US Defence Secretary Robert Gates hit a raw nerve recently when he criticized NATO nations as being ill-suited to the counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan. He said we were just way too reliant on airpower and heavy weaponry which led to unnecessary civilian casualties.
There's some truth in what he says. We have been more than a little too free with airstrikes but, as the American forces - in Afghanistan and Iraq - continunally show us, when it comes to being trigger happy, they're still Number One.
Just yesterday, American forces operating in a town south of Kabul managed to mistakenly kill 9 Afghan policeman plus one civilian. The US forces were searching homes on the outskirts of town and used explosives to blast open a gate. The Afghan police, hearing the explosion, thought it must be the work of the Taliban and rushed to the scene.
As the police approached, the Americans thought they were Taliban and gunned them down. They even used air power to attack a police vehicle.
The American commander says as far as he's concerned the victims were insurgents and claimed to have no information on whether they were Afghan police. The incident occured at around 3 a.m.