Following angry rebukes of President Hamid Karzai’s call to make the war less disruptive to civilians, the Obama Administration is said to be further escalating its air war in Afghanistan, and officials are confirming a “loosening of the reins” of the restrictions on air strikes.
Officials warned that the McChrystal rules, aimed at reducing civilian deaths, meant “some officers were exerting excessive caution, fearing career damage if civilians were mistakenly killed.” With Petraeus now in charge, concerns about killing civilians have faded.
Officials also repeated claims that the civilian death toll had dropped, despite the Pentagon having released figures only weeks ago showing that they were actually killing considerably more civilians than in 2009.
Civilian deaths have been a serious concern for the local population in Sangin District recently as well, though US officials have declined to even investigate the reports of troops killing civilians, saying they are assumed to be Taliban tricks. This suggests the official data, even if it points to an increase, is likely a considerable undercount, as a number of commanders won’t even consider evidence of a civilian death.