A story in Rolling Stone
magazine says the U.S. Army wanted to use psychological operations -- known as "psy ops" -- to persuade members of Congress to support troop and funding increases in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Michael Holmes told reporter Michael Hastings that Gen. William Caldwell ordered him to perform psychological operations on VIPs visiting Afghanistan and reprimanded Holmes when he refused.
"My job in psy-ops is to play with people's heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave," Holmes told Hastings. "I'm prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you're crossing a line."
In a statement to Rolling Stone, Caldwell "categorically" denied the claim. He is in charge of training Afghan troops
Nonetheless, Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, will investigate allegations, according to the Washington Post
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, skirted the issue when questioned about it, the Hill reports
. Levin said he has long supported beefing up U.S. and Afghan capability and that "I have never needed any convincing on this point."
The Rolling Stone story says Holmes' unit was told to find ways to stress such a need to visiting lawmakers, among them Sens. John McCain and Joe Lieberman and Rep. Steve Israel.
Hastings created a stir last summer with another article in Rolling Stone, in which Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, criticized U.S. strategy. McChrystal was eventually relieved of duty
by President Obama and replaced by Patraeus, who successfully led the American "surge" effort in Iraq.