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Mar-29-2009 11:37printcomments

Two U.S. Navy Officers Killed by Insurgent Posing as Afghan Soldier

Weather is thawing and casualties will increase as Taliban fighters clash with Afghan and western forces.

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Navy has announced the death of two officers who were killed by an insurgent in Afghanistan posing as an Afghan soldier. Other violence there has claimed the lives of numerous Afghan National Police officers.

When I was covering the war there, I learned the disturbing fact that an almost countless number of Afghan National Army soldiers have deserted in recent years with their American Woodland camouflage uniforms.

They often bolt from the Kabul Military Training Center which is basic training, or 'boot camp' for Afghan soldiers.

In a land where the enemy has no distinguishing features, they become especially hard to identify when they are dressed as an ANA soldier.

Lieutenant Florence B. Choe, 35, of El Cajon, California, and Lt. j.g. Francis L. Toner IV, 26, of Narragansett, Rhode Island, died March 27th when an insurgent posing as an Afghan National Army soldier opened fire on personnel assigned to Combined Security Transition Command.

These sailors were at Camp Shaheen, Mazar-E-Sharif, Afghanistan. This scene of the most recent American deaths is also the place where the first American was killed after Afghanistan was initially invaded.

Perhaps one reason that this problem has spiraled out of control, is because Afghan soldiers and police are paid pitifully low wages and they will tell you that is isn't enough to feed a family.

The Taliban pays more.

Another reason is that fighting in Afghanistan traditionally emerges from a lull around this time of year. It's because this frigid country grinds even enemy activity to a near halt for months as people on both sides simply endeavor to survive.

At any rate, these American sailors appear to have died from the act of cowardice, as the impostor had to assume another person's identity in order to accomplish their goal.

Police Casualties

AFP reports that four Afghan police were killed in a rebel ambush in western Afghanistan Sunday, with three army commandos and 10 rebels dying in other violence, authorities said.

Three policemen were killed when militants attacked their vehicle near the western province of Herat, a police spokesman, Abdul Rauf Ahmadi, told AFP. A senior police officer was injured, he said.

Another officer was killed after a police post was ambushed by the rebels overnight elsewhere in the same province, Ahmadi said. Three Taliban were also killed in that raid, he added.

In other news from Afghanistan, seven insurgents were killed in a joint operation in the Helmand Province. They were attacked by Afghan and international troops in Girishk district, which is 530 km (330 miles) southwest of Kabul, on Saturday, according to the Afghan Defense Ministry.

In the Paktika Province, the Afghan army killed four insurgents after they came under a Taliban rocket attack and returned fire in the Angor Hada district. This location is 150 km (95 miles) south of Kabul. It happened on Saturday according to the the Defense Ministry.

In Herat, four Afghan policemen were killed and a local police chief wounded in a Taliban ambush in Karokh district, a spokesman for the regional police chief said. This happened 645 km (400 miles) west of Kabul on Saturday.

Also in Herat, three Taliban insurgents and one Afghan policeman were killed and two policemen wounded in a clash in Rabat Sangi district of Herat province on Saturday, a spokesman for the regional police chief said.

Special thanks to Jon Hemming; Editing by Paul Tait, who compiled this information, and also to Afghanistan News Center and the DoD for information in this article.

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
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Disabled Veteran March 31, 2009 10:35 am (Pacific time)

War is about defeating the enemy. Those of you who have been in combat realize what we have to do to not only defeat that enemy but stay alive. As far as our previous administration being accused of war crimes, well what's new. I have yet to see any war from my personal observations or from studying historical records where war crime accusations are quite commonplace. I imagine in the not too distant future we will see the current administration also accused of war crimes, it goes with the territory. I frankly have seen countless war crimes while in S.E. Asia, and it was the enemy who was committing these crimes disproportionately. I never saw an American commit a war crime, and I was very active and exposed to many combat engagements/operations from the Iron Triangle to Hill 875 and TET '68. We had embedded journalists who saw these enemy caused war crimes and reported them to their publications/networks (we had to okay their dispatches, and check for possible security breaches, we did not censor facts), but they were rarely reported in both the U.S. media and the global media. The same thing is happening now, for the radical politico's are shaping opinion via propaganda. For those not familiar with the slogan: "America, love it or leave it"...should at least try to look through the propaganda smoke screen and strive to appreciate what are military must do in combat. It's the toughest, most deadly job in the world and our military personnel sacrifice a great deal to keep you safe. They will suffer a lifetime of anguish. But to call them cowards is cowardly, prove you're not, go to any soldier in uniform and call them a coward or go write a large newspaper opinion page and leave your name and address for the general public. Heck, go to some vet organization function or say a VA hospital and call them cowards. Will you do that? Of course not.

