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CBS News: U.S. Commanders "Not Allowed To Comment Publicly" On Lethal Iranian Aid

4:49 PM, Oct 8, 2009 • By THOMAS JOSCELYN
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CBS News reports (emphasis added):

A soldier from 7th Group Special Forces finds rocket propelled grenades in a hard-core Taliban village that he knows from experience, are made in Iran.

"Like right here, it says 82 mm "h-e" lot 02 slash 87," the solider said. "The Iranians pretty much copy all of our ordinance, pretty much verbatim. They'll even put English writing on there. But these lot numbers you'll never see a U.S. lot number like that."

The find confirms what U.S. commanders and troops in Afghanistan are seeing more often - a rise in the level of cooperation between Iran and the Taliban.

…

The west of Afghanistan, bordering Iran, is fast becoming a graveyard for U.S. forces. U.S. deaths there have spiked from four a year since the war began, to 13 in the last five months alone.

U.S. military officials have told CBS News that Iran is sending money and weapons onto the Afghan battlefield. But U.S. commanders are not allowed to comment publicly and it's unclear to them what the U.S. strategy is for dealing with Iran's increasingly deadly involvement.

The deadliest form of roadside bomb on the Iraqi battlefield - explosively formed penetrators (EFPs) - is now being found in Afghanistan.

Lethal armor piercing bombs that can slice through U.S. humvees are also an Iranian specialty.

More worrying still: U.S. intelligence believes Iran is supplying surface to air missiles to the Taliban - the very same weapon the U.S. supplied to the Afghan resistance to bring down the Russians.

This raises some thoughts/questions:

1. None of this surprising. We've long known that Iran is providing this type of assistance to the Taliban. DNI Dennis Blair discussed Iran's "lethal" aid in his written responses to questions posed by the Senate Select Intelligence Committee back in February. General Stanley McChrystal discusses it in his leaked Afghanistan strategy document. And other U.S. military officials have previously discussed this as well. But…

2. Why is there now, reportedly, a gag order on U.S. commanders with respect to Iran's lethal aid? Why aren't they allowed to talk about the mullahs sponsoring attacks on Americans? Did the DOD specifically order U.S. military personnel to stop talking about this? If so, why? Shouldn't the press be asking the Obama administration these questions?

3. The anonymous officials cited here are worried that the U.S. doesn't have a strategy for dealing with Iran's handiwork in Afghanistan. That's likely at least part of the reason they spilled the beans to CBS News. Are they right? What is the Obama administration's plan for dealing with this? Or, does this not fit the White House's "al Qaeda only" strategy (if we can call it that) for Afghanistan?