How The U.S. Killed The Wrong Soldiers

TIME goes to the scene of an American military operation that went badly astray

At first the U.S. military was quite proud of what it had done in this tiny hamlet tucked among orchards and snowcapped ridges north of Kandahar. In what appeared to be a perfect sneak attack, U.S. special-operations soldiers on Jan. 24 stormed Sharzam High School in Uruzgan. That same night, another unit conducted a similar commando raid at a military compound a mile away. In all, the soldiers killed 21 Afghans, who the U.S. claimed were Taliban, captured an additional 27 and destroyed troves of weapons and ammunition. All that, and only one U.S. soldier was hurt--and just barely. It was...

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