The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

Collateral Murder: Did U.S. Apache Pilots’ Actions Violate the Rules of Engagement?

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

Following up from the Wikileaks release of the so-called Collateral Murder video there has been a firestorm of activity over both the internet and television.  One self-proclaimed intelligence expert claims that the actions of the Apache pilots violated the rules of engagement.

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer … said that based on what he saw in the video, it appeared to be a violation of the military’s Rules of Engagement.

“First rule is, you may engage persons who commit hostile acts or show hostile intent by minimum force necessary,” he said. “Minimum force is necessary. If you see eight armed men, the first thing I would think as an intelligence officer is, ‘How can we take these guys and capture them?’ We don’t want to kill people arbitrarily; we want the intel take.

“Now, most importantly, when you see that van show up to take away the wounded, do not target or strike anyone who has surrendered or is out of combat due to sickness or wounds. So, the wound part of that I find disturbing, being that you clearly have people down, you have people on the way there. Speaking as an intelligence officer, my intent is to capture people, to recover them. That is the idea here. If you’re not really doing that, you’re not really doing precise combat.”

This is a misdirection play.  The former intelligence officer was first addressing the issue of violation of the ROE, then switched to the issue of what he would like to see in order to categorize this as precise combat, i.e., capture and intelligence recovery.  He offers us no evidence that the actions violated the ROE.  He says it and moves on to his pet issues.

There is ample evidence that the actions did not violate the ROE.  There are three categories under which these insurgents could have been targeted: (1) TIC (troops in contact) / self defense, (2) deliberate targeting, and finally (3) TST (time sensitive targets).

The AR 15-6 investigation into this incident points out that:

The cameraman raises the camera to sight through the viewfinder and his action appears prompts (sic) one of the pilots to remark “He’s getting ready to fire.”  Photos later recovered from the camera show a U.S. Army HMMWV sitting at an intersection, less than 100 meters away from the camera.  The digital time/date stamp on the photo indicates that these photos were the ones taken as the cameraman peered from behind the wall.  Due to the furtive nature of his movements, the cameraman gave every appearance of preparing to fire an RPG on U.S. Soldiers.

So the actions meet the definition of self defense in the ROE.  Next, there is an earlier version of the rules of engagement which has a larger list of potential targets in the deliberate targeting category.

There are six types of preplanned target sets: (1) Non-military elements of former regime command and control and associated facilities, (2) WMD storage facilities, (3) Iraqi infrastructure and Iraqi economic objects, (4) Terrorists, (5) Iraqi lines of communication, and (6) Facilities (associated with Designated Terrorists or Declared Hostile Forces).

But the 2007 revision of the ROE had at least the following list: members of designated terrorist organizations and facilities associated with DTOs.  It goes on to list certain DTOs, and as a side bar comment, it isn’t clear to me why Ansar al Sunna isn’t specifically called out.  But that has nothing per se to do with this incident, and “other groups or terrorist organizations” covers this operation.

Finally, time sensitive targets (for which there is insufficient time to gain formal authorization) covers the kills at the location of the van which showed up to recover the bodies.

To be sure, this video can be disturbing to those who do not understand that war means enacting and enforcing violence, and can be equally disturbing to those who have had to do so either in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Memories can be difficult things.  It’s always better in retrospect to learn that the targets you acquired and killed were indeed threats against U.S. forces.  This is true in this instance except for two very stupid Reuters journalists embedded with insurgents, and two unfortunate children (who, by the way, lived) who should never have been brought into combat by some very stupid – and dead – insurgents.

Prior:

Wikileaks Posts Video of U.S. Army Killings in Iraq: Collateral Murder?

Rules of Engagement Category

Wikileaks Posts Video of U.S. Army Killings in Iraq: Collateral Murder?

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

From the BBC, Wikileaks has posted a video (also sponsored by a web site called Collateral Murder) purporting to show the “murder” of a couple of Reuters photographers in Iraq, circa July 2007.  I am embedding the video below, but before you watch it, it is best to keep a few things in mind.

If you want a roundup of reactions across the web, check out Around the Sphere.  If you want to see a rather silly reaction, check out Lawyers, Guns, & Money.  They link my NCOs Speak on Rules of Engagement, asking if this is an example of the ROE that troops were operating under at the time.  They apparently didn’t read my article, as it goes to great lengths to exhibit the troubles that the highly restrictive ROE had caused to that point.  Furthermore, the ROE for close air support and combat aviation was not the subject of my article.

Better is the Jawa Report, which details various scenes where RPGs are clearly being brandished, demonstrating that this was a group of insurgents.  It stands as recommended reading and study.  Hot Air also has some worthy comments concerning this event.  Finally, Bill Roggio has some comments at The Weekly Standard.

