Patterico's Pontifications

2/22/2010

Obama’s Rules of Engagement: Calling Lawyers for Permission to Kill Terrorists

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:24 pm



When we have the terrorists in our crosshairs, we are still calling the lawyers to ask permission to fire.

Quite literally.

An excellent Wall Street Journal article highlights the infuriating rules of engagement that we are operating under in Afghanistan:

When Capt. Zinni spotted the four men planting the booby trap on the afternoon of Feb. 17, the first thing he did was call his lawyer.

“Judge!” he yelled.

Capt. Matthew Andrew, judge advocate for 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, advises the battalion about when it is legal to order the airstrikes. He examined the figures on the video feed closely. “I think you got it,” Capt. Andrew said, giving the OK for the strike.

But, the story reports, Zinni (son of Anthony Zinni) ended up spotting kids nearby — so the strike was called off. The terrorists ended up getting away.

Is it just an accident that some kids were wandering near insurgents planting a booby trap? Almost certainly not:

Capt. Zinni had seen this scenario before in Marjah. Insurgents using women and children for cover as they moved weapons or crossed open spaces into fighting positions in buildings. In this case, the captain was certain that the children were acting—either by their own volition or under coercion—as shields for the men planting the bomb.

The way the Taliban see it, he thought, they’d win either way: The Americans might hold their fire and allow them to plant a bomb unmolested. Or the Americans might kill a few civilians, a propaganda victory for an insurgent force increasingly adept at using the media to spread its message.

Leftist critics will point to another Journal article that shows what might happen when the rules of engagement are not followed. In an airstrike far from Marjah, 27 civilians were killed. The attack appears to have been a mistake — an attack on a purely civilian target.

My view is that, like friendly fire casualties (which are shockingly commonplace, far more than most people realize), casualties like this are a tragic but unavoidable result of war. War is not clean and it is not perfect. But that doesn’t mean that we should hold our fire when children are being used as human shields, as apparently occurred in the initial example above. Those insurgents may have successfully set another bomb that might kill our soldiers elsewhere. We shouldn’t be putting soldiers’ lives at stake for the sake of a propaganda victory.

There are no easy answers. But I fear that our enemy’s lack of morality, coupled with Obama’s hyper-concern for the good opinion of Afghanis, may be costing us the blood of our young men in uniform.

If so, that is not acceptable.

We should change the rules of engagement, so that the next time we have some killers in our crosshairs, we kill them before they kill us.

Pull the trigger . . . and leave the lawyers out of it.

156 Responses to “Obama’s Rules of Engagement: Calling Lawyers for Permission to Kill Terrorists”

  1. …and, the next time Karzai complains about some incident of collateral damage, the Ambassador should just ask him what he was doing in the Summer of ’01, and would he prefer to return to that task?

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  2. where were the snipers?

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  3. What was the range to the bad guys?
    Not every infantry unit has “snipers”;
    if they’re lucky they’ll have a few “designated marksmen”,
    but their effectiveness falls off steeply past a thousand-yards since they normally don’t have the right equipment.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  4. Pat: the problem with COIN warfare is that the good guys have to protect the locals from the bad guys without, as much as possible, hurting the locals in the process. i’m reading “The Gamble” right now, about the surge, and it goes into this in detail.

    in this instance, we know where the bomb is, and, possibly, even have tape of the bad guys for future reference. the kids aren’t dead or injured, so, in the COIN scheme of things, we are ahead on points.

    that’s the same reason they’re still w*rking around the edges of the Marjah area (it’s not a town or city as we think of them) rather than just crushing resistance.

    COIN is not “Fire, Maneuver and Shock Effect”, it’s more “softly softly catchee monkey”…. we must make haste slowly, whatever that costs, or all of it will have been in vain.

    however, i would be in favor of additional spending so that we have a variety of inert PGM’s to be used in cases like this. a Hellfire with a cement warhead might have been just what the FO ordered in this case, instead of something with HE on the end of it.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  5. Marine Battalions, last i looked, all had Scout/Sniper platoons…. granted, there are only so many, and everyone wants them…..but it’s a valid question…..

    and yes, my first question was, what was the range? this may have been a UAV sighting, BVR our positions, either by distance or obstacles or both.

    too bad DOD wouldn’t buy any of the PGM 2.75 FFAR’s that are available: the danger close on them might have been acceptable.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  6. Who was it that said that “we go to war with the Army we have”?

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  7. We ought to offer the Taliban ObamaCare. That might kill them off a lot faster.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  8. “Pull the trigger . . . and leave the lawyers out of it”
    And you refer to our enemies lack of morality?

    Destroy the village in order to save it.
    And we do the same to countries too.
    We supported the Taliban once too, when the commies were evil. And then we supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese threw them out.
    Moral relativism under the pretense of moral absolutism.
    So you defend mass murder.

    Jesus Serrara (b1253a)

  9. only a moonbat could take a story about restraining the use of force and turn it into one about mass murder….

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  10. Jesus – Who is we? Please leave me out of your rich and colorful fantasies.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  11. Destroy the village in order to save it.
    I didn’t know we were talking about the TVA?

    We supported the Taliban once too, when the commies were evil
    No, we supported the mujahideen in the quest to remove the Soviets from their country.
    The Taliban are a creation of the Pakistani ISI, at a time when the USA had minimal influence within the Pakistani Government.

    And then we supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese threw them out.
    An absolute, unmitigated LIE!
    Though, I am sure there were some Leftists on American campuses who thought the KR were kool.

    Moral relativism under the pretense of moral absolutism.
    So you defend mass murder.

    Absolutely not, but in your case, I’ll make an exception, since your mother forgot to.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  12. AD: we do indeed go to war with the army we have, but guided 2.75/70mm rockets abound

    LockMart

    Kongsberg

    BAE

    it took me longer to construct this post with the links, than it did to find them. the technology is there, there’s just no vision to use it.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  13. That stuff is neat…though it might be considered overkill for dealing with solicitors in the neighborhood.

    AD - RtR/OS! (93f531)

  14. nothing is overkill when dealing with lawyers….

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  15. We supported the Taliban once too, when the commies were evil. And then we supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese threw them out.
    Moral relativism under the pretense of moral absolutism.

    Yeah, and we were allied with Stalin against Hitler. Strange bedfellows, &c.

    CliveStaples (b0ee14)

  16. I agree. I think the rules of engagement needs to be reviewed to include allowing the army to strike once a threat is in sight. Even if that threat surrounds itself with innocent children. I mean, what would be the rules of engagement if a bunch of kids attacked a US army base with grenades? If you dont want your child to become a victim of war, stop allowing people to use them as shields. Maybe one or two experiences on these lines will act as a deterrent.

    Nigerian Observer (4402e3)

  17. what threat? they were emplacing an IED/Mine/booby trap, that we knew the location of…..

    now, you can either blow it, the bad guys and the kids up, or bide your time and take it, and them, out another way that doesn’t have the negative results of hurting the kids.

    whether the kids were there innocently, or under duress or as volunteers is immaterial. the bottom line is, killing or injuring them is going to make things harder for our side, and that’s NOT what we want, is it?

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  18. Yes but you will notice that this has become their new strategy: Using children and civilians as shields. It borders on blackmail. Once you make the enemy believe blackmail works, he will use it again. This is the same reason we dont negotiate with terrorists. It emboldens them to do it again. These folks need to know that this strategy wont always work. Let me ask you a question. If the allied forces were to sight Osama Bin Laden in a children’s playground, reading stories to children, what would you subscribe to under those circumstances? Refrain from striking because of kids or strike?

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Nigerian Observer (4baed8)

  19. There should no, none, nada, Rules of Engagement. The guys with hammers should win, and ruthlessly win. The losers will definitely take note if they are still alive.
    This fantasy that lawyers and politicians seem to have about rules and fairness in wartime conditions are killing our guys and giving our enemies a chance, when they should not have any.
    If your opinion is that they deserve some rules that favor them or their citizen compatriots, then you are not fighting to win.
    If you are not fighting to win then you should not be there.
    And I sincerely doubt that any innocent civilians are being slaughtered by our troops indiscriminately. If you want to believe that then you are backing the enemy, because you are giving them ammunition to get our personnel attacked and killed.
    In warfare there is nothing more precious than our own troops, their safety, and ultimate victory.

    fgmorley (324ca0)

  20. The real question is where is OUR propaganda arm?

    Why are we not making the obvious point that these people — these terrorists — are threatening not just the lives of the soldiers, but those of the kids, too, AND if the Afghani people can’t get behind attacking them, even at the risk of their children’s lives (which we will make every reasonable effort to protect anyway), then we will pack up and leave them to the tender mercies of those behind the terrorists.

    “See how your children fare then…”

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  21. > Please leave me out of your rich and colorful fantasies.

    I would have used “depraved” and “vile”, but each to his own adjectives…

    😀

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  22. Unless things have changed(and they may have) in the last 15 years Marine Infantry Battalions don’t actually have Lawyers assigned to them. The “Battalion Legal Officer” was usually just a junior Infantry Officer who might have been pre-law in college, duties included handling the various paperwork, wills, discharges, charge sheets. Marines unlucky enough to get court martialed went to 2d Marine Division Legal to see a real lawyer.

    Frank

    Frank Drackman (7ee2ca)

  23. The soldiers of the United States of America have never killed innocent civilians when it could be avoided. If they do commit murder, as Lt. Calley did in Vietnam, we prosecute them. Maybe that’s why a soldier asks for legal advice.

    And we should never, ever ask any of our soldiers to do so.

    JEA (53fe4f)

  24. You also neglet to mention how long this has been going on. I’d venture a guess the exact same thing happened under the Bush administration.

    JEA (53fe4f)

  25. The real question is where is OUR propaganda arm?

    Those guys are hard at work IN Afghanistan. Why waste their efforts trying to convince their own countrymen.

    One of the nice things about an Obama administration is that the left has given up their cheap political theater of pretending to oppose war, so there’s less need to expend salesmanship effort at home, and we can present a more unified front. I guess that makes it not so much a strength of the Obama team so much as Obama himself is a binky to the eternally aggrieved.

    Hadlowe (061332)

  26. > nothing is overkill when dealing with lawyers….

    Heh:

    There’s this guy who really, really hates lawyers, such that, whenever he passes one walking on the sidewalk, he swerves his truck up onto the sidewalk to take him out. This goes on for a long while, and he becomes an expert at it, and racks up quite a count of legal briefs fluttering in his rearview mirror.

    One day, his pastor asks him for a ride, which he happily provides. They’re talking away during the drive, when he spots an attorney on the sidewalk. Out of habit, he swerves up onto the sidewalk.

    He suddenly realizes the nature of his company, and decides that it would be a bad thing to do it with his pastor in the truck. He eases off the gas and manages to turn at the last moment. He hears an unexpected thump, however, and, in his rearview mirror sees the lawyer go sprawling, his briefcase full of papers fluttering in the air.

    “Gosh, pastor, I’m sorry. I thought I’d missed him”, he said contritely.

