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Afghan leader expects zero noncombatant casualties

#1
Obviously in a counterinsurgency it is critical that noncombatant casualties be kept as low as reasonably possible but to expect no collateral damage, especially in urban combat, is IMHO ludicrous and to the extent the coalition embraces this notion, bordering on the criminally irresponsible.

Afghan leader urges coalition troops to curb civilian deaths
President Hamid Karzai's emotional appeal before lawmakers comes after a report that a man was mistakenly killed a day earlier in the operation to oust the Taliban from Marja.

By Laura King

February 21, 2010

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday made an emotional appeal for coalition troops to strive to prevent civilian deaths as a major offensive in the south by U.S., British and Afghan troops entered its second week.

The president's remarks, in a speech to Afghan lawmakers, came as Western military officials announced that troops involved in the fighting for the Taliban stronghold of Marja had shot and killed an Afghan man a day earlier, mistakenly believing he was menacing a patrol with a makeshift bomb.

NATO says 16 civilians have been accidentally killed by Western troops in the Marja offensive, which began in the early hours of Feb. 13. Afghan human rights groups put noncombatant deaths at about two dozen.

Thousands of Afghan civilians, frightened by the fighting, have fled their homes in and around the town, finding shelter elsewhere in Helmand province. But many residents say insurgents have prevented them from leaving, warning that there are buried bombs everywhere.

Karzai, addressing parliament as it opened its winter session, held up a picture of an 8-year-old girl he said was the only survivor after 12 of her family members were killed when NATO rockets hit a home on the second day of the offensive.

"We need to reach the point where there are no civilian casualties," the Afghan president said.

U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of Western forces in Afghanistan, ordered troops to exercise all possible care. Field commanders say they are doing their best to follow strict rules of engagement.

Karzai has often angrily rebuked Western forces over civilian deaths and injuries. In Saturday's speech, however, he thanked McChrystal for helping keep the civilian toll low.

A joint force led by U.S. Marines is still struggling to gain full control of Marja, which for years has been a Taliban stronghold. Scattered battles raged again Saturday, military officials said, with coalition troops taking fire from Taliban snipers and uncovering more buried bombs.

A statement from the International Security Assistance Force of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization described the latest clashes as "difficult," particularly to the northeast and west of Marja, and noted that "insurgent activity is not limited to those areas."

A Marine spokesman said the offensive was moving forward.

"It's a slow, deliberate process," Marine spokesman Lt. Josh Diddams said. "We're still working to clear parts of the city."

In his speech, Karzai again urged low-level Taliban fighters to lay down their weapons and rejoin Afghan society.

"End this war. Return to your homes and help rebuild," said the Afghan leader, whose efforts to woo disaffected fighters have recently won the backing of international allies.

Officials in the Karzai government have expressed hope that a recent string of setbacks to the Taliban leadership may encourage low-level fighters to leave the insurgency. The Taliban's military commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was captured this month in Pakistan, and several other senior figures, including the Taliban "shadow governor" of Kunduz province, were also recently arrested there.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-afghan-offensive21-2010feb21,0,1506286.story
 
#3
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

He does'nt give a fcuk how many civilians, or soldiers for that matter, die as long as he gets to hold on to power.
 
#4
FrankCastle said:
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

Ignore him.
I know but reports on evening news tonight here suggest McChrystal (or more likely his political masters in DC) are giving more credence to him than we should in terms of ROE. Hard to get the truth due to classification. Some reports are saying the coalition troops are to allow Taliban gunman to walk away if they drop their weapons--even if they just used them.
 
#5
FrankCastle said:
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

He does'nt give a fcuk how many civilians, or soldiers for that matter, die as long as he gets to hold on to power.
Agreed...that said, he's saying what he has to say...imagine if he were to go out and say, "Yeah, NATO killed some of my innocent countrymen, but I don't give a fvck because this is war. Shit happens."
 
#6
jumpinjarhead said:
FrankCastle said:
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

Ignore him.
I know but reports on evening news tonight here suggest McChrystal (or more likely his political masters in DC) are giving more credence to him than we should in terms of ROE. Hard to get the truth due to classification. Some reports are saying the coalition troops are to allow Taliban gunman to walk away if they drop their weapons--even if they just used them.
I've heard that too. And yeah, it worries me. I've also heard that troops can't shoot at someone running out of a Taliban bunker that just shot at them if that individual doesn't have a visible weapon. It smacks of some of the more ridiculous RoEs from Vietnam...
 
#7
If that's true then the media will, inevitibly, get hold of the proof. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. And Obama will then face the mother of all sh1t-storms.

And since the Chosen One will no doubt have figured this out, I would be surprised if he allows Karzai to dictate ROE.

At the end of the day, Karzai need the US and Britian far more than we need him. Without us, he won't last six months.
 
#8
rumrunner10 said:
FrankCastle said:
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

He does'nt give a fcuk how many civilians, or soldiers for that matter, die as long as he gets to hold on to power.
Agreed...that said, he's saying what he has to say...imagine if he were to go out and say, "Yeah, NATO killed some of my innocent countrymen, but I don't give a fvck because this is war. s*** happens."
How do you know a politcian is lying? His lips move.
 
#9
From the Air Force Times:

Even the Air Force Times today focused on the frustration of soldiers on the ground, hampered by NATO style ROEs that effectively have the forces fighting with one hand tied behind their backs.

Some American and Afghan troops say they’re fighting the latest offensive in Afghanistan with a handicap — strict rules that routinely force them to hold their fire.

Although details of the new guidelines are classified to keep insurgents from reading them, U.S. troops say the Taliban are keenly aware of the restrictions.

