Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Footnote on Tactics

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Via Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman has some background reporting on what the tactical objectives of these additional troops will be.

Senior administration officials elaborated that U.S. troops would primarily focus on southern or eastern Afghanistan — the heart of both Pashtun Afghanistan and the largely Pashtun insurgency on the porous border with the Pakistani tribal areas sheltering al-Qaeda’s senior leadership — while NATO partner nations, which currently contribute more than 30,000 troops, would bolster the north and west of Afghanistan, where security has recently deteriorated.

…How that security will be achieved went largely unexplained in Obama’s speech, but has been spelled out extensively by McChrystal. McChrystal has called the attitudes of Afghan civilians “strategically decisive” in the war, and as such he has ended offensive U.S. and NATO airstrikes, which caused extensive civilian casualties; prevented U.S. troops from returning fire into areas with dense civilian populations; and even changed the rules for U.S. convoy movements to make Afghan roads more accessible to Afghan civilians. Administration officials explained that U.S. troops would primarily operate by securing key population-heavy areas in southern and eastern Afghanistan, but would also use select force to disrupt the Taliban outside of those areas and prevent al-Qaeda from moving into them — something strongly advocated by current and former leadership of the Joint Special Operations Command who remain close allies of McChrystal.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 2, 2009 at 9:46 am

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  1. more tactics

    WASHINGTON — At his confirmation hearings two weeks ago, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said reducing civilian deaths from air strikes in Afghanistan was “strategically decisive” and declared his “willingness to operate in ways that minimize casualties or damage, even when it makes our task more difficult.”

    Some McChrystal supporters hope he will rein in the main source of civilian casualties: Special Operations Forces (SOF) units that carry out targeted strikes against suspected “Taliban” on the basis of doubtful intelligence and raids that require air strikes when they get into trouble.

    But there are growing indications that his command is preparing to deal with the issue primarily by seeking to shift the blame to the Taliban through more and better propaganda operations and by using more high-tech drone intelligence aircraft to increase battlefield surveillance rather than by curbing the main direct cause of civilian casualties.

    U.S. officials at a NATO conference in Brussels last Friday were telling reporters that “public relations” are now considered “crucial” to “turning the tide” in Afghanistan, according to an AFP story on Jun 12.


    December 2, 2009 at 2:08 pm

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