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Quote of the day: General Allen on the success of night ops in Afghanistan

Here is an excerpt from the testimony yesterday of Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to the Senate Armed Services Committee: This last year we had about 2,200 night operations. Of those 2,200 or so night operations, in 90 percent of them we didn’t fire a shot. On more than 50 percent of ...

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Here is an excerpt from the testimony yesterday of Gen. John Allen, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

This last year we had about 2,200 night operations. Of those 2,200 or so night operations, in 90 percent of them we didn’t fire a shot. On more than 50 percent of them, we got the targeted individual, and in 30 percent more we got the next associate of that individual as well. So 83 percent, roughly, of the night operations we got either the primary target or an associate.

In all of those night operations, even with 10 percent where we fired a shot, there was less than 1.5 percent civilian casualties. Now, I don’t diminish any civilian casualties by reducing it to a percentage point. Every one of those is tragic. But after 9,200 night operations, 27 — 27 — people were killed or wounded in night operations. That would argue for the power of night operations preserving life and reducing civilian casualties in all other kinds of operation than necessarily being a risk of creating additional civilian casualties. That’s in my mind, sir, as we go through the process of negotiating an outcome for the Afghanization, if you will, of night operations.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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