The U.S. recently assured Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai that Gen. David Petraeus would pursue the policies of his ousted predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

Karzai praised McChrystal for reducing civilian casualties.

Afghan leaders and some U.S. allies in the war worried that McChrystal’s firing could disrupt the counterinsurgency strategy at a critical juncture in the war. But they were relieved when President Obama chose Petraeus, McChrystal’s boss who helped author the plan, to replace him.

It was a year ago that McChrystal imposed new restrictions on how to fight the enemy. The rules are credited for reducing the number of civilian deaths and helped win McChrystal the trust of many Afghans.

Some perceive the rules as too restrictive and believe they cost American lives, forcing soldiers to give up the advantage of overwhelming firepower to a foe who shoots and hides in the civilian population.

The rules don’t prevent U.S. troops from calling in air support. But the emphasis is on caution, and officers fear career damage if they mistakenly call for air or heavy weapons support and kill civilians in the process.

We said in an editorial earlier last month we support the use of drones to help reduce both civilians and U.S. soldiers.

War isn’t easy. The way the Taliban fights it makes a hard task nearly impossible.

It is a shame some civilians are dying. It is a shame U.S. soldiers are dying, too.

 

— The Muskogee Pheonix

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