Rules of Engagement and Indecision

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 2 months ago

Either indecision cost the U.S. the opportunity to achieve effective kill, or decision did not consider moral ramifications of leaving the Taliban alive to kill NATO troops. 

In my post Lost Chance to Kill Taliban: Two Mistakes Were Made, we learned only a few facts about the drone that captured the picture of the approximately 190 Taliban who were in formation for a funeral.  The image is below.

 

  

We have since learned a little more about this incident.  Regarding chain of command:

Every airstrike, whether from a manned aircraft or a Predator, must be at least approved by commanders at the regional Combined Air Operations Center, or CAOC. If an intended target is particularly sensitive, the decision could go all the way up to a general officer serving as top combat commander.

When an organization gives too much latitude, it suffers from apoplexy.  When it gives too little latitude, it suffers from indecision and ineptitude.  With ROE that require approval of remotely located senior officers, it certainly must be considered indecisive and inept.

Continuing:

The current rules of engagement, likely developed by senior Pentagon officials, do not rule out an attack on religious gathering but do generally prohibit an attack on a religious site such as a cemetery or mosque, military analyst and retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs told MSNBC TV. 

In my post GIs Attack Militants in Ramadi Mosque, I discussed the fact that GIs who were fired upon from insurgents inside a Mosque returned fire and “finally unleashed several rounds from M1 tanks.”

So it apparently is not correct that the troops doing battle cannot fire upon religious structures or gatherings (the report documents the fact that the GIs didn’t know whether prayers had begun when they returned fire).

In a stunning defense of the decision not to fire at the Taliban gathered for the funeral, the military issued this statement:

“During the observation of the group over a significant period of time, it was determined that the group was located on the grounds of a cemetery and were likely conducting a funeral for Taliban insurgents killed in a coalition operation nearby earlier in the day,? a coalition spokesperson said. “A decision was made not to strike this group of insurgents at that specific location and time.?

“Coalition Forces do not discuss rules of engagement; however, they hold themselves to a higher moral and ethical standard than their enemies,? the military said in a statement.

Certain military analysts have reported that the drone was not armed, while news reports claim that it was.  If the decision was made to deliver ordnance on the grouping of Taliban, the decision was pushed too high up the chain of command to act quickly enough for the decision to matter.  If the decision was made not to deliver ordnance due to the ROE prohibiting targeting this particular type of religious gathering, then the decision did not consider the moral ramifications of leaving these fighters alive to kill more NATO troops.

  • http://editcopy.blogspot.com Chris

    My only question would be whether to hit the guy in the box, to add insult to injury.

  • http://www.copthetruth.typepad.com Mike

    Obviously, the military spokesman (“higher moral and ethical standard”) isn’t one of the ground troops will now have to go in on foot, hunt down and kill all 200 of those people!


You are currently reading "Rules of Engagement and Indecision", entry #281 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) War & Warfare,Weapons and Tactics and was published September 15th, 2006 by Herschel Smith.

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