F-8. The employment of air-power in the strike role should be done with exceptional care. Bombing, even with the most precise weapons, can cause unintended civilian casualties. The benefits of every air strike should be weighed against the risks, the primary danger being collateral damage that turns the population against the government and provides the insurgents with a major propaganda victory. Even when justified under the law of war, bombing a target that results in civilian casualties will bring media coverage that works to the benefit of the insurgents. A standard insurgent and terrorist tactic for decades against Israel has been to fire rockets or artillery from the vicinity of a school or village in the hope that the Israelis would carry out a retaliatory air strike that kills or wounds civilians-who are then displayed to the world media as victims of aggression. Insurgents and terrorists elsewhere have shown few qualms in provoking attacks that ensure civilian casualties if such attacks fuel anti-government and anti-U.S. propaganda. Indeed, insurgents today can be expected to use the civilian population as a cover for their activities.
F-9. Even in a clear case of taking out an insurgent headquarters or command center, care has to be taken to accomplish the mission while minimizing civilian casualties. New, precise munitions with smaller blast effects have been developed and employed to limit collateral damage. There are other means, as well. At the start of the campaign in Afghanistan in 2001, U.S. intelligence identified Taliban armored vehicles parked in built up areas. A miss, or even a direct hit, by a precision weapon would be likely to kill civilians and give the Taliban a propaganda advantage. The United States Air Force (USAF) came up with the idea of employing concrete-filled practice bombs with precision guidance against such Taliban weapons systems. If the bomb hit the target, the kinetic energy of 2,000-pounds of steel and concrete dropped from the air would assure destruction. If the bomb missed the target, it would bury itself deep in the ground with no explosion and little chance of major collateral damage. The destruction of the weapons systems was accomplished without any collateral damage that could have turned the population against the U.S. and multinational forces.
Percentage increase to date of Bombing Sorties in Iraq over 2006. Jan-Sep 2006 = 125, Sorties to date - 2007, 995. Numbers do not include Marine Corp operations in al Anbar.
Now October looks like another very low casualties month, with 33 month to date. The lowest for all of 2007. Is General Petraeus having his men hunker down and having the Air Force take over counter insurgency duties in Iraq? If so, does he really think that he can keep that up until January 2009? Because Bush is not pulling out. No matter how 'good' it gets in Iraq Little Boots will not pull out. He is much too stupid. I looked and looked in the COIN manual and didn't find the 'hide and bomb the shit out of them' strategy anywhere. Maybe my kerning was off or something.
sources: Fred Kaplan at Slate.com and Noah Shachtman at Wired's Danger Room and of course Iraq Coalition Casualties