Petraeus Ushers in Dramatic Increase in Afghan Air Strikes

700 Separate Attack Missions in September Alone

The US air war in Afghanistan is on the rise again following the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. His replacement, Gen. David Petraeus, has dramatically escalated the number of air strikes being launched across the nation.

Indeed, the year over year strikes were almost triple the number from last year for the month of September. Reports show NATO warplanes launched 700 separate attack missions across Afghanistan in September, compared to 257 last year.

McChrystal had dramatically curbed the use of air strikes as part of a not-entirely-successful effort to reduce civilian killings. Though Petraeus has yet to revise the Rules of Engagement, he has made a priority to undo a number of those restrictions, citing damage to troop morale.

Petraeus had been a major proponent of air strikes in Iraq despite the danger to the civilian population, and given that his entire strategy seems to be to shoehorn Iraq into Afghanistan wherever possible (and in many cases where it isn’t possible) it is perhaps unsurprising to see the increase in attacks, and the growing number of resultant civilian casualties in Petraeus’ Afghanistan.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.