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We're making a difference, US colonel tells despondent troops in Afghanistan

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An American commander in Afghanistan has responded to a report in The Times that his men are demoralised by sending each an optimistic message that insists they are playing a pivotal role in the war. “I just wanted to take the opportunity to let every single member of Task Force Spartan, and attachments, know how very proud I am of each and every one of you,” Colonel David Haight, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, wrote in an unusual letter to the 3,500 soldiers under his command. “I wanted to ensure that everyone understands that the CSM [Command Sergeant Major] and I recognise that every single person in the Task Force plays a very pivotal role and that means EVERY single [soldier] serving out there.” The letter was a direct response to an article in The Times last week in which the chaplains of two battalions said that the men felt they were risking their lives - and that colleagues had died - for a futile mission that was making little discernible progress. The battalions - the 2-87 Infantry Battalion and 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion - have been waging an unexpectedly ferocious battle with the Taleban since last spring for control of Wardak province. They have been hit by more than 300 roadside bombs and lost 19 men, with a hundred flown home with serious injuries. Colonel’s Haight’s missive comes as President Obama conducts a weeks-long review of whether the US military should deploy more troops to confront the Taleban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, or focus more narrowly on countering al-Qaeda terrorism. As the review drags on, US soldiers continue to risk their lives daily.

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