top of page

General McChrystal Reduces Civilian Deaths, Takes More Responsibility

A recent NATO airstrike has claimed the lives of 27 civilians, including woman and children. Immediately after reports surfaced that civilians had been involved an official military inquiry was commenced, General McChrystal visited Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to personally apologize, and a recorded apologies in Dari and Pashto were distributed. In the last eleven days six other formal apologies have been issued, including another directly from McChrystal. Although the recent abundance of apologies may appear to indicate increasing faults by NATO commanders and forces, the opposite is actually true. In fact, although NATO troops are now responsible for 25% of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, this number is down from 39% last year. This is partially a result in a change in strategy – NATO forces must now wait 72 hours to establish a “pattern of life” before they can call in an airstrike on a house suspected of harboring insurgents. The increasing number of apologies also represent McChrystal’s acknowledgment that the hearts and minds of civilians need to be won in order to achieve what the military would consider a victory in Afghanistan. Erica Gaston of the Kabul for Open Society Institute has stated that “McChrystal is not only willing to go to the site afterward and make apologies but also to follow that up by making changes to tactical restrictions to prevent similar incidents from occurring.”


bottom of page