What Manpower Gets You

There's some understandable skepticism about the idea that sending more troops to Afghanistan is the right way to go, but stories like this one about how a newfound desire to avoid civilian casualties is curbing the use of airstrikes over there highlights why additional troops might be useful. Fewer civilian casualties is a good thing on its own terms, and it's strategically smart to boot. And to reduce civilian casualties you do need to reduce airstrikes.

But commanders don't ask for air support for no reason, they do it because firepower is useful. Troops on the ground can, however, provide firepower with a great deal more precision and discretion, sparing civilian lives and keeping the population on the side of our efforts.