US Admiral Defends Night Raids in Afghanistan

Only About One Percent of Raids Led to Civilian Casualties, McRaven Claims

by Jason Ditz, December 11, 2011

In comments aimed at defending the long-standing US policy of launching night raids on civilian homes in Afghanistan, US Special Operations commander Admiral McRaven shrugged off Afghan government complaints, insisting the policy is very valuable.

McRaven claimed that a surprisingly large number of the night raids ended without firing a shot, though he did not indicate how often they actually ended with capturing someone they intended to capture. He also claimed only about one percent of the raids ended in civilian casualties, which he apparently thought was a selling point.

Of course those figures could be disputed based on the definition of “civilian,” since several incidents of deaths in night raids have ended with NATO terming them “suspects” and promising investigations, which rarely end with conclusive results.

The issue of night raids has been a particular hot-button issue in Afghanistan, where the notion of foreign occupation forces storming into houses unannounced in the middle of the night and dragging everyone off in chains is considered somewhat taboo. The Loya Jirga, which was summoned by President Karzai to rubber stamp the US occupation through at least 2024, sought to predicate its continuation on the end of the night raids, but it does not appear that the US refusal to stop raiding will necessarily mean anything to the efforts at keeping the decade-long occupation open-ended.

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