American military leaders in Afghanistan have urged over the past few months that air strikes should not be used to deal with military action that best could be handled on the ground. This policy is designed to minimize civilian casualties and maintain good relations with Afghan civilians. A few days ago, the Taliban stole two oil tankers, which most probably were going to be used in a suicide attack. However, the t ankers got stuck in mud while trying to cross a river. The Taliban offered free oil to any local villagers and soon the area was swarming with civilians. German soldiers were stationed in this area of Afghanistan, and their commanding officer decided the stalled tankers somehow constituted a threat and called in an air strike.
The air strike resulted in the death of about 90 people, most of whom were civilians. German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, defended the air strike. He expressed regret for civilian deaths, but insisted, “at the sam time it was clear our soldiers were in danger. Consequently, I stand clearly behind our commander’s decision” to have the area bombed.
US military leaders believe German troops should first have been dispatched to the area and calling in an air strike while a few hundred civilians are in the scene is not the way to win the hearts of Afghans.
Perhaps, the real issue is lack of faith among Germans that the Afghanistan war makes any sense.