Defense Secretary Robert Gates finally became at least half-human upon offering his personal regrets for the deaths of Afghan civilians in U.S. airstrikes.
It seems that “personal regret” is deemed sufficient to exculpate the U.S military after the deaths of civilians in U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan. Defense Secretary Gates offered his hollow apologies after commanders decried a shortage of troops in the country—supposedly justifying a heavier reliance on air-based attack to avoid U.S. casualties—and promised more accurate targeting. ... Meaning the U.S. had not been targeting as accurately as it could have in the past?
The Washington Post:
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday expressed “personal regret” for recent U.S. airstrikes that killed Afghan civilians, and pledged more accurate targeting in future.
Gates’ unusual apology followed a frank assessment from the top military commander in Afghanistan: There aren’t enough U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan so the military is relying more heavily on air power, and air power runs a greater risk of civilian deaths.
After meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other senior government officials, Gates said at a news conference, “As I told them, I offer all Afghans my sincere condolences and personal regret for the recent loss of innocent life as a result of coalition airstrikes.”
Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of international forces in Afghanistan, had said earlier that the chronic shortage of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is forcing commanders to rely more on air combat. U.S. airstrikes that kill civilians have angered and embarrassed the U.S.-backed Afghan government.