Author Topic: US 'to limit Afghan air strikes' - BBC News  (Read 1312 times)

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Offline Yrys

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US 'to limit Afghan air strikes' - BBC News
« on: June 22, 2009, 14:09:21 »
Afghans counter US deaths figure, May 2009
A report by the independent human rights commission in Afghanistan says 97 civilians
were killed in a US air attack earlier this month.

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in Afghan airstrikes last month, a US military report says.

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"Getting fresh thinking, fresh eyes on the problem."

U.S. Tightens Airstrike Policy in Afghanistan, NY Times


US 'to limit Afghan air strikes'


US troops will be told to break off an
engagement if civilians are in danger


The new US commander in Afghanistan is expected to issue new orders limiting
the use of air strikes to reduce civilian casualties, officials say. Gen Stanley
McChrystal is due to tell troops to break off from fire fights with the Taliban rather
than call in air strikes that might kill civilians.

The changes come amid increasing tension between Kabul and Washington over
the number of civilian casualties. The deadliest recent US air raid was in western
Farah province in May. The US has admitted that at least 26 people were killed
but the Afghan government and human rights groups say the toll was more than
100. A US military report blamed the civilian deaths on a failure by US forces to
follow procedures in air strikes.

The UN says US, Nato and Afghan forces killed 829 civilians while fighting Taliban
insurgents last year.


'Imminent danger'

Gen McChrystal took control of international forces in Afghanistan this month. US
military spokesman Rear Adm Greg Smith said that Gen McChrystal would issue
orders "within days" saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses
if US or Nato forces are in imminent danger and must return fire.

"But if there is a compound they are taking fire from and they can remove them-
selves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that is
the option they should take because in these compounds we know there are often
civilians kept captive by the Taliban," Rear Adm Smith said.

The outgoing US commander in Afghanistan, Gen David McKiernan, issued orders
late last year for commanders to set conditions "to minimise the need to resort to
deadly force".

But Gen McChrystal's orders are more precise and have stronger language ordering
forces to break off from fire fights, Rear Adm Smith said. The new US commander
is on record as saying his measure of effectiveness in Afghanistan will be the number
of Afghans shielded from violence not the number of militants killed. In a video
conference with senior US officers after his appointment, Gen McChrystal warned
that air strikes had to be used responsibly, the New York Times reported.

"Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction if we do not use it responsibly,"
he said. "We can lose this fight." "When we shoot into a compound, that should only
be for the protection of our forces. I want everyone to understand that."

Counter-insurgency experts say the "civilians come first" approach was used
successfully after the "surge" of troops in Iraq in 2007. But critics say there
are far fewer US and international troops in Afghanistan, and forces on the
ground are more likely to need air power, being spread out over a vast and
mountainous area.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2009, 16:30:30 by Yrys »
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