Duke University’s Arguments Against A Statutory Second Amendment

Herschel Smith · 22 May 2022 · 14 Comments

The Regulatory Review links a paper by Joseph Blocher of Duke University arguing against state preemption laws that prohibit more restrictive gun control statutes by cities and counties than instituted by the state itself.  The paper is entitled "Cities, Preemption, and the Statutory Second Amendment." He argues: As a practical matter, though, nothing has done more to shape contemporary gun regulation than state preemption laws, which fully or partially eliminate cities’ ability to…… [read more]

Heading for Haiti

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

My daughter is headed for Haiti with The Samaritan’s Purse, and I am happy to give my readers a chance to donate to her “deployment.”

My name is Devon Smith. I am twenty-two years old, and originally from Charlotte, North Carolina. I have lived in the upstate of South Carolina for the past four years while attending college. I am the youngest of four children, with two wonderful parents who raised us. Having three older brothers was an adventure growing up, and there was seldom a dull moment!

I recently graduated from the University of South Carolina Upstate in May of 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing. Shortly thereafter, I obtained my Registered Nursing license to practice nursing in the United States. Sometime late this fall, after October, I will be joining the Navy as an Officer in the Navy Nurse Corps, and will have the great privilege of serving the men and women of the Armed Forces. Until then, I am headed for Haiti!!!

Many NGOs can’t be trusted, and governmental organizations bury their assistance in bureaucracy.  Samaritan’s Purse is the best thing going, and you have a chance to participate via PayPal.  Visit Heading for Haiti.

Sustainable Defense Task Force

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

To be fair concerning the brief things I am about to say (and quote), you may go directly to the Sustainable Defense Task Force Report and read the analysis and recommendations yourself.  For now, the summary report at the Marine Corps Times will suffice.

An independent team has made a series of recommendations to Congress to reduce future Defense Department budgets, in light of the country’s growing deficit — including big cuts to the Corps.

The team, dubbed, The Sustainable Defense Task Force, was tapped for the project by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Their suggestions could reduce defense spending by $960 billion from 2011 to 2020.

Ideas include:

• Roll back the size of the Army and Marine Corps as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down. The U.S. could save $147 billion over the next decade by reducing the Army’s end strength from 547,400 to 482,400 and the Corps’ from 202,000 to 175,000, the task force says.

• Reduce the number of maneuver units in the Army and Marine Corps. The task force suggests reducing the number of Army brigades from 45 to 42 and the number of Marine infantry battalions from 27 to 24. Doing so would contribute to the $147 billion in savings as the services reduce their end strengths.

• Delay or cancel development of Navy variants of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The U.S. could save $9.85 billion from 2011 to 2020 by canceling the purchase of JSF jets for the Navy and Marine Corps and buying more affordable F/A-18 jets instead. Doing so would leave the Corps without jump jets once the AV-8 Harrier leaves the service, but the task force argues that capability “has not proved critical to operations in recent wars.”

• End the fielding of new MV-22 Ospreys. The Corps could save $10 billion to $12 billion over the next 10 years by buying new MH-60S and CH-53K helicopters, analysts say. The K variant of the CH-53 is not expected to hit the fleet until at least 2015, but the Navy began replacing outdated CH-46 helicopters early this century with the MH-60 on amphibious assault ships.

• Kill the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program and field cheaper alternatives. The Corps could save at least $8 billion in the next decade by refurbishing cheaper, existing amphibious assault vehicles instead of continuing development of the yet-to-be-fielded EFV, the task force says.

• Reduce military recruiting budgets. The task force does not provide a service-specific breakdown, but says that with a military drawdown underway, the U.S. will not need to spend as much money finding new recruits. Recruiting budgets could be reduced by $5 billion over the next decade.

Some of the proposals — killing the EFV to save money, for example — are hardly new. But the report also includes a second set of proposals authored by Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble, analysts at the conservative Cato Institute in Washington.

In a five-page section at the back of the task force’s 56-page report, the two analysts propose a “strategy of restraint — one that reacts to danger rather than going out in search of it.” If adopted — a big “if” — it would result in deep cuts to the Army and Marine Corps, with the Army reduced from about 560,000 soldiers to 360,000, a 36 percent reduction, and the Corps reduced from 202,000 Marines to 145,000, a 28 percent decrease. The cuts would make the Corps smaller than it has been at any time since 1950, when there were about 74,300 Marines on active duty before the U.S. took an active role in the Korean War.

[ … ]

“We are spending more on our military than we have at any point since World War II,” Preble said. “It’s absurd to think that the type of threats that we‘re dealing with today in 2010 are greater than what we dealt with in 1950 or 1960 or 1970. It’s absolutely absurd.”

