Category Archive 'Rules of Engagement'

15 Sep 2012

Live in Las Vegas; Dead in Benghazi

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Barack Obama enters the auditorium for his Las Vegas campaign rally yesterday.

As the caskets containing the bodies of four slain Americans were being unloaded from the plane, Barack Obama was tweeting about campaign sweatshirts.

We also learned today that the same Hillary Clinton who early on banned military uniforms from the Clinton White House signed the rules of engagement that left the US Ambassador in Benghazi without Marine protection and defended by local guards without ammunition.

“It was the policy of the Obama administration to have a low profile in Libya. That’s why the rules of engagement were approved by the Secretary of State to have no Marines at Benghazi, and to have an American contractor hire Libyan nationals to provide security there. The rules were they couldn’t have ammunition.”

Mark Steyn, the Juvenal of the Decline and Fall of the American Republic, had some sharp comments.

When it comes to a flailing, blundering superpower, I am generally wary of ascribing to malevolence what is more often sheer stupidity and incompetence. For example, we’re told that, because the consulate in Benghazi was designated as an “interim facility,” it did not warrant the level of security and protection that, say, an embassy in Scandinavia would have. This seems all too plausible – that security decisions are made not by individual human judgment but according to whichever rule-book sub-clause at the Federal Agency of Bureaucratic Facilities Regulation it happens to fall under. However, the very next day the embassy in Yemen, which is a permanent facility, was also overrun, as was the embassy in Tunisia the day after. Look, these are tough crowds, as the president might say at Caesar’s Palace. But we spend more money on these joints than anybody else, and they’re as easy to overrun as the Belgian Consulate.

I’m inclined to be generous, and put some of this down to the natural torpor and ineptitude of government. But Hillary Clinton and Gen. Martin Dempsey are guilty of something worse, in the Secretary of State’s weirdly obsessive remarks about an obscure film supposedly disrespectful of Mohammed and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ telephone call to a private citizen, asking him if he could please ease up on the old Islamophobia.

In this case, as Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey well know, the film has even less to do with anything than did the Danish cartoons or the schoolteacher’s teddy bear or any of the other innumerable grievances of Islam. The 400-strong assault force in Benghazi showed up with RPGs and mortars: that’s not a spontaneous movie protest; that’s an act of war, and better planned and executed than the dying superpower’s response to it. Secretary Clinton and Gen. Dempsey are, to put it mildly, misleading the American people when they suggest otherwise.

One can understand why they might do this, given the fiasco in Libya. The men who organized this attack knew the ambassador would be at the consulate in Benghazi rather than at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. How did that happen? They knew when he had been moved from the consulate to a “safe house,” and switched their attentions accordingly. How did that happen? The United States government lost track of its ambassador for 10 hours. How did that happen? Perhaps, when they’ve investigated Mitt Romney’s press release for another three or four weeks, the court eunuchs of the American media might like to look into some of these fascinating questions, instead of leaving the only interesting reporting on an American story to the foreign press.

For whatever reason, Secretary Clinton chose to double down on misleading the American people. “Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital,” said Mrs. Clinton. That’s one way of putting it. The photographs at the Arab TV network al-Mayadeen show Chris Stevens’ body being dragged through the streets, while the locals take souvenir photographs on their cellphones. A man in a red striped shirt photographs the dead-eyed ambassador from above; another immediately behind his head moves the splayed arm and holds his cellphone camera an inch from the ambassador’s nose. Some years ago, I had occasion to assist in moving the body of a dead man: We did not stop to take photographs en route. Even allowing for cultural differences, this looks less like “carrying Chris’ body to the hospital” and more like barbarians gleefully feasting on the spoils of savagery.

In a rare appearance on a non-showbiz outlet, President Obama, winging it on Telemundo, told his host that Egypt was neither an ally nor an enemy. I can understand why it can be difficult to figure out, but here’s an easy way to tell: Bernard Lewis, the great scholar of Islam, said some years ago that America risked being seen as harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. At the Benghazi consulate, the looters stole “sensitive” papers revealing the names of Libyans who’ve cooperated with the United States. Oh, well. As the president would say, obviously our hearts are with you.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the local doctor who fingered bin Laden to the Americans sits in jail. In other words, while America’s clod vice-president staggers around, pimping limply that only Obama had the guts to take the toughest decision anyone’s ever had to take, the poor schlub who actually did have the guts, who actually took the tough decision in a part of the world where taking tough decisions can get you killed, languishes in a cell because Washington would not lift a finger to help him.

Like I said, no novelist would contrast Chris Stevens on the streets of Benghazi and Barack Obama on stage in Vegas. Too crude, too telling, too devastating.

24 May 2010

US Soldiers Patrolling With Unloaded Weapons in Afghanistan

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More “courageous restraint” reported by Chris Carter at Human Events.

Commanders have ordered a U.S. military unit in Afghanistan to patrol with unloaded weapons, according to a source in Afghanistan.

American soldiers in at least one unit have been ordered to conduct patrols without a round chambered in their weapons, an anonymous source stationed at a forward operating base in Afghanistan said in an interview. The source was unsure where the order originated or how many other units were affected.

When a weapon has a loaded magazine, but the safety is on and no round is chambered, the military refers to this condition as “amber status.” Weapons on “red status” are ready to fire—they have a round in the chamber and the safety is off.

The source stated that he had been stationed at the base for only a month, but the amber weapons order was in place since before he arrived. A NATO spokesman could not confirm the information, stating that levels of force are classified.

