Monday, December 9, 2013

The REAL Rules of Engagement

Did you see 60 Minutes last evening? There was an interesting segment by that babe-magnet Anderson Cooper about a Seal team in Afghanistan back in 2005. Their mission was to seek out and kill a local warlord who had become too much of a pain in the ass. Now these guys were full-blown special ops troops pretty much on their own out in the bush, real commando stuff. So anyway they're in hostile territory doing their thing and literally a bunch of goat herders stumble over their position. Now, they've got a problem. The rules of engagement say you can't attack unless you yourself are attacked. But these guys are in bad country and they know very well these goat herders are not friendly and will rat them out at first opportunity. And they also know this warlord has several hundred experienced fighters and they can expect hell to rain down if he gets wind of the operation. So, what to do? You can follow military necessity and prudently execute these (three I think it was) people thereby risking murder charges from some military lawyer/pencil pushing dickhead, or you can obey standing orders and almost certainly compromise the mission...oh yeah, and die. Of course the team leader, a Lieutenant tries to call home for instructions but the mountains of Afghanistan aren't in Verizon's coverage area so he does what any good officer would do...obeys the damn orders. So they let the goat herders go and SURPRISE SURPRISE, in an hour or so they come under heavy small arms and RPG fire in some of the roughest country this side of the Sea of Tranquility. It all goes ass over tits and one guy comes out alive, our interviewee. All in all 19 brave American died so three illiterate Afghani goat herders could live. Our politicians have funny priorities.

CW is fond of pointing out that I'm an old guy and perhaps there are some "generational" differences in our experiences and attitudes. That's all true. And one experience I had that CW didn't was living through the Vietnam conflict and seeing how that war was conducted. The same bullshit that went on in Vietnam resulting in the US losing that war (and millions upon millions of unnecessary deaths) is being repeated again in Afghanistan. I am personally against even being in Afghanistan. I think it's was a lost cause from the git-go (unlike Iraq which Obama screwed up and lost to the Iranians). But if there are murder charges to be brought in this stupid war, the indictment should have the Secretary of Defense's name on it for even instituting such an insane, imprudent and reckless policy. I'm not advocating a Red Army in Germany or Sherman's March to the Sea anything goes situation, war crimes are war crimes, but our ridiculous "rules of engagement" are no less than malfeasance by Pentagon lawyers, bureaucrats and politicians. These standing orders jeopardize the lives of good Americans who are willing to endure untold hardship in the service of our/their country. Their job is dangerous enough, they deserve at least the opportunity to survive.


BigFred said...

When I was working up the Final Battle Problem, called an ORE for an East Coast SEAL Team in Moorehead City, NC, the CO, a Navy O5 of some reputation, and only one leg, asked me to sit in on a briefing that one of the Platoons was giving him before they left on the patrol/mission. I took the RHIB in, told the XO to not go aground or get in trouble, and went ashore for the briefing. I took the briefing with him, and the CO turned to me and said, "What don't you understand about what they are about to do?" I had some mundae questions about the communications plan, and what happenes if they lose comms, and if they had air cover/extraction, and then innocently asked, "What happens if you get compromised? Kids out picking berries, riding their bikes?" And the look they gave me, every man in the room, was like I was the dumbest person on the planet, and the vibe was I had crossed the line with that question. So as they launched and I got ready to make the ride back to my 180 feet of Sovereign US Territory, I grabbed the CO and his Command Master Chief, who I had a pretty strong relationship with, and asked them if I had crossed the line. "No" they said, "but it is one of those questions that we train to, like you guys trying to make junior officers turning left across another ships path, and we don't talk about it much. It is understood." So I get your point, Hammer, but that is not in their playbook to do that.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

The Kitten and I watched this too; she asked what I would have done. I told her I cannot ever know--but standing there in the kitchen, I thought the goatherds might not be alive anymore.

"The Hammer" said...

That's MOREhead City Big Fred. Or, if you're a local and have been going to the Atlantic Beach/Morehead City area since before pubic hair showed up, you can just call it Morehead.
But I take your point, or should I say ITYP. Thanks.

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