A Kabul-based think tank accused occupying powers of misleading the public on Wednesday by calling military operations "Afghan-led," even in cases where Western forces are the only troops on the ground.
The Afghan Analysts Network says in a new report that the term has been so loosely applied since Washington announced its intention to put Afghan people in charge of security by the end of 2014 that it has, in at least once instance, been used for an assault conducted entirely by US troops.
"The International Security Assistance Force's desire to present accounts of events as favourably as possible is to be expected, but sometimes this slips into propaganda, half-truths and, occasionally, cover up," said British analyst Kate Clark, the author of the Death of an Uruzgan Journalist report.
It focuses on the case of Afghan reporter Omaid Khpulwak, who was caught in a TV and radio broadcasting station known as the RTA building in July 2011 when it was attacked by suicide bombers as part of a larger attack on the southern city of Tarin Kot.
Mr Khpulwak survived the initial blast but was shot by an US soldier who mistook him for a militant, according to a US military investigation report made public by Australia's The Age newspaper in January after a Freedom of Information Act request.
The investigation also concluded that US troops were the only ones to enter the building and that Afghan forces on the ground did not issue commands to those forces.
But a Nato news release a day after the attack said: "Afghan commandos and a combined team of Afghan national security forces responded unilaterally to insurgent attacks in Tarin Kot."
A spokesman for US forces said it was still appropriate to call the Uruzgan response "Afghan-led" because Afghan forces were overseeing the entire response that day.
US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings added that Afghan special operations forces conduct about 5 per cent of their operations without foreign intelligence, advice, air power or other support.
"Since December, all US counterterrorism and special forces missions have been Afghan-led," Lt Col Jimmie Cummings said, without providing details on exactly what made them so.
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