Picking the Killers from the Kids

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During a Pentagon briefing yesterday, the Joint Chiefs head of regional operations, BGEN Perry Wiggins, deconstructed a recent operation to take out Taliban fighters hiding among children.

The explanation comes as the military takes fire from the Afghan government on civilians killed in the crossfire between coalition troops and Talib holdouts.

And its also interesting to note, the detailed description of the Special Forces troops avoidance of friendly fire comes in sharp contrast to the Armys condemnation of the Marine Corps commandos who were booted from Afghanistan after their response to a roadside ambush killed civilians in the crossfire in March.

BGEN Wiggins:

I'm sure all you know, there's been a lot of recent coverage about civilian casualties associated with the counterinsurgency operations against the Taliban. Here's an illustration of how we actually operate against the barbaric enemy that we face in the Afghanistan theater, and shows the restraint and precision exercised by our forces with respect to the civilian populace.

On May 8th and into May 9th, a combined patrol of U.S. Special Forces and Afghan national army forces killed over 150 Taliban fighters in an engagement north of Sangin, in Helmand province of Afghan's southern province. This enemy contact was in support of NATO's international security force, Operations Achilles. During the fight, U.S. forces initially encountered high-capable Taliban in the Sangin valley, who pursued our units in an effort to seize an offensive advantage. Our forces repelled the initial Taliban assault and, using terrain and close air support, engaged the enemy with devastating effect.

During this engagement in Sangin, intelligence indicated there was a major or a senior Taliban commander for Helmand province at a particular target compound.Singan-slide1-web.jpg

What you see here is an actual snapshot from the full-motion video asset, which was able to confirm the presence of 10 to 20 Taliban, circled in green, at this target compound.Singan-slide2-web.jpg

Through the same -- through the use of the same full-motion video asset, children, circled in red on the slide, were identified near the objective. Consequently, U.S. Special Forces did not engage the target compound, due to the risk of harm to civilians. This is an example of the care taken to prevent civilian casualties and mitigate risk to them amid a long and intense battle with the enemy.

It was learned after this engagement that the Taliban fighters were taking refuge among local villagers, using them as human shields. This angered the Sangin tribal leaders, who blamed the Taliban for deliberately involving civilians and bringing the fight to the area. In response, the local elders mobilized an anti-Taliban militia that reportedly killed three Taliban leaders and captured 15 Taliban fighters.

-- Christian

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