Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Captain's Journal On ROE:

This is a must read. Once again, Herschel Smith has gone above and beyond and put together another wonderful essay on Rules Of Engagement.

I've gone over this again and again. This war will be won easily with the relaxing of the current ROE. Soldiers are not trained to fight a PC (Politically Correct) War. I am not a policeman, nor do I play one on Television. Here is an excerpt from a previous ROE post at The Captain's Journal where the problems of the ROE were discussed:

Our ROE was simple. The right to self defense was never denied. The ROE was based on a method of determining a life threatening scenario from a non-life threatening one. We called this the “Escalation Of Force.” Show, Shout, Shove, and Shoot. It’s pretty self explanatory and easy to follow in a perfect world. The problem is that the world isn’t perfect.

Scenario: You’re a gunner on an M2 .50 caliber machine gun mounted atop a M1114 Up-Armored HMMWV. You are the last vehicle and you are pulling rear security. A vehicle in the distance is swerving through traffic on a mission from God and closing on your convoy quickly. You wave your arms to get the driver’s attention to no avail. You yell obscenities at the crazy Iraqi while drawing down on the vehicle with your large caliber, fully automatic, machine gun. Hell, you even throw your water bottle hoping to get the hood on a bounce. Nothing. You notice a male driver who appears to be gripping the wheel a little too tight and who has beads of sweat forming on his brow. You realize that this could be trouble. But… to complicate the matter, there is a woman (presumably his wife) and 4 children in the car as well. The vehicle is fast approaching… and you have a mere second to react. Your buddy’s, nay, family’s lives are on the line behind you. They trust you to make the right decision. What do you do?

Option 1: Warning shots. Sure. Can work. Collateral damage becomes an issue, and high ranking military personnel HATE such paperwork.

Option 2: Wait it out. This choice is putting the lives of a “civilian” before the lives of your military “family.” I wholeheartedly disagree with this choice, but it keeps you out of Leavenworth.

Option 3: Stop the vehicle by any means necessary. Shoot ‘em up and ensure the safety of your family who depends on you.

Now with any of these options you find out in the end that either… A) Vehicle drives right on by and through the convoy, apparently the wife was in labor and they were speeding to the hospital. B) Vehicle drives right by you and slams into middle vehicle as 5 155mm Mortar rounds detonate the vehicle killing 3, wounding 4 and truly screwing up your day.

So, you don’t know if a pregnant wife is being rushed to the hospital or a family of insane insurgents are preparing to destroy you.

That is a lot of responsibility to be put on an 18 year old private sitting behind an uber powerful machine gun. That’s why our armed forces are so wonderful. We have 18 year old kids who can and do make those decisions daily. What a wonderful country we were born in.

You make the wrong move and kill civilians though, you not only have to live with the mistake, but you will be ridiculed unmercifully by the media/big army. You will be buried in proceedings and paperwork the remainder of your deployment, and you will not be the same. Your buddies will be affected as well. Cpl. X will see how bad it could be to make the wrong decision, and will hesitate just a hair too long when there is a real threat… and more men will die. The fear of failure leads to hesitation, and hesitation in war is a lesser form of suicide.

That, in my opinion, is the problem. This is not a war. The enemy does not wear uniforms, and therefore the Geneva Convention is null and void instead of applicable.

My unit, as well as the thousands of other soldiers in our area dealt with these problems on a daily basis. The “details” of the ROE changed daily. Some examples… For a time, the gunners would bring buckets full of rocks into the turret with them to throw through the windshields of vehicles not adhering to our warnings to stay away (that ended quickly after command had to pay for numerous windshields). We put signs in Arabic/Kurdish/Turkish on the backs of the vehicles warning them to stay away. We fired warning shots. We did nothing. We drove in the center of the road and dominated our routes by running ignorant drivers right off the road. We drove with the flow of traffic and narrowly averted disaster numerous times.



Did anyone pay attention to these posts? Well according to Herschel:

"Using Google Analytics, I can tell what network domain is being used to access my site. The day I posted my first article on ROE I received more visits from the Department of Justice and the U.S. Administrative Court than I did from the Pentagon and CENTCOM combined (although many more from Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine network domains than either of the above … possibly a very informative statistic about who is truly concerned about ROE)."

Hopefully people are starting to take notice. And not just your run-of-the-mill Republican, but influential politicians, lawyers, and the like. We are quite dedicated to the war on terrorism, specifically in Iraq, and for us to quit... to cut and run now... would be a tragedy. We fight to win. And if we're gonna follow through then we need some help from the lawmakers to ensure victory.

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