From a story in Marine Times on the new rules of engagement in Afghanistan:
Army, Marine and Afghan National Army troops experienced the effect of McChrystal’s tighter rules directly Sept. 8, when their small outpost in Ganjgal, in Kunar province near the Pakistan border, was blindsided by insurgents.
Three Marines and a corpsman died that day, and a soldier, 41-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Westbrook, who was shot through the mouth and neck, died Oct. 7 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. An embedded reporter with McClatchy News Service, Jonathan Landay, reported that “U.S. commanders, citing new rules to avoid civilian casualties, rejected repeated calls to unleash artillery rounds at attackers dug into the slopes and tree lines — despite being told repeatedly that they weren’t near the village.”
This sort of thing, like when the Air Force announced it might ‘buzz’ enemy forces instead of bombing them, is ridiculous. Back in June, when new policies regarding fighting near Afghan civilians was announced, I wrote:
Isn’t this the equivalent of deciding that police will not chase criminals so that bystanders won’t get hurt, then publicizing the rule?
It’s bad enough that US troops under enemy fire won’t always get the support they need because of a new policy. But to announce that policy simply invites the enemy to take advantage of it.
Put simply, us being nice to locals won’t work while the bad guys are running around free being mean. First you have to beat down the insurgents as best you can. Then you have to secure the area. Then you make friendly.
No, I’m not advocating that we simply blow up any and all who are even suspected of being insurgents. But we should be prepared to fight to the utmost of our ability. If not, we should get out.
The cynic in Murdoc wonders if we’re going to see the ROE continuing to become more restrictive until we reach a point where even ardent supporters of the war throw up their hands and say “since the rules won’t let us win we should just quit.” It’s already happening in a lot of places.
And I wonder how much of that is intentional.