December 17th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

New guidelines for night raids in Afghanistan

Coalition troops in Afghanistan have been issued revised guidelines for conducting night raids, an official from NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Friday.

The raids are considered effective tools to rout insurgents, but they have angered Afghan civilians and government officials.

The new directive is meant to underscore the need to coordinate raids with the Afghan government and inform civilians about the reasons for the operation, the ISAF official said.

The guidelines stem from the repeated concerns of President Hamid Karzai. Such raids have been considered major intrusions into Afghan lives.

The new directive underscores the "importance of prior coordination with the Afghan government," the source said.

"The Afghan government has long had input into operations, but they have expanded the coordination in recent months through the establishment of a command center located within the Presidential Palace grounds in Kabul," the source said. Family and village elders need to know where they can get
information about detained people and there must be accurate accounting for
items seized in night raids.

"Under the previous night raid directive, Afghans military officials were involved in the coordination and approval of night raids, but Gen. David Petraeus has made clear that his intent is to have night raids conducted with
even greater care and preparation throughout the country," the source said, referring to the top coalition military official in Afghanistan.

The source said it has been policy to have the participation of Afghan troops as the norm. Afghan forces have been the first to enter a compound or residence.

"Whenever possible, Afghan forces conduct the callout with a loudspeaker in either Dari or Pashtu in an attempt to capture targeted individuals without violence. These efforts have been very successful - the overwhelming majority of these operations (80+ % of the time recently) are conducted with no shots
fired," the source said.

The source said all of the measures have been devised "to reduce the possibility of unnecessary violence, create more transparency, and minimize the impact on people who are not involved in insurgent activity."

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