“I understand the reason behind it, but it’s so hard to fight a war like this,” said Marine Lance Cpl. Travis Anderson, 20, of Altoona, Iowa. “They’re using our rules of engagement against us,” he said, adding that his platoon had repeatedly seen men drop their guns into ditches and walk away to blend in with civilians.


If a man emerges from a Taliban hideout after shooting erupts, U.S. troops say they cannot fire at him if he is not seen carrying a weapon — or if they did not personally watch him drop one.

What this means, some contend, is that a militant can fire at them, then set aside his weapon and walk freely out of a compound, possibly toward a weapons cache in another location. It was unclear how often this has happened. In another example, Marines pinned down by a barrage of insurgent bullets say they can’t count on quick air support because it takes time to positively identify shooters.


“This is difficult,” Lance Cpl. Michael Andrejczuk, 20, of Knoxville, Tenn., said Monday. “We are trained like when we see something, we obliterate it. But here, we have to see them and when we do, they don’t have guns.
~~~

Under the current rules of engagement, troops retain the right to use lethal force in self defense, said U.S. Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the international force.

The rules seek to put the troops in the “right frame of mind to exercise that right,” Shanks said. They require troops to ask a few fundamental questions:

* Even if someone has shot in my general direction, am I still in danger?

* Will I make more enemies than I’ll kill by destroying property, or harming innocent civilians?

* What are my other options to resolve this without escalating the violence?
 
#10
Whoever is ultimately responsible for these ROE's should be immediately removed from whatever position they hold. By causing soldiers to hesitate, they could get them killed.

Noone wants civilian casualties. But I'm afraid I would rather see Afghans die than British or American troops.
 
#11
FrankCastle said:
Whoever is ultimately responsible for these ROE's should be immediately removed from whatever position they hold. By causing soldiers to hesitate, they could get them killed.

Noone wants civilian casualties. But I'm afraid I would rather see Afghans die than British or American troops.


Gen Stanley McCrystel's staff published all 66pages of them in September
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#13
66 pages of ROE? How do they fit in a section commander's aide memoire?

As noted, Karzai says what he has to say (and who can blame him?) Generals nod solemnly and agree. Generals' aides then get drafting. But how far these effect the troops on the ground is the real issue.

Regardless, I think it pretty clear that the days when Helmand was virtually a free fire zone are over. Given the lack of progress in the early years in the province, I don't think it wise - yet - to complain about the change in tactics and ROE.
 
#14
jumpinjarhead said:
FrankCastle said:
He's a poilitician, Jarhead, and a corrupt b@stard even by the standards of his "profession".

Ignore him.
I know but reports on evening news tonight here suggest McChrystal (or more likely his political masters in DC) are giving more credence to him than we should in terms of ROE. Hard to get the truth due to classification. Some reports are saying the coalition troops are to allow Taliban gunman to walk away if they drop their weapons--even if they just used them.
Unfortunately the ROE in NI were very similar you knew who they were and what they had just done but shoot them and you end up in the jail, it puts extra pressure on troops on the ground trying to justify every shot in a two way range. We have become more and more susceptible to after the fact law when smart lawyers are more dangerous then the rag head with an AK47.
 
#15
Andy_S said:
66 pages of ROE? How do they fit in a section commander's aide memoire?
Cut down to OFOF?

At any rate, I am quite disappointed that the brass decided to publish the ROE - while there are political reasons for doing so, allowing them to be accessed like that leaves them open to exploitation by the enemy. Bone move.
 
#16
clever_user_name said:
Andy_S said:
66 pages of ROE? How do they fit in a section commander's aide memoire?
Cut down to OFOF?

At any rate, I am quite disappointed that the brass decided to publish the ROE - while there are political reasons for doing so, allowing them to be accessed like that leaves them open to exploitation by the enemy. Bone move.
I fully agree, very stupid.

It seems these people have learned to hide behind kids and women. They may be fanatics but they aren't stupid.. When I read "The March Up" by Bing West, about the Iraq invasion it appeared the favorite place fro a weapons cache was in the village school. Same mentality.

By the way Jarhead, I strongly suspect thet Karzai does not really care all that much about casualties. It was just something he says for domestic consuption.
 
#17
FrankCastle said:
If that's true then the media will, inevitibly, get hold of the proof. Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead. And Obama will then face the mother of all sh1t-storms.

And since the Chosen One will no doubt have figured this out, I would be surprised if he allows Karzai to dictate ROE.

At the end of the day, Karzai need the US and Britian far more than we need him. Without us, he won't last six months.[/quote]

6 months? You are being exceedingly generous. I say more like about 6 weeks. Terry will be in there faster than a rat up a drain pipe.
 
#18
Read what Karzai says instead of the media headline:

"We need to reach a point where there are no civilian casualties"

That is a reasonable aspiration for any counter-insurgency op. When we get to the point of normalisation the innocent civilian population will feel completely safe but we are a long way from that now as President Karzai and the Generals are fully aware.

Robust ROE and deliberate policies to reduce collateral damage and loss of innocent lives are essential for COIN ops. If you accept overkill and random violence agains the population on the basis that they might be supporting the insurgents then you can hardly hope to win hearts and minds. Carpet bombing, napalm and body-counts undermined the USA's moral authority in Vietnam and ultimately undermined their ability to win.

The ROE will become more constraining as we achieve successes. That is the reality of normalisation and winning the war.
 
#20
accounts I've read telling of "danger close" distances on ranges for plastic explosives and 500 pound bombs seem to be very long so collateral damage doesn't seem to be surprising tbh
 

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