    “You did, my son, but I got him with the door…”

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  27. > The soldiers of the United States of America have never killed innocent civilians when it could be avoided.

    Dresden? Nagasaki?

    There are two distinctions you’re failing to apply:
    1) Historically, even the USA has grasped that it is impossible to conduct a war and have zero collateral damage. The current admin seems to fail to grasp that, along with a notable portion of the “peace loving” electorate. They’ve failed to grasp this for decades, really.
    2) That’s one of the things precision guided munitions are all about — where we actually spend $50k on a rocket to take out the four bad guys and not half the neighborhood, other nations have spent $500 and just leveled the whole neighborhood. When we hesitate to use even THOSE, there is no possible win for anyone except the enemy. Certainly not for the civilians.

    > If they do commit murder, as Lt. Calley did in Vietnam, we prosecute them. Maybe that’s why a soldier asks for legal advice.

    Calley was directly ordered (in error) to do what he did. As the officer on the scene, it is agreed that he had a humanitarian, as well as sensible, responsibility to refuse those orders.

    I will also guarantee you that every man and woman who has since become an officer in the US military has been thoroughly taught about the Calley case, the expectations of an officer to review their orders for questionable components, and to learn to recognize when such orders are questionable.

    > And we should never, ever ask any of our soldiers to do so.

    There is a distinct difference between being directly ordered to harm innocent civilians and doing so inadvertently while going after the enemy.

    Being a lefty without any critical thinking skills, you appear to be unaware of that.

    Even more interesting is, having had it explicitly pointed out to you, you still don’t know that.

    > You also neglect to mention how long this has been going on. I’d venture a guess the exact same thing happened under the Bush administration.

    A bogus supposition without any basis offered for justification. Prove it.

    Show that the behavior, ROE, and so forth are not far more senselessly, unworkably restrictive under Obama than they were under Bush.

    The idea that the Obama admin hasn’t meddled in Bush era ROEs for Afghanistan and Iraq is, well, a laughably stupid assertion.

    IgotBupkis (79d71d)

  28. “Pull the trigger . . . and leave the lawyers out of it.”

    Even if it is John Yoo? would that guy give bad legal advice?

    imdw (842182)

  29. “We shouldn’t be putting soldiers’ lives at stake for the sake of a propaganda victory”

    I suppose one’s view of this will depend on how important propaganda is in this struggle. If someone is the type to critique media coverage, say crap like the “MSM is on the other side” etc…. then one is likely the type that recognizes the power of propaganda in this struggle.

    Then again some people just like to see people blown up.

    imdw (e870b9)

  30. Without civilian casualties there is no war. A big lie repeated over and over to make war asymmetrical for the US.

    The faster civilians go down the faster the populace figures out this is not worth it. Till then ….

    HeavenSent (c3c032)

  31. We should equip soldiers with helmet-mounted cameras. Document the insurgents and their wanton exploitation of women and children. Propaganda? Can you spell youtube?

    Corwin (ea9428)

  32. #

    “We shouldn’t be putting soldiers’ lives at stake for the sake of a propaganda victory”

    I suppose one’s view of this will depend on how important propaganda is in this struggle. If someone is the type to critique media coverage, say crap like the “MSM is on the other side” etc…. then one is likely the type that recognizes the power of propaganda in this struggle.

    Then again some people just like to see people blown up.

    Comment by imdw — 2/23/2010 @ 4:59 am

    Hateful democrat bigot in a nutshell.

    You could go back 100 years and it wouldn’t look much different. Those heroic efforts to see purple fingers on burka clad voters is the true democratic view of the Republicans, but so-called Democrats say we “like to see people blown up” while spitting chaw and watching Nascar.

    But the real stereotype that works is the hateful democrat who loaths our troops. Obama himself loves the idea of “God Damn America”, snorting cocaine, and saying our troops are air raiding villages and bombing civilians. We’ve got a piece of garbage for a President, and pretending that Bush’s use of legal advice or common use of legal advisers is exactly the same as Obama’s failure to be an effective commander who can handle the problems of warfare is just an attempt to pretend he’s not a piece of garbage.

    Keep telling yourself that, and Obama will feel no pressure to get his shit together. I grant that he’s inexperienced and with years of self reflection could become a leader that can handle the job as well as W. If I were a partisan bigot, I’d hope he failed to do that, but I honestly, quixotically hope he hears criticism of his performance and becomes an effective President.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  33. You think Sherman worried about collateral damage? Look how well that turned out.

    imdw (c5488f)

  34. That’s what snipers are for.

    davod (bce08f)

  35. “Pull the trigger . . . and leave the lawyers out of it.”

    Even if it is John Yoo? would that guy give bad legal advice?

    Comment by imdw

    I guess you were asleep Friday when the administration snuck out the final report on the OPR attempt to harass Yoo and the other Bush official. Note the source, troll.

    The clowns in the OPR couldn’t even get the law right. Sounds like their boss. Even for lefties, you’d think they could get the law right.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  36. Threadjack routine

    1. If “lawyers”;
    2. Then print “Yoo”;
    3. Goto 1

    Hadlowe (f36744)

  37. You think Sherman worried about collateral damage? Look how well that turned out.

    Comment by imdw

    I could recommend a reading list so you wouldn’t sound so ignorant. Sherman did not attack civilians, just their farms and crops. He hung rapists in his army. In fact, Sherman’s campaign is a textbook example of minimizing military casualties by maneuver. His Confederate opponent, Joe Johnston, was a pallbearer at his funeral.

    When, on May 6, 1864, Sherman began to move southward from the vicinity of Chattanooga, his army was confronted by a Confederate force of 55,000 men, led by confederate General Joseph E. Johnston, and arranged in three corps, commanded respectively by Generals Hardee, John Hood, and Polk. This army then lay at Dalton, at the parting of the ways —one leading into east Tennessee and the other into west Tennessee.

    To strike that position in front was, at least, perilous; so Sherman began a series of successful flanking movements. When he flanked the Confederates at Dalton, they fell back to Resaca Station, on the Oostenaula River, on the line of the railway between Chattanooga and Atlanta. There a sharp battle was fought on May 15. Joseph Johnston took his next position at Allatoona Pass, and Sherman massed his troops at Dallas, westward of that post, where a severe battle was fought May 25. Johnston finally pressed on to Marietta and Atlanta, where, towards the middle of July, he was succeeded by Hood.

    Johnston was finally relieved by Davis who did not understand that Johnston was fighting the greatest Union general of the war.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  38. War is ugly. People die. Lives a scarred permanently. This is true. But sometimes war is necessary. Sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice a few innocents to save thousands more. There are no good options. You just do what needs to be done.

    Nigerian Observer (d50769)

  39. Our allowing them to use children as shields has turned Afghan children into a tactical asset, has put all Afghan children in mortal peril. The policy is short sighted, like ransoming hostages.

    It is a policy based on the assumption that our enemies have the same values that we have. The only way to protect innocents is with a decisive victory over those who are glad to use innocents as weapons.

    We did not save those children.

    Amphipolis (b120ce)

  40. Hadlowe, quite right. Yoo is just another boogeyman.

    I’m impressed with Yoo. He was given a very hard task, and gave his best legal analysis. He was asked what the law was, and decided that the definition of torture provided some room for interpretation. Maybe some democrats don’t like that law; I don’t either, but Yoo wasn’t asked to say the ideal, he was asked to explain, quickly, exactly what the law was.

    What a tough job, and he’s been a lightning rod because it’s an easy way to let more powerful legislators off the hook. It wasn’t up to Yoo whether or not we waterboarded KSM, it was up to him to explain what the law was. He routinely wins arguments because he’s a careful thinker and not the foaming monster the left dearly wants him remembered as.

    Obama’s fighting a very tough war, and I know he’s never done anything challenging before, so I’m not surprised he’s having a very hard time. He’s one of the most prominent “the surge can’t work” naysayers, so he knows he lacks the trust of the informed.

    Clinton relied on the AF in Kosovo and it wasn’t pretty. Obama is doing his best to avoid killing human shields, and that’s just a different side of the same coin. Bush tried to avoid killing human shields too, but knew that weakness would just get more of them killed.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  41. You must fight fire with fire. Expose them for who/what they are. When the world witnesses their use of human shields, the meager backing they cling to for support will be lost.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  42. In WWII we were as much concerned with who was at the receiving end of the bombs but what. We took out the assets regardless of who was near them. If you are stupid enough to hang out with the bad guys, oh well. Change the ROE to allow our guys to take out the threat no matter what and civilians quickly become of no use to the terrorists.

    BTW, we won WWII.

    PatriotRider (103218)

  43. Typo @36. “Lives are scarred”.

    Nigerian Observer (d50769)

  44. The is the problem when Liberals are in charge. They care less about protecting people than they do about advancing their misguided agenda.

    Also is speaks volumes about the Anti-American leftist press. I mean you have the media just ripping our guys to shreads for their news, and not one peep about how wrong it is for the Taliban to use civilians as shields. NOT ONE PEEP.

    These reporter bozos had better pray I never get to call the shots because I’d say weapons are free, but kill the reporter FIRST!

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  45. PatriotRider makes my point exactly. Howbeit with some personal experience point of view. He sounds like a war vet. I may be wrong though.

    Nigerian Observer (d50769)

  46. Since liberals like imd-dumbass can’t understand the situation, let’s apply it to the Secret Service detail protecting the Obamas and the Bidens. To wit, the Secret Service must contact a lawyer before taking any protective action or any action to neutralize the threats to the Obamas or Bidens.

    Now do you bone-head liberals get it?

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  47. Carter and Clinton did the same lawyer things. Probably why we got Carter’s fiasco in the desert and Clinton’s 9/11.

    I think the US Military is now deploying snipers, called ‘marksman’ not real sniper sniper’s. But they have the weapons(7.62 or better scoped guns) for long range work. One per squad.

    bill-tb (541ea9)

  48. in general our rules of engagement are ridiculous. we are so scared of any innocent dying, however accidentally, that we have really hamstrung our soldiers.

    Its a national scandal, and it has been going on since before Bush Jr. at least.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  49. You think Sherman worried about collateral damage? Look how well that turned out.

    Mike beat me to it, but this statement is blindingly stupid – even coming from this quarter. Sherman gave the citizens of Atlanta an amazing amount of time to evacuate safely, even though he could have been accused of putting his own troops at great peril if things hadn’t worked out as he had planned. Sherman originated the famous dictim that “war is hell,” and that any attempts to disguise it or give it a more palatable veneer were just more excuses to continue the needless taking of lives on both sides of the war.

    All this, yet Sherman was indeed remarkably benign to the Southern civilian populations, as well as trying to avoid direct head – on confrontations with the Rebel army, in order to avoid massive bloodshed at all costs. He could have easily annihilated Johnston’s huge army at little cost to his own troops, yet gave him a way out of his pincer movement in the hopes that Lee would finally realize the hopelessness of the situation and sue for peace.

    You really do betray your profound ignorance with this comment, as with so many others. Try to understand a subject before actually attempting to comment on it in the future.

