The US must do a better job in preventing civilian casualties in Afghanistan and in countering Taliban efforts at provoking and exploiting civilian casualties, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said during a Pentagon briefing, May 11, 2009. Although some speculated that air strikes were central to his decision to remove Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top US and NATO general in Afghanistan, Gates said McKiernan "has done a lot in recent months to try and reduce the level of civilian casualties," noting that the number had gone down compared to last year. Here, McKiernan greets Gates upon his arrival to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 11, 2008.
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