Australian special forces serving under NATO command in Afghanistan took part in a night time gun battle yesterday that bagged just one Taliban fighter but killed and wounded nine or ten Afghan civilians.
In all, five children were killed, at least two children and two adults were wounded and one insurgent was also killed in the raid in Oruzgan province where Australian and Dutch troops operate.
It appears to be the standard story. The Australians were conducting a series of night time raids. Taliban fighters opened up, the Australians responded and, when the dust settled, there was mainly a bunch of dead and wounded Afghans - most of them children - to show for it.
Okay, time to refer to FM3-24, the U.S. Army's new counterinsurgency field manual, pages 47-51, chapter entitled "The Paradoxes of Counterinsurgency Operations":
"Sometimes doing nothing is the best reaction"
"Often insurgents carry out a terrorist act or guerrilla raid with the primary purpose of enticing counterinsurgents to overreact, or at least to react in a way that insurgents can exploit—for example, opening fire on a crowd or executing a clearing operation that creates more enemies than it takes off the streets. If an assessment of the effects of a course of action determines that more negative than positive effects may result, an alternative should be considered—potentially including not acting."
C'mon people, this is a no-brainer. The insurgents opened fire on you to goad you into slaughtering civilians. It worked. They won, you lost. Can you possibly be any dumber? They're already winning this war, why do you insist on making that easier for them?
Jeebus, it's right there in the book. It's in the damned book! Hell, it's right in every respected and informed book on this subject written by everyone from T.E. Lawrence, to Guevera and Giap.
You're Australians and special forces at that. You spent years learning these lessons in Vietnam. You know better.
If we're going to insist on losing this war, why don't we just leave and spare the civilians?