June 3, 2010:
Many senior military commanders in Afghanistan, and back home, are urging that troops rely less on smart bombs and missiles, and instead send in the infantry to get the bad guys. This, in theory, causes fewer civilian casualties. The Taliban use civilians as human shields whenever possible, knowing that the NATO ROE (Rules of Engagement) calls for minimizing civilian casualties. But infantry commanders in the field know that sending in the troops, instead of smart bombs, does not usually result in fewer civilian casualties. Clearing rooms and buildings often involves opening fire in dark rooms, or tossing in grenades. And the Taliban have demonstrated a ruthless attitude towards their use of human shields.
That said, American infantry units train a lot with the attitude that air or artillery support are not available. But when out in the bush, and fighting an elusive and ruthless foe, commanders on the spot will usually call in a smart bomb, missile or shell, when confronted with a well protected enemy. More senior commanders rarely overrule the request for smart bombs, mainly because they know that if American troops die because of turning down the request, there will be lots of career pain all the way up the chain of command. Starting with the guy who said; "no smart bombs, do it by hand."