To Bomb or Not to Bomb: Air Support in Afghanistan
Afghan National Army Air Corps jets pass in review during a parade commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Mujahidin capture of Kabul from the communist regime . (MC1 David Votroubek photo).  



Lieutenant Colonel Eugene McFeely, US Air Force

The views expressed in the document are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the the U.S. Army War College, the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.



Airpower, an important instrument in the tool kit of a Combatant Commander, may be used in both a kinetic and non-kinetic manner. In Afghanistan, where operations are spread across a vast area and the terrain creates challenges for other elements of joint fire support, kinetic effects from the air component have been particularly important to support operations. Anti-Coalition Militants are unable to negate the effects of kinetic airpower via direct means and have turned to indirect measures to attempt to limit its effectiveness. The Anti-Coalition Militant indirect approach of inducing and exploiting civilian casualties has brought a great deal of negative attention regarding the use of kinetic airpower in Afghanistan. This negative attention has had the strategic effect of straining U.S. - Afghan relations and caused the USCENTCOM Commander to review the use of kinetic airpower -- thus jeopardizing the use of this valuable asset in theater. This paper addresses how the U.S. can balance the kinetic effects of airpower with strategic objectives in counterinsurgency.

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