Al Jazeera Inside Americas on US fueling corruption in Afghanistan 

UCTV Series “Voices,” Tales From the Front Lines: Reporting From Iraq and Afghanistan with Dexter Filkins, author of “The Forever War” and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. 

SF Chronicle

As service members have returned injured from Iraq and Afghanistan, the government has built an infrastructure for their caregivers. There are support groups and a national hotline that receives about 150 calls a day from caregivers, according to the VA.

Congress has also authorized funding for full-time caregivers, and about 8,500 applications for benefits have been approved. Stipends range from about $550 to $2,100 a month depending on geography and the care the veteran needs.

Jeannette Hilgert, the caregiver support coordinator at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, said that while caregivers tell her they feel isolated, they also find it rewarding to take care of their loved ones in such a way.

BBC News:

The issue of civilian deaths caused by Nato strikes has been one of the greatest sources of tension between the US and Afghan officials, with President Hamid Karzai frequently speaking out in anger over deaths.

Earlier this month a UN report accused the US of killing hundreds of children in air strikes over the past four years.

The number of child casualties had doubled in 2010-2011 due to a “lack of precautionary measures and use of indiscriminate force”, the study found.

Isaf called the claims “categorically unfounded” and “false”.

From “The 13-Year War" on American Prospect:

To date, we’ve spent over half a trillion dollars in Afghanistan, a figure that includes only the direct yearly costs for both military expenditures and civilian aid. It doesn’t include the cost of replacing materiel and weapons used in Afghanistan, nor the long-term costs of caring for the thousands of servicemembers who were wounded there. Those factors will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the tally in the years to come. And today, keeping a single servicemember in Afghanistan costs upward of a million dollars per year.

From “The 13-Year War" on American Prospect:

To date, we’ve spent over half a trillion dollars in Afghanistan, a figure that includes only the direct yearly costs for both military expenditures and civilian aid. It doesn’t include the cost of replacing materiel and weapons used in Afghanistan, nor the long-term costs of caring for the thousands of servicemembers who were wounded there. Those factors will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the tally in the years to come. And today, keeping a single servicemember in Afghanistan costs upward of a million dollars per year.

Ezra Klein’s Wonk Book

That was the base military budget in 2012. That’s up from $287 billion in 2001, and it doesn’t even account for spending on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which is counted separately, and has often added another $150 billion a year to that total. As Barney Frank — yes, that Barney Frank — writes in a lengthy article for the journal Democracy, “The public does not fully understand that the defense budget is paid for to a certain extent as people pay lawyers who are on retainer, but who then get extra funds if they have to go into court.” Guiding this budget down to more normal levels while maintaining American military strength will be a key challenge for the next defense secretary.

The attack was targeted against 45 insurgents in the area and Major Adam Wojack said “many had been killed.”

Despite the headlines, “[i]n August, UN figures suggested the number of civilians killed and injured in the first half of 2012 had fallen 15% on the same period of 2011.” 

Even if drone strikes have improved in accuracy overall, or this specific mission did kill a significant number of insurgents, the question remains: does that matter if even more hatred is created by the civilian deaths that do occur?

BBC:

Senior officials in Kunar told the BBC the militants arrived in “dozens of vehicles” to burn houses of villagers and “possibly execute people”.

Two sides of drone attacks:

Yesterday, this was one of the top stories at BBC

Senior al-Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan on Monday, US officials say.

US officials said Libi was the target of an attack which hit a volatile tribal area of Pakistan’s north-west, killing 15 suspected militants.

Yet this morning, a new story was up:

Nato planes have carried out an air strike in the Afghan province of Logar, south of the capital Kabul, with several people reported dead.

Nato said “multiple insurgents” were killed, and the air strike had been called after Afghan and foreign troops came under fire from militants.

Afghan officials said 18 civilians died, including women and children.

They highlight the ongoing debate between Pakistani and Afghan leaders and the United States over the use of Drone attacks. They are extremely effective at killing, but have often killed civilians, further fueling anti-US sentiments. I tend to side with the latter side, but drone attacks are an alternative to the heavy presence the U.S. would need to maintain throughout the region to conduct this “war.” If using drones is cheaper, more effective, and saves American lives, is it worth it? Would so many civilians still be killed if U.S. forces were conducting more direct combat with militants?

"The CIA drone campaign fuels anti-U.S. sentiment in Pakistan and is counterproductive because of collateral damage, Pakistani officials say. But U.S. officials say such strikes are highly effective against militants."

Reuters/New York Times, as the news comes out that U.S. Drone Strike Kills 10 in Northwest Pakistan

Which side do you come down on?