Unfortunately, these two Reuters journalists were embedded with insurgents.  My reaction when Nir Rosen embedded with the Taliban in Afghanistan was as follows:

As for Nir Rosen, (The Captain’s Journal) doesn’t need the embedded report. We can figure it out on our own. We may as well have had someone embed with the Schutzstaffel while the Jews were being exterminated. Just as there is nothing romantic about putting Jews in ovens to die, there is nothing good, wholesome, romantic or righteous about Taliban ideology. Nir Rosen had better watch his six, or better yet, embed with U.S. troops.

And so too with the Reuters journalists.  Embedding with insurgents is highly dangerous, and in this instance it turned around and bit Reuters like a snake.  Reuters is in no position to question the ROE or the decisions made that fateful day.  But concerning those decisions, I have repeatedly pressed the issue with rules of engagement for snipers that offensive operations are not contemplated in the standing ROE, and yet they should be.  I have no problem with any of the decisions made that day.  I support allowing ground forces to follow the same ROE that CAS followed in this instance and the drones follow in their attacks against the Taliban leadership in Pakistan.

This isn’t the same thing as saying that, in retrospect, all decisions turned out to be beneficial to the campaign.  But knowing this in advance of those decisions places an impossible burden on the troops.  Anyone can take cheap shots by detailing videos two or three years after the fact – after months of researching and viewing video feed of on the spot decisions made by men with the responsibility to kill the enemy while keeping their behavior between the ditches.  I believe that the troops succeeded in doing just that; staying between the ditches.

Helmand Fighting Holes

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder not only documents the war in Afghanistan with traditional digital cameras, he also used an iPhone camera, carried in his flak jacket pocket, coupled with a Polaroid film filter application to photograph the daily lives of Marines, Afghan soldiers and fellow journalists during the military offensive in Marjah, Afghanistan.

I have long admired Guttenfelder’s work, and this scene of fighting holes near Marjah:

Afghan iphone

Is reminiscent of the scene from other locations in Helmand (about which I have previously written), just in slightly warmer weather.

fighting_holes

Take a look at all of Guttenfelder’s work.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, Guttenfelder has given us quite an essay.

Westboro Baptist Church

BY Herschel Smith
14 years, 1 month ago

The father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder (the Lance Corporal perished in Iraq) has been ordered by the Fourth Circuit to pay the legal fees of Westboro Baptist Church.

Outraged that the father of a dead Marine was ordered to pay some court costs incurred by a group he had sued for picketing his son’s funeral, people from across the country have launched a grass-roots fundraising effort to help the grieving family.

“I was appalled,” said Sally Giannini, a 72-year-old retired bookkeeper from Spokane, Wash., who had called The Baltimore Sun after seeing an article about the court decision against Albert Snyder. “I believe in free speech, but this goes too far.”

Living on a fixed income, Giannini said she could send only $10 toward the $16,510.80 that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered Snyder to pay to Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., an anti-gay group that travels the country picketing military funerals. The group says military deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Strange way indeed to make ones views known.

Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, 20, was killed in a Humvee accident in Iraq on March 3, 2006. A week later, church members stood outside his funeral at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Westminster waving signs that said “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags” while mourners grieved inside. Later, they posted a diatribe on their Web site claiming that Matthew’s divorced parents raised him “to commit adultery” and to support “satanic Catholicism.”

The Westboro church members had never met Matthew, who wasn’t gay, nor his family. Yet seven of them – adults and children – traveled 1,100 miles across a half-dozen states to celebrate the young Marine’s death …

The report is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the extremely poor theology which underlies the whole approach.  God has revealed Himself – past tense – and He no more has told the pastor or members of Westboro Baptist Church about His eternal plans for Iraq or why any individual has perished than He has told Pat Robertson why an earthquake struck Haiti (Deuteronomy 29:29).

More remarkable still is the ex nihilo fabrication of a “constitutional right” to desecrate funerals by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The idea that the our founding fathers had this in mind under the rubric of the first amendment is preposterous.  There is no reason to believe that the administration of righteousness will be spared the gaze of God; to the contrary (1 Kings 3:9).  There will be a day of reckoning for those who make a joke of their public oaths and vows and a laughingstock of justice.

Finally, Westboro Baptist Church does indeed have the right to promulgate their views at the right time and location (funerals is not one of them).  The scholarly approach is to behave as Paul did on Mars Hill (Acts 17).  Westboro Baptist Church displayed the reciprocal behavior.  When a warrior perished on the field of battle, they profaned his funeral.  When a parent grieved, they insulted the memory of his son.  When a young man’s memory was being honored, they lied about his past and used his life in a cheap attempt to gain attention to themselves.

Many churches have as their vision statement “To know Christ and make Him known.”  I won’t fall into the same trap as Westboro Baptist Church and claim to know the hearts of members whom I have never met.  I have no problem, however, claiming that they have failed at making Christ known.  And a day of reckoning awaits them too.


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