    Dmac (799abd)

  50. #11

    “Destroy the village in order to save it.
    I didn’t know we were talking about the TVA?”
    The actual quote is “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it,”
    Ben Tre. Vietnam.

    “And then we supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese threw them out.
    An absolute, unmitigated LIE!”

    CBS NEWS:
    cbsnews.com/stories/2000/04/15/world/main184477.shtml
    “After the Vietnamese invaded and threw out the Khmer Rouge, the U.S. government supported the non-communist partners in a coalition army of which the Khmer Rouge was part. And world powers allowed the Khmer Rouge’s delegate to occupy Cambodia’s United Nations seat even after the Khmer Rouge were overthrown. Because Vietnam was America’s enemy, critics say, the Khmer Rouge were treated as friends.”

    You’re an absolute unmitigated idiot.

    Jesus Serrara (2dae0e)

  51. ^I believe your underlying medical problem is a mental condition called projection. If you’re not aware of your condition, it refers to ascribing motivations and behaviors that you possess onto others.

    Dmac (799abd)

  52. For years now we have treated war like a reality show or computer game, in order to maintain support at home. Demonstrates how truly effective democracies can be. Not that I know of a better system…

    But I do wonder, how many total deaths would there be in a fast, all-out war as opposed to the drag-it-on-forever and do-it-nice version. I suspect fewer lives would be lost in the all-out war, especially fewer of OURS.

    It is generally agreed that dropping the A-bomb on Japan saved lives in the long run. Would WW2 have been longer without Dresden, etc.? These ROE are absurd lipstick on a pig, and a gift to the enemy. War = death.

    jodetoad (7a7b8a)

  53. You may also be suffering from rampant paranoia, since you’ve suddenly appeared here to post rants and screeches on almost every subject so far.

    Dmac (799abd)

  54. “There is a distinct difference between being directly ordered to harm innocent civilians and doing so inadvertently while going after the enemy.”

    I’m sorry I didn’t make it more clear.

    That was exactly my point.

    American soldiers would not – and should not – act in that manner. And civilian leaders and military leaders should never, ever put them in a position which would allow that to happen if it can possibly be avoided. Of course civilian casualties happen no matter how careful the military is. It’s inevitable. But I am confident our soldiers always seek to eliminate and/or minimize that possibility.

    JEA (53fe4f)

  55. An alliance with the anti communist alliance against
    the Vietnamese, isn’t the same thing as supporting
    the Khmer rouge, of course,the latter were empowered
    by the retreat from Cambodia, encouraged by the likes of Anthony Lewis, and other experts on South
    East Asia

    ian cormac (9575ac)

  56. Engagements of this type undergo a 2 part analysis:

    (1) Can I shoot? (often answered with input from the lawyer) and

    (2) Should I shoot? (a tactical decision left to the commander’s perogative).

    The posting here is way off base. Capt. Zinni, not the lawyer, called off the strike. The lawyer advised that Zinni could shoot (i.e. under the Rules of Engagement, this would be a lawful kill). The commander, taking into account non-legal tactical considerations, decided that in this case he should not shoot. Of course, the commander’s Marines will be living, eating, and sleeping amongst this population in the coming days…a consideration I’m sure Capt. Zinni is greatly aware of.

    Therefore, the issue here doesn’t seem to be with the Rules of Engagement (which would have permitted the strike with the children becoming collateral damage) or the lawyer (who gave the legal thumbs up). Instead, Patterico (a lawyer) is, perhaps unwittingly, questioning the tactical competence of the Marine company commander and battalion operations officer. The commander, being actually responsible for men in a counterinsurgency, apparently believed that staying his hand was more than a mere propaganda victory. Leave it to the lawyer to tell him he’s wrong.

    We don’t have to hold our fire when civilians are present, so long as the use of force is proportional. However, the on-scene commander may have tactical or operational reasons for wanting to. When the commander makes that decision on tactical/operational grounds, he isn’t being restrained by ROE. The discussion between Zinni and Major Harris demonstrates that their concern was not with proportionality, but with “erasing goodwill,” which is a tactical consideration for a commander to make under counterinsurgency doctrine.

    dealer4 (05d58a)

  57. Morons like Serrara who get their history from Chomsky cannot be brought to reality ian. Not least because of the fact that they don’t acknowledge Chomsky’s own defense of the Khmer Rouge for the genocide.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  58. I forgot about Chomsky, I do recall how Kerry didn’t anticipate Year Zero, and then was whining
    about the anti communist alliance a decade later, just with Anthony Lake, who never considered the cost of his little stunt in 1970, Or Richard Falk who though Khomeini was some kind of Iranian Gandhi

    ian cormac (9575ac)

  59. Comment by dealer4 — 2/23/2010 @ 9:40 am

    well, at least one other reader gets COIN warfare here….

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  60. Destroy the village in order to save it.
    And we do the same to countries too.
    We supported the Taliban once too, when the commies were evil. And then we supported the Khmer Rouge after the Vietnamese threw them out.
    Moral relativism under the pretense of moral absolutism.
    So you defend mass murder.

    We supported the commies in the early to mid 1940’s.

    Guess why?

    Michael Ejercito (526413)

  61. I gotta say, this is just another reason I’m glad SGT Laura will be going to Iraq in September and not Afghanistan.

    John Hitchcock (bc8e18)

  62. An alliance with the anti communist alliance against
    the Vietnamese, isn’t the same thing as supporting
    the Khmer rouge, of course,the latter were empowered
    by the retreat from Cambodia

    Not only does Jesus get this wrong, we actually supported the NVA when they invaded Cambodia to drive out the genocidal Khmer Rouge ! We didn’t put up billboards but we did not raise any objection to their invasion. Amazing what youth and ignorance can accomplish.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  63. “To strike that position in front was, at least, perilous; so Sherman began a series of successful flanking movements”

    Is this what they call the march to the sea during the “war of northern aggression”?

    imdw (3bb5c3)

  64. Mike K, an OT point based on my own sensitivities: Could you add the last name of the person you quoted so you separate your statement from someone else?

    + + +
    . | .

    John Hitchcock (bc8e18)

  65. (heh, variable typeset ftl.)

    John Hitchcock (bc8e18)

  66. “To wit, the Secret Service must contact a lawyer before taking any protective action or any action to neutralize the threats to the Obamas or Bidens.”

    You think lawyers aren’t involved in secret service work? How do you think they carry out investigations? Without care for the 4th amendment?

    imdw (613d03)

  67. imdw…
    PLEASE, please, answer your own question….

    reff (b996d9)

  68. Several wise and informed people are making helpful points. A few others have put in some hilarious one-liners (if one can separate a hilarious point from the serious side of the topic). And then some comments are useful as opportunities to learn something when “the record is set straight”.

    The idea of head cams on some of the soldiers seems to have some merit. I mean the technology is in cellphones.

    Though it appears to me that simply “getting the truth out” doesn’t necessarily carry the day when all is said and done, when the commitment is to obfuriate and push the agenda.

    I would think that the local conditions may rightly determine local policy in COIN. I could see the locals fed up with the bad guys enough to be willing to engage at other than “Zero-risk” US engagement in one area, while this is not so in another region and tribal leaders. Hopefully the levels of command can recognize this.

    The idea of using marksmen and snipers with appropriate equipment sounds good, but as said, they don’t grow on trees. On the other hand, there may be people, given the right equipment, that can do the expert marksmanship of a sniper without the other training and expectations of what “snipers” do. (I’m totally talking outside of my experience and with a limited knowledge base, so I am happy to stand corrected).

    Who knows if Karzai “really meant” what he said about collateral damage, or whether it was the kind of public comment that needed to be made for political reasons.

    In other words, I guess when the locals and the US can agree on the risk of collateral civilian damage by the US being less than what they will suffer at the hands of the bad guys, then everyone can work together, which seems to be on the order of what happened in many parts of iraq.

    MD in Philly (d30b11)

  69. Oh, and respond to the point made, not make up your own weak attempt to change the point…

    reff (b996d9)

  70. John @62.This is not the “Jesus” we know and love. Not the Son of God. Jesus wouldn’t end a statement by calling someone “an unmitigated idiot!”. Lol!

    Nigerian Observer (d50769)

  71. imdw, you quoted a sentence but didn’t bother to read it.

    Your trollery is getting even less competent.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  72. Sniping is 1% shooting and 99% stalking, MD in Philly. Although that 1% is a rare talent in itself.

    nk (db4a41)

  73. 63, imd-absolutedumbass, take your computer back to Radio Shack. You are obviously too stupid to use one.

    I guess for idiots like imd-absolutedumbass you have to have an assassin actually attack the liberal idiot while a security detail consults a lawyer to see if they can disrupt the attack and save imd-absolutedumbass’ life.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  74. …and, as I remember it, the “destroy the village to save it” meme was prompted by Gen Creighton Abrams’ (it was Abrams that succeeded Westmoreland, right?) strategy of the creation of “Strategic Hamlets”, whereby the residents of multiple villages were uprooted and resettled into a newly built town that was built to be defended – then the old villages were leveled, denying the VC/NVA places to hide. It enabled the South VietNam Govt to slowly expand its’ territorial sovereignty, taking away the countryside from the enemy – Abrams was the Petreaus of his day.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  75. The idea of head cams on some of the soldiers seems to have some merit. I mean the technology is in cellphones.
    It is being done. With the new system, each soldier is connected to HQ via audio and video (and GPS) allowing the commander to have eyes & ears in the field, knowing where each of his troops are, and it alwo allows the individual soldier to know where other members of his unit are utilyzing a heads-up display in his helmet.

    For Imadickwads information, Sherman’s March To The Sea has been a text-book exercise for an army’s advance through hostile territory sans logistics. While small units protected his flanks, the majority of his army was tasked to find food, and then to deny to the enemy what they couldn’t take away. This is why his advance was likened to a locust plague – they virtually stripped the ground bare, leaving barely enough behind to support the indiginous civilian population (with emphasis on “barely”).

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  76. “I would think that the local conditions may rightly determine local policy in COIN. I could see the locals fed up with the bad guys enough to be willing to engage at other than “Zero-risk” US engagement in one area, while this is not so in another region and tribal leaders. Hopefully the levels of command can recognize this.”

    It would seem to me that anyone that recognizes that propaganda is a component and a tactic in this war should recognize the idiocy in saying: “We shouldn’t be putting soldiers’ lives at stake for the sake of a propaganda victory.”

    If propaganda has value, propaganda victories aren’t meaningless. And if they aren’t meaningless, then, like other war operations, soldier’s lives will sometimes be put at stake for the sake of these victories.

    imdw (3aee7a)

  77. “I guess for idiots like imd-absolutedumbass you have to have an assassin actually attack the liberal idiot while a security detail consults a lawyer to see if they can disrupt the attack and save imd-absolutedumbass’ life.”

    I don’t see why the secret service is any different than cops. Cops see someone getting attacked, they use force. Cops are investigating a crime, they need to follow the law and involve lawyers so that warrants are proper etc… Is this so hard for you to understand?

    imdw (78ece3)

  78. “Good Propaganda” flows from a Victory;
    “Bad Propaganda” flows from a defeat.

    If we concentrate on winning, the propaganda will ultimately be good.
    Plus, the average Afghani, like his brethern in the Arab Crescent, does not have the benefit of a Liberal Arts/Post Modernism education,
    and are more attentive to the upsides and downsides of dealing with “the strong horse”;
    they tend not to deal in the nuances, but the reality.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  79. The crime, under the Rules for Land Warfare, is the use of civilians for cover; and the perpetrators of that crime are subject to summary execution – No Quarter!

    BTW, in the original post, it was noted that Zinni observed this activity from a video feed from an UAV; therefore, it would be consistent to assume that what he was observing was out of the range of the ground elements of his battalion, which is why he wanted to call in an air-strike.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  80. “Leftist critics will point to another Journal article that shows what might happen when the rules of engagement are not followed. In an airstrike far from Marjah, 27 civilians were killed.”

    Tough luck. We killed thousands of Frenchmen when we were bombing France in WWII, not because they were our enemies, but because that’s where the Germans were.

    We couldn’t have won the war if we’d told our guys not to shoot because they might whack out a French civilian by mistake.

    The ROEs are totally idiotic.

    As a matter of fact, the whole idea of winning the hearts and minds of an enemy population is totally idiotic.

    We didn’t win WWII by plying kissy face with the civilian population of Germany and Japan…we slaughtered them without mercy and we smashed their militaries and broke their will to fight.

    That’s how you win wars (at least those kind of wars).

    Dave Surls (0da3f7)

  81. imdw

    > You think Sherman worried about collateral damage? Look how well that turned out.

    Well, let’s see here. Sherman did his foraging operation and Lee, who was entrenched around Richmond, left his fortified position in an effort to stop him. Grant pursued him and kept hammering him until Lee realized he was beat. He stopped at a place called Appomattox, and surrendered. Most military historians consider Sherman’s march the hammer and Grant’s pursuit the anvil, upon which Lee’s army was finally smashed, and I agree.

    So, actually it worked out just dandy, thank you. I mean I know those who call the Civil War “The War of Northern Agression” aren’t too happy about it, but frankly f— them. I could care less.

    And then there was that whole Hiroshima and Nagasaki thing. They didn’t worry so much about collateral damage, and what do you know? That ended the war pretty quickly, too.

    Of course, the legend of Sherman’s march far outweighs the truth of it. The truth is all Sherman did was steal the supplies he needed from the locals—as in property (including food) only. To hear the South tell it, it was a rape of Nanjing. It is true that in the lawlessness that followed when his army tore through a few jerkoffs did a lot worse including probably at least one rape, but that is hardly Sherman’s fault. The South always had an outsized notion of what the North owed it as it suppressed their rebellion. Southerners felt that somehow they should be able to repudiate the federal government and turn their land into a battlefield, but that the North had to actively defend their homes and lives and that any disruption or ordinary civil order was their fault. Indeed, prior to emancipation Confederates would have the gall to go into Northern military camps and say, “hey, I think you got my slave, can I have it back?” And much like our modern presidents Lincoln was enough of a wuss to tell his commanders to actually give those slaves back—even though very often those slaves would go and work on building fortifications for Southern troops. In the most sickening example of this, one slave attempted to escape and was shot, in the back, by a union soldier.

    Anyway, so the argument that Sherman was responsible for the behavior of criminals not under his command is that Sherman had a duty I guess to protect the Southerners—the same people who repudiated the federal government. You can take that as seriously as it deserves.

    I would add that of course we should show some concern for collateral damage, but the fact is that these terrorists specifically use these kinds of rules of engagement against us. They disguise themselves as civilians and surround themselves with civilians. If you are going to flat out refuse to kill a terrorist everytime children might get hurt, then I suppose all Obsama bin Laden has to do is strap a few kindergarteners to his body and no one will ever be able to hurt him. And of course your type gives no thought to the incentive it creates. If you reward something you get more of it; so if you reward the dishonorable tactics of the terrorists, what do you get?

    That all being said, while I never heard of this lawyer thing before, the rules of engagement have been ridiculous since as far back as the Black Hawk Down incident, and were equally ridiculous under Bush although I think they made them less ridiculous during the surge in Iraq. But they have been continually ridiculous for some time, apparently buying into the worst “baby killer” stereotypes about our soldiers, or at least being so fearful of that stereotype that it goes too far in the opposite direction.

    But really, imdw, explain to me why it’s a good thing to have our soldiers calling lawyers before they shoot.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  82. “We couldn’t have won the war if we’d told our guys not to shoot because they might whack out a French civilian by mistake.”

    Good thing this war is just like that one.

    “As a matter of fact, the whole idea of winning the hearts and minds of an enemy population is totally idiotic.”

    ‘The skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he disputes the mastery of the empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph is complete.

    This is the method of attacking by stratagem of using the sheathed sword. ‘

    imdw (87f6dd)

  83. “So, actually it worked out just dandy, thank you. I mean I know those who call the Civil War “The War of Northern Agression” aren’t too happy about it, but frankly f— them. I could care less.”

    Yeah that’s what I was talking about. But even then, it took still another 100 years to subdue the terrorist states in the south and bring them liberal values.

    “But really, imdw, explain to me why it’s a good thing to have our soldiers calling lawyers before they shoot”

    To make sure that they are applying orders correctly. You can imagine this being important. The ROE is an order that has to be followed. If a soldier doesnt’ know how to follow orders, they should get instructions.

    imdw (33ae78)

  84. “The skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he disputes the mastery of the empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph is complete.

    This is the method of attacking by stratagem of using the sheathed sword”

    Dang it, why didn’t I think of that? Guess I was eating too much ice cream again.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  85. imdw first cites the US Civil war, and then he mocks someone for citing WWII for not being the war we’re talking about.

    Then he quotes Sun Tzu as though he has any idea what he’s talking about. Just some vague unicorn theory that we can just win by being clever without killing anyone. He actually suggests we can win, and I quote “without losing a man”.

    Very hopey changey. Ignore the good arguments, make impossible claims, and use sarcasm to dismiss reality. If only you guys were not in power, this would be a pretty persuasive tactic politically. Instead, we can look at the real problems Obama’s responsible for.

    He didn’t say it would be impossible to win. He promised he would win. If he can’t, he’s a failure.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  86. Question:
    “why it’s a good thing to have our soldiers calling lawyers before they shoot?”
    Answer:
    “To make sure that they are applying orders correctly”

    That is too funny.

    Maybe they should call their mom each time they are ordered to button their uniform; just to make sure they do it correctly.

    Corwin (ea9428)

  87. “Good thing this war is just like that one.”

    Nope, in that war we had people running the show who were willing to do whatever it took to win…in this one we have Barry O at the helm.

    Dave Surls (0da3f7)

  88. This crap about Dresden sticks in my craw. The situation in WW2 at the time of Dresden bombings was that the Germans were already indiscriminately bombing England and the Japs had already done that in China. There are other examples.

    War was being waged on the civilian populations. Our response was “in kind”. Sorry wimps, we were out to win a war, not win peoples hearts and minds.

    That lesson and it’s actions is unfortunately not being observed and hasn’t been learned by our so-called military and political leaders.

    If only we had commanders like Patton, MacArthur, Eisenhower et al. I think Petraeus has his hands tied.
    G

    fgmorley (324ca0)

  89. Sun Tzu reminds me of an incompetent MBA preaching banal platitudes about thinking outside the box. At least when some general and obvious point of his is pointed out without actually explaining how to do whatever it is we’re talking about.

    But Sun Tzu would probably use biological warfare in Afghanistan, certainly would not observe our legal traditions, and would have our boys home in time for Christmas… The problem with Afghanistan is that there isn’t much to conquer and there aren’t any cities to besiege. I don’t think Obama is giving us a clear image of the Afghanistan he is trying to achieve.

    Can Afghanistan be the next South Korea or West Germany of Japan? Iraq plausibly could, but Afghanistan?

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  90. 76, imd-dumbsh*t, again your stupidity reigns supreme. You inadvertantly proved the Obama ROE is dead wrong when you object to them being applied to you and you can’t fathom why they should apply. Thank you for making the point those same rules should not apply to the military.

    Thank you for playing, stooge!

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  91. Amateurs debate strategy and tactics;
    Professionals organize logistics.

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  92. Amateurs argue strategy and tactics;
    Professionals plan logistics.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  93. @4 redc1c4 and @55 dealer4 are absolutely correct. This is COIN warfare which is entirely different from conventional or guerrilla warfare.

    (Patterico’s post)My view is that, like friendly fire casualties (which are shockingly commonplace, far more than most people realize), casualties like this are a tragic but unavoidable result of war.

    In COIN warfare, civilian castles that are “acceptable” are those killed by the enemy. The US cannot, must not be responsible for killing civilians, even if that is the correct military solution under conventional tactics. We must protect the civilians, which is now our duty. This is COIN warfare. COIN warfare is not an easy proposition for conventional troops, however it must be done.

    War is not clean and it is not perfect.

    Amen.

    But that doesn’t mean that we should hold our fire when children are being used as human shields, as apparently occurred in the initial example above.

    That is exactly what it means, because:
    a) this is Afghanistan
    b) this is COIN warfare, not conventional or guerrilla warfare.

    In Afghanistan, conventional warfare fails; that is an historical fact. Given our current political situation, there is no possible way we could commit an effort rivaling that which would be necessary to even consider a strategic war in that region, if we want to win it. Fighting a guerrilla campaign would fail as well, because that would set the populace against us. Afghanistan, in many ways, is region of confederacies within confederacies. The old codes live and thrive there. Elders make the decisions, and they are obeyed. A word of honor is kept. The blood feud (so laughable here) is real and viable; it is the way of life there (even if it is so unbelievable here). Outsiders are those not from a clan, kehl or tribe and are equally hated (almost by default). That includes Al Qaeda, strangers, or Americans, as well as, unknown Taliban or Afghan citizens. We must win the population if victory is still our goal, and we can (victory being, we leave and a caustic and terroristic regime does not gain the country). We make contact with the Afghans and then support, protect and earn trust. That means we cannot kill them, or we jeopardize losing an entire area and making an enemy that will generationally be obligate to kill us. We fight for them, not against them. Our Special Forces did that early on, and it worked (pdf file, see appendix E). Of course, they are precisely trained for COIN warfare.

    Civilian protection IS a principle objective in COIN warfare. For every civilian saved or better yet, protected, that is a victory. If battles are to strategic war, then civilian causalities are to COIN warfare. Lose a civilian, and then you lose a battle. It is more important to save the lives of civilians than kill insurgents, if one wishes to win at COIN warfare (there are exceptions). Now imagine you are the general; how do you convey this to your troops who have been trained almost exclusively in conventional warfare? That is the challenge and from the example given here (even before dealer4’s insight) our troops are doing well. After dealer4’s insight – they are doing magnificently.

