Update on ROE Changes for Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 5 months ago

From the BBC:

Speaking during a visit to a new US marine base in southern Helmand province, Gen McChrystal said that US and Nato troops must make a “cultural shift” from conventional warfare to protecting Afghan civilians.

“Traditionally American forces are designed for conventional, high-intensity combat. In my mind what we’ve really got to do is make a cultural shift,” he said

“When you do anything that harms the people you just have a huge chance of alienating the population. And so even with the best of intentions, if our operation causes them to lose property or loved ones, there is almost no way somebody cannot be impacted in how they view the government and us, the coalition forces.”

“If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so,” he told the BBC.

This address was probably delivered at Camp Leatherneck:

Where the U.S. Marines are preparing to take on an insurgency as well-entrenched as it was in the Anbar Province.  This information is valuable as a followup to our previous analysis of the new ROE.  Four more points are in order.

First, General McChrystal has essentially laid out the new insurgent strategy in Afghanistan.  This strategy is even more sure than it was in Iraq where staying among noncombatants yielded little succor, especially against the Marines in the Anbar Province (we’ll also remind you at this point that al Qaeda and the indigenous insurgency lost in Anbar – the Anbaris and the Marines won).

Second, it is bizarre in the extreme for General McChrystal, having spent his time in raids, high value target killings and other dark operations, to be telling the Marines (who not only did that, but spent time among the people too) what will and won’t win a counterinsurgency.  As the saying goes, he is trying to teach his granny to suck eggs.

Third, there is no possible way for Soldiers or Marines to know with certainty if noncombatants are in any particular location or domicile.  General McChrystal’s words were “if there is any chance.”  Without comprehensive knowledge of the situation, there is always a chance.  Thus the decision-making is biased in favor of disengagement.

Finally, protecting Afghan civilians involves killing Taliban.  One won’t be possible without the other.  Young Marines in Camps Lejeune and Pendleton preparing to deploy to Afghanistan must be wondering “just what kind of mess are they preparing for us?  I think I’d rather go on a float where I can shoot back.”  At Camp Leatherneck there must be young Marines staring in disbelief at their COs.  In the halls of the Pentagon the Marine Corps Commandant surely must be preparing an exit strategy for Afghanistan.

Prior: Changes to the Rules of Engagement for Afghanistan




You are currently reading "Update on ROE Changes for Afghanistan", entry #3208 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,General McChrystal,Rules of Engagement and was published June 25th, 2009 by Herschel Smith.

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