General Anthony Zinni on the Rules of Engagement

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 10 months ago

General Anthony Zinni on the rules of engagement:

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?

  • Paul Edson

    ROE are a symptom of the problem, not the core of the issue.
    We are attempting to fight against a group who does not share our value of the individual using the rules of our society. We have been through this before. We need to quit wringing our hands. But we won’t and will agonize over this “moral burden” until for whatever reason, we leave the area.

  • john

    ROE are not killing the troops IEDs are. What sort of an impact will loosening the ROE have in the number of IEDs planted I say it will increase that number

  • http://facebook.com Rayma Patterson

    I respecfully disagree. I believe the ROE ARE a huge problem for our troops and their families. When our own Government cares more for the lives of another countries civilian lives than they care for the lives of our Troops, what message is sent to our Troops?

    Our Troops are sent there to fight and, if necessary, to kill our enemies, who also happen to be the enemies of those same civilians. I believe if our Government does not want our Troops to fight, does not want them to kill the enemy, does not want them to WIN, then our troops should be brought home immediately and this Administration should apologize to them and their families!!!!

    How this situation can be seen any differently is a myster to me.


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This article is filed under the category(s) Afghanistan,Rules of Engagement and was published October 28th, 2010 by Herschel Smith.

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