U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Patrolling With No Rounds Chambered in Weapons?

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 6 months ago

On his Facebook page, Michael Yon is reporting that “An American soldier emailed from Afghanistan saying that his unit has been ordered to patrol with no round in the chamber.”  There is no further confirmation than this, and I have not done my own independent confirmation.  But let’s assume for a moment the accuracy of this report.

W. Thomas Smith, Jr., calls ordering this practice criminally negligent.  I disagree.  There is nothing negligent about it.  If this order has been given, it is criminal.  Negligent means that there was no intent to endanger, and that is clearly not the case.  Whomever ordered this intends for the troops to be at increased risk.  It is an intentional act, a dispositive action.  The commanding officer is disposing of the issue of troop risk by increasing it, and he knows it.

But what’s so stunning about this is how far we have evolved from the things we learned in Iraq where we were successful.  Note again how different this is from the very things that succeeded in the hardest parts of the counterinsurgency.  I talked to a certain Marine who said something like the following concerning his time in Fallujah in 2007.

“First of all, we employed aggressive ROE, which is why we dominated Fallujah so completely and quickly from the deadly chaos that it was under a different unit early in 2007.  This aggressive ROE saved lives – ours and theirs.  But as to the issue of weapon status, here it is.  When we went on patrol, we had:

  1. Bolt forward
  2. Round in chamber
  3. Magazine inserted
  4. Weapon on safe

Obviously, since the SAW is an open-bolt weapon, the exact same rules could not apply (bolt forward), but a round was always chambered.  He further said that “Marines got hazed if they were found without a round in the chamber,” and that this stupid rule would get troops killed.

Enough said.

UPDATE: I just received the following communication from LTC Tadd Sholtis.

“Herschel,

Headquarters ISAF, the ISAF Joint Command and the Regional Commands have not issued guidance to units instructing them to conduct patrols without rounds chambered.  Force protection levels are dictated by the local threats and determined by commanders at the lowest possible tactical level, so without knowing the specific unit from which this report came I can’t verify with absolute certainty that verbal or written guidance has not been issued locally.  But the intent to subordinate commanders should be clear.  At no time do we remove our troops’ inherent rights of self-defense, and we are confident that their training and discipline allows them to use force discriminately within the rules of engagement.  We’d welcome information from anyone who has a problem with the way guidance is being implemented that they haven’t been able to address with their immediate chain of command.”



  • DesertPete45

    So, do we have a round chambered or not??? I sure hope not but I don’t believe the correspondence that troops were being ordered to patrol without chambered rounds came out of a vacuum!!!!

    What the hell is happening to MY/OUR country??????????????????? Obama on a daily basis puts for legislation (unconstitutional) that will enslave us. He is a third world type dictator. He is a thug from the streets who lied to America and covered by a radical press fooled millions who should know better to vote for this shuck and jive huckster.

    God help us. We need to take our country back in November or our economy will be destroyed, our sovereignty will be shattered and we will cease to exist in the nation in which we were born and for which our grandfathers, fathers, us and our children have fought, bled and died. What the hell is happening?????????????????/

  • DesertPete45

    I meant I sure hope so (that we have a round chambered)!!!!!!!!!!!! I have a round chambered in my handgun that lives under my pillow at night. Sorry!!

  • jaredclarksmith

    Hey its war, madness reins! I’m sure that the report is just as accurate as the ISAF Officers responce is muddy. Afghanistan is broken up into many fife-doms of command and the ISAF flavor of the day commander gets to call it his way. There is little or no unity of command and very few soldiers scattered around a vast country. So the local ISAF guy gets his way, whatever brilliant or insane idea he may develop. As a grunt, you pray for brilliance and plan for insanity.
    I think that our weak, USA gun culture and tremendous urbanization contributes to the: gun = weapon = dangerous, as opposed to the gun = weapon = security. State side training bases treat loaded weapons like 007 nuclear time bombs; one tiny jar and it’ll go boom! Despite all our war fighting and currently strong, military warrior culture, many soldiers (and their commanders) have zero experiance hanging out with a loaded weapon and they are pretty freaked out about it. They arrive in country with the happy talk of hearts and minds ringing in their ears from USA mobilization bases and they actually believe it. Until their best bud gets his leg sheared off by an RPG, it’s sorta sureal.
    Talked to some guys from the IDF the other day. My experiance in Afghanistan is remarkably like theirs on the Gaza Strip; There are lots of people that need killing. But the ROE is so strict and so constrained that it is not going to get done. You can fight back, but you better be under heavy fire before you pull the trigger. It’s tough being an American warfighter. Always was, always will be. We are the good guys!

  • DesertPete45

    jaredclarksmith – don’t know you but you are correct and that is why we will lose unless we begin shooting first, furiously and continuously at the damn enemy. I have an idea: lets sent mcchrystal, mullens, gates, brown and obama’s assess out there and let us see how restrained they are. Don’t anyone tell me about mcchrystal as the great military hero. To me he is a panty waste because if he was a real MAN he would tell nobama that he will NOT send his men into battle with such suicidal ROEs. He is not a man but a traitor just as are the others. God help us, we have been coopted and the ruling elite don’t give a damn how many young men are blown up as long as their kids aren’t there!!! Screw all of them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Followup on Patrolling Without Rounds Chambered in Weapons

  • Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Michael Yon, Chambered Rounds, and Cassandra


You are currently reading "U.S. Troops in Afghanistan Patrolling With No Rounds Chambered in Weapons?", entry #5020 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Rules of Engagement and was published May 20th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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