Small Wars Journal

Death From Above, Outrage Down Below (Updated)

Death From Above, Outrage Down Below - David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum, New York Times opinion.

In recent days, the Pentagon has made two major changes in its strategy to defeat the Taliban, Al Qaeda and their affiliates in Afghanistan and Pakistan. First came the announcement that Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal would take over as the top United States commander in Afghanistan. Next, Pentagon officials said that the United States was giving Pakistan more information on its drone attacks on terrorist targets, while news reports indicated that Pakistani officers would have significant future control over drone routes, targets and decisions to fire weapons (though the military has denied that).

While we agree with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that fresh eyes were needed" to review our military strategy in the region, we feel that expanding or even just continuing the drone war is a mistake. In fact, it would be in our best interests, and those of the Pakistani people, to declare a moratorium on drone strikes into Pakistan...

The appeal of drone attacks for policy makers is clear. For one thing, their effects are measurable. Military commanders and intelligence officials point out that drone attacks have disrupted terrorist networks in Pakistan, killing key leaders and hampering operations. Drone attacks create a sense of insecurity among militants and constrain their interactions with suspected informers. And, because they kill remotely, drone strikes avoid American casualties.

But on balance, the costs outweigh these benefits for three reasons...

Much more at The New York Times.


Jules Crittenden on Death From Above

Andrew Exum on Killing Civilians Remains Bad

Noah Shachtman on Calls for 'Moratorium' Hit New York Times

Spencer Ackerman on Stop The Drones

Andrew Sullivan on The Trouble With Predators


Has COIN just been thrown out the window in Afghanistan? Because COIN is more difficult there, It turned into wacka-mole. Has nothing been learned from vietnam, and the Soviet's occupation? Even if a drone kills a bad guy, the local village may not be safer, nor for that fact, is our country. Remember that the mission there is viewed through the eyes of Afghans, and the statistics of body counts mean nothing to them. They just want safety. Hopefully Gen. McChrystal will remember that