Friday, August 29, 2008

US Side of Afghan Airstrike Controversy

The US refuted Afghan claims that a US Air Strike killed 90 civilians.

Just to give you some background on this, last week, US special forces (US SF) a long with Afghan Army (AA) forces engaged Taliban fighters, to include a Taliban commander, Mullah Sadiq. The combined Afghan and US forces conducted a raid on a compound and when they began taking heavy small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire from the compound they called in an air strike. Prior to the strike, women and children fled the compound from a rear entrance. The compound was hit, and 25 militants including Sadiq were reported killed, five civilians were also killed (two women and three children). US SF and AA forces then entered the compound and found a woman and child who were wounded and they air lifted them to a US hospital for treatment. The scene was video taped and photographed by Combat Camera to help confirm targets and to, probably little did they know, provide defense for their actions.

Local Afghan leaders reported that 75 civilians had been killed in an air strike on a village and that most, if not all killed were women and children. US spokespeople denied this based upon the reports given by the US SF who had entered the compound immediately after the attack.

Afghanistan's leader came out and denounced the attack. The number of killed went from 75 to 90.

Then Kharzi fires a couple of his military commanders over this.

Then the number killed went to 95.

Now, I do realize that people can die later from wounds. However, the initial reports of the numbers killed and the gender and age of those killed does not match the after action observation and photographic evidence taken by combat camera.

To top it off, the UN sent an investigator in and they found 'convincing evidence' regarding the the numbers killed. How, I'm not really sure since it seems that all the UN investigators did was talk to people. Convincing evidence in my book is you have 95 bodies.

A U. S. military official said the US military can not find the evidence evidence supporting what the Afghan government is accusing them of. In fact, all the evidence the US military points to the contrary. The US military is going from aerial photographs taken from an unmanned aircraft that was flying above during the operation; I'm sure they also have video taken by the KC 130, the photos taken by combat camera immediately following the operation, the additional post operation evidence that there are no signs of a large number of recently dug graves and that there were no injuries reported at local hospitals.

Now, I also want to point out that the Afghanis say the villagers were gathered not for some militant planning session, but for a memorial service for a person killed last year. Interesting as this raid occurred around 1 a.m. (yes that would be 0dark100 in the morning). Since when do villages have midnight memorial services? And if this was the case, why would they be firing at US SF and the Afghan military with small arms and RPGs? In addition to this, from what I know of the US military and close ground support, when they call air strikes in, there is a person on the ground that can confirm the targets and they are talking directly with the pilots of the aircraft. In addition to this, I've seen the video recordings taken by the aircraft from other missions (all open source, I don't have access to classified stuff like this) so I have an idea of what the pilots see and the fact that so many woman and children would be killed just seemed odd.

This is a link to a video of a KC 130 air strike on a compound in Afghanistan (not the one in this controversial attack). When you watch, notice the chatter between the ground controller (he's the guy on the ground with close visual contact with the target) and the pilot. The pilot does not fire unless he's told to, he's given the 'lay of the land' as far as what is an o.k. target and the ground controller reminds him several times to not hit the mosque. They even stop engaging (stop shooting) at an insurgent when he runs for and into the mosque.

Why isn't the press asking the questions I've just asked above? This just frustrates me that the Taliban sensationalizes stuff and makes the US look like cold blooded killers. Why are people more apt to believe the Taliban over the US military and Afghan military that were there, on the ground? What evidence did the UN get, do they have bodies? Do they have graves? Or are they just taking the word of villagers. A lot of people will say things if someone threatens to kill them.

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