Air Strike in Arghandab Kills Four

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by Joshua Foust on 8/5/2009 · 19 comments

Initial reports say all four were from the same family. Villagers as a group brought the bodies to the Kandahar governor’s house. According to Alex Strick van Linschoten, there is a protest scheduled for tonight. We’ll see what that turns into.

Update: Pajhwok has more details.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 19 comments }

Ivan Denisovich August 5, 2009 at 9:44 am

“We’ll see what that turns into.”

Huh? I don’t know, maybe it’s only me, but if some NATO plane drops a bomb that kills 4 of my family I go from being humble farmer by day to humble farmer by day AND Taliban sniper at night.

Friggen idiots.

Briandot August 5, 2009 at 11:03 am

Hmm. While tragic, and obviously damaging to military efforts there, why are they idiots? ISAF and US Forces are quite aware of the negative effects of civilian casualties — and have put in place a much stricter rules on airstrikes (i.e., a near ban).

Joshua Foust August 5, 2009 at 11:06 am

Actually, I think Ivan misunderstood me. I meant I’ll see what the protests turn into. We know that these kinds of incidents are unhelpful — the big question is why they keep happening despite stricter rules on airstrikes (and some comparative data from the DOD would be fabulous, btw).

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 7:19 am

“the big question is why they keep happening despite stricter rules on airstrikes (and some comparative data from the DOD would be fabulous, btw).”

They keep happening because it’s part of American doctrine. Once the enemy is fixed, blast him with airpower or arty.

Doctrine is like a bad habit, very hard to change.

Nathan August 6, 2009 at 7:59 am

What would the Panzer Grenadier or Danube 85 player do?

They keep happening because it’s part of American doctrine.

Which doctrine? I think there’s a more nuanced and accurate description to be had for what’s going on.

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 8:56 am

NGP’85

Toryalay Shirzay August 5, 2009 at 1:32 pm

There we go again;this trend has got to stop asap;US/NATO are not going to achieve their goals in Afg-pak area unless the Taleban’s PR tactics are nipped in the bud asap.We see Taleban or their supporters get hit and then they go on TV, internet,radio and etc, to cry foul and to discredit the coalition and the fight against Islamic international terrorism.This is a very dangerous trend and it is quite obvious the Generals conducting this war could use more effective ideas on how to win this war and I will be happy to provide this kind of info if someone can provide a direct email for the coalition Commender so we can communicate.Any suggestions you have,please drop them right here.

Ivan Desinovich August 5, 2009 at 6:30 pm

The reliance on airpower by NATO is designed to lessen the need for the grunts to go toe-to-toe with the Taliban, thus keeping Mrs. Mary Jane Rotten Crotch happy that her little boy who’s in the infantry comes home in one piece.

Sorry, you can’t win an insurgency against one of the world’s toughest fighters that way. It takes shooters on the ground, and yes, casualities, to win this war.

NATO trying to win it on the cheap.

That dog don’t hunt in Afghanistan.

Briandot August 6, 2009 at 3:58 am

“The reliance on airpower by NATO is designed to lessen the need for the grunts to go toe-to-toe with the Taliban”

Ah, you mean it’s an asymmetric tactic? Like the Taliban using IEDs? (which, incidentally, also result in CIVCAS) The problem isn’t the tactic itself, but an excessive reliance on it.

And I don’t think that you and I disagree on this point; however, I’m not going to call them ‘friggen idiots’ because of it, but rather dissect it for what it is: a coalition force designed to fight a conventional war against a large nation state, not a counterinsurgency force. They’re not stupid; they’re just not set up for this kind of thing.

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 7:17 am

“And I don’t think that you and I disagree on this point; however, I’m not going to call them ‘friggen idiots’ because of it, but rather dissect it for what it is: a coalition force designed to fight a conventional war against a large nation state, not a counterinsurgency force. They’re not stupid; they’re just not set up for this kind of thing.”

Given that NATO had won Afghanistan lock, stock and barrel in 2001/2002, why wouldn’t you call them idiots given that they are now, 8 years later, on the precipice of defeat?

How did they get on said precipice? By relying on airpower to carry the fight to the Taliban.

Let’s face it, the west doesn’t have the stomach for a toe-to-toe fight with these 11th century mad-men.

BruceR August 6, 2009 at 8:07 am

Yes, because IEDs are the manliest way of war, much prized by Timur and Genghis in their day. Toughest fighters, yadda yadda.

The Taliban during our tour couldn’t shoot, because they have no training and their eyesight is uniformly uncorrected and horrible. They couldn’t undertake complex tasks because they’re also universally illiterate and innumerate. They die in large numbers by any standard and outside of those manly IED attacks or overruns of drugged-out ANP posts kill very rarely, if ever.

Yes, the ANSF are no better, but that’s not the point here. The point is that over-use of airpower to quell an insurgency is a bad idea no matter how “tough” and “honorable” the fighters might be.

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 9:15 am

“Yes, the ANSF are no better, but that’s not the point here. The point is that over-use of airpower to quell an insurgency is a bad idea no matter how “tough” and “honorable” the fighters might be.”

Glad you see it my way.

Dafydd August 6, 2009 at 5:14 am

If you think back to pre 2001, the Bush regime thought their biggest problem was Russia. That is why they prepared a force for convential war against nation states.

Seems to me that this really was a case of idiocy.

Since then they have had around 8 years to change that around. If they are still a force designed for conventiional war against nation states, they really are idiots.

On the other hand, while casualties are necessary in a successful counterinsurgency, they are not sufficuent.

Take a look at Vietnam, US lost upwards of 100K of its young soldiers, and lost.

No point spilling the blood if you don’t have a good idea on how to make it count.

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 7:48 am

“If you think back to pre 2001, the Bush regime thought their biggest problem was Russia. That is why they prepared a force for convential war against nation states. ”

I’m sorry, I’m finding it hard to believe this statement. Now, perhaps I’m wrong, but could you direct me to some information which would back this statement up?

Nathan August 6, 2009 at 8:26 am

Look at the 1999 NSS or 1997 QDR. Hell, look at the 2001 QDR, it says many of the same things. Or, even easier, look at the composition and capabilities of the US armed forces.

Would it have soothed you had Dafydd not mentioned Russia?

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 9:00 am

“Or, even easier, look at the composition and capabilities of the US armed forces.”

To this day the US military is still set up for a conventional war in Europe or Korea.

All my life it’s been that way. Granted, there are small movements towards lighter, more mobile force, but that isn’t where the lion’s share of the money is spent.

If memory serves me, Rumsfeld tried to do something about that reliance on cold war big ticket items, but they threw him to the lions.

Nathan August 6, 2009 at 9:11 am

Then you just answered your own question.

Dafydd August 6, 2009 at 8:29 am

The focus of the regome was very much the politics of great powers.

The (politcally) aggressice expansion of NATO and active encouragement of EU enlargement past the old Soviet and right up to the Russian border were his main foreign policy actions.

This was largely guided by Ms Rice’s (NSA) study of Russian and Russia, it was what she knew.

Ivan Denisovich August 6, 2009 at 9:04 am

Was she a disaster or what? I really enjoyed seeing the Peter Principe played out when she was promoted to SECSTATE after his failed role as NSA during the 9/11 fiasco.

I think the crown jewel in her failed stay at SECSTATE was the Russian bitch-slapping of Georgia last year.

Oh well, you get affirmative action results when you have affirmative action hires.

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