By Dana Lewis
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — The Air Force is shifting its strategy to combat enemy fighters in Afghanistan after commanders ordered a review of a joint U.S.-Afghan air strike that the Afghan government said killed 90 civilians in August.
Military commanders at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, say they’re employing new procedures to “amplify” what the Air Force was already doing to avoid civilian casualties, such as using a fly-by tactic with F-15 attack Eagles to scatter anti-coalition forces.
The strikes in August were called in by American Special Forces using an AC-130H gunship, also known as a Spectre. It uses computer tracking and targeting equipment to fire 105mm howitzer, 40mm bofors, and 20mm Vulcan cannons — a very deadly aircraft to be deployed in a civilian area.
Above: AC-130H Spectre gunship launches flares in 2007
Initially, despite video showing the bodies of women and children, the U.S. Army claimed only five to seven civilians were killed in the attack on Afghan militants. Now a U.S. military investigation has concluded that at least 33 civilians, including 12 children, were killed.
Fighting in Afghanistan has intensified in recent past months. On Sunday, Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, rejected media reports that the alliance was losing the war against the Taliban and called on troop-contributing countries to send more soldiers and military gear in order to achieve success more quickly.
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