Editor: Please, don't try to make it look like the draftees fighting in Vietnam were a bunch of Boy Scouts, you know darned well that isn't true.  Moreover, Johnson didn't modify the rulings to accept Cat-4's in the military until I believe, Oct. of '68.  You missed out on the fun stuff, and that is good.

Most people in the military are young and immature and that is why they are good for the job.  Once a soldier has had time to think a little, things change.  I respect the hell out of your service in Vietnam, you should have been allowed to win, and I think the vast majority of those who served in your war were honorable  

 But, isn't it our job to keep an eye on our own people?  We assume the enemy was up to bad stuff; I mean they are the enemy right?  Where we part ways, is in your excuse of Bush's unprecedented authorization of torture.  He took the "we're exempt because they're terrorists" line and that is what the Vietnamese said when the captured Americans wasn't it?  Bush tarnished this nation in ways that no other president has or probably will.  Obama is an imperfect president but at least he's got some moral fortitude and direction unlike his predecessor. 

Vic March 31, 2009 10:26 am (Pacific time)

" The only way you're still allowed to say things like you do is because the military ensures your rights as a citizen." That is a LIE. When was it that the military ensured my right to do ANYTHING? I am so sick of these prepackaged quips that the pro-war crowd toss out. Can someone tell me when exactly our rights were threatened and the military "saved" them? It NEVER HAPPENED. So spout your one-liners (even though they are not true) and keep telling yourself.."We are the good guys"....while we terrorize the world in our quest for world domination and control of everyone elses resources. (Isnt that what Hitler tried to do?)

Vic Pittman March 30, 2009 5:59 pm (Pacific time)

I left the first "anonymous" oversight on my part.

TO: Anonymous March 30, 2009 4:14 pm (Pacific time)

Or how brave is it to bash the efforts of the military and not even leave your name. You know, some people appreciate what the military does for a living, and it's not right to criticize them simply because their country is technologically more advanced than their opponent. We have technology, but a terrorist, by nature, does not adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Why should we respect anything about them and use less than every available advantage to kill them? An unmanned drone keeps our sons from danger and the ones who would do them harm IN danger. Isn't that "one battle at a time"? Think before you speak next time, and try to have a little respect. The only way you're still allowed to say things like you do is because the military ensures your rights as a citizen. If you were in Iraq or Afghanistan, would you volunteer to be the first one into a fatal doorway, or would you much rather pilot that unmanned drone and aim a missile at that doorway? I wonder.

Editor's Note: OK, you can't tell me that you don't know the U.S. has failed to follow the Geneva Convention for the last eight years.  That is very common knowledge; but I don't seek to belittle you.  What you say should be true but sadly it is not.  We need to get back on track and be the ones setting an example; instead we are the country whose leaders are accused of war crimes.  Thank the last administration for absolutely devastating everything we once had as a nation 

Anonymous March 30, 2009 1:01 pm (Pacific time)

"At any rate, these American sailors appear to have died from the act of cowardice, as the impostor had to assume another person's identity in order to accomplish their goal." What a coward!!.He should have used unmanned drones bravely operated from hundreds of miles away. Or maybe courageously dropped hundreds of 2000 lb bombs from over a mile that takes courage. And just think of the manhood and bravery it takes to fire a cruise missile and have it obliverate a village of mud huts 400 miles away! This guy was just a coward, plain and simple.

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