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Afghan killings mar special operations outreach

Alleged soldier rampage in Afghanistan a blow to special operations village security program By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' The Army staff sergeant accused in massacring Afghan civilians had been assigned to protect special operations forces that were teaching Afghans how to defend themselves.

While the soldier had no special operations training, his alleged actions are a blow to the elite program called "Village Stability Operations," which the U.S. says is key to handing off security to Afghans and keeping the Taliban at bay.

The suspect, who is in custody and has not been named, was providing security at a remote base in Kandahar province that housed the special operations teams.

The program had been deemed so successful that the list of villages waiting for elite U.S. teams outpaced troops available, so military commanders paired conventional infantry soldiers, including the shooting suspect, with the top operators at some bases.

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