No, here is what’s absurd.  Pretending that this has anything to do with saving any significant amount of money via defense cuts.  Recall that we have discussed this depiction of defense spending as a function of GDP (via Instapundit).

This graph also comes from the Cato Institute.  Maybe the analysts at the Cato Institute should talk to each other a little more.  You know, maybe some staff meetings or hallway discussions or something.  Maybe they should do lunch.  With the Obama administration having thrown several trillion dollars into toilet to be flushed away without doing any good whatsoever, the focus on defense spending is disingenuous and hypocritical.  Right before the executive summary, the following quote is strategically placed.

Conservatives needs to hearken back to the Eisenhower heritage, and develop a defense leadership that understands military power is fundamentally premised on the solvency of the American government and vibrancy of the U.S. economy,” Kori Schake, Hoover Institution Fellow and former McCain-Palin Foreign Policy Advisor.

Nice try.  Let’s cut billions out of defense spending in order to counterbalance the trillions we throw away on social engineering programs so that if we ever really do need defense again after we have managed to control ourselves and stay out of fights with the enemy, maybe we will have spent so much on non-defense we will have curtailed our drunken appetite for throwing money away and we can get down to business defending ourselves.

The problem is that the enemy gets the majority vote.  Say what you want about the expeditionary warfare concept, the 100 or so nations in which we currently have troops deployed and based, and the supposed meddling we do in the affairs of others.  It keeps the fight abroad instead of at home.  For those who wish to wait for the fight to come to our doorstep, be careful what you wish for and consider just what it would be like.

I have been as hard on the big plans for the Marine Corps as anyone.  I dominate Google rankings for expeditionary warfare and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.  I oppose it (the EFV) in all its manifestations.  I have advocated a much lighter, and more air-mobile Corps, with reliance on forcible entry via air (a new helicopter fleet) rather than via sea, to allow the Navy to set up shop after the Marines have secured a beachhead.  Relying on the hugely expensive and very heavy EFV is profoundly unwise.  I have also opposed the money for the F-35 because it isn’t half the aircraft that the F-22 is, and it has had halting production efficiency.

But the authors have crossed the Rubicon.  They’re talking about massive reductions in infantry battalions.  Don’t be fooled.  Good Infantry Battalions can’t be stood up easy, cheap or fast.  We are left with our pants down if we follow the advice of this report sanctioned by this group of bipartisan lawmakers.  And for the record, while I like the generally libertarian approach to domestic lawmaking, Ron Paul’s views of national defense are naive and childish.  Any study co-sponsored by Barney Frank and Ron Paul should immediately raise your hackles.

In the future, I have a better idea for saving money.  Rather than pay these analysts to reiterate this same claptrap, next time pay me ten percent of what you would otherwise spend and I’ll cut through the crap in one tenth of the words.  One tenth the words for one tenth the cost.  If Congress doesn’t recognize that as a deal, they can’t be trusted with our money.

Jirgas and Release of Taliban Prisoners

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

The pitiful Hamid Karzai had a peace jirga in June.  Astonishingly, it appears that it wasn’t very successful.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s peace jirga earlier this month was pretty close to a bust. Powerful northern rivals were conspicuously absent, as were the Taliban, who instead dispatched a pair of suicide bombers to disturb the proceedings, detonating not far from where the conference took place. The violence, however, overshadowed a rare moment of unity among influential lawmakers and elders: a full-throated call to release of hundreds of prisoners, possibly even including Taliban, languishing in Afghan and U.S. military jails.

In yet another affirmation of his will to end the Taliban-led insurgency through compromise rather than the end of a gun, the President said the jirga’s demand compelled him to act quickly to free those prisoners who might oppose his government but have not been convicted of alleged crimes. The goal, he went on, was to build goodwill with “disenchanted people” in league with the Taliban.

Shortly after the jirga, Amrullah Saleh, the head of Afghan intelligence agency NDS, resigned. It was widely believed that he had been browbeaten by Karzai for the security lapse that allowed the suicide bombers to be so close to the jirga. But Saleh had long bristled at what he viewed as Karzai’s tendency to appease the Taliban for political gain; in fact, he had called the prisoner-release idea a “disgrace” that amounts to “negotiating with suicide bombers.”

Later in June, fourteen Taliban prisoners were released as part of this agreement, and another twenty eight have been released just in the last several days.  In fact, this is only the beginning.  The flood gates could soon open, culminating in the release of as many as a thousand Taliban.

