General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afganistan issued new restrictions earlier on use of military force to try and prevent civilian deaths. According to him, civilian deaths only alienate the people of the country. He and other top army officials gave there assurances that air support would still be provided if soldiers were under attack, though.
This decision should be brought up during the investigation into the death of four marines. They died last week after being pinned down in the village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province. A McClatchy newspaper reporter at the site of the fight wrote that the team made repeated appeals for artillery and air support. Air support arrived an hour after the call and the artillery request was denied for fear of harming civilians.
USA Today reported last year that the army was about to hurry up and buy a new highly accurate artillery shell. These shells can go a distance of up to fourteen miles and explode within thirty feet. They’ve already been used in Iraq so presumably they’re in Afganistan. Besides, other artillery shells are reasonably accurate.
The real problem is the message this give. Terrorists aren’t stupid and they aren’t completely isolated about current events. How long before human shields become a common strategy if they learn that we’re so restrained?