In Cutting Airstrikes, Karzai Could 'Hamstring' Troops

Pakistan office bombing kills 5

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 18, 2013 9:54 AM CST

(Newser) – Afghanistan's president wants his country's security forces to stop asking foreign troops to launch airstrikes in residential areas—and that could leave Hamid Karzai's forces floundering, the Los Angeles Times reports. The commander of US-led forces there maintains that "there are other ways we can support the Afghan forces besides aviation," perhaps via ground artillery systems. But the Times notes that the Afghan security units have no air power of their own with which to fight the Taliban; further, it asserts that the majority of those units are not "capable of operating without coalition support."

And some analysts are concerned that agreeing to the plan could be dangerous, particularly with the warmer months coming. "It could provide ground for the insurgency to increase their areas of operations," says a Kabul-based military analyst. Meanwhile, NATO forces today announced that they last week killed a former Afghan soldier who'd turned insurgent and killed an American soldier during a May 11 insider attack, the AP reports. A raid in Kunar province killed the man, known as Mahmood, and an accomplice.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai adjusts his hat as he speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.   (AP Photo/Ahmad Jamshid)
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