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June 24, 2009

What an air strike in Afghanistan should look like

Today, the Pentagon released a video showing an Apache carefully contemplating an air strike against suspected fighters in Afghanistan. On one hand, this is reassuring. After the May 4 bombing in Farah, in which the military acknowledges as many as 86 civilians may have been killed, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new commander in Afghanistan, wants to signal to everyone that he and his commanders are committed to using their air power judiciously.

But how Pentagon officials decide when to release videos is problematic. When video serves the message they want to project – in this case that the military takes great care before contemplating an attack from the air – they make the video available. When the video captures troubling images, suddenly it is an operational security issue.

Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command commander, had promised that we would see video of the Farah incident. But officials told McClatchy that is showed suspected fighters running into a home and the U.S. striking that building without checking whether civilians were inside. On Friday evening, the Pentagon released an unclassified executive summary of its investigation. The promised video, officials announced, would no longer be available.

Alas, here is a video of how the Pentagon thinks these attacks should look when they are carried out correctly.

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Comments

Susan

"The time for questioning and working to correct any mistakes is after the war is over and not during...."

If we do not correct our 'mistakes' during this never-ending war, will there be any Afghanis left for us to bestow our lovely 'freedom and democracy' on? Or will they all be dead?

This war makes as much sense as the Vietnam war.... or as much sense as bombing Murphy NC to get Eric Rudolph.

I wish I could say that Americans are better than that, but from reading the other comments, it is clear they are not.

Yasgur

theboy,
You may as well ask why hundreds of thousands of German, Russian, Italian, Chinese and Japanese civilians were killed in WWII. Or why thousands of civilians were killed in the US Civil War. It happens. I challenge you to name a war where civilians weren't killed. The difference is that the US and its allies make a determined effort not to harm civilians, unlike those we are fighting.

BTW, your question has already been answered in previous posts. War is a horrible thing, unfortunately sometimes a necessary thing.

theboy

We killed 86 innocent civilians. Please tell me why.

soldierboy

I am over here now, and really, who gives a shit about collateral damage! Were the terrorists thinking about collateral damage when they hijacked the planes and crashed them into populated civilian buildings on 9-11? Yes they were, and they were trying to figure out how to cause the most damage. So there were some civilians killed over here, which is a tragedy but unfortunately the cost of war. We still haven’t killed the equivalent of civilians over here to the number of fire fighters and police that were killed on 9-11.
The Govt wants to win the hearts and minds of the people here, for what reason I don’t know or care. I know this war has to end someday and when we leave Afghanistan it will go right back to the way it was. That’s the way it has been here for thousands of years here and that’s the way it will always be in the Middle East. We are not going to change it no matter how much money we pour into it, I think the money would be better spent bailing half the U.S. out of financial turmoil.
You ask why am I here then?? Well I believe an eye for an eye and if this is how our country is dealing with the war on terror then I am in!! I just wish they would quit fucking around and do it already so we can all come home. This playing hide go seek but not if you’re in a civilian home is bull shit and will never get is anywhere.

schade1

Amen to that Jason, been there done that-even got the tshirt. Didn't get enough support however!

Jason

This is ridiculous. Obviously whoever wrote this article has never been in combat before. When you are getting shot at you are not thinking of bullshit rules of war. Geuss what, there are no rules in war. Like "R" said war is an ugly thing and it will never be perfect.

SO instead what would you have done? IF you were one of the soldiers who called in an airstrike, would you rather go into the house, where you have never been in before, you dont know whos inside, you dont know whos around the house, YOU DONT KNOW ANYTHING except that you saw bad guys running into the house. Im willing to bet that if you were in the same situation you would NOT be willing to go clear that house. Instead you would have done the exact same thing. We did not ask the bad guys to mix in with the civilian populace. If we operated over there with your way of thinking, the terrorists would run into civilian areas whenever we draw a bead on them, and then we let them get away so they can shoot at us tommorow.

I am sick and tired of hearing about our "cold hearless monsters who go about raping and pillaging and murdering and torturing the poor innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan."

I have been to Afghanistan twice, and I will be going back again soon and never did I see a single prisoner "abused" I guarantee you that a captured American soldier does not recieve 3 meals a day or healthcare, excersize areas ect. What groups like Al Qaeda do to their prisoners is torture, driving nails through limbs, breaking bones, beatings ect. And then they go and behead the prisoner on video and post it on the web for everyone to see. We are the monsters? We might deprive a prisoner of sleep for a few days, or even in worse cases give him "the waterboard" treatment. American soldiers go through the same treatment in their escape and evasion training. I have seen American soldiers abused more in E&E training then any prisoners in Afghanistan. What if a prisoner has information on a captured American soldier? What if that soldier was to be executed in a couple hours and that POW knew where he was being held? What is more important, the welfare of some terrorist who has tried/killed an American? Or the american kid whos about to get his head chopped off on video, whos been truly tortured and abused. The answer to that one is clear to me. nevertheless, i have never once seen a single prisoner "abused" The media needs to get its head out of its ass and get a good look at things. They need to see the dead American soldier killed by a jihadist because he wasn't sure if he could shoot or not because he didn't want to get court martialed.

If you have ever been in combat before then you should not be making judgment on the action of our boys overthere. If you have ever seen a dead American soldier because some jihadist fuck killed him in the name of god, or because they just hated America, then you should not be making judgement. It is easy to critisize sitting in America thousands of miles away where everything is easy and nice. Go spend some time in a warzone and get shot at in the freezing cold and then run out of ammo and water and medical supplies. Then come back and I want to see if you make the same kind of bullshit report.

MHnTX

R said: "P.s - spelling counts"

I agree that spelling counts but history, context, and comprehension count as well teacher. In fact, I would argue that Benjamin Franklin himself might even consider them a bit more important than a simple writing error.

There is a time and a place for everything, correcting military abuses and mistakes is very important but to micromanage – like petty little Monday morning quarterbacks – the military while they are in the middle of doing their job is destructive and the height of insanity. This is not a sporting event where one player was a little too rough; people’s lives are on the line here, and while, some little moron is trying to make sure that our military is absolutely perfect soldiers are losing their lives. You may ask “Well aren’t the Afghan’s lives important too” and my answer is yes but I would sooner see a thousand of them bite the dust vs. one of our troops lose his or her life because we were too damned busy running replays and stopping to check the rule book and playing overly nice with our enemies.

R

"War is an ugly and dirty affair, it will never be carried out perfectly and to over demand it is irrational at best and treacherous at worst...This type of hounding of the military is no better than what Tokyo Rose did to our troops in WWII"

You, sir or madam, are what's wrong with America.

P.s - spelling counts.

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

MHnTX

“…how Pentagon officials decide when to release videos is problematic.”

War is an ugly and dirty affair, it will never be carried out perfectly and to over demand it is irrational at best and treacherous at worst. If the video in question is problematic for the military what rational would they have for releasing it when it would obviously be used by the enemy as a propaganda tool? The time for questioning and working to correct any mistakes is after the war is over and not during… or it only feeds the enemy and depletes the moral of the troops fighting to protect us.

This type of hounding of the military is no better than what Tokyo Rose did to our troops in WWII, the only difference is that she was obviously in Japan and one of our enemies, not an American so-called journalist living right in our own mitts being paid to sell us out.

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"Nukes & Spooks" is written by McClatchy correspondents Jonathan S. Landay (national security and intelligence), Warren P. Strobel (foreign affairs and the State Department), and Nancy Youssef (Pentagon).

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