Tuesday, February 16, 2010

U.S. curtails use of airstrikes in assault on Marja

"U.S. curtails use of airstrikes in assault on Marja" 

Americans die unnecessarily and the enemy wins by stalemating the US and allies.   Until the blame for inadvertent civilian deaths by coalition forces  is assigned  where it belongs, that is, to the Taliban and al Qaeda and other fanatical Muslin sects, the West will be losing the war against Jihad.  


U.S. curtails use of airstrikes in assault on Marja

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Tuesday, February 16, 2010; A01

To the Marines of Bravo Company, the black-and-white video footage from a surveillance drone seemed to present the perfect shot: more than a dozen armed insurgents exiting a building and heading to positions to attack U.S. and Afghan forces seeking to wrest control of this Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan.
Facing stiff resistance from Taliban fighters, the Marines radioed for permission to call in an airstrike on the insurgents at midday Monday. It appeared to be the sort of clear opportunity that would have prompted a rapidly executed bombing run during the Iraq war, or even in the first seven years of this conflict.

But not anymore: Officers at the Marine headquarters deemed the insurgents to be too close to a set of houses. In the new way the United States and its NATO allies are waging the Afghan war, dropping a bomb on or near a house is forbidden unless troops are in imminent danger of being overrun, or they can prove that no civilians are inside.
The rejection of Bravo's airstrike illuminates the challenges and complexity of waging a counterinsurgency mission that aims to protect Afghan civilians, while battling militants who appear determined to stand and fight for control of this farming district.

The issue has been brought into sharper relief because of the fierce fight the Marines have encountered in the first three days of their major offensive in Marja. Marines and their NATO and Afghan allies are facing heavy gunfire and deadly accurate sniper attacks from Taliban insurgents, who have seeded this area with scores of roadside bombs and set up a network of safe houses from which they are coordinating counterattacks on Marine units.
The Marines' caution in authorizing airstrikes also follows an incident Sunday in which 12 civilians, many of them children, were killed when U.S. missiles struck a house near Marja. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was "saddened" by the deaths, and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, expressed his regrets to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.