Deadly day for U.S. troops (NBC Nightly News, July 6, 2009) – Four U.S. troops were killed in a roadside bomb attack on U.S. military trainers in northern Afghanistan; another two were killed in an attack in the south, and one died after a firefight in the eastern part of the country. NBC’s Brian Williams reports. (00:23)
July 6, 2009
KABUL – Bombs and bullets killed seven American troops throughout Afghanistan Monday, officials said, as thousands of U.S. Marines continued with their massive anti-Taliban offensive in the south.
A suicide car bomber also blew himself up outside the gate of the main NATO base in the region, killing two civilians and wounding 14 other people. …
The seven American deaths came as thousands of U.S. Marines continued with their major offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province, a southern militant stronghold and hub of the vast Afghan drugs trade. It is the biggest U.S. military operation since the ouster of the Taliban from power in 2001.
Four U.S. soldiers died when their vehicles struck a roadside bomb in Kunduz province in the north, said Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian Naranjo, a U.S. military spokesman. The dead were training Afghan forces, Naranjo said.
Militants stepping up operations
In comparison to the country’s south and east, northern Afghanistan is relatively quiet. But roadside and other insurgent attacks have been increasing in the last few years, as the militants step up their operations.
In the south, meanwhile, another explosion killed two more American troops, Naranjo said, without providing details of the exact location of the blast.
Another American soldier died of wounds sustained during a firefight Monday with militants in the east of the country, a U.S. military spokesman said, without providing other details.
The Taliban have made a violent comeback in the last three years following their ouster from power in the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. The militants now have effective control of large chunks of the volatile south and east of the country, undermining Afghanistan’s government. …
In the southern province of Kandahar, meanwhile, a suicide car bomber blew himself up outside the outer gate of the main NATO base in the region, killing two civilians and wounding 14 other people. …
New guidelines to protect civilians
In an attempt to minimize civilian deaths in coalition military operations, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, issued new guidance to forces in Afghanistan, saying that he expects them to “scrutinize and limit” the use of airstrikes against residential compounds “and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties.”
McChrystal has said he hopes to produce a cultural shift in the military so that troops dont see the use of massive firepower as their first priority but rather the protection of Afghan civilians. McChrystal’s new guidelines went into effect last week, and officials released a declassified version Monday.
“We must avoid the trap of winning tactical victories – but suffering strategic defeats – by causing civilian casualties or excessive damage and thus alienating the people,” the new order says.
McChrystal said that the Taliban cannot defeat U.S. and NATO forces but that “we can defeat ourselves.” The directive allows soldiers to fire on residential compounds when it’s necessary for self-defense.
Civilian deaths caused by U.S. and NATO military operations have long been a source of friction between President Hamid Karzai and the West. Such deaths alienate Afghan villagers, causing a loss of support for the Afghan government and international mission. …
July 6, 2009
The U.S. military made public new guidelines Monday for international forces in Afghanistan in an effort to reduce civilian deaths:
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