Afghanistan

Lutheran Social Services.

Twenty-two Afghan refugees have arrived in Jacksonville over the past three weeks as the Taliban takes over their country.

Wounded Warrior Project

The Jacksonville-based Wounded Warrior Project nonprofit it’s making about 40,000 phone calls to support veterans amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the country’s takeover by the Taliban. 

Taliban fighters pray while raising their flag at the Ghazni provincial governor's house, in Ghazni, southeastern, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
Gulabuddin Amiri / Associated Press

Mariam Nasery fled Afghanistan with her family when she was 10 to escape violence stemming from the Soviet-Afghan War. This week she woke up to what she describes as her “worst nightmare” as Taliban forces took over Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul.

This post was last updated at 7 p.m. ET.

An attacker wearing an Afghan military uniform opened fire at service members of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan on Tuesday, killing a U.S. major general.

The officer's family has been notified of his death; his name is Harold Greene.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno issued a note of condolence, saying of Greene and others caught by the attack, "These soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission. It is their service and sacrifice that define us as an Army."

Wikimedia Commons/Sky News

Controversy continues to swirl over the White House prisoner swap that exchanged long-missing U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay.

The move has unleashed a storm of criticism from lawmakers who’ve called President Barack Obama’s move reckless, and even lawless.

(This post was last updated at 3:00 p.m. ET.)

President Obama announced on Tuesday a plan to leave a residual force of 9,800 service members in Afghanistan beyond 2014. By 2016, most troops will be out of the country.

"It's time to turn the page on more than a decade in which so much of our foreign policy was focused on... wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

Beverly Johns

U.S. Army combat veteran Wes Moore is the executive producer of the series "Coming Back" which focuses on the personal lives of soldiers as they reintegrate back into society.

Gary E. Bruce / YouTube

A new documentary film is premiering in St. Johns County this weekend honoring several generations of local veterans.

Presented by the Veterans Council of St. Johns County in partnership with the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress, Commitment to Honor is the story of how local combat veterans of the Vietnam War are helping combat vets now returning from Iraq and Afghanistan cope with coming home.

The film was produced by students from The Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville.

Two days of talks between U.S. and Afghan officials have yielded a partial security agreement between the two countries. Secretary of State John Kerry and President Hamid Karzai held discussions Friday and Saturday on a deal to keep the U.S. military in the country beyond the 2014 pullout date for most U.S. and NATO troops.

The next step for the tentative bilateral security agreement is for it to be reviewed by Afghanistan's parliament and the Loya Jirga, an assembly of public and tribal leaders.

The U.S. desire to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan is the subject of talks today in Kabul, where Secretary of State John Kerry is in prolonged discussions with President Hamid Karzai. Most of the U.S. troops would continue training Afghan forces, while another contingent works against terrorist groups.

As for how many Americans would be posted to Afghanistan, NPR's Sean Carberry says a precise number hasn't emerged, but he adds that "through conversations and comments by military officials, the range is about 5,000 to 10,000."

As the war in Afghanistan enters its 13th year, the political and security situation there remains precarious. But the country is hoping to reach a milestone next spring: the first democratic transfer of power in the country's history.

And there's no shortage of candidates vying to succeed President Hamid Karzai — who is barred from running for a third term.

Army Capt. Matt Zeller had been told that his Afghan comrades would make a big show of hospitality. He'd read that the Afghan code of honor would mean protecting his life with their own. Sure enough, that's what his interpreter, Janis Shinwari, pledged to him when they met in April of 2008.

"I expected him to say it. I didn't think he'd make good on his promise within two weeks of my arrival," Zeller says. "Literally pick up a weapon and ... save my life," says Zeller.

Update at 3:14 p.m. ET. Carter Receives Medal Of Honor:

Saying he represented "the essence of true heroism," President Obama presented Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter with the nation's highest military honors, this afternoon.

"As these soldiers and families will tell you, they're a family forged in battle, and loss, and love," Obama said, according to the AP.

Our Original Post Continues:

The Army staff sergeant who Monday afternoon will receive the Medal of Honor at a White House ceremony has mixed emotions.

A military jury has sentenced Robert Bales, the U.S. Army staff sergeant who admitted to killing 16 Afghan civilians in 2012, to life in prison without parole. During the punishment hearings held this week, Bales was confronted by family members of victims and people who survived the attacks of March 11, 2012.