Mike Yon's - Where Eagles Dare
An Interview With Tom Kratman, Part 1

Civilians killed in Afghanistan?

UPDATE: I have seen some of the video and it shows several dead children but also 20-50 yr.old men in much larger numbers.

US forces in Afghanistan and their operating procedures have come under fire for an incident recently when an airstrike killed a number of militants and some undetermined number of civilians. The US Commander in Afghanistan, Gen. McKiernan has requested an investigating officer be sent from CENTCOM. The action occurred 2 weeks ago and there are widely differing reports about the number of civilians killed. Local officials claim up to 90 civilians were killed including 60 children.

Afghanistan's government and the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan concluded that 90 civilians were killed in the August 22 airstrike in the western Afghan province of Herat. UNAMA said it found "convincing" evidence that 60 children, 15 women and 15 men were killed in the strike....

However, coalition officials said Afghan and coalition troops called in the airstrike as they embarked on a raid to arrest a Taliban commander in Shindand.

The coalition investigation found that U.S. and Afghan forces began taking fire from Taliban militants as the forces approached the target in the early hours of August 22

The incident came into question when cell phone video footage given to the UN purports to show a large number of dead including children. The problem with this situation is likely to parallel that in Haditha. The people providing the evidence of this are local and since the US and Afghan forces took fire from the compound that was bombed it is quite possible the locals are Taliban supporters. This renders their testimony and evidence suspect. US forces searched the compound 4 days after the airstrike and found only 18 new graves. confirming the satellite imagery.

I refuse to accept the UN as an authority on anything as their anti-US bias stains any claim of fair treatment.

However, coalition officials said Afghan and coalition troops called in the airstrike as they embarked on a raid to arrest a Taliban commander in Shindand. The coalition investigation found that U.S. and Afghan forces began taking fire from Taliban militants as the forces approached the target in the early hours of August 22........

"The intensity of the enemy fire justified use of well-aimed small-arms fire and close-air support to defend the combined force," the coalition said in a statement released shortly after the strike. "The type and application of fires were used in accordance with existing rules of engagement."

A U.S. military official, who declined to be named because the investigation is ongoing, cast doubt on reports that the strike killed civilians gathered in a room, reciting Quranic verses at 1 a.m.

Regarding reports that most of the 90 deaths were children, the official said there were not 50 children in the entire village.

It is possible that if there were somehow this many kids in one area, that they were gathered because their fathers were gathering to slaughter infidels.

The airstrike was on a legitimate target, he said, noting that coalition forces found a weapons cache -- including AK-47s, 4,000 rounds of ammunition and bomb-making materials -- as well as thousands of dollars in U.S. currency.

Investigators also discovered "firm evidence" that militants had planned to attack a nearby coalition base, the coalition statement said. The airstrike disrupted the militats' plan, the statement said.

The investigating officer interviewed more than 30 people, both Afghan and American, the statement said. He also viewed video taken during the engagement, topographic photos of the area before and after, reports from ground and air personnel involved, reports from local medical clinics and hospitals, intelligence reports, and physical data and photographs collected on the site.

It is possible that the persons taking the cell phone footage manipulated the scene as was done at Haditha, or even that the number of children killed is correct. The main question remains who is responsible for their deaths. The answer is either the Taliban or the US and there are three possible scenarios.

First, the Taliban was invited to the compound because the villagers were sympathetic to or outright supporters of their cause. Second, The Taliban held the compound by force, and the villagers were not there by their own choice. Third there were no Taliban there and our forces were not fired upon from the compound.

Only the third instance places the blame on US forces. If they received fire from the compound then they were allowed to engage it to neutralize that threat. In both of the other two situations the Taliban bear full responsibility for the heinous act of cowering among women and children while firing at our troops. It is a craven and disgraceful act and the most likely explanation for any loss of innocent lives.

It is highly unlikely that our troops called an airstrike against an orphanage in the middle of the night for their own entertainment and the joy of slaughtering civilians. Once the Taliban made the decision to use any civilians as cover they assumed all moral and legal responsibility for the deaths of those people. The question of whether having civilians die while in the company of gutless scum like these helps our overall cause of winning the populace to our side is a separate issue that I would like to discuss and hear some opinions on.

The news stories conspicuously fail to attach any blame to the bastards who got their families or someone else's killed, but their is no doubt about culpability. I have also stated my personal belief that the direct family members of terror groups should be considered combatants in the same way our support forces are. A Talibani wife feeds and waters the animals who slaughter innocents on purpose and in that role she is as vital to their operations as the terrorists themselves. As far as children, that is a much tougher call. What age are you willing to put as the minimum where we can put a bullet in the head of a junior Talib. They begin military activities at the age of 10 or 12, so spare me outrage at boys dying next to their brothers, fathers and cousins in terror.

The deaths of children below military age is horrifying and we have always done all we can to avoid their involvement and endangerment, but we didn't put them in danger the murderous, religious fanatics did. We cannot be expected to sacrifice the lives of our troops who we value dearly if the enemy values their families not at all.