Airstrike Limits Frustrate Ground Forces, Pilots

The Air Force Times reports on comments from troops in Afghanistan that the restrictions on airstrikes over the past year have emboldened the adversary.  While the mere sight of B-52 contrails was once enough to send the enemy scurrying, they now often ignore armed fighters directly overhead.

The Taliban no longer run and hide when they see a fighter jet overhead, brazenness that airmen attribute to the nearly year-old directive to limit close-air support.

[JTACs] and fighter pilots report that insurgents are encouraging each other to continue firing because they know the Air Force’s F-16s and A-10s are dropping far fewer bombs now than this time last year.

“Keep fighting; [coalition forces] won’t shoot” is the order that enemy leaders are giving — in Pashtun and Dari, words that the JTACs have heard over their radios.

Some have already claimed that the enemy has “beaten” American airpower through an effective information campaign that has made allied forces averse to strike in order to avoid civilian casualties — or even the appearance of them.