Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rules of Engagement

In McCain's recent speech on the problems in Afghanistan he made the following point-

One of the reasons there is no comprehensive campaign plan for Afghanistan is because we have violated one of the cardinal rules of any military operation: unity of command. Today there are no less than three different American military combatant commands operating in Afghanistan, as well as NATO, some of whose members have national restrictions on where their troops can go and what they can do. This is no way to run a war.

He is absolutely correct of course- and this kind of fragmented policy is getting troops killed needlessly-

Two British soldiers died in a fierce firefight with the Taliban after an astonishing one-hour delay while officers discussed different rules of engagement, an inquest was told.

Bizarrely two British units on the same mission were apparently operating under two different rules of engagement.

Confusion arose when Major Jamie Nowell, leading the operation to destroy Taliban vantage points, told his air support to open fire on four militants spotted in a trench.

Maj Nowell told the hearing in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, that his men were under "429 A" rules of engagement, allowing them to engage identified enemy.

But the men in the air were on "Card A" - permitting them to fire only in self-defence.

Whatever happened to simply killing the enemy when they are spotted? And how on Earth did it ever become policy to restrict fighting the enemy when they are engaged in combat with your comrades but not actually shooting at you directly? That's no way to fight a war.

"I could not understand how it had happened," he said. "Eventually the aircraft was put on 429A but it took 60 minutes. The opportunity to engage the Taliban was lost."

And British soldiers are dead as a result of this preposterous policy.

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