What this signifies is very troubling. The policy indicates quite clearly that our government values potentially better relations with the general Afghan population above the safety of American military personnel.

Disarming one’s own troops is a policy expressive of a serious lack of self identification with their interests. No administration made up of men who had actually served in the military would be willing to treat US soldiers as expendable pawns in this way, and no America in which the military was representative of the entire population would put up with such a policy.

05 May 2010

Courageous (And Really Stupid) Restraint

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During WWII, we intentionally targeted civilian population centers for bombing raids and Axis enemies hiding behind civilians would never have worked because Allied troops would have opened fire anyway and shrugged off civilian casualties as simply collateral damage and the enemy’s fault anyway.

No one would have considered sacrificing a single American life to allow the enemy to get away with hiding behind civilians.

Today, in the age of the domestic war critic, Western military commanders are starting to balance their own casualties against the harm to the cause they are fighting for that can be inflicted by stories about injury to innocent civilians eagerly disseminated by journalists. The enemy hiding behind civilians works just great and is rewarded with immunity.

Yahoo News:

NATO commanders are weighing a new way to reduce civilian casualties in Afghanistan: recognizing soldiers for “courageous restraint” if they avoid using force that could endanger innocent lives.

The concept comes as the coalition continues to struggle with the problem of civilian casualties despite repeated warnings from the top NATO commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, that the war effort hinges on the ability to protect the population and win support away from the Taliban.

Those who back the idea hope it will provide soldiers with another incentive to think twice before calling in an airstrike or firing at an approaching vehicle if civilians could be at risk.

Most military awards in the past have been given for things like soldiers taking out a machine gun nest or saving their buddies in a firefight, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan.

“We are now considering how we look at awards differently,” he said.

09 Sep 2009

New Rules of Engagement Costing Marines’ Lives

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The media is headlining collateral damage to Afghan civilians from coalition air strikes and US political leaders are covering themselves from criticism by reducing air strikes and implementing far stricter rules of engagement.

AFP:

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged in an interview with Al Jazeera that civilian casualties have become “a real problem” for the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan.

Gates’ remarks, in an interview to be aired Monday by the Qatar-based Arabic satellite news channel, came amid a raging controversy over an air strike that killed scores of people Friday in northern Afghanistan.

“I think it’s a real problem, and General McChrystal thinks it’s a real problem, too,” Gates said, referring to Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

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New rules of engagement have had a real impact. Airstrikes on Afghan insurgents have been cut in half over the last few months.

Airstrikes by coalition forces in Afghanistan have dropped dramatically in the three months Gen. Stanley McChrystal has led the war effort there, reflecting his new emphasis on avoiding civilian casualties and protecting the population.

NATO fixed-wing aircraft dropped 1,211 bombs and other munitions during the past three months — the peak of the fighting season — compared with 2,366 during the same period last year, according to military statistics. The nearly 50% decline in airstrikes comes with an influx of more than 20,000 U.S. troops this year and an increase in insurgent attacks.

The shift is the result of McChrystal’s new directives, said Air Force Col. Mark Waite, an official at the air operations center in southwest Asia. Ground troops are less inclined to call for bombing or strafing runs, though they often have an aircraft conduct a “show of force,” a flyby to scare off insurgents, or use planes for surveillance, Waite said.

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There is a price for those opportunistic media headlines, and for the cowardice of our leaders. It is paid by our troops, as Herschel Smith angrily explains.

(Quoted news account from McClatchey:)

    GANJGAL, Afghanistan — We walked into a trap, a killing zone of relentless gunfire and rocket barrages from Afghan insurgents hidden in the mountainsides and in a fortress-like village where women and children were replenishing their ammunition.

    “We will do to you what we did to the Russians,” the insurgent’s leader boasted over the radio, referring to the failure of Soviet troops to capture Ganjgal during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation.

    Dashing from boulder to boulder, diving into trenches and ducking behind stone walls as the insurgents maneuvered to outflank us, we waited more than an hour for U.S. helicopters to arrive, despite earlier assurances that air cover would be five minutes away.

    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.

    “We are pinned down. We are running low on ammo. We have no air. We’ve lost today,” Marine Maj. Kevin Williams, 37, said through his translator to his Afghan counterpart, responding to the latter’s repeated demands for helicopters.

    Four U.S. Marines were killed Tuesday, the most U.S. service members assigned as trainers to the Afghan National Army to be lost in a single incident since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Eight Afghan troops and police and the Marine commander’s Afghan interpreter also died in the ambush and the subsequent battle that raged from dawn until 2 p.m. around this remote hamlet in eastern Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border. …

    The Marines were cut down as they sought cover in a trench at the base of the village’s first layer cake-style stone house. Much of their ammunition was gone. One Marine was bending over a second, tending his wounds, when both were killed, said Marine Cpl. Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Ky., who retrieved their bodies.

I said it would happen, and only recently “officials” have admitted that the new Afghanistan ROE have opened up new space for the insurgents. Now it has cost the lives of four more U.S. Marines. How many more Marines will have to die before this issue is addressed? The new ROE should have been dealt with as a classified memorandum of encouragement and understanding to consider holistic consequences of actions rather than a change to formal rules by which our Marines and Soldiers are prosecuted by courts. Yet the damage has been and continues to be done by poor decisions at the highest levels of leadership.

Damn the ROE.


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