The head of Afghanistan’s most notorious prison says nearly 1,000 Taliban inmates could be freed from Pul-e-Charki prison as part of an amnesty deal offered by Hamid Karzai’s government.

The figure, revealed by General Abdulbakhi Behsudi, the warden of Afghanistan’s largest prison, in an interview with The Globe And Mail, suggests the potential breath of the prisoner release ordered under the terms of a controversial resolution issued by Afghanistan’s peace jirga, an assembly of tribal elders convened last week to pave the path for negotiations with the Taliban.

On Sunday, President Hamid Karzai ordered the creation of a special delegation to review the cases of Taliban inmates “imprisoned without sufficient evidence,” the first move toward a widespread prisoner release that could involve amnesty for thousands of jailed insurgents across Afghanistan …

Mr. Behsudi keeps a collection of evidence confiscated from these inmates in a locked glass cabinet, proof, he said, of their intractable criminal minds.

There are dozens of battered cellphones used to issue orders for suicide bombings; $1-million worth of heroin and hash buried inside the soles of shoes, stuffed inside a hairbrush, and lining a false-bottomed cooking pot. There is a braided rubber whip seized from cellblock D, used by the insurgents to punish any inmate who crossed them.

“These people will never be loyal to the government because they are dark thinkers, they think dark things,” said Mr. Behsudi, a heavy-set man dressed in crisp army fatigues, brandishing a sword confiscated from a prisoner’s bed.

Pul-e-Charki has about 4,620 inmates, he said, with the Taliban forming the most cohesive category of prisoners. Only a small fraction of those – the ones caught with “a smoking gun” – would be exempt from Mr. Karzai’s proposed amnesty.

While we are attempting to separate the insurgents from the population, go to great (and deadly) lengths to avoid collateral damage when fighting the insurgents, and have many thousands of American warriors deployed in theater to protect the population and kill the insurgents, Karzai is releasing them back into the population to start all over again.

With “friends” like this, who needs enemies?

More Rules of Engagement Examples from Afghanistan II

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

Via CBS News:

To the U.S. soldiers getting pounded with thunderous mortar rounds in their combat outpost near Kandahar, it seemed like a legitimate request: allow them to launch retaliatory mortar shells or summon an airstrike against their attackers. The incoming fire was landing perilously close to a guard station, and the soldiers, using a high-powered camera, could clearly see the insurgents shooting.

The response from headquarters — more than 20 miles away — was terse. Permission denied. Battalion-level officers deemed the insurgents too close to a cluster of mud-brick houses, perhaps with civilians inside.

Although the insurgents stopped firing before anybody was wounded, the troops were left seething.

“This is not how you fight a war, at least not in Kandahar,” said a soldier at the outpost who described the incident, which occurred last month, on the condition of anonymity. “We’ve been handcuffed by our chain of command.”

[ … ]

Despite claims from some relatives of military personnel killed in Afghanistan that the directive has limited the ability of troops to defend themselves, the officials said a review by the U.S. military of every combat fatality over the past year has found no evidence that the rules restricted the use of lifesaving firepower.

“We have not found a single situation where a soldier has lost his life because he was not allowed to protect himself,” one of the officials said.

If troops are in imminent danger, there is no restriction on the use of airstrikes or mortars. “The rules of engagement provide an absolute right of self-defense,” the official said.

For troops on the ground … the directive has lowered their morale and limited their ability to pursue insurgents. They note that Taliban fighters seem to understand the new rules and have taken to sniping at troops from inside homes or retreating inside houses after staging attacks.

“Minimizing civilian casualties is a fine goal, but should it be the be-all and end-all of the policy?” said a junior Army officer in southern Afghanistan. “If we allow soldiers to die in Afghanistan at the hands of a leader who says, ‘We’re going to protect civilians rather than soldiers,’ what’s going to happen on the ground? The soldiers are not going to execute the mission to the best of their ability. They won’t put their hearts into the mission. That’s the kind of atmosphere we’re building.”

The principal problem, senior officials say, is that U.S. and allied units across Afghanistan have carried out the directive in ways that are more restrictive than McChrystal intended. Fearful of career-ending sanctions if they violate the order, commanders at every subordinate level down the chain have tightened the rules themselves, often adding their own stipulations to the use of air and mortar strikes.

Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marja in February, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense. But before the order was given to the Marines, the British-run regional headquarters in southern Afghanistan amended the language to include any strikes “near” houses, according to two U.S. sources familiar with the incident.

The issue of divergent and overly-restrictive “interpretations” of the ROE being given down the chain of command is a red herring.  The issue is a diversion from the real issue of overly restrictive rules and micromanagement of the campaign at the highest levels of command.

