February 22nd, 2010
10:25 AM ET

Head of U.S. forces apologizes for civilian deaths

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has expressed regret after a NATO airstrike killed more than two dozen civilians. Ground forces at the scene found women and children among the casualties, the Afghan government and NATO's International Security Assistance Force said in a joint statement.  FULL STORY

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. a us marine

    daniel,you were probaly just like every other american on 911 calling for our govt to respond to what happened that day,well we are,now your complaining.what about all the inocent people who died that day.you dont think bin laden and his henchman were smiling that day.with war comes collateral damage which is regretable.god bless all the troops.

    February 25, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Daniel

    Here I see General Stanley McChrystal say how sorry he is about the"accidental"killing of Afghan civilians While crying on the outside but laughing on the inside,he really made a show of it without meaning a word of it.Anything just to keep him and his henchmen from looking as bad as they are.

    February 24, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. A. Smith, Oregon

    With Airpower and ambushes in place with typical rules of engagement, foot soldiers would leave a opening in the defense parameter for the enemy combatants to escape too. The foot soldiers would act as hounds, driving the enemy into mistakenly entering a gauntlet of force where they would be directly engaged and destroyed.

    However, the NATO directive on the rules of engagement in this battle expressly state the combatants must be armed if engaged. Expecting or even telling the residents to remain indoors as bullets easily penetrate both of their walls is totally unrealistic.

    Under the NATO directive and the standing orders of non-engagement of non-combatants, the ambush on a caravan of civilians fleeing the fighting should never have occurred. I've read the white wash on this disaster, in time the truth on how this foobar occurred will come out. If troops disregard the rules of engagement and their standing orders they sworn to uphold, they need to be held fully accountable for doing that.

    What the pundits do not know nor understand is that additional Afghans who were previously neutral will pick up arms against the US military, decide to plant IEDs and soldiers that would not have been targeted will die as a result of this foobar. What is unknown is how many additional soldiers will be killed as a result of the outrage this civilian slaughter will cause.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jean

    To the Marine and Soldiers;

    Thank You! You guys have my full support and prayers. Stay Safe!

    February 23, 2010 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Deployed Service Member

    A. Smith, are you privy to information regarding this incident that the general public isn’t? It certainly sounds like you were present with comments like; "The caravan was clearly traveling AWAY from the fighting" and "NONE of these women and children had any weapons whatsoever!” and lastly “NONE of these women and children could even remotely be considered to be a threat, they had no weapons, they fired no weapons”. Where did you get your information, CNN or another major news outlet? Good for you, I too can regurgitate information that I read, well done.

    The truth of the matter is you don't know the circumstances and full details regarding this incident and shouldn't be so quick to condemn Coalition Forces and their tactics. The Rules of Engagement do apply, always, and are strictly adhered to especially when conducting an airstrike. Certain conditions must be met to employ weapons on a target. More times than not, airstrikes are called off due to even the most remote possibility of collateral damage, and this sir is firsthand knowledge.

    The Taliban uses guerilla tactics to conduct their insurgency, and these tactics many times involve surrounding themselves with the civilian population when engaging Coalition Forces. When our forces come in hostile contact they engage the enemy, the civilians sometimes get killed due to proximity. This is the exactly the outcome the insurgents are looking for, a very effective technique used to sway civilian opinion both in Afghanistan and America. A. Smith you may have been used…

    I too was not present during this incident, but would certainly air on the side of caution when making assumptions regarding the tactics Coalition Forces use. I also understand that humans can certainly make human mistakes and while unfortunate, mistakes can and do happen, especially in WAR. So please the next time you regurgitate information you read, take a few sips from your Starbucks coffee, check your Blackberry then remember that you weren’t there.

    February 23, 2010 at 5:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. 82 ABN DIV Soldier

    Karen Very Prout Marine Mom, well said!

    A Smith and Alan seem to be what we in the field call "couch commanders;" those who sit safely behind PCs in their homes or work areas while myself and my brothers/sisters in arms are out here in the dirt and cold in AFG, no couch to sit on, no way to waddle to the toilet or kitchen in our pjs, with strict adherence to the modified ROEs watching our team members get shot from buildings occupied by AAF and who use civilians as human shields and are unable to call in close air or a fire mission. These couch commanders are do not feel the stress of a shoot/no shoot situation but are quick to criticize our servicemembers.

    February 23, 2010 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Pinoy

    Do not ever use an air strike without the verfication from the ground troops.Air strike is good if you had confirmed intel that convoy is all talibans.But considering the combat situation,this is not advisable.If I am a taliban commander,I will travel with the civilians to survive.Taliban knows this,but the pilots are naive on this combat situation. Change the ROE for the air force.

    February 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Karen Very Proud Marine Mom

    Hey A Smith and Alan I can not believe to my Son is fighting for your right to talk all this bull. Let's not forget that the civilians were warned ahead of time to either leave the area or stay in their houses. Don't get me wrong, I fell very bad about the death of these civilians but what about the men that we have lost. Or does that not matter. And just for the record Alan...nobody is asking you to support the war....but please support the men and women over there fighting this war. To US Marine...thanks for your service....
    there is a saying that goes...If you can't stand behind our military, please stand in front of them.

    February 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aajab

    Why so much Afghan casualties in this war on terror? why Nato and American troops dont care about Afghan civilians it is shame on Nato after bombing civilians and saying we are so sorry and paying some money to their families . it is so sad news to hear that.

    February 22, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. a us marine

    to a.smith,have you ever been in combat,if you havent,maybe you should so you can see what its like for the brave soldiers and marines on a daily basis.dont knock them,they are fighting so you can have the freedom to write your comments.

    February 22, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alan

    Today, I went to the coffee shop and at the cashier the was a message saying "Donate to our troops". And I said "Sorry, they just took 27 innocent lives today and 12 other lives earlier, I cannot donate"... Sometimes it makes me think that we cannot go out of Afghanistan, because we destroyed the country and certainly that talibans want revenge...

    February 22, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. A. Smith, Oregon

    This army white wash excuse is simply pathetic. The white wash excuse for the bombing of a caravan of civilians fleeing the war is supposedly someone thought they were Taliban fighters going TO engage American and Allied Soldiers.

    That's total BS! The caravan was clearly traveling AWAY from the fighting. And if American's here at home believe soldiers are handcuffed by the supposed DO NOT ENGAGE anyone that is not firing a weapon nor armed with a weapon, this caravan should NEVER had been bombed nor targeted. NONE of these women and children had any weapons whatsoever!

    Yes, tragic events like this happen in wars. Given the supposed NATO rules of engagement, this should never had occurred period. NONE of these women and children could even remotely be considered to be a threat, they had no weapons, they fired no weapons.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ana Li44

    This event, following so many others recently, makes me think: does it occur to the army that Taliban/Al Qaeda are feeding them false information so that our boys WILL target civilians by mistake!! It occurs to me.

    February 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    We have no business apologizing for this accident. Yes I’m sorry incident lives were taken (if in fact they were incident), however, the truth probably is that they were traveling with the Taliban or hiding them. How come we don't see the Afagan government and the rest of the world condemning the muslin world when they kill truly incident women and children at a market during lunchtime or girl’s school? The fact of life is incident people die when you are at war. Can you imagine all this media attention during the invasion at Normandy? How about anyplace during WW II? We are providing just too much military information to the world on troop movements, planned attacks, etc. It should be secret!

    February 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. kevin

    And what use is an apology? You cannot fight a guerilla war from the air It is a door to door house to house conflict Not some dude sat in a control room flying a drone This is the perfect way to alienate the population and we are doiung a good job of it Remeber we have watches The taliban have time

    February 22, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |