Number of Afghan Air Strikes Highest Ever

By Maya

Nov 10, 2010 9:28am

ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: Remember how last month’s air strike numbers raised eyebrows because they had spiked to 700 in the month of September? Well, the Air Force has released October’s statistics and continuing with this year’s upward trend, the number of airstrikes rose to 1,000 last month. That’s the highest single month total  ever in the air war in Afghanistan, the previous high had been 984 in June, 2008.  The September percentage increase over the same month a year ago was an eye-popping 172 percent, but this time around the difference between Octobers is 52 percent because there were 660 strikes last October.  The Air Force uses the term weapons releases to describe when US and NATO aircraft drop bombs on enemy targets or use their guns to provide combat support for ground troops. Overall, the 26,948 combat missions (sorties) this year has already overtaken last year’s number of 26,474. The number of airstrikes began to trend upward earlier this year in May and June when Gen. McChrystal was still in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan. When he took command the year before, McChrystal had placed restrictions on the use of airstrikes if civilians were nearby. He did this  in an effort to turn around negative Afghan public opinion that had soured on NATO because of incidents where airstrikes targeting Taliban targets had also resulted in civilian casualties.  As the number of airstrikes has risen this year, the emphasis is still on protecting the Afghan civilian population from NATO airstrikes. The LA Times reported last week that in the first 10 months of this year, the number of Afghan civilians killed by U.S. and NATO fighters and bombers declined from 54 last year to 19 this year, a 65% drop. Combined Forces Air Component Commander: 2007 – 2010 Airpower Statistics (PDF) -Luis Martinez

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