by Conor Friedersdorf
And it's heating up:
In the first 29 days of January 2011, NATO planes fired their guns, missiles, and bombs on 284 separate sorties. In January 2010, those aircraft only made 157 attack runs. This doubling of air attacks has been a consistent trend, ever since Petraeus took over the Afghan war effort. Under Petraeus, there have been 3,620 of these so-called “weapons sorties” over the last six months, U.S. military statistics show. Under his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, there were just 1,813 during a similar stretch.
Petraeus hasn’t just ramped up the air war, however. He’s increased the aggressive tactics across the entire Afghan war effort. Petraeus unleashed special operations forces, who have killed or captured thousands of militants. His generals relied on massive surface-to-surface missiles to clear the Taliban out of Kandahar, and ordered tanks to help crush opponents in Helmand province. In perhaps the signature moment of Petraeus’ campaign, U.S. forces flattened three villages in the Arghandab River Valley which the Taliban had jury-rigged with homemade bombs.
The US and The Taliban are both expected to launch major offensives this spring.