In More Rules of Engagement Examples from Afghanistan, I observed:

McChrystal’s advocates argue that McChrystal’s tactical directive was misunderstood and applied too restrictively at lower levels of command (the rules have been distorted as they pass down the chain of command).  But that dog won’t hunt.  His tactical directive remains available for viewing, and his words set the context for its application: “If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so.”  The reader can make up his own mind.

As for warriors who have lost their lives to the rules of engagement, I give you three Marines and a Navy Corpsman, and for me, General McChrystal will always be responsible for their deaths.  Others may have participated by their incompetence, but it all began with McChrystal.

But the real addition to the knowledge base for ROE in this example comes by way of prissy excuse and demur.  Note that the report attempts to exonerate McChrystal’s direct report, General Rodriguez by explaining how the rules got revised after issuance.  But here is the real question.  Why the hell is General Rodriguez second guessing Marines in the field in combat operations?

The real problem is not that the rules got twisted.  The real problem is that General Rodriguez took it upon himself to micromanage Marines who have successful combat experience from Iraq.  The Marines no more needed General Rodriguez at any point during this operation than they needed a business secretary in corporate America issuing orders to them.  Instead of providing logistics, materiel, equipment and resources, General Rodriguez made himself a nuisance to the operation.

This micromanagement is an increasing problem in the U.S. military, and it follows the American corporate model.  But it seems to have taken on gigantic proportions with General McChrystal, an aspect that needs to change now that he is gone.  Unfortunately, General Rodriguez is still around to meddle in affairs where he is not needed and is serving no useful purpose.

Postscript: General Rodriguez has been the subject of previous articles, specifically where he trotted out Army intelligence to decidedly inform us that there would be no 2008 spring offensive in Afghanistan, while I said that there would be, and it would be directed at logistics, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  The reader can decide for himself who hit the target and who didn’t.

Forgetting Iraq?

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

From L.A. Times:

President Obama’s decision to shift the U.S. military chief for the Middle East, Gen. David H. Petraeus, to focus exclusively on Afghanistan highlights what politicians, analysts and some U.S. military officers here say is a serious drift in policy toward Iraq.

Iraqi officials said they had detected a lack of direction even before Obama tapped Petraeus to replace his commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who stepped down this week after he and his team made disparaging comments about U.S. civilian leaders.

The Iraqis describe U.S. Embassy officials in Baghdad as obsessed with bringing an end to the large-scale U.S. troop presence in Iraq. They believe the embassy’s single-mindedness has often left the United States veering from crisis to crisis here. Some U.S. military officers and Western analysts have also criticized what they see as a failure to think beyond the planned drawdown to 50,000 noncombat troops by the end of August. The lack of focus may leave an opening for Iraq’s neighbor and the United States’ rival — Iran.

[ … ]

Iraqi officials are eager to take back control of their country. But some worry that the U.S. administration is blinding itself to the need for continued engagement.

“They deal with and treat Iraq as an ordinary country,” said a senior Iraqi official said, who also spoke on condition of anonymity. “This is all wishful.”

The insurgency in Iraq is down, but certainly not out.  It is especially troublesome in the Diyala Province and on to the  North.  Something resembling regular combat operations still ensues in parts of Iraq.

It was a tip-off about a weapons cache that drew the U.S. soldiers of Charlie Troop away from their Stryker armored vehicles in the densely populated Iraqi town of Jalawla one Friday morning last month.

That was when the suicide bomber struck, detonating a car bomb so “catastrophic” that details of the attack that killed Sergeant Israel O’Bryan and Specialist William Yauch are still hazy, their commanding officer said.

One thing was clear: the insurgency in Jalawla won’t lie down.

Like other towns across Iraq’s restive northern provinces of Diyala, Kirkuk and Nineveh, Jalawla defies the U.S. narrative of an end to combat operations next month under a plan to pull out of Iraq completely by the end of 2011.

“I would say we’re pretty far from rolling up the insurgency in Jalawla,” said Charlie Troop commander Captain Mark Adams of the 1st Squadron, 14th U.S. Cavalry. “I don’t feel we’ve made a whole lot of progress there.”

For the ethnically and religiously-mixed arc running from Jalawla near Iraq’s eastern border with Iran to the western frontier with Syria, the transition on August 31 is less a milestone than a matter of semantics.

Operations that to outsiders will look pretty much like combat will continue in areas where a stubborn Sunni Islamist insurgency remains entrenched, despite a sharp fall in overall violence since the height of the sectarian slaughter in 2006/07.

