Afghan commanders show new defiance in dealings with Americans

To Afghan leaders, the decisions made by their commanders reflect growing Afghan autonomy from Western forces as NATO draws down, and prove that Afghan forces are willing to exercise more caution than foreign troops when civilian lives are at stake.

“In the last two months, 14 to 16 [night] operations have been rejected by the Afghans,” said Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, the top Afghan army officer. “The U.S. has said, ‘This operation better be conducted. It’s a high-value target.’ Then my people said, ‘It’s a high-value target. I agree with you. But there are so many civilian children and women [in the area].’ ”

Many of the rejected night operations are later conducted once civilians are no longer in the vicinity of the targets, Karimi said…

But the resistance to American guidance on night operations represents the clearest indication to date that Afghan military commanders are heeding a directive from President Hamid Karzai last month. Just a day after signing a 10-year bilateral agreement with the United States, Karzai said Afghan soldiers should discard questionable information provided by the U.S. military.