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22 Jun, 2009 08:07

Deadly errors come costly for US troops in Afghanistan

U.S. forces have admitted 'errors' during air strikes in Afghanistan last month may have killed dozens of civilians.

A new U.S. military report has admitted killing 26 people after crucial mistakes in the bombings in western Farah province, while the Afghan government says that up to 140 innocent people died.

According to the US military, it was really a failure on the part of the US forces that do not comply with certain rules and regulations resulting in deaths of dozens, if not hundreds, of civilian casualties.

Three air strikes by Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are in question. The report says two of them should not have been ordered in the first place, because the information about Taliban ground forces was not clear and operators did not know for sure whether there were civilians in the assaulted buildings or not. Still, the US Army claims, 78 Taliban insurgents were killed in these air strikes.

The US military says that certain tactics in Afghanistan need to be looked over. However, as far as the prosecution of any US military personnel is concerned – it is not likely to happen.

Either way, these incidents have really fuelled anger and outrage towards American troops and the whole NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan.

The president of Afghanistan, Khamid Karzai, demanded a hold on air strikes by the coalition, but there will be none. The US military will continue using UAVs.

The other thing to consider is that incidents of this kind are really helping the Taliban to recruit more followers. The very trust in the foreign troops is being undermined by this.

The US is starting slowly to lose the PR campaign that is so important for any country conducting a war, especially a war so overwhelmingly unpopular in the rest of the world.

The report says that the first thing the US must do is everything possible to ensure that the civilian casualties are minimized, which looks like a difficult thing to do.

The question of whether it is just rhetoric, or if there is going to be some action is on everybody’s mind. Will the US military dramatically change how it conducts itself?