Reports of civilian deaths following airstrikes by NATO forces engaged in operations in Afghanistan have prompted Afghan President to publicly call for fewer airstrikes. Yet, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force continues to refute most such claims. On Oct. 28, Hamid Karzai, responding on CBS’s “60 Minutes” to a question about whether he had asked the US to curtail airstrikes, said: “Absolutely. Oh, yes, in clear words.” Meanwhile, an Oct. 28 ISAF statement revealed that an investigation into an Oct. 22 airstrike in the Wardak Province provided “no credible information” to support news reports of 11 civilian deaths. The province governor had confirmed the ISAF finding. An ISAF spokesman told reporters, “We take all allegations of injuries to Afghan civilians very seriously and have a dedicated team to ensure that a timely and thorough investigation is conducted in such cases, even if the allegations may be due to insurgent propaganda.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.