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Thu Dec 27, 2012, 10:46 AM

Hard feelings on both sides as U.S. winds down its Afghan role


Col. Babagul Aamal of the Afghan National Army, center, said incidents such as the slaying of 16 villagers in Kandahar province and the inadvertent burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers at Bagram air base have added to the tension between Afghan and foreign troops.

Hard feelings on both sides as U.S. winds down its Afghan role
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times
December 25, 2012, 5:39 p.m.

SUROBI, Afghanistan Col. Babagul Aamal is a proud veteran of 28 years in the Afghan National Army. Short and fit, with a thick black beard, he's a leader who blurts out exactly what he's thinking.

"I don't talk politics I talk facts," Aamal said, wearing a sweater beneath his uniform in his unheated command office on a dusty base 40 miles east of Kabul.

It shames him, Aamal said, that he is not allowed to wear his pistol when he enters the fortified gate of the new American military base next door. Though he's a brigade commander, he's required to stand before an airport-type scanner with his arms raised, almost in surrender.

Yet when Americans visit Aamal's base, they are not searched. They are offered chai tea. And they bring half a dozen soldiers armed with M-16s, so-called Guardian Angels on the lookout for "insider attacks" by Afghan soldiers.

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