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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: Chris
March 12, 2012 12:54 PM
No change in strategy.

Enter a hell-hole. Stay 10 years - leave a hell-hole.

Strategic.

by: V A Ross
March 12, 2012 12:39 PM
Nobody has done more to aid the efforts of the enemy than this scumbag has. He is a disgrace to the uniform, and should be hung in the center of Kabul. If they need volunteers for a firing squad, I am available. American service personnel are going to die because of this sorry excuse for a human being.

by: me
March 12, 2012 12:00 PM
America you must be so proud , Killing children , cutting trophies off corpses , urinating on the dead and now some of the comments on here , either trying to excuse this murderers action by finding excuses or saying ..well did you forget 911 and some even have this Sgt as a hero.. makes me sick

by: Bill
March 12, 2012 10:47 AM
This was a GOP war now give it back to them! They caused it! They are to Blame for all of the killing. They caused the break down of the military by extending it as long as they could so their Corporation make the big bucks.
Take all those GOP'ers that are running for office and put them in harms way and watch the chickens run for cover.

by: Godwin
March 12, 2012 10:31 AM
The shooting makes no difference - the taliban will shoot any American any time any day, provoked or not. But the question is, where were the men when their wives and children were shot? Answer? They were in taliban camps planning attack on US targets. So what's wrong with taking on them from the rear? ISAF should not take care of taliban families while the men train on how to destroy the west. That's what the soldier tried to correct. Pls encourage him.

by: Libyan
March 12, 2012 10:16 AM
9 Kids, 3 mothers. What harm did they do for this Soldier?.
This what meida gets its hand over. There is similar actions taking place everyday. What kind of human this soldier is. Kids, women and burned them. He is a devil.

by: jose
March 12, 2012 9:53 AM
Who cares who runs it over there karzai or mullah omar, We had no problem with the taliban before 9/11 so it is time to get out, Hey America get the hell out now!

by: william
March 12, 2012 9:45 AM
We got Bin Ladin so lets get the hell out of there already, Our problem was with al qaeda not the taliban so lets withdrawl already and save some damn money, Give us a freakin break for a change, US GOVERNMENT MONEY WASTERS!

by: Gary
March 12, 2012 9:35 AM
Wait till the US reinstates the DRAFT because we will eventually run out of people to fight the wars (People/Soldiers aka Cannon Fodder)
The Viet Nam War protests will seem like a 4th of July picnic

by: Gary
March 12, 2012 9:30 AM
Let all the Old Men in the US that start these Wars fight them & see how soon we're not invading anyone,anymore
Do I smell a Mi lei massacure building up & a mass evacuation of Afghanistan by the US
On once I read where Afghan was Russias Viet nam. So we arm all the "Freedom Fighters" & now we call them "the Tailban" I guess the names that are put on different groups just depends on which end one is looking from
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