6 years, 11 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:
- Bolt forward
- Round in chamber
- Magazine inserted
- 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.
UPDATE: I just received the following communication from LTC Tadd Sholtis.
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.”