WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2012 – Combined Afghan and coalition forces found two large drug caches in Afghanistan yesterday, military officials reported.
A combined patrol in the Panjwai district of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province found about 660 pounds of marijuana, and a combined force in the Dand district of Kandahar province discovered about a ton of hashish.
In Jan. 21 Afghanistan operations:-- A combined force killed Farid, a Taliban judge, and two other insurgents and seized rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles, grenades and chest racks in the Sayyidabad district of Wardak province. Farid was responsible for ambushes and for roadside-bomb and direct-fire attacks against Afghan and coalition forces and for mistreating the local populace and facilitating a kidnapping operation.
-- A combined force captured a Taliban facilitator and detained several suspects in the Maiwand district of Kandahar province. The facilitator operated a bomb-making cell and planted explosives throughout the Maiwand and Zharay districts. He was responsible for multiple attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.
-- In the Sangin district of Helmand province, a combined force captured a Taliban facilitator, detained several suspects and seized about 200 pounds of opium. The facilitator distributed explosives to insurgent fighters in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
-- A combined force captured a Haqqani network leader and detained another suspect in the Khost district of Khost province. The leader conducted roadside-bomb and direct-fire attacks against Afghan forces.
In Jan. 19 operations:-- A combined force detained several suspects and seized about 880 pounds of opium, 220 pounds of heroin and 4,400 pounds of acetic anhydride in the Now Zad district of Helmand province. The cache included bomb-making materials, including 132 pounds of explosive chemicals, numerous pressure plates and main charges. The security force also confiscated anti-personnel mines, mortar rounds, weapons and ammunition.
In other news from Afghanistan, an Article 32 hearing for Army Spc. Ryan Offutt came to a close yesterday at Kandahar Airfield when the investigating officer recommended all but one of the charges be forwarded to a court-martial. An Article 32 hearing is similar to a grand jury in the U.S. civilian judicial system.
Offutt is charged in connection with the Oct. 3, 2011, death of Army Pvt. Danny Chen, an infantryman assigned to the 25th Infantry Division’s Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Chen was found in a guard tower with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The investigating officer at Offutt’s hearing recommended forwarding all charges to court-martial, except for a charge of manslaughter. The commander of the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team now will consider those recommendations in determining whether to forward the charges to the Regional Command South commander for final disposition.
Offutt was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with two specifications of violation of a lawful general regulation, four specifications of maltreatment, one specification of manslaughter, three specifications of assault consummated by battery, one specification of negligent homicide and one specification of reckless endangerment.
Offutt, a 32-year-old native of Greenville, Pa., is an infantryman assigned to Company C and is one of eight soldiers facing charges in connection with Chen's death. The Article 32 hearings for the seven other soldiers are scheduled to take place by Feb. 20.