    Those insurgents may have successfully set another bomb that might kill our soldiers elsewhere. We shouldn’t be putting soldiers’ lives at stake for the sake of a propaganda victory.

    It is not about propaganda, we cannot kill Afghan civilians if we want to win this war. In a conventional or gorilla war, civilian loses are “acceptable” given target dimension and magnitude of loses. In COIN warfare, the civilians are the strategic asset and must be protected.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  94. Sun Tzu reminds me of an incompetent MBA preaching banal platitudes about thinking outside the box.

    Or those same MBA’s pontificating about the need for a new paradigm, whatever the hell that actually entails from their POV. I got tons more from my many days spent in corporate media, they’re all useless.

    Dmac (799abd)

  95. Amateurs argue strategy and tactics;
    Professionals plan logistics.

    Comment by AD – RtR/OS! — 2/23/2010 @ 12:43 pm

    Yes, I agree. And that why we were not victorious in Viet Nam. The professionals were not allowed to be professionals. The same effing deal is happening with our ROEs in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we still had a half million troops in the combat arena in ‘Nam we were trying to talk to our enemies over a Paris table. BS!

    fgmorley (324ca0)

  96. @91 Spell-check overdependent:

    Civilian castles = civilian casualties.

    Bad typo, bad.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  97. Rules of engagement, even in COIN warfare, should not need lawyers for interpretation.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  98. Heh. Sherman waged absolute war. He hated it, but he did it. Our enemies follow Sherman’s rules. War is barbarity, the worst of all crimes. Just do it and don’t snivel when the enemy does it too.

    nk (db4a41)

  99. the Afghan population is the goal of the war, not the target.

    the locals are NOT the enemy, they are the prize. random violence against them will result in us losing the fight and the war. this is NOT WW2, or Korea, or the Civil War…. it is somewhat like Viet Nam, but without the NVA.

    fighting it as anything other than a COIN operation is a recipe for failure. even if locals have supported the Taliban, attacking them is counter-productive.

    you must provide constant security to the people, and give them improvements in their daily lives. when that happens, your supporters will be willing to do so publicly, the neutrals will tend to pick your side, and some of those that were previously OPFOR will change their minds. this brings more pressure on the hard core OPFOR to either give up or leave, since they have less and less support. this drives them out of their protected spaces to the wilderness where you can kill them.

    repeat PRN.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  100. The way to reduce the barbarity of war, is to reduce the length of war.
    The shorter the war, even if it is engaged at the most barbaric level of intensity, the lower the number of casualties.
    Protracted war is always the most costly.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  101. Imdw

    > Good thing this war is just like that one.

    Well, it depends on which part. I mean, yes, the germans fought mostly with honor as a rule, so of course that is not the same.

    But by comparison with Japan we fought a theocratic enemy that engaged in suicide tactics. Yeah, nothing like this one.

    > The skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he disputes the mastery of the empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph is complete.

    Wait, didn’t you just complain that this war was nothing like WWII? Well, do you think that it was like the feudal clashes Sun Tzu was talking about?

    But yeah, Tzu does present an ideal we should emulate. You know how you do it? by being strong, by being tough mf-ers no one wants to fight. And you know who pulled that off?

    GEORGE W. BUSH.

    That is right, Bush pulled that off when he disarmed Libya. He did that by being hard core, by pounding Saddam into the ground. Literally days after we found Saddam in that spider hole, Ghadafi caved to us; and his own son said it was from fear of the United States. And if the liberals didn’t spend the next 6 years doing their best to make it clear that they would never allow Bush to do that again, maybe Kim Jung Il would have surrendered too. Maybe Iran would have backed down. Maybe we would have won more wars without firing a shot. But the liberals saw to that, didn’t they?

    You liberals can read about war, but you have no idea what the actual lessons of history are.

    Here’s another example. After WWI, Germany had a harsh treaty that restrained it, so it could never threaten its neighbors again. They were not allowed to have any significant army, no navy, no air force, etc. they lost the Rhineland, the Sudetenland and they lost the danzig corridor. And they had a massive debt piled on top of them.

    Then Hitler came along and one by one dismantled these limitations. He raised an army about the proscribed limits, but he had them march around with broomsticks, to claim it wasn’t a real army. He repudiated the debt. He built a navy and air force. He took back the Rhineland, then the Sudetenland. That was when the Europeans started to get worried. They demanded at munich that he promise to leave the rest of Czechoslovakia alone. He agreed. Then he took Czechoslovakia. Then finally the British drew a line at Poland. By allying with Poland, they said, “if you invade, we are at war.” Germany invaded. Britain declared war, and France followed suit. Poland fell to the blitzkrieg—the polish were so underfunded they resorted to using large spears against tanks on the mad hope that the tanks were actually made of cloth, not metal. They were proven horribly wrong. The French of course had no army, but they had this great Maginot line between them and Germany. Germany went around it, took the Netherlands, and turned the guns of the Maginot line around on the very people they were erected to defend. The blitz took France. Now pretty much half of Europe was swallowed, and England was hanging on by its fingernails, the RAF doing their amazing job turning back the Luftwaffe, and the Battle of the Atlantic raged between the convoys and the wolfpacks.

    We almost lost the world. If Britain fell, they might have knocked on our door next. And even if not, most of the world would have been cloaked in darkness for decades and there would be a lot less Jews in the world. We probably wouldn’t even know the name Anne Frank.

    But let’s stop and go back. Back when Hitler just started, he had no army to speak of, no navy, major industrial centers and harbors taken from his country and a crushing debt. Imagine for a moment that we (meaning us or our allies) had declared war on them back then? It would have been over in a month. The holocaust wouldn’t have happened, and all that misery, and all of those lives lost, wouldn’t have been lost.

    So why didn’t we? Because we were too scared of war. And by being scared of war, we ended up having a much, much bigger one.

    That is why Iraq was the right thing. We had a cease fire agreement that was designed to defang Saddam. And if he wasn’t obeying it, we were right to beat him now, rather than risk him being a bigger problem. Yeah, it turned out that the WMDS were not there in the numbers we thought. So what? If a guy points an unloaded gun at you, its still self defense to shoot him, even it you find out after the fact the gun is empty. The validity of the use of force is based on the information you had at the time. And besides, back to my original point, he repeatedly violated the cease fire agreement, which was designed to ensure peace, just like the armistice.

    And today we have a regime in iran lead by a nutjob who says he wants to wipe isreal off the face of the earth. “Ah, don’t worry, he doesn’t really mean it.” Yeah, where have I heard that before? “And besides he won’t dare attack isreal. It would be suicidal.” Of course. Because the last thing we should expect is a suicide attack, right?

    I used to read that history prior to WWII and want to shout at them, “you idiots.” But who is stupider? The people who never anticipated the unadulterated evil that Hitler was, or the people who think this stuff can’t happen twice? Or don’t even understand what happened the first time?

    I fear that fifty years from now, our children will be calling us fools; and that is assuming there isn’t some kind of conquest by then.

    > This is the method of attacking by stratagem of using the sheathed sword.

    You know you libs always want us to understand the culture we are dealing with. Okay, then understand this. They respect the strong horse, not the weak horse. They will follow the strong horse. That means we have to man up. We have to stop intentionally losing as the democrats want.

    > Yeah that’s what I was talking about. But even then, it took still another 100 years to subdue the terrorist states in the south and bring them liberal values.

    Which would have been accomplished much, much faster, if the Confederacy won, right? (ignoring the regionistic silliness in your argument)

    And I find it amazing that you cited Sun tzu for the dream of winning without losing a single soldier, but then you advocate rules of engagement that guarantee that our soldiers will be killed.

    > To make sure that they are applying orders correctly.

    And to give their enemies plenty of time to either get away or gather children to protect them. The orders should be real simple: kill the bad guys. Try to avoid hitting civilians if you can, but we won’t give you too much crap about it if you can’t.

    I joked a few years ago that to hear liberals talk, we should have stormed the beaches at Normandy, ran up through the gun fire, and arrested the germans. You are disturbingly close to that level of idiocy.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  102. I didn’t think of that, but yeah Libya is a good example of winning the war before you have to fight it. Iran is the opposite.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  103. It is not about propaganda, we cannot kill Afghan civilians if we want to win this war. In a conventional or gorilla war, civilian loses are “acceptable” given target dimension and magnitude of loses. In COIN warfare, the civilians are the strategic asset and must be protected.

    Comment by Pons Asinorum — 2/23/2010 @ 1:11 pm

    I must respectfully disagree. We committed our troops there. The reason was because the Afghan nation and its inhabitants supported Islamic fascists who were able to design a strike against the U.S.

    This COIN deal you speak of is BS if it does not mean that we take out every swinging d–k who had or will have anything to do with that attack or any in the future.

    And screw the civilians. They have been putting up with and harboring these Isalmic mofos for these many years–more than we have been on the planet.

    These people (all of them) are Muslims who hate us. They must be subjugated through a violent war upon their country, their countrymen, their relatives, and their descendants.

    This so-called religion of peace is currently taking over Europe and Great Britain. This is not a religion but a complete authoritarian system that subjugates everyone, especially women, in the name of Islam. And that, sir/madam, must be stopped and wiped out.

    fgmorley (324ca0)

  104. Dustin

    I would say most of the people arguing with I’M Dumb Weight (imdw) have a nice case of “GMTA” going around. :-)

    A.W. (b1db52)

  105. “You inadvertantly proved the Obama ROE is dead wrong when you object to them being applied to you and you can’t fathom why they should apply.”

    To me? What?

    “Sun Tzu reminds me of an incompetent MBA preaching banal platitudes about thinking outside the box.”

    Indeed an incompetent MBA would suck as a commander in chief.

    “Rules of engagement, even in COIN warfare, should not need lawyers for interpretation.”

    Or it could just be that it helps. Specialists are used in our military — and other organizations in order to improve operations. No reason why we can’t use them here.

    imdw (4fe3dc)

  106. @95 fgmorley — In Vietnam, our troops won all the battles, yet we lost the war. That is exactly what happens when applying conventional tactics in an insurgency war.

    Except initially (pdf – see appendix D) around 1961, we did apply COIN doctrine and were quite successful, this is prior to the arrival of our conventional forces en masse and the change in command from CIA to DOD. Then the COIN doctrine went out the window, as did any real chance for victory. This is another tough region where some of the worlds most powerful empires struggled.

    IMO, the President does not have clue-one in this war, nor does it appear to hold his interest. With that said, it seems to me he is allowing his Generals (most notably Petraeus and McCrystal) to conduct it and both are committed to a COIN strategy.

    Long, long, way to go, but time will tell…

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  107. It is said that if the French (who had administrative control under the Treaty of Versailles) had deployed one battalion to the Saar,
    they could have turned back the Germans, and nipped Adolph’s little fantasy in the bud.

    Of such little things, great moments in history turn.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  108. fgmorley, it’s a tough problem to solve.

