WASHINGTON - Night raids, conducted by coalition forces in partnership with Afghans after permission from the Karzai government, perform a "very valuable and necessary" function, the Pentagon said on Wednesday. "The key point for us is that these operations are conducted jointly with the Afghans. We expect Afghan participation in night raids to increase over time. It's worth noting that 85 percent of these operations are conducted without a single shot being fired," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters.
In his address to the Loya Jirga on Wednesday, President Hamid Karzai put an end to the night raids as one of the conditions for signing a strategic partnership deal, providing for permanent American military bases in Afghanistan.
"The night raids do perform a very valuable and necessary function. President Karzai has been very clear over the last several years about his concerns about night raids. Frankly, we share those concerns," said Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby.
Nobody wanted to see innocent civilians hurt, he said, adding the raids were effective and did not result in a great number of civilian casualties, he added.
Closely watching the Loya Jirga, the US welcomed Karzai's endorsement of the strategic partnership. The United States and Afghanistan have been working together to frame a long-term strategic partnership, he said.
Little explained no decision had been taken so far on the future of the US military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. "We do want to have a long-term strategic partnership, but specific components of that partnership are still to be defined."
The press secretary said the US was working toward transfer of security responsibilities to Afghans in close partnership with the Karzai government. "That's absolutely the goal certainly before the end of 2014. Supporting the security of Afghanistan will continue to be a goal for the United States beyond 2014."