-being of U.S. civilians and members of the military.

Pentagon spokesman George Little called the shooting incident "deplorable," but said such incidents are isolated.  He said the United States will pursue what he called "accountability actions" to the fullest extent, but stressed continuity in the Afghan war effort.

"The reality is that our fundamental strategy is not changing.  There has been a series of troubling incidents recently, but no one should think that we are steering away from our partnership with the Afghan people, from our partnership with the Afghan national security forces, and from our commitment to prosecute the war effort," Little said.

The shooting rampage came as a Washington Post-ABC News public opinion survey found that 55 percent of Americans say they believe most Afghans oppose U.S. objectives there, with 54 percent favoring a U.S. withdrawal, even before Afghan forces are self-sufficient.

Under an order President Obama gave last year, about 33,000 U.S. troops are due to leave Afghanistan by the end of this year.

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by: Haron
March 13, 2012 9:17 AM
i'm happy from one-side when US says there is no change in Afghan war but i'm very much angry when Italian Panetta says that we punish to die that soldier when killed 16 people in Afg. i say where was Italian Panetta in the war of 1995 to 2000 if he punish that soldier whom would punish Britania, Pakistan, Iran & Uzbekistan? i have well remember when Taliban were killing people in North of Afg all these Southern & Eastern of people were dancing on streets, roads & in schools.

by: HUANG ZHOU
March 12, 2012 5:51 PM
The US's invasion of Afganistan, Irag, Lybia... has left there the hatred among people of different sects, killings everyday, insulting people's own belief, destruction of the whole countries. They have not brought there the freedom, democracy and peace as they had promised earlier.

by: Rob Swift
March 12, 2012 4:37 PM
The reason these atrocities(Burning of holy books and murdered children) were committed here is anyone (e.g.America)is always weakest in where they present themselves to the(e.g.Arab or Moslem) world. ("Your enemy is always weakest in his advertising") The Arab world is a centre of power because they have the oil. These atrocities represent a political attack on America.

by: Rob Swift
March 12, 2012 3:54 PM
No change in strategy is good for both America and Afghanistan. Whatever lunatic is behind this is looking to get a premature pullout (release) and is after (Political) power. Two hits involving fire shows our ritualistic lunatic to be off balance. These people respect no-one whether American or Afghan.

by: afghan
March 12, 2012 3:52 PM
get out of my country americans we hate youuuuuuu ...americans are the worst people on earth they are killing inocent people every where ..get out ur soldiers from my country

by: Unfortunate Reality
March 12, 2012 1:51 PM
The guy is on his fourth tour, he has seen more #$@% in that time than any of us should ever imagine. He is fighting terrorist, who know nothing of honor or integrity, only to hate the infidel. Nothing can exscuse his behavior, I can only say its learned from watching his enemies and although I condem it, I understand it...

by: Cebes
March 12, 2012 1:19 PM
Mitt Romney weighed in on the situation and said you know I was responsible for bringing the world together at a profit at a profit no less with the Olympics. I can do the same for the Afghans. Does nayone want to bet me $10,000 US?

by: Dan
March 12, 2012 1:13 PM
Afghan society is primitive. Their culture and religion don't allow them to comprehend concepts such as person liberty or freedom of speech. Until they want those things for themselves, they will always reject what they see as an occupying power trying to subdue them, regardless of any good intentions that power may have. I say leave, but with a warning that we will not hesitate to destroy any threat that they pose to us or our safety or freedom.

by: umish katani
March 12, 2012 1:03 PM
Get out of afganistan and let them all kill each other without our help.....

by: Jon
March 12, 2012 12:58 PM
No change in strategy??? You might ask the Afghans first. I am an American Veteran but this arrogance from our government takes my breath away. Who in the hell do you think you are. I am embarrassed by these fools in charge of the latest disaster. Get them out now!!!! That's an order.
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