From Thom Shanker, the New York Times: The American commander in Afghanistan will order an investigation into accusations that military personnel deployed to win Afghan hearts and minds were instructed over their own objections to carry out “psychological operations” to help convince visiting members of Congress to increase support for the training mission there, military officials said Thursday.
A brief statement issued by the military headquarters in Kabul said Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Afghanistan, “is preparing to order an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the issue.”
The investigation was prompted by an article released Thursday by Rolling Stone magazine that described an “information operation” or “psychological operation” ordered by Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who is in charge of training Afghan security forces.
The article said that General Caldwell and his senior aides ordered a team of specialists to gather information about distinguished visitors and create a campaign to sway, in particular, traveling American lawmakers to endorse more money and troops for the war. When the officer running the team resisted, saying that it would not be proper, he was ordered in writing to make this his priority.
Under pressure, the article said, quoting the officer and numerous documents, the team eventually gathered biographies and things like the guests’ voting records — a standard task for headquarters staff before visits by Congressional delegations. The article quotes a spokesman in Kabul denying that the command used an information operations cell to influence high-ranking visitors. (photo: Reuters)