Joint Chiefs Chairman Criticizes Afghan Air Strikes
The United States cannot succeed in Afghanistan if the American military keeps killing Afghan civilians, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday.
In remarks to scholars, national security experts and the media at the Brookings Institution, Admiral Mullen said that the American air strikes that killed an undetermined number of civilians in Afghanistan’s Farah Province two weeks ago had put the U.S. strategy in the country in jeopardy.
“We cannot succeed in Afghanistan or anywhere else, but let’s talk specifically about Afghanistan, by killing Afghan civilians,” Admiral Mullen said, adding that “we can’t keep going through incidents like this and expect the strategy to work.” >>>
Afghan media have characterised the replacement of U.S. Commander Gen David McKiernan as a consequence of a failure of policy on the part of the U.S.. Specifically, they have linked the change to the high rate of civilian casualties in anti-insurgency operations.
Gen. McKiernan was replaced on 11 May by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Announcing the decision, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said the fight against the Taleban needed “new thinking”. The change also comes as the U.S. is seeking to increase troop numbers in Afghanistan.
Anger over civilian casualties features prominently in the Afghan media from across the political spectrum. The latest incident, in which more than 100 people were reported killed in a 6 May air strike in Bala Boluk district, western Farah Province, led to demonstrations and media outrage. >>>
- Afghan Civilian Deaths: Who is to Blame? (17 May 09)
- Villagers in Afghanistan Describe Chaos of U.S. Strikes (14 May 09)
- ‘White Phosphorus Hailed From U.S. Planes’; ‘U.S. Strike Killed 95 Children in Afghanistan’ (13 May 09)