My Perspective on “Room-Clearing”

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 2 months ago

I want to give a brief perspective on “room-clearing” procedures of the type used in Falujah (and apparently in Haditha, and I would guess in the future in Ramadi).

I commented in an earlier post that I didn’t know what a “stack” was (pertaining to the term as used by the NYT article on Haditha).  I still don’t, because a stack is not something that is, it is something a team does.  It is not a noun — it is a verb.

I use the term because it came up in the context of the Haditha incident.  Apparently, room-clearing procedures were used in Haditha.

Folks, let me be as clear as I can be on this.  Listen carefully for a moment.  I will be brief.  If Marines feel threatened and believe the enemy to be in a house or room, and the order is given to “clear” the room, well then … the Marines will clear the room.  They will do it the way that they have been trained to do it.  This method, this protocol, these procedures — they are designed to kill the enemy and protect Marines.  It is a fast and furious and deadly thing.

The procedure is executed within a couple of seconds.  No, I did not say it begins within a couple of seconds.  I said it is executed within a couple of seconds.  FinishedPast tense.  Then on to the next room.

There is no protocol, no time, and no provision (AND THERE NEVER CAN BE) to identify and delineate friend from foe.  Such a thing does not comport with room-clearing.  Any attempt to delineate friend from foe would result in the countless deaths of Marines.  The entire protocol presupposes that there is enemy in the room to be cleared.

There is a moral to this little story.  Do not unleash the Marines unless there is a true need.  And when the Marines are unleashed, they will follow their protocol and do what they are trained to do.  It is to be expected, and frankly, I would have it no other way.

From time to time, this will result in the deaths — however tragic — of innocents.  Another result?  The protection and safety of Marines.


You are currently reading "My Perspective on “Room-Clearing”", entry #73 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) War & Warfare and was published July 3rd, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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