Pulling back on drone attacks
When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell — but he won’t even go to the cave where he lives.
Newsweek reports that we have finally reached the expiration date on hunting down and killing the animals who are waging war on us:
One person standing in the way of expanded missile strikes: President Obama. Five administration officials tell NEWSWEEK that the president has sided with political and diplomatic advisers who argue that widening the scope of the drone attacks would be risky and unwise. Obama is concerned that firing missiles into urban areas like Quetta, where intelligence reports suggest that Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and other high-level militants have sometimes taken shelter, would greatly increase the risk of civilian casualties. It would also draw protests from Pakistani politicians and military leaders, who have been largely quiet about the drone attacks as long as they've been confined to the country's out-of-sight border region. The White House has been encouraged by Pakistan's own recent military efforts to root out militants along the Afghan border, and it does not want to jeopardize that cooperation.
Now I'm not heartless here, but the fever-swamp/antiwar kooks on the Left have to wake up and get a clue.
In war, civilian casualties will happen. There's no way to 100%, absolutely avoid such casualties. It happens, and while it's deplorable there's no reason to institute rules of engagement that put our soldiers at risk. Right now they do live in great danger thanks to those RoEs that is making life not only difficult, but nearly impossible to accomplish the mission at hand.
They're not allowed to engage the enemy unless they can guarantee that no civilians are in the crossfire. That's virtually impossible in Afghanistan; almost as much as it was in Iraq. Tying our soldier's hands so they can't operate effectively isn't the right idea.
Nor is it the right idea to end the drone strikes. They have been more than effective in that area, and it allows us to take the fight to the Taliban elements that sit just over the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Just last week we were able to take out a Taliban commander in one such attack, and a rather high-level one at that. (Saleh al-Somali was a senior al Qaeda operations officer that had previously been targeted by drone operators just weeks before the 11th, which is when he reached room temperature.)
Drone attacks are effective for two reasons. First, they're already up in the air should we engage the enemy, and our soldiers are taking more heat than they can afford. When that happens, they can call in the drones. Two, the drones are rather quiet so it's not like we're tipping our hand when we move in with a strike on targets in Waziristan. Literally, the Taliban/AQ targets never know what hit them when we do a drone attack. THAT makes them extremely effective provided our intel is correct, and we get a big fish in our sights.
The fecklessness from Barry is irritating. Either he is going to fight to win this war, or he should pull our soldiers out. There's no reason for them to be fodder for the Taliban. It's clear to us that he isn't being serious about Afghanistan. That's evident in the tightened RoEs, only sending 30,000 troops instead of the 60-80 thousand that General McChrystal requested, and now we have the wavering on the drone issue. It seems to us he's not as serious about this theater of operations as our soldiers are, and if he's not going to take this seriously then it's time to bring our troops home.