Doing More, Not Less

Asked whether the directive to avoid civilian casualties has reduced sortie numbers, Brig. Gen. Steven Kwast, commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan, said, “We fly more now than we ever have.” However, he told reporters Tuesday during a videoconference, “We have dropped fewer bombs since the tactical directive [issued in June 2009].” And, he said the number of aircraft shows of force has gone up in general, although the use of shows of force is dependent on locale because “every village needs a different solution.” According to air operations data provided by Air Forces Central, US and NATO forces in Afghanistan flew 26,474 close air support sorties in 2009 compared to 19,092 in 2008, while the percentage of munitions expended per CAS sortie dropped from about 27 percent to 16 percent. As of March 31, that ratio is around seven percent. (Select airpower stats for Afghanistan) (Transcript of videoconference)