Defense Dept., Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison/AP
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense,
Maj. Gen. Jeff Schloesser and Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell discuss issues in the
Kunar Province while taking an aerial tour of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

US Military Acknowledges “Tactics Problems” in Afghan Civilian Deaths

June 12, 2009 09:45 AM
by Kate Davey
A report is expected this week from a U.S. investigation into the deaths of 140 Afghan civilians in Farah, Afghanistan, from U.S. air strikes.

“Problems with Some Tactics”

The BBC reported that at a recent press conference given in advance of the report, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell explained the military is aware of possible errors concerning the civilian deaths, which took place on May 4, 2009.

“There were some problems with some tactics, techniques and procedures, the way in which close air support was supposed to have been executed in this case,” Morrell said.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the relatives of the civilians who survived or died in the bombing blame either the United States or the Taliban.

In response to the May 4 bombing, President Obama stated the U.S. must make “every effort to avoid civilian casualties as we help the Afghan government combat our common enemy."

Meanwhile, on June 9, at least one child died and more than 50 Afghan civilians were hurt in an explosion in Kunar, Afghanistan. The Voice of America reports that witnesses have stated that a U.S. soldier threw a grenade into the crowd of civilians; officials in Afghanistan say that they are investigating this allegation.

Background: Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan

In a June 2009 Letter to the Editor of The New York Times, Ambassador of Afghanistan, Said T. Jawad writes that civilian deaths are not only a “lethal mistake,” but also a “strategic mistake” and that to defeat the Taliban the United States must keep the Afghan people’s support.

“With an increased emphasis on development and heightened attention to keeping the Afghan people safe, we are confident that our joint mission to create a peaceful, pluralistic and prosperous Afghanistan can succeed,” writes Jawad.

According to a report released in February 2009 by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, there were 2,118 civilian casualties in 2008, a 40 percent increase from 2007.

On June 9, the AP reported that since 2001, 630 U.S. military members have died as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan.

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