Germany’s Chancellor Merkel expressed regrets for 6 accidental friendly fire deaths of Afghan soldiers to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday March 3rd. http://www.google.com/hostedne…
So does Nato Brigadier General Eric Tremblay
Issuing an apology, NATO Brigadier General Eric Tremblay said: “We regret this tragic loss of life. We will try and strive to improve our tactics, techniques and procedures.”
Germany, The Local
Earlier Friday April 2
Earlier Friday, three German soldiers were killed and eight were injured – four seriously – when the Taliban ambushed a patrol in the worst firefight the Bundeswehr has seen in its nearly eight years in the war-torn country.
According to Brigadier Frank Leidenberger, the commander of the international ISAF forces in northern Afghanistan, the patrol was attacked by about 100 Taliban insurgents as it removed mines planted in the road in the dangerous district of Chahar Dara, near the Bundeswehr’s Kunduz base.
Other reports said up to 200 Taliban fighters had been involved in the ambush and had used rocket-propelled grenades among other weapons.
The deaths of the German soldiers bring to 39 the total number of Germans killed since the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2002. They have caused shock and dismay in Germany.
There are currently 4000 troops from Germany in Afghanistan, many in the northern, more peaceful area, with 850 more to be sent soon.
Later Friday April 2
German soldiers in an armoured personnel carrier opened fire after coming across two civilian vehicles that refused to stop. Soon after, it was discovered the vehicles were carrying Afghan troops.
“Yesterday, after a military operation which took place in the Char Dara district of Kunduz province, Afghan national army troops were distributing food near the German troops when German troops opened fire,” said Afghan defence ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.
“In this incident six Afghan soldiers were killed. The defence ministry have already condemned the incident,” he said.
America, Boston Globe
2 days later
The friendly fire shooting Friday took place in northern Kunduz Province, where German forces were sharply criticized last September (2009) when they ordered an air strike on two tanker trucks that had been captured by the Taliban. Up to 142 people died, many of them civilians.
Speaking during a visit to South Africa, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg expressed sorrow over the friendly fire deaths and said German soldiers were doing everything possible to avoid such incidents.
The September 4th airstrike may have been called in by the Germans, but it was carried out by a United States warplane.
Chancellor Merkel expressed regret and took responsibility for that incident in December, and it resulted in a cabinet resignation. http://af.reuters.com/article/…
Canada- Families of the fallen mourn at Kandahar
The families of nine Canadian soldiers killed in combat over the past four years in Afghanistan made an Easter remembrance pilgrimage to Kandahar Airfield, where there is a granite memorial to the 141 casualties.
Patty Braun, whose son Cpl. David Braun was died in August 2006, said she believes Canadian troops should stay in Afghanistan in some capacity until the tide has completely turned.
The trip to Kandahar was an important personal journey, she said.
“I had to come to the place where my son was last alive. And I needed to smell it. I needed to see. I needed to taste it. And I needed to hear it,” said Braun, who wore the shemagh desert scarf that belonged to him and was returned with his personal effects.
About 2,500 Canadian troops currently are based in Afghanistan, which began its deployment in October of 2001. By October 2007, the Canadian PM Harper had former deputy PM John Manley lead a study group to determine whether to stay in the country. The study, finished in January 2008, recommended the Canadians stay if NATO assigned more soldiers to Kandahar Afghanistan by Feb 2009, and that the government get them new helicopters and “high performance unmanned aerial vehicles” (drones?) for surveillance and reconnaissance. It also said that the focus must change from combat to training Afghanistani forces and on reconstruction. Canadians also do mine clearing, heavy weapons cleanup, and humanitarian microloaning for small businesses. and During the election campaign season of 2008, PM Harper said the end date where most Canadian troops would be withdrawn would be by 2011.
There have been 3 Canadian deaths in Afghanistan this year, Sgt John Faught of Ontario Jan 16th, Cpl Joshua Baker oa Alberta Feb 12, and Cpl Darren Fitzpatrick of British Columbia, on March 6th. There were 5 in Dec 2009 and 32 altogether in 2009.
U.S. General Stanley McCrystal admitted during a virtual town hall with troops, about trying to reduce checkpoint incidents:
“… We have so many escalation of force issues, and someone gets hurt in the process, and we say, ‘They didn’t respond like they were supposed to.’
Well, they may not have known how they were supposed to respond, so as they approached an area or checkpoint or whatever, they may have taken actions that seemed appropriate to them, and when a warning shot was fired they may have panicked. I think this is a great thing to do, to engage people and tell them the kind of behavior on their part that would lower the chance that they would run into problems.”
“I do want to say something that everyone understands. We really ask a lot of our young service people out on the checkpoints because there’s danger, they’re asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it. That doesn’t mean I’m criticizing the people who are executing. I’m just giving you perspective. We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”
According to the NY times on March 26, there have been 30 Afghans killed and 80 Afghans wounded at military checkpoints since last summer who were not soldiers or insurgents. The article says that is fewer in number than from airstrikes and Special Forces operations, which means that airstrikes and Special Forces must be killing even more non hostile civilian innocents ….
Failure to reduce checkpoint and convoy shootings, known in the military as “escalation of force” episodes, has emerged as a major frustration for military commanders who believe that civilian casualties deeply undermine the American and NATO campaign in Afghanistan.
Many of the detainees at the military prison at Bagram Air Base joined the insurgency after the shootings of people they knew, said the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall.
“There are stories after stories about how these people are turned into insurgents,” Sergeant Major Hall told troops during the videoconference. “Every time there is an escalation of force we are finding that innocents are being killed.”
The Afghan War has now become America’s longest lasting foreign conflict, presumably because we have not yet given every bereaved Afghan another opportunity to either become a target or use an American or NATO ally as one.