Posts Tagged ‘General Stanley McChrystal’

New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan tribal elders said eight people were killed in an airstrike in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, at least five of them civilians.

An American military spokeswoman, Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, confirmed the airstrike, in the Nad Ali district of the troubled province of Helmand, but declined to estimate the number of casualties before a review of the area.

The strike killed a farmer and his family in the village of Khushal, according to Haji Talib, a district council member from the area. Three of the family’s guests were also killed, he said, but he did not know their identities. (more…)

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Foreign Policy


In the two months since Gen. Stanley McChrystal assumed ISAF command, we have seen a serious shift in thinking about civilian casualties and Afghan community concerns. This is most clearly embodied in the July Tactical Directive‘s much stricter guidelines on airstrikes and other uses of force that could risk civilian losses. The latest NATO airstrike in Kunduz — now believed to have killedas many as 125 people, at least two dozen of them civilians — raises questions of whether that thinking has gone far enough. (more…)

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Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Istanbul, Turkey — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Saturday visited the scene of a deadly NATO airstrike, a highly unusual gesture apparently meant to signal how seriously the alliance takes civilian casualties, which have been one of the most contentious issues in the war.

NATO has launched an investigation of Friday’s predawn strike on two hijacked fuel tankers in northern Afghanistan, which left dozens of people dead or injured. Local officials and relatives say many villagers were among the casualties, but it remained unclear how many of the estimated 70 dead were insurgents and how many were civilians.

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who assumed command of all U.S. and other Western troops in Afghanistan three months ago, took swift damage-control measures. (more…)

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Civilian casualties have become a deep source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers, largely stemming from an incident in August 2008 in which Afghan and U.N. investigators say U.S. strikes killed 90 civilians.

Washington initially denied large numbers of civilians had been killed in that incident, only to acknowledge three months later that at least 33 had died.

Tensions were further strained in May this year, when the U.S. military carried out an air strike in the southwest. Afghan officials say that killed 140 civilians while U.S. estimates were between 20 and 35 civilians and 80 to 95 insurgents killed.

Although more civilians die in insurgent attacks, deaths at the hands of foreign forces cause the most outrage among ordinary Afghans and have made many question the presence of international troops. (more…)

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BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pledged on Friday to conduct a thorough investigation into an air bombing that killed dozens of people in Afghanistan.

“The Afghan people should know that we are clearly committed to protecting them and that we will fully and immediately investigate this incident,” Rasmussen told reporters in Brussels.

“Certainly, a number of Taliban were killed,” said the former Danish prime minister, who took office last month. “There is also the possibility of civilian casualties as well, but it is not yet clear.”

The NATO air strike destroyed two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in Afghanistan’s volatile northern Kunduz province, igniting a fireball that officials said killed between 50 and 90 people — mostly insurgents. (more…)

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Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan – Western troops have killed far fewer Afghan civilians since the top U.S. general imposed strict new rules of engagement aimed at addressing one of the most contentious issues of the conflict, according to newly declassified U.S. military figures.

However, the data cover a relatively short period of eight weeks, and make it clear that civilians are still dying in large numbers, a pattern blamed in part on the Taliban’s campaign of violence surrounding last week’s national elections.

The toll on civilians has angered Afghanistan’s government and poisoned public opinion against the presence of American and allied troops. The Obama administration has made reducing such deaths a top priority for the U.S. military. (more…)

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FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan — Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Henson goes out on patrol with a computer on his back and a joystick in his holster. He also carries a rifle, but the military is hoping he’ll soon have less need for it.

A wired generation of U.S. soldiers is about to battle-test a high-tech weapon calculated to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan.

A key component is the “Dragon Egg,” a softball-sized robotic camera that can be thrown over a hill or into a building without endangering troops. It rights itself like a Weeble Wobble toy and delivers a 360-degree view through its four tiny cameras. If any innocents are in the area, the soldier can mark the spot using his backpack computer to ward off an air strike. (more…)

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