The Afghanistan War, WikiLeaked: Why the Public (and the Military) Can’t Count on Those Battle Logs

Noah Shachtman
Noah Shachtman Former Brookings Expert, Executive Editor - The Daily Beast

July 28, 2010

Echo company got into a gunfight last Aug. 25 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. You’ll learn that by reading the report found in WikiLeaks’ database of Afghan war documents released on Sunday night. You’ll learn that, after a chase, the Marines killed one insurgent. You’ll learn that the insurgents supposedly fled and that the troops decided to stay the night in the area in case the militants returned.

What you won’t learn is that a Marine sniper team sparked the shoot-out with a surprise assault on the insurgents; that every member of that team was nearly killed in the battle; or that the incident would kick off a three-day siege in which the Taliban nearly surrounded the Echo company squad.

You also won’t learn that, in the midst of this battle, British and Afghan troops waged a more gentle counterinsurgency nearby, as they sat cross-legged under shady patches of farmland and talked with village elders. I know this because I was there with Echo company, reporting for Wired magazine.

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