U.S. Sending Heavy Tanks to Afghanistan

The U.S. is sending heavily armored battle tanks to Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war. The 68-ton, jet-engine powered M1 Abrams tanks are a sign of the recent escalation in counter insurgency operations; Special Operations missions to kill or capture Taliban leaders have more than tripled over the past three months, and U.S. and NATO aircraft have dropped more bombs and fired more missiles in October than in any other month since 2001. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticized the stepped-up military intensity, but U.S. officials say it’s been effective, especially in securing the area around Kandahar. The Marines wanted to bring tanks when they started deploying in large numbers in spring 2009, but Gen. David McKiernan, the coalition commander at the time, said it could remind Afghans of the tank-heavy Soviet Union.