Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Afstan: Greater restrictions on ISAF air strikes

Let's hope these help--and note the final two paragraphs:
Nato has issued new military rules of engagement in Afghanistan in an attempt to limit civilian deaths, after the air strike last month which reportedly killed 90 people, including 60 children, it emerged yesterday.

The orders were issued by General David McKiernan, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, who also asked the US central command to reopen an inquiry into the air strike in the western district of Shindand, as video footage surfaced showing the bodies of child victims.

US drone air strikes on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border are meanwhile reported to have hit a house and madrasa linked to a Taliban commander, Jalaluddin Haqqani. Taliban officials claimed Haqqani was not there at the time of the attack and that 20 people had been killed in the attacks.

The rules of engagement for Nato troops will focus on house searches, saying they should be led by Afghan forces, and that permission from homeowners should first be sought. A limit on the size and weight of bombs used in air strikes was imposed last year, but there is continuing anxiety in Nato about the counterproductive impact of civilian casualties on the majority Pashtun population.

The new directives seek to "sharpen tactical directives, to give more clarity to commanders on the ground", one official said. It was an attempt "to re-educate commanders, to re-emphasise how careful everyone should be" in carrying out air strikes and air support for ground troops.

"Killing civilians is not the best way to attract hearts and minds," one European official noted sarcastically yesterday. But western officials also say that troops on the ground have to rely on air support because they often find themselves outnumbered.

A report by the independent New York-based group Human Rights Watch said yesterday that civilian deaths in Afghanistan from US and Nato air strikes nearly tripled in the past year and recent bombings have led to more killings, fuelling a public backlash.

It said that despite earlier changes in the rules of engagement which had reduced the rate of civilian casualties since they peaked in July last year, continuing air strikes had greatly undermined local support for the efforts of international forces in the country...

There is...trepidation over the expected withdrawal from combat of Dutch and Canadian forces in the next 18 months.

Western officials say that the counter-insurgency effort against the Taliban should be strengthened by the unification of the Nato and US missions in Afghanistan under the single command of McKiernan [no--the missions will not be unified, they will just have the same commander, double-hatted], which is due to be confirmed by Congress later this month.


Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

But western officials also say that troops on the ground have to rely on air support because they often find themselves outnumbered.

If that's not an indictment of the troop commitments by NATO, I don't know what is.

11:02 a.m., September 09, 2008  
Blogger Nomennovum said...

Oh, the new rules of engagement will help, I am sure. They will help, most certainly: (a) the Taliban, (b) Al Qaeda ... and maybe -- just maybe -- they will help the civilian human shields used by the lovely folks in categories (a) and (b) (unless, of course these ever-creative folks find different ways to make their propaganda points by slaughtering the easily slaughtered.

Who won't be helped by the new ROE? Well, most certainly not NATO. Nothing fails in war like the lack of will.

Too bad NATO can't do propaganda as well as our enemies.

11:27 a.m., September 09, 2008  
Blogger Mark, Ottawa said...

a taxpayer: Actually pgm 250 kg bombs are rather new; I doubt the Canadian Air Force has them yet:

"The first combat use of a GBU-54, 500-lb. Laser Joint Direct Attack Munition—which was developed and tested in a blazing 17-month program—destroyed a “moving enemy vehicle” in Diyala Province, Iraq, on Aug. 12, say U.S. Air Force officials at Joint Base Balad. For additional accuracy and position updating of moving targets, the LJDAM uses a combination of GPS and laser guidance. The mission was conducted by F-16s of the 77th Expeditionary FS. The joint terminal attack controller with a ground unit validated the target while the F-16 pilot guided the weapon."

Full AW&ST text subscriber only.

More here.


11:09 p.m., September 09, 2008  

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