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U.S. Military Turns to Twitter

KABUL - "What are you doing?" For the U.S. military in Afghanistan, the answer to the latest social networking craze seems to be: "Killing Taliban."

U.S. commanders launched their "social networking strategy" for Afghanistan Tuesday, using the hugely popular Web site Twitter to release information about some of their operations (twitter.com/usfora)

Among their first postings about insurgents killed and detained, the military tweeted on Tuesday: "Afghan & coalition forces killed six militants in Paktika Province overnight during a (sic) operation to capture a Taliban commander."

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have had their own Facebook page (tiny.cc/MJtsf) for about two weeks and have also been using the popular YouTube video sharing site (www.youtube.com/usfora) to post videos about their work and the daily lives of U.S. troops.

The decision to use the latest Internet fad was meant to "engage non-traditional audiences directly with news, videos, pictures and other information from Operation Enduring Freedom," the U.S. military said, and to "preempt extremist propaganda."

The military said it did not think using a site more commonly devoted to people talking about their social lives would trivialize the gravity of its operations in Afghanistan.

"There are lots of serious people on Twitter getting news alerts," said U.S. military spokesman Colonel Greg Julian.

"It's a supplementary tool, not a standalone."

The military said more than 1,400 people and organizations had signed up to follow its Afghanistan "tweets," while it had more than 4,700 Facebook fans.

Julian said three people had been assigned to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube duty but the military was looking to expanding operations with a small staff devoted to its new media strategy.