(TIME.com) — Having taken over command of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus is thinking of easing restrictions imposed by his predecessor on when and how American troops can attack suspected enemy fighters. But a new, independent study from the non-profit National Bureau of Economic Research finds that the restraints like those put in place by the recently fired General Stanley McChrystal actually resulted in a decrease in insurgent attacks.
Soldiers in Afghanistan have grumbled for months that curbs on their firepower ordered by McChrystal last summer have emboldened the Taliban and put U.S. troops at greater risk. Those rules of engagement bar allied air and mortar strikes on houses unless allied troops are in immediate danger. "His rules of engagement put soldiers' lives in even greater danger," one soldier privately told Rolling Stone in the article that got McChrystal fired last month. "Every real soldier will tell you the same thing." Petraeus, in his Senate confirmation hearing after being tapped to succeed McChrystal, told the Armed Services Committee he is "keenly aware of concerns by some of our troopers on the ground about the application of our rules of engagement" and that he plans to "look very hard at this issue."