Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Afghan Journal:

Gen Petraeus turns up the heat on Pakistan, Afghanistan

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It's not just Pakistan where the United States has stepped up air raids against members of  al Qaeda and the Taliban. Last month,  U.S-led NATO planes in Afghanistan conducted 700 missions, more than twice the number for the same month the previous year. It was also one of the highest single-month totals of the nine-year Afghan War, the military-focused Danger Room blog said, citing U.S. Air Force statistics.

September was also the month when missile strikes by unmanned U.S. drone planes in northwest Pakistan hit the highest level of 20 since America launched its secret war inside Pakistan, widely seen as the main battleground of the Afghan war because of the sanctuary provided to top al Qaeda and Taliban.  And as if that was not enough, NATO helicopters from Afghanistan crossed the border on at least three occasions, triggering a firestorm  of criticism in Pakistan which closed off the supply lines to the foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Is there a pattern to this ? Has America under new commander General David Petraeus turned up the heat on Pakistan and Afghanistan  ahead of  a strategy review in December and before next July's planned beginning of a troop drawdown ?  While there have been spikes in the past, this looks like part of a creeping rise in the use of air power, which had been eschewed by former commander LieutenantGeneral Stanley McChrystal  because of the risk of  civilian casualties from the raids. NATO planes carried out 500 sorties in August, up from 405 for the same month the previous year.

Some of the rise in the use of air raids can be attributed to the surge itself - with more troops on the ground and in harm's way, you can expect  them to call in air support more often. More troops means more hard fighting as they go out and engage the enemy where previously they didn't. They will also go into areas they were earlier too stretched to enter.  All this means greater use of air power.

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