Death From Above

fighter.jpg

Use of airstrikes way up in Iraq. Colin Kahl forecasts even more in the future:

"Part of this is announcing our presence to the adversary," said Kahl, who recently returned from a trip to the air operations center. "Across this calendar year you will see a reduction in U.S. forces, so there will be fewer troops to support Iraqi forces. One would expect a continued level of airstrikes because of offensive operations, and as U.S. forces begin to draw down you may see even more airstrikes."

Increased reliance on firepower as a substitute for adequate manpower strikes me as a classic COIN no-no, but Kahl seems to approve and even told USA Today last week that due to increased carefulness, the civil toll is being reduced: "You saw a lot more damage to the civilian population in 2004 than you're seeing now. Even though you have a huge uptick in offensive operations, it looks like the military is taking greater care not to harm civilians." Obviously, I hope that's right. It's my understanding, however, that the Defense Department still doesn't count civilian casualties so I don't really understand how they would know whether or not you're seeing a reduction in damage to the civilian population. In my book, the first step in "taking greater care" to avoid something is to measure what's happening.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How a Psychedelic Masterpiece Is Made

A short documentary about Bruce Riley, an artist who paints abstract wonders with poured resin

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

More in Politics

Just In