    We really can’t kill all the extremists. It’s just not feasible in their numbers. We have to try to work out a way to win hearts and minds, and Iraq could be the way that happens (though the dems are trying hard to keep that from happening, and made it much harder each step of the way).

    Mccain promised a difficult and lengthy war effort. He didn’t sugarcoat the reality that we are in a long war that is hard and requires determination and greatness. Obama promised he could git-r-dun in a matter of months, Sun Tzu magic style.

    9/11 wasn’t the wake up call. When Iran nukes London, we’ll probably wake up.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  109. First, rules of engagement must be simple enough for a young soldier to apply by himself under great stress.

    Second, counterinsurgency is not so much a combat engagement as it is a contest of narratives. One of the greatest guerilla armies was the Red Chinese. They taught their soldiers to act as if you were a member of their host’s family. Mao’s troops paid villagers for any food they consumed. The Nationalist Chinese took what they needed, lost the people and, with them, the war.

    Third, wars are very dangerous and in spite of efforts to the contrary, civilians are often killed or injured. During WWII, the Japanese located industrial targets and air defenses in civilian neighborhoods. The local residents paid a high price.

    Finally, with respect to situations such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we gave the Japanese warning that we had a new weapon we would use if they did not surrender. Our firebombing of paper and wood Japanese cities was killing hundreds of thousands every month. Judging from U.S. and Japanese losses on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, our planners estimated that the conquest of the home islands would have killed a million Americans and millions more Japanese.

    Our nuclear weapons won the war, saved millions of Americans and Japanese, and freed the Japanese from militarist tyranny.

    arch (24f4f2)

  110. (@103 fgmorley) This COIN deal you speak of is BS if it does not mean that we take out every swinging d–k who had or will have anything to do with that attack or any in the future.

    Actually fgmorley, there are many (maybe even most) in the military who completely agree with your sentiment.

    I hate war, but if we have to fight it, then fight it to win — perhaps we can agree on that.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  111. “First, rules of engagement must be simple enough for a young soldier to apply by himself under great stress.”

    Orders could have a complexity tailored to the capability of the unit deploying them. A young soldier by himself under stress has different capability to process orders than a unit commanded by a captain observing an enemy with access to a specialist. It might be disadvantageous to have orders to both of these have the same level of complexity and require the same amount of processing power.

    imdw (a9c2c8)

  112. Comment by Pons Asinorum — 2/23/2010 @ 1:42 pm

    Abrams’ initiation of the Strategic Hamlet strategy was a re-initiation of COIN in VN, after Westmoreland’s disastrous attempt to pacify the country and defeat the VC/NVA through his “search & destroy” strategy.
    After Tet, most of the VC units were thoroughly decimated, and the NVA had to send thousands upon thousands of men (and material) south to pull their own chestnuts out of the fire.
    Our mistake was allowing them sanctuary in the country they were attacking from.

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  113. imdw, your ignorance of military operations is exceeded only by your ignorance of …

    well, really all of your great ignorance is of a kind.

    Putting a lawyer into the decision chain is just ludicrous. It makes all of the modern OODA-based operational art into a joke.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  114. Comment by imdw — 2/23/2010 @ 1:50 pm

    Enough!
    What an ignorant A$$!

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  115. @112 AD — I bow to your expertise, and agree with your final analysis, that the aftermath of Tet provided us the means of winning the Vietnam war — and we failed to take advantage.

    I still wonder however, what would have been the result of just leaving the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) intact and in charge back in 1961.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  116. imdw is attempting to refute the obvious notion that the ROE should be simple to understand by saying that a Captain can handle complicated missions?

    What in the world? And onramps should be easy to navigate even though it’s challenging to navigate Boston.

    Even a Captain, when in a free fire situation, needs to have a ROE that enables him to survive conflicts without carefully thinking about the ROE. Even if he’s also commanding a battery or company of experimental laser gyroscopic guidance system technicians. Or whatever. Our military works because our lower ranked troops are empowered to take initiative. The idea that ROE should be different for a E-2 or an O-3 is simply absurd.

    Our troops deserve better than democrats in charge.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  117. “We were not victorious in Viet Nam” – fgmorley

    I respectfully disagree.

    In April 1972, North Vietnam invaded the South with a force of 200,000 troops supported by artillery and armor. There were fewer than 40,000 American troops still in country. I was one of them.

    By May, Nixon ordered Operation Linebacker – real air strikes on the North. We destroyed their air defenses, bombed their petroleum storage areas, mined their harbors, wrecked their rail lines, attacked their military bases, knocked out their command and control and dropped Hanoi Hannah’s antenna.

    In the South, our laser guided bombs replaced T-62 battle tanks with 60′ diameter craters. The ARVN held at An Loc and regrouped South of Hué. By June, the NVA were an the run.

    Through the Fall, the NV delegation in Paris would talk and their forces would press another attack. The big mistake occurred on December 18th when they walked out in Paris. Nixon told us to “end it.”

    On 18 December, Operation Linebacker II began, sending 100 to 150 B-52s sorties per night to carpet bomb Hanoi and Haiphong. Each bomber carried 108 Mark 82 low drag general purpose 500 pound bombs. On the 28th, Li Duc Tho returned hat in hand, accepting all our conditions in return for a bombing halt.

    By any standard, that constituted a military victory.

    Vietnam was lost because the democrat congress passed the Case Church Amendment to the FY 74 defense appropriations bill.

    arch (24f4f2)

  118. arch, you’re right, and I really appreciate your service in Vietnam. I can’t imagine how bitter you must feel about your fellow troops winning a tough fight only to have grandstanding politicians deny it.

    I sure hope I don’t feel the same way when all is said and done on Iraq. Looks like I won’t have to, but you never know.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  119. Comment by Dustin — 2/23/2010 @ 1:43 pm

    fgmorley, it’s a tough problem to solve.

    We really can’t kill all the extremists. It’s just not feasible in their numbers. We have to try to work out a way to win hearts and minds, and Iraq could be the way that happens (though the dems are trying hard to keep that from happening, and made it much harder each step of the way).

    I think I understand that it’s a tough problem to solve. The reason it’s so tough is because we keep letting the people that are avowed to destroy us and our allies off the hook.

    I don’t care about winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans.
    I want them DEAD.

    When somebody says they want to kill me, I actually take them at their word.

    The solution, in my mind, is to kill all of them before they kill me. I don’t give a flying fig about their civilian populations, since they actually were joyful and danced in the street when Sept. 11, 2001 went down.

    I don’t want to see any of them alive. Just like they don’t want to see any of us alive.

    Kill them. I remember the banner hanging off of a New York City building that said just that. And I will always agree and never forget.

    Do I hate these Islamic f–ks? Yes, I do. And I will until the day I die.

    Gen. Patton would do what needs to be done.

    fgmorley (324ca0)

  120. “Putting a lawyer into the decision chain is just ludicrous. ”

    Would you feel better if it wasn’t a lawyer that specialized in applying the ROE? I see basically the situation as a unit has been told how to do something, and this unit’s commander has a specialist that he turns to on how to implement that. This could happen with other orders or tasks that a commander needs to fulfill.

    “The idea that ROE should be different for a E-2 or an O-3 is simply absurd.”

    I don’t find it absurd at all that the directions given to a company or larger sized organization are more complicated than those given to a subunit, such as individual soldier, in that organization. A unit can be sent out on a mission that is part of a more complicated whole but their focus is their mission. Neither the more complicated whole should be brought down to the level of the mission nor should the mission be brought up to the level of the more complicated whole.

    Seems like simple organizational theory — the instructions that a supervisor with staff has are different than the ones a subordinate on their own gets. I’m shocked that people who have any experience with organizations would find this difficult to accept.

    imdw (de7003)

  121. “The solution, in my mind, is to kill all of them before they kill me. I don’t give a flying fig about their civilian populations, since they actually were joyful and danced in the street when Sept. 11, 2001 went down.”

    And to think JD sarcastically called you racist. What a hoot that was huh?

    [note: fished from spam filter. –Stashiu]

    imdw (2c1194)

  122. Comment by Pons Asinorum — 2/23/2010 @ 2:02 pm

    The problem was JFK, McGeorge Bundy, Bob McNamara, and the “Best & Brightest” thought they knew better how to govern South VietNam than the VietNamese themselves.
    So, what did they do, they staged a coup, orchestrated out of the office of Ambassador Lodge, to overthrow the elected leadership of that country, and throw it into chaos.

    When Democrats are in charge, bad things happen!

    And, Arch, you had them by the balls – Good on yah!
    If you read Leo Thorsness’ book Surviving Hell, he recounts how during OL-II, the North ran out of SAM’s and the 52’s had free-rein for a couple nights –
    that’s when they came back to the table.

    BTW, one of the chief architects of the de-funding of the South VietNam Government was the newly elected, Junior Senator from Delaware: Joseph Biden!

    AD - RtR/OS! (af3002)

  123. Some people here need to think about the collateral damage to the sniper who’s just killed a high value target — and the child who (unintentionally) died with that target (shot by a bodyguard in the subsequent mad minute.)

    I’ve read and heard complaints about ROE since the 1960s. ROE are are the way that the pencil pushers participate in the fight, by making life harder for the lead pushers. Can shoot v. Should shoot is a tactical decision, not an ROE decision. IMHO.

    htom (412a17)

  124. I am from a long line of military officers, beginning in Jamestown in 1611. My great grandfather was left for dead at the battle of Franklinville in 1864. My father landed on Omaha Beach, was wounded in the hedgerow fighting, wounded again on day one of the Ardennes Offensive and killed as his platoon approached the Rhine. Of course, I volunteered for Vietnam.

    About the Easter Offensive:

    To put it in perspective, Tet was a covert guerilla mobilization of 84,000 Viet Cong in sleeper cells when we had 500,000 troops in South Vietnam. In the 1972 Easter Offensive, the NVA hit the South with a conventional force of 200,000 when we only had 36,000 American troops there. Both were huge military defeats for the communists.

    The turning point in the Easter Offensive was when the weather broke at 6:15 AM on 28 April 1972 and we attacked hammer and tongs. I should have been dead 30 minutes later.

    http://www.oldwardogs.us/arch_arthur/index.html

    About bitterness: I have always resented the fact that politicians sent us into a fight, let us bleed and die, then discounte and undermine what we did. Assuming there is a God, there is a special place in hell for them. Am I sorry for the recent deaths of members of congress who voted for Case Church – Senator Kennedy and Congressman Murtha? No.

    I was drawn to mil blogs when I saw the same players doing the same thing to another generation of young American servicemen. It is, in my opinion, unforgivable.

    arch (24f4f2)

  125. Better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.

    If Lincoln had pursued permission from SCOTUS (strategic ROE), would it have been granted? I would bet he would have not. How would such a delay have allowed the CSA to marshall support and supplies?

    This approach to war well reflects the essential difference between conservatives and liberals (as we understand the term in 2010): One side sees the world as it is and attempts to preserve the best of it. The other side says not good enough and seeks to create the world they would rather have.

