Jones: ‘Imprudent’ to End U.S.Airstrikes in Afghanistan Despite Civilian Casualties

By Jennifer Parker

May 10, 2009 10:59am

President Barack Obama’s national security adviser Gen. Jim Jones told me this morning that it would be "imprudent" to end U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan.

During his visit to the U.S. this past week, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan demanded all U.S. airstrikes end. He said a recent airstrike may have killed as many as 130 civilians.

"I think that we’re going to take a look at trying to make sure that we correct those things we can correct, but certainly to tie the hands of our commanders and say we’re not going to conduct air strikes, it would be imprudent," Jones said in his first television interview.

"That’s part of the combined arms package and so we probably would not do that.  But we are going to take very seriously the — and redouble our efforts to make sure that innocent civilians are not killed."

Of Karzai’s demand, Jones said, "I think he understands that we have to have the full complement of our offensive military power when we need it.  We have to — we can’t fight with one hand tied behind our back. But on the other hand, we have to be careful to make sure that we don’t unnecessarily wound or kill innocent civilians."

However, Jones argued the Taliban aren’t "playing by the same rules."

"They’re using civilians as shields," he said, "So we have to take a look at this, make sure that our commanders understand the — you know, the subtleties of the situation, the complexity of it, and do the right thing. So it’s a difficult problem, but it’s not unsolvable."

–George Stephanopoulos

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