The study reveals that air strikes have escalated dramatically in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the past year, peaking in July 2007 in Iraq and August 2007 in Afghanistan. The numbers are staggering. In July 2007 alone, in Iraq, more close air support strikes (303) were made than in all of 2006 (229). This year in Afghanistan, nearly 3000 close air support strikes have been made – nearly triple the amount made in Iraq this year, and nearly double the number of strikes in Afghanistan last year.
The escalation of the air war in Afghanistan started much earlier than Iraq, beginning in June 2006 coinciding with dramatic coalition casualties in new, aggressive combat operations (including Canada’s operations in and around Kandahar).
Although air strikes have decreased since their peak in the summer, they are still dramatically higher than what they were before the general escalation.
These figures paint a different picture of the war in Iraq where declining coalition casualties have been sold as evidence that the “surge” in the first half of 2007 worked. In reality, the air force has picked up where the army has left off. There are also other very important domestic political factors involved in the “downturn” in violence in Iraq which have been ignored by Bush and the media in their attempts to tell us the surge is working.
It also gives a picture of how the war is being waged in Afghanistan. The dramatic increase in air strikes in Afghanistan can certainly be interpreted as an attempt to make up for the relatively small (in comparison to Iraq) occupation force that has faced an increased degree of resistance since late 2005. It is no wonder, then, that Canada’s commitment to this project “succeeding” is exemplified by the repeated attempts by Canadian politicians to harass other states into sending more troops.