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Pentagon spent $457.7 million to train forces in this country with no results

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© AP Photo/ David Goldman

The Pentagon has spent almost half a billion dollars for the training of Afghan intelligence officers under a special program. However, no tangible results have been achieved, according to a report of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The SIGAR report noted that the Pentagon has spent $457.7 million, signing two contracts between 2010 and 2013 with two Afghan companies, Legacy Afghanistan R&D and Afghanistan Source Operations Management (ASOM).

A total of about 70 members of the Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANDSF) participated in the training exercise. However, as the commission stated, the exercises did not lead to noticeable results, and “significant parts” of ANDSF did not fulfill the minimum requirements for the completion of these exercises.

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US Navy calls off search for 3 US Marines missing in MV-22 Osprey crash

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© AP Photo/ Sarah Villegas

US Navy officials have called off the search for missing crewmen who were aboard a Navy Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that crashed into the sea off the eastern coast of Australia on Saturday. A rescue operation was launched for the three missing US Marines, after the Osprey aircraft in which they were traveling crashed into the ocean while attempting to land, according to Stripes.com.

In suspending the rescue operation on Sunday, the US Navy switched to a recovery effort, according to the US Marine’s Camp Butler in Japan, indicating that the missing Marines are not expected to be found alive. The base camp statement added that the missing soldier’s next of kin had been told of their deaths and that Australia’s defense forces were working with the US Navy to expand the recovery of wreckage and remains.

The MV-22 Osprey took off from the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, on Saturday to conduct routine operations when it crashed. The Bonhomme Richard’s rescue boats and aircraft immediately commenced search and rescue, and 23 out of the 26 Marines aboard were pulled from the water.

According to the Camp Butler statement, “Recovery and salvage operations can take several months to complete but can be extended based on several environmental factors,” cited by Stars and Stripes.

“The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation,” the statement added, noting that, “no additional information available at this time.”

Marise Payne, Australia’s Defense Minister, stated that the Saturday crash took place in Shoalwater Bay on the Queensland coast, some 500 miles north of Brisbane.

“I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft,” Payne said, cited by Stripes.com.

A tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, and, once airborne, pivots its wings to fly like an ordinary propellor airplane. The aircraft have been involved in several high-profile accidents in recent years.

A US Osprey crashed in a 2015 training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines. In December 2016, another Osprey crash near the US airbase on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa and five crew members were rescued safely. In January of this year, three US soldiers in Yemen were wounded following a “hard landing” by an Osprey.

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USAFRICOM investigates what US troops knew of abuses on Cameroon base

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The US Africa Command (AFRICOM) will investigate whether US forces knew about allegations of the abuse of prisoners by Cameroonian forces on a military base where US troops were present.

Jennifer Dyrcz, captain of AFRICOM, said, “We are aware of the 2017 Amnesty International report alleging illegal detentions and abuse of prisoners by Cameroonian soldiers and are currently reviewing its contents,” according to Stars and Stripes. “US Africa Command has ordered that an inquiry be conducted into these allegations. As the inquiry is ongoing, we can’t provide specific details about what that entails.”

The command says that to date it has not received any reports of possible abuses by Cameroonian elements from US forces.

Dyrcz said that service members are required to notify leadership of any “possible, suspected or alleged violation of the law of war for which there is credible information during the conduct of operations.”

“These reports are required to be made promptly to the chain of command by the most expeditious means possible,” she added.

The inquiry will determine what information the command was aware of prior to the investigation if any.

In a July 20 report, Amnesty International wrote that between March 2013 and March 2017, Cameroonian security forces violated international human rights laws by torturing prisoners they suspected of being involved with the Boko Haram extremist group.

Victims told the human rights agency that they were severely beaten, put in “agonizing stress positions,” and claimed that some were even tortured to death. The organization reported that torture occurred at 20 sites, including facilities operated by intelligence agencies, a school, military bases and a private residence.

US troops were accused of being party to the abuse in the report, but the organization acknowledges that there are questions as to whether they knew abuse was taking place.

Cameroon hosts a US drone base and the US military maintains a minimal presence there, while also training with Cameroonian soldiers alongside French forces in the fight against Boko Haram. Despite being based in northern Nigeria, the terrorist group has been launching attacks across the border in Cameroon.

“I saw white men in Salak many times and I heard them talking in English, I think they were Americans.” one prisoner said in the report, “I saw them running from the back window of my cell, especially in the morning, as well as standing in front of our cell, just where the garage was. Some were wearing plain clothes, others were in uniform. The uniform was like camouflage clothing, green and beige.”

Amnesty International Regional Director for West and Central Africa Alioune Tine remarked,”“Nothing could justify the callous and widespread practice of torture committed by the security forces against ordinary Cameroonians … These horrific violations amount to war crimes.”

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