New figures released by NATO reveal a dramatic increase in the number of US commando raids across Afghanistan since the ouster of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who served as commander of the war in 2009 and early 2010 before being replaced by now-CIA Chief David Petraeus.
In 2009, NATO launched a total of 675 raids, while in 2010, which included Petraeus’ takeover and backtracking on McChrystal’s efforts to reduce civilian tolls, the entire year saw 1,780 raids. Already this year, the number is 1,879.
NATO spokesmen praised the use of such raids, saying that “even if the primary target is not killed or captured on these missions 35% of those times the next closest associate or another individual directly linked to the target is killed or captured.”
Of course “another individual directly linked to” isn’t necessarily a guilty individual, and NATO’s night raids have been hugely unpopular for their tendency to raid seemingly random houses and kill innocent civilians. In one raid, US troops actually attacked the home of a member of parliament, killing a relative of hers.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly demanded that the US end the policy of night raids against civilian homes, something which NATO officials have rejected, insisting that the UN mandate allows them to launch whichever attacks they want without Afghan government permission.