Afghan commandos prepared for an overnight mission at Kandahar Air Field on May 29, waiting for U.S. helicopters to carry them to an operation. The remaining American troops in Afghanistan provide assistance, but U.S. rules limit the circumstances in which they may fire on the Taliban. PHOTO: MICHAEL M. PHILLIPS/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Wall Street Journal: Afghan War Rules Leave U.S. Troops Wondering When It’s OK to Shoot
U.S. is no longer at war with Taliban, so Special Forces remaining in Afghanistan have to weigh every situation to decide whether striking them is justified.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan—U.S. spy drones had no trouble spotting the Taliban fighters. There were more than 20 figures snaking through sparsely wooded hills, trying to outflank the Afghan government commandos in the village below.
In the starry darkness overhead, American helicopters loitered armed with precision-guided missiles, along with a flying gunship capable of drenching the area with cannon-fire. It would have been a hard shot to miss.
But before they could fire, the Americans knew they would have to get past the lawyers.
In the amorphous twilight of the Afghan war, it isn’t enough to draw a bead on the enemy. Before they shoot, U.S. troops have to navigate a tricky legal and political question: When is it OK for them to kill Taliban?
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WNU Editor: The airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz last year changed everything .... and today's new rules of engagement are now needlessly killing a lot of people .... far more than what happened in Kunduz.