US Abandons Afghan Valley Where 42 Americans Died

Five-year Afghanistan battle deemed a mistake
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2010 9:08 AM CDT
US Abandons Afghan Valley Where 42 Americans Died
US Army soldiers from Dagger Company, 2-12 Infantry on patrol in Kolack, a village in the Korengal Valley, Kunar province, northeastern Afghanistan, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

The last US troops left Korengal Valley this morning, ending five years of seemingly pointless combat. Before dawn an American captain showed local village elders around what used to be the US base, the Washington Post reports, showing them the bullet-ridden crane and full fuel bladder they’d traded for an unmolested passage out of the valley. Since 2005, 42 Americans have died in the valley—and many more Afghans.

US troops originally came here to drive out al-Qaeda, but they stayed on the theory that they could draw enemy fighters away from areas that were more important. But now Stanley McChrystal says he believes they were just an “irritant to the people,” instigating combat by their mere presence. “I care deeply about everyone who’s been hurt here,” he tells the Wall Street Journal. “But I can’t do anything about that. I can do something about people hurt in the future.” (More Afghanistan stories.)

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