Reducing civilian casualties is noble, but tying soldiers' hands puts them at risk.
As part of President Bush's troop surge now under way in Iraq, he insisted that Iraqi leaders "lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces." That's an important step, but a deeply ironic one, because it overlooks other unreasonable restrictions imposed on US soldiers – by the US government.
In 2005, the Pentagon amended its Standing Rules of Engagement (ROE). The new rules make it harder for US troops to boldly counter hostile acts, and they specifically allow commanders to limit the right of soldiers to defend themselves!
The United States seeks to bring peace to Iraq by winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian population. Unnecessary collateral damage and innocent civilian deaths undermine this effort. Presumably, the new ROE, which allow unit commanders to "limit individual self-defense by members of their unit" after notifying the secretary of Defense, were adopted with a noble purpose in mind: to lessen civilian casualties. However, limiting the right of self-defense is too drastic and it puts soldiers at risk.
Commanders take these restrictions seriously. Newsweek magazine recently quoted Marine Capt. Rob Secher, who complained that "anytime an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force."
As many of you have heard me say on my show, this is exactly what I believe the problem is right now in the war on terror. There are too many restrictions being put on our troops in battle. We cannot fight and win a war under these conditions. We need to get the "Political correctness the hell out of the way" and let our brave men and women fight and win this war.
From the Captain's Journal Blog: .... "In order to ensure that the additional combat troops being deployed to Iraq can achieve their objectives, we must change the current restrictive rules of engagement (ROEs) under which they are forced to operate. The current ROEs for Baghdad — including Sadr City, home of the Mahdi Army — have seven incremental steps that must be satisfied before our troops can take the gloves off and engage the enemy with appropriate violence of action.
1. You must feel a direct threat to you or your team.
2. You must clearly see a threat.
3. That threat must be identified.
4. The team leader must concur that there is an identified threat.
5. The team leader must feel that the situation is one of life or death.
6. There must be minimal or no collateral risk.
7. Only then can the team leader clear the engagement.
These ROEs might sound fine to academics gathering at some esoteric seminar on how to avoid civilian casualties in a war zone. But they do absolutely nothing to protect our combat troops who have to respond in an instant to a life or death situation.
If our soldiers or Marines see someone about to level an AK-47 in their direction or start to are receive hostile fire from a rooftop or mosque, there is no time to go through a seven-point checklist before reacting. Indeed, the very fact that they see a weapon, or begin to receive hostile fire should be sufficient justification to respond with deadly force. " .....
...."We have met the enemy, and it is the ROE."...