    Ed from SFV (f6a87d)

  126. The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.
    – General George S. Patton

    peedoffamerican (e7b277)

  127. I find it amazing that an idea that was once my favorite practical joke ever has now become reality.

    Ken (c97a0c)

  128. Sniping is 1% shooting and 99% stalking, MD in Philly. Although that 1% is a rare talent in itself.
    Comment by nk — 2/23/2010 @ 10:38 am

    I agree, nk, and that was the point I was trying to make. In the situation described at the start of this discussion, what is needed are not 99% stalking snipers, but simply 1% shooting snipers, someone with the tools to take out low rank enemy and leave the kids 10 yards away unharmed from a mile away. I think you can find those in much greater supply than the stalker kind.

    Here you go. Outfit those sniper rifles with cameras. Have film of the “civilians” burying the IED’s and then seeing them fall to the bullet.

    There was footage like this of the Israeli air strikes in the last war in Lebanon, where israel was being constantly accused of targetting civilians, ambulances, and the like. Seeing footage of Hezbollah operatives and their short range missiles going into buildings and then seeing the buildings explode from an air-to-surface missile was pretty convincing evidence of what was being done, for those who were interested in seeing evidence.

    The goals of war, when necessary, I think should include minimizing the death of civilians and minimizing the deaths of combatants as possible. I do not think ROE that “tie the hands” of the troops are appropriate; but I think ROEs that take into account the desires of the local citizenry/leaders may result in a better working relationship and when all is said and done fewer soldiers have died along with fewer civilians.

    But that is my pontificating from no experience and scant knowledge.

    I agree most with the idea that people like me, who are not in the midst of it, should have little power to tell those in it what to do. (Whether you’re a soldier or a doctor, you don’t like a lawyer sitting in an office somewhere else telling you how to do your job).

    I am glad the point has been made, that in-spite of the mismanagement of the Vietnam war by the political bosses, we won the Vietnam war, until Congress betrayed the US commitment of the peace agreement and refused to even send supplies to the South when the North again invaded.

    Last (and least), I wish to state that my silence to any comments by him/her in regards to my posts is because I am ignoring him/her.

    MD in Philly (d30b11)

  129. All of this pontificating bullshit means exactly zero to the soldier with his finger on the trigger. It’s hia ass on the line. Maybe a few of you should remember that when you’re spouting.

    JEA (443dfb)

  130. Maybe they should just call it Rules Of Disengagement.

    Basil (fd9dff)

  131. All of this pontificating bullshit means exactly zero to the soldier with his finger on the trigger. It’s hia ass on the line. Maybe a few of you should remember that when you’re spouting.

    No sh-t? Most of the comments here reflect how best to protect the solider by allowing him a freer reign on his actions during combat.

    [note: released from moderation. –Stashiu]

    Dmac (799abd)

  132. @125 arch — Hats-off to all the F-4 crews in Vietnam.

    And this:

    single ship, fly to the assigned area, perform 20 minutes of armed visual reconnaissance, rendezvous with strikers, mark a target, control the strike, assess bomb damage, hit the tanker and do it over two or three times per sortie.

    Hats off to you Arch, and your driver, well done Sir. Cannot believe the metro (1,500 ft temp inversion, the visibility must have sucked, no way would I do that in peace time VFR under 90 kts, much less with AA and SAMs at what, 300+ kts; wow).

    You have a set of Big Ones, Sir. That must have been one hell of a day. Glad you made it home.

    And Thank You.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  133. Ditto.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  134. “Gen. Patton would do what needs to be done.

    Comment by fgmorley ”

    HOW?

    I don’t think you can actually kill all islamists. I just don’t think it can be done. Maybe we could kill every one of them in Afghanistan (I doubt that very much), but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg.

    How do you discriminate between the ones who just want to mind their own business and those who want to destroy our country? Let God sort ’em out? We’re talking about a billion people. We can barely do it in Afghanistan, and once we do, what about Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, syria, parts of Russia and China, and even here at home?

    I think the way forward is to make Iraq and other nations into great modern places. Societies that don’t have any patience for the butchers and the madmen and can just get along. but if you have a better (more feasible) plan, I want to hear it. I don’t think ‘kill ’em all’ is that plan, though.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  135. Thank you arch for posting here, your link, and your service.

    I was unaware of the Easter Offensive until a number of months ago when I heard an interview of one of the ground troops (Marine?) who was there in the middle of it, discussing a book about it and some of the men, I think both American and S. Vietnamese, who found themselves in the midst of it all of a sudden. I don’t remember the name of the person or the book, maybe you or someone else knows it).

    I imagine we haven’t heard more about the Easter Offensive because it was an “allied” victory, just as we are more familiar with the Tet offensive, but that is only because it has been framed as a US/S. Vietnamese loss, starting with Walter “Hanoi Walt” Cronkite.

    MD in Philly (d30b11)

  136. Pons:

    “That must have been one hell of a day.”

    Yes, it was. There was a USO troop on base and when they saw the Jolly drop smoke over DaNang meaning they had rescued a downed crew (us) they got a ride to Gunfighter Village to see us.

    The flight surgeon let us hang out with the squadron for a few minutes then whisked us away to the hospital in the meat wagon. After they put a brace on my front seater’s broken neck and pulled some metal out of my back, we met five Playmates’ of the month. My dinner date was Miss Karen Christy, Miss December 1971.
    http://www.freeweb.hu/playmate/html/7112.html
    Dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

    Got to call my wife on an Autovon line before she saw the morning news. I thought it through carefully.

    When she answered, I said,”Hi Judy, this is Arch. I got shot down. I got picked up. I’m okay. How are you?”

    arch (24f4f2)

  137. Lewis Sorley wrote a book on the way that Abrams turned the Vietnam war around, it was called “A Better War”. Sorley was an aide to Abrams if memory serves. Completely debunks all the myths of Vietnam that our media and Democratic politicians are so heavily invested in.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  138. “In Vietnam, our troops won all the battles, yet we lost the war. That is exactly what happens when applying conventional tactics in an insurgency war.”

    No. The reason why we lost in Vietnam is because we threw the game. We took a dive, to mix our metaphors. We fought with one hand tied behind our back with an anti-war movement that bordered on treasonous. I mean, take John Kerry, smearing our soldiers with the “testimony” of jagoffs who turned out to have completely fabricated their service, pretendign to throw away his medals only to secretly keep them, and so on. And then the democrats thought this borderline treasonous conduct should earn him the presidency. Sheesh.

    And Dustin, I will have to respectfully disagree with you on the “we can’t kill all the terrorists” argument. To quote a certain president, “yes we can.” I simply do not subscribe to the theory of the undefeatable terrorist. the entire reason why they recruit is because they think it will work. And we haven’t exactly proven them wrong, have we? Which is exactly why pussyfooting around with them is a bad idea. Kill them and keep killing them, and it will dry up.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  139. A.W. not least because the Vietnam War was not really an “insurgency” war. A popular myth.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  140. The childhood mortality rate in Afghanistan is 25.7%. One out of four children will die before they reach age five. From disease, malnutrition and neglect. A few more from bullets does not matter to those animals. http://www.google.com/publicdata?ds=wb-wdi&met=sh_dyn_mort&idim=country:AFG&dl=en&hl=en&q=afghanistan+child+mortality+rate

    nk (db4a41)

  141. Sorry, Haiti’s seems to be about 9%.

    nk (db4a41)

  142. As far as killing all the Islamists, maybe with the leaders, we should be making fatal accidents happen to the Mullahs who promote this jihad starting with Maj. Hasan’s Jihad Mullah.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  143. @137 Arch — She’s nice, but still not sure if an ejection seat ride at 450 kts was worth it — I’ll have to “study” the pic some more (heh).

    When she answered, I said,”Hi Judy, this is Arch. I got shot down. I got picked up. I’m okay. How are you?”

    You have a Big Heart to match the other stuff, Arch 😉

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  144. @139 AW — Agreed, I worded it poorly. Vietnam was not entirely an insurgent war and we likely could have won it outright in all respects, after Tet. The failure was political (AD and Arch named the characters involved and their despicable actions); our leadership failed our troops and our country. We came home after winning all the battles — at great cost.

    The parallel I failed to make was between the counterinsurgency warfare conducted by the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) in Vietnam, and the initial Special Forces operation in the early days of the current Afghan campaign (both are included in my link @94). After that, the parallel ends because Vietnam had a standing army, air force and sophisticated air defenses capability. None of which is an issue in Afghanistan.

    In both instances, these COIN units were successful in establishing stable local economies, improved security situations, creation of new schools, establishing strong militias and providing access to new markets — we were allies/partners/friends with the locals. The big payoff was superior intel for us, and population controls for the region. In short, we were able to concentrate our firepower (conventional, militia, and otherwise) on the bad guys (killing them) and leave a strong and stable local force dedicated to preventing new bad guys from reconstituting – or even wanting to in the first place.

    If that meets the definition of victory in Afghanistan, then it makes sense to do it. If the definition of victory is killing all the bad guys, then it does not matter what tactics are utilized, because that has never happened in any war ever fought by the US, and cannot happen now.

    Afghanistan is a patchwork of clans, kehls, and tribes and it exactly this (coupled with the geography and disposition of enemy forces) which lends itself to COIN warfare. COIN warfare (in conjunction with conventional forces) is designed for exactly what we are facing there.

    Our Special Forces are precisely trained for this type of mission. Conventional ground forces are not, as they have a different mission. Today, our conventional ground forces are “pressed” into serving a COIN function.

    Reflexively yeah, “lawyers with combat responsibilities” makes we want to puke, too. That is not the full story, however. Put yourself in the position of the generals — how can you implement this sea change of tactics in short order (the price of failure being obvious)? It has to be the ROE because there is not time to retrain the entire contingent of ground forces. The ROE is not the best tool for the job, but it exists, is used, and is obeyed. Modified, it is complicated but doable (agreed, this is not ideal). The attached lawyer is no different than the attached sapper or sniper or combat controller. It is a resource for the field commander. This is not ideal, but it works.

    The use of lawyers being attached to ground combat units occurred with frequency in Iraq — under President Bush. This is not new to the Obama Administration. COIN warfare and these types of tactics, used in conjunction with conventional forces, proved devastatingly effective. Because these tactics worked, the casualty rate of US forces was reduced and we are currently a step closer to leaving Iraq.

    If the loss of civilians was necessary for victory, I would not have an ethical problem with it, but the opposite now holds true. The prevention of civilian losses is the objective. Conventional forces using lawyers interpreting ROE is far from ideal, but it works until a better method comes along (such as the experience level of our troops rising or appropriate training models catching-up).

    Anyway my $0.02.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  145. arch,

    What a story. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks even more for doing it.

    DRJ (6a8003)

  146. Comment by Pons Asinorum — 2/24/2010 @ 11:31 am

    We had a SF team stop by the facility in Peshawar in 1964 after doing a mission in Laos (their 2nd or third) on their way back to their base in Germany. They told about re-visiting villages in the mountains (Hmong) and treating the villagers, and what the Pathet Lao (their VC) did after their initial visit: Every villager, man-woman-child, that had been vaccinated had that arm cut off. But, the villagers still welcomed the SF team back and asked for their help.

