Afghan Commander Blames Air Strike Ban for High Troop Casualties

Taliban Defeated, Captured Troops in Badakhshan

An unnamed Afghan military commander is being quoted as blaming a Karzai government ban on NATO air strikes in populated areas for the high death count in a recent Badakhshan clash, in which troops were routed and captured by Taliban fighters.

The commander claimed that he contacted NATO mid-battle and was rebuffed, with NATO citing the Karzai government’s ban on air strikes. The troops were eventually captured by the Taliban, with a large number of them later executed.

NATO hasn’t comment on the incident, but with air strikes still going on elsewhere in the country, it is unclear if they are perceiving it as a specific ban on aiding Afghan forces, or if there were other factors in this particular case.

The ban on requesting air support in populated areas was put into place because of the massive number of civilians that have been killed in the name of “close air support,” it may be reasonable to ask, if indeed this was a populated area, whether it isn’t reasonable for the combatants to take additional risks instead of putting civilian lives further in danger.

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.