4 years, 8 months ago
Soldiers fighting in Afghanistan believe their rules of engagement are too restrictive and hand the enemy an unfair advantage, a retired US Marine Corps general says.
General Anthony Zinni, a former commander of US central command and now US head of defence company BAE Systems, said he believed concerns about restrictive rules were coalition-wide.
This is an issue touched on by an unnamed Australian soldier in an email complaining about the adequacy of support provided to troops in a major fight with insurgents on August 24 which claimed the life of one digger.
“Everyone is too scared about collateral damage,” he wrote.
General Zinni, in Australia for a strategic leadership forum, said concerns about the rules had been conveyed by coalition and US soldiers, including his own son, a marines (sic) officer in Afghanistan.
“There is a strong sense in on the ground by the company commanders and platoon commanders that the rules of engagement are too restrictive,” he told reporters.
“They result in more casualties. They don’t allow for the kind of immediate engagement. The enemy understands these rules of engagement and manipulates them.”
Rules of engagement apply to all coalition troops in Afghanistan and dictate circumstances in which they can open fire or resort to certain weapons.
Following a series of air and artillery strikes which resulted in civilian casualties, the rules were tightened to limit use of heavy weapons against civilian compounds, even if insurgents were firing from them.
General Zinni said that meant a request for an air or artillery strike needed to be cleared at multiple levels, wasting time, with many missions refused.
He said that reduced troops to using direct fire weapons, just the same as the enemy, with engagements lasting longer and increasing the danger to nearby civilians.
You mean that there are unintended consequences to the rules of engagement? You mean that they don’t really do what they are purported to do? Hmmm … who could have guessed that?