    AD - RtR/OS! (955a97)

  147. A.W. is absolutely correct.

    So that the trolls can understand, I’ll use a football analogy.

    Every time our team has the ball, we drive the length of the field and score. When our opponents get the ball, they run three plays and punt.

    Late in the 4th quarter, the other side is out of time outs. As our quarterback prepares to take a knee for the final play, our coach (Congress) calls a time out and forfeits the game.

    When Harry Reid was moaning “the war is lost,” he was trying to do it again. Dave Obey tried again to defund the war.

    When the NVA took the South, we were not in country. To say we “lost” vietnam, you would have to say we lost France in 1940 because we left Germany in 1919. Absurd.

    arch (24f4f2)

  148. When Obama swore up and down that the surge would fail, it was extremely counterproductive, too.

    That kind of stuff was constant from 2003 to Nov 2008.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  149. “We had a SF team stop by the facility in Peshawar in 1964 after doing a mission in Laos (their 2nd or third) on their way back to their base in Germany. They told about re-visiting villages in the mountains (Hmong) and treating the villagers, and what the Pathet Lao (their VC) did after their initial visit: Every villager, man-woman-child, that had been vaccinated had that arm cut off.”

    Yeah, the side that didn’t give a crap about “winning the hearts and minds of the people” won the war.

    What a shocker.

    Dave Surls (884966)

  150. Yeah, and don’t forget then-Senator Obama’s “just air-raiding villages and killing civilians” thing, too.

    Between the leadership of the Democratic party and our enemies, it is sometimes hard to differentiate.

    Arch, today I was looking at the sky (10 mi with a broken layer at 3000 feet, some baby cumulus clouds in the aftermath of a passing Low, winds about 12). Tried to envision a temp inversion and the likely trapped smog, then tried to imagine flying at 1,500 MSL (I don’t want to even know the AGL) at 600 kts. Then added AA, SAMS. Then tried to think of not making one pass (that kind of warmed up the gunners) but another pass.

    A cold chill went down my spine.

    Arch, I am truly grateful and would like to respectively suggest a book — yours. Please consider writing one.

    (BTW: She is hot, but to me not worth the 600 kts chair ride.)

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)

  151. Thursday morning links…

    Now the obnoxious nanny idiots are targeting salt. What next? Ten years ago they told us to eat broccoli. Now they say broccoli contains carcinogens. Ten years ago they said to avoid fat. Now they say eat all the meat and fat you want, but avoid carbs….

    Maggie's Farm (1db130)

  152. Pons, etc.

    Well, to drill down a little deeper, I actually think in some ways a metaphor can be drawn between Vietnam and the British in the Revolution. The dirty secret of our revolution is that we didn’t beat the British. We convinced them to stop fighting. I was a history major in undergrad, but it literally wasn’t until law school that someone mentioned things like the Glorious Revolution of 1688. So I will presume some of the same ignorance with the rest of you and explain.

    That’s the place to start. Britain had their own revolution. At the end of that revolution they produced a document called–and tell me if this sounds familiar—the Bill of Rights. You can read it, here: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp Basically it reads like the list of charges presented in our Declaration of Independence, combined with the provisions of the American Bill of Rights. Also John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government was considered the major work providing the philosophical justification for the revolution. And if you read it, you start to notice a certain familiarity. Basically the famous perambulatory paragraphs (“we hold these truths to be self-evident, etc.) in the Declaration of Independence were mostly a cliff’s notes version of Locke’s book. Those who supported the revolution were generally from the—tell me if this sounds familiar—Whig Party, and those who supported the crown were called the Tories. Of course the American revolutionaries referred themselves as Whigs, and called their opponents Tories.

    Another thing you have to understand is that while the Declaration of Independence states that the King of England is doing all of those things, the truth was, he was not. The office of King back then was only slightly less neutered than it is today. The real culprits behind each of those charges was Parliament. Hense why people in the street shouted things like “no taxation without representation” because the beef was with a “representative” body that didn’t represent them.

    So what our revolutionary fathers (and occasionally mothers) were really doing was taking the principles of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and throwing it right back in England’s face. Our Whigs said to their Whigs, just as you were oppressed by your king in 1687, we are oppressed by your parliament in 1775. The principles that led you to overthrow your King apply equally to our rebellion. Your Parliament has behaved exactly like a tyrant king. The purpose wasn’t just to point out hypocrisy, but to reach out to the Whigs and their revolutionary heritage, and try to convince them that their country was wrong. And indeed the tactic of pinning all of parliament’s oppressions on the King was part of that strategy, making their critiques a little less confrontational.

    And it worked. As much as people like to say that the French helped us win the war, so did many British citizens by working within their government to tell people to let us go.

    And to an extent something like that happened in Vietnam, but it was more of a funhouse mirror. Many Americans came to believe that our war in Vietnam was wrong, but the aftermath, when you see people desperately clinging to our helicopters as we left, the millions killed, the concentration camps, the boat people, not to mention the possible effect it had in encouraging the Khmer Rouge, while there were certainly imperfections in the S. Vietnamese government, they were the right side.

    Johnson made the forgivable mistake of attempting to fight a limited war. I can understand why with the soviets rattling their nuclear sabers, he might have feared WWIII if we invaded the North. The fact that the Russians didn’t restrain themselves that way in Afghanistan only goes to show that Johnson’s fear was unfounded, but hindsight is 20/20 you know.

    What was unforgivable, however, was the behavior of the American left. Spitting on our soldiers was not even the worst treatment they received. I have read credible accounts of returning soldiers having feces thrown on them, and other horrifying conduct. Look, I was born in 1972. All of this is history to me. And I remember growing up hearing the debate between those who said we threw the game in Vietnam, and those who said that we couldn’t have won. I tended to lean toward the latter because it seemed inconceivable that Americans would throw the game. Now I have watched democrats do their damnedest to do that in Iraq and Afghanistan, its much more conceivable to me, and so now I believe we threw the game in ‘nam.

    I know patriotism has been defined down recently, but can we agree on these minimums?

    Don’t abuse our soldiers, period.

    Don’t defame anyone on our side in the war effort, in the middle of that war. Do not make statements that are not proveable fact. So specifically:

    1 don’t claim Iraq was a war for oil. There is no evidence of that.
    2 don’t claim that Bush lied about WMDs. Obviously he was incorrect on the subject, but not every mistake is a lie. Also if he was lying, well, pretty much every American was, too, including Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and so on.
    3 don’t just believe every detainee’s claim of torture. The fact that the al Qaeda training manuals tell them to lie should be enough for a patriot to require evidence.
    4 don’t say life in Iraq wasn’t so bad. It was a nightmare and you dishonor those Saddam’s thugs murdered, raped, etc. by saying it.
    5 don’t claim the war was illegal. The previous Gulf War ended with a cease fire agreement; the moment a cease fire agreement is breached, we had the legal right to resume firing. Now I know this is a really complicated legal issue, but you see under a cease fire agreement, YOU HAVE TO CEASE FIRING. Saddam didn’t. He continually tried to shoot down our soldiers and tried to kill a former president. We had the legal right to resume war at our pleasure.
    6 Don’t lie and claim the whole world didn’t believe that Saddam had WMDs. Reread resolution 1441 and you will see that the entire security counsel said he did.
    7 have some f—ing perspective. According to this anti-war site: http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/ we have lost about 4,500 soldiers. Given their slant, we should assume that this is the highest number possible. We lost about that many in the battle of Antietam. James Taranto once did the math and figured out that we would have to stay in Iraq until 2070 to equal the casualties we lost during Vietnam. And that was done at a time when our casualties were much higher than now.
    8 don’t believe the lancet studies. It is laughably bad science to estimate casualty levels by a survey. They estimated in the first study that we killed about 100,000 people, give or take 100,000 people. I am being a little facetious, of course. The actual margin of error was closer to 92,000 people, so there was a minimum of 8,000 they felt we had definitely killed by then. And for that matter, the website Iraq Body Count is dubious, too. to hear them talk, the vast majority of civilians who died in Iraq were men—around 80%. Now if these were innocent civilians, why the gender disparity? And if you look at the reports of dead women, they are often “so-and-so’s daughter.” Wow, good verification, there. Not even a first name provided by this supposedly grieving father. the more likely truth is that 1) some of these claims of deaths are pure propaganda, and 2) many of the genuinely dead people are actually terrorists. Seriously, you see a guy dead in the street. How do you know he is a terrorist, given that terrorists often dress in civilian clothes?

    Really, I could go on and on.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  153. AW — Thanks for the link to the English Bill of Rights 1689 . Yes, J Locke’s influence is quite apparent, like you say.

    This idea of People over Tyranny may go back even further, even to ancient times. To me, this idea seems to appear as occasional bright spots in the history of civilization; often extinguished, only to reappear sporadically every few centuries. It is as though there has been (and continues to be) a struggle between those who believe in a ruler or centralized power (Tyranny) and those who believe in inalienable rights for all people – equally, none above the other — and decentralized power (People).

    IMO, we are all equal in the natural rights given to us (speech, worship, right to life, etc) and in the natural laws we are required to obey (against lying, murder, breaking a promise, etc). In this manner, the written laws we devise ought to be equally imposed on all and equally reflect our morals and protect our rights. The only governance system that can possibly deliver this is a decentralized one (and even that is no guarantee). In my view, this has been proven empirically by examining the historic record. Only a government of, by, and for the People can potentially be moral and proper. (Obviously a Tyrannical government, by definition, means not all people are equal, as those holding the reigns of centralized power must have greater rights [ie. above natural law] and the ability to negate the natural rights of those they rule. Therefore, such a governance is always immoral and improper, just by definition.)

    Going back further, expressions of this idea of People over Tyranny can be found:
    the Magna Carta (1215 AD),
    Cicero’s writings (43 BC),
    Athenian Democracy (a student’s paper, but it is sourced, 594 BC),
    Chapter I of Deuteronomy (starting about verse 13 or so, written possibly 600 BC),
    and maybe even the ancient expressions of cave art in Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France (admittedly pure speculation on my part, but this strikes me as something free people would do, 15 – 18,000 BC).

    There are many more examples of these moments, including the wars of those defending the People against Tyranny.

    Today, this idea of People over Tyranny is as strong as our Country is, and might possibly be taking root all over the world. If such is indeed occurring, then it is unprecedented; and all because of our Founding Fathers and our Bravest — too me these are exciting times. Today, We the People carry this torch.

    I know patriotism has been defined down recently, but can we agree on these minimums?

    Don’t abuse our soldiers, period.

    Don’t defame anyone on our side in the war effort, in the middle of that war. Do not make statements that are not proveable fact. So specifically: [et al]

    Yeah, not only do I agree, these are principles that I have been raised with and lived by – always. I have always respected the uniform and those who wear it (as I once did). All eight of your points are dead-on, well said.

    And I could go on, too.

    Pons Asinorum (95faa4)


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