Hot on the heels of releasing its report admitted that it “maybe” killed 86 civilians in a series of air strikes against villages in the Farah Province, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the recently appointed new commander of US forces in Afghanistan, is poised to issue a sweeping new change to the rules of engagement.
According to officials, Gen. McChrystal will order all international forces in Afghanistan to stop starting fights with militants near the homes of Afghan civilians. The troops will still be allowed to return fire if they are “in imminent danger,” but the preferred option will be to withdraw from the area.
The enormous civilian toll caused by the international forces has been a source of considerable strain with the Afghan populace. US troops have regularly conducted raids against homes suspected of containing militants across the nation. The rule change appears aimed at changing this trend.
The Farah report however, insists that the toll was caused primarily because the forces on the ground ignored the rules of engagement already in place at the time. They did so with impunity. Given how little the rules appear to matter, it remains to be seen if the latest change, dramatic though it may be, will actually have any impact.