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June 22, 2009

Afghan Strategy turns from Killing the Enemy [krakatoa}

Rumor is that this is a smart military blog, but I don't count myself as one of the smart military sorts.

So maybe the smart ones in the crowd can explain to me the strategic genius in the following:

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan will soon formally order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding in Afghan houses so the battles do not kill civilians, a U.S. official said Monday...

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took command of international forces in Afghanistan this month, has said his measure of effectiveness will be the "number of Afghans shielded from violence," and not the number of militants killed.

The enemy prefers to hide among the citizenry, attack from that relative safety, and then, sans any sort of uniform, melt back into that soft protection.

Now, I get that there is an imperative to keep collateral damage to a minimum. However, constraining our troops from firing on the enemy under the rule that no civilian be killed creates an impossible situation given the tendency of the enemy to be creative with the word "civilian".

These non-uniformed enemy combatants, found dead in the ruins of the houses and schools they were firing from, are often counted among the civilian dead to create outrage. (Not so much among the locals, as in the international media.)

This is not only a recipe for ambush, but for ambush that the new General orders must not be responded to with fire unless no other option remains:

McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if the U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger and must return fire, said U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith.

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

If we are not allowed to kill the enemy anymore, why are we even on the battlefield?


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posted by xgenghisx at 09:30 AM

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