They will, however, be called “stability operations,” loosely defined as advising, assisting, training and equipping Iraqi forces — a role U.S. forces have had for some time.

I have long lamented the extent to which the Status of Forces Agreement has left U.S. troops nearly powerless to do anything other than force protection.  But rather than revisit this agreement, engage the Iraqi government, put serious pressure on Iran, and get set for serious long term engagement with Iraq, the Obama administration is demonstrating an even more careless cut and run attitude than in Afghanistan.  Obama even sent the un-serious Biden to encourage Iraq to seat a government (a fact not lost on Azzaman which observed that Biden’s recent visit did nothing to weaken Iran’s grip on Iraq).

This attitude will undoubtedly redound to our loss in the Middle East, and the further empowerment of Iran.  It also bespeaks the low esteem that the administration has for the men and women who sacrificed so much to bring the Iraqi insurgency to heel.  How sad and tragic would it be for the memory of our fallen warriors to allow the devolution of Iraq into chaos again?

It’s fun to shoot some people

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

Via Federal Eye, U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis, newly nominated to head CENTCOM, gives an unvarnished opinion of the enemy.

“Especially hard to overcome,” huh?  The only bone I have to pick with General Mattis is that the prosecution of the Haditha Marines began under his watch.  But this has worked itself out okay (except for one more Marine).

But it would seem to me that given the volatility and importance of the region and the obvious failure of soft diplomacy with Iran for 25 years, we need a moderately heavier hand at the helm.  Trust is not what is needed with the radical Mullahs or their apparatchiks in Syria and Lebanon.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I like the idea of having a general who likes to kill the enemy.  Let the politicians do the politics and let the warriors be warriors.  I like what he said five years ago, and Gates should just stuff a sock in it and let the general speak for himself.

General Rodriguez Explains Marjah

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

From UPI:

U.S. Marines are moving into the central Afghan province of Helmand to boost the security
presence as British forces redeploy, leaders said.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said the 1,000 British marines deployed to the Sangin area of Helmand province are moving to the central part of the province by the end of 2010.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriquez, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Afghanistan, said U.S. Marines were increasing their presence in the northern and southern parts of Helmand as British forces redeploy.

“The British are committing their theater reserve for the next several months into the central Helmand River valley to increase the security zones in the central Helmand River valley,” he said.

International forces pushed into the Helmand district of Marja earlier this year to wrestle control away from the Taliban. Taliban forces, however, have shown resilience prompting the general to say patience is needed in the fight against Afghan insurgents.

“When we went into Marja, we had not planned long enough in advance,” the Pentagon quoted him as saying. “We had done it kind of in a sequence, versus a parallel effort, so it was a little bit slower to get the government services and the development in there that we wanted.”

Rodriquez said the political situation was advancing, however, as local residents grow accustomed to a formal regional government.

“As security grows and as the confidence of the people grows, it will become more representative of the whole district of Marja,” he said.

I see.  I’m glad that we got that one all cleared up.

So the ISAF or the Marines screwed up by not getting the government ex-machina in there quickly enough.  Government is the answer to all counterinsurgency problems.  It had nothing to do with the work of  long term counterinsurgency, or Taliban fighters and the fear of them by the people of Marjah.  If we had sequenced it better it would have been like clap-on lights.  Presto!  No more enemy – the place is safe, secure and serene!

They can’t let go of this childlike belief in the magic of COIN doctrine.  Or, more accurately, someone in the ISAF, or the Pentagon, or their counselors, has convinced themselves that COIN can be done in one tenth of the time it really should take, simply because the President has set an unrealistic time table for troop withdrawal.

It’s called intellectual dishonesty, and it pervades the campaign in Afghanistan.

FOB Fenty and Attacks in Jalalabad

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

No one could report as clearly as Tim Lynch on the recent attacks in Jalalabad.

Last Wednesday morning the local Taliban sent eight guys to attack the US Army base at Jalalabad Airfield known as FOB Fenty.  They initiated the attack with a car bomb in a rarely used entry point on the southeastern side of the airfield which is well away from the Torkham to Jalalabad road.  The remaining attackers tried to bum rush the damaged gate and got shot all to hell by the American soldiers who man the guard towers.  Adding insult to injury there just happened to be a section of fully armed and fueled Apaches in the air and they were instantly able to pounce on the survivors of the futile charge at the damaged gate as they fled back towards a small village called Moqamkhan.  A joint force of ANA and 101st Paratroopers went into the village and finished off the survivors in a short fire fight.  FOB Fenty was back to normal by noon but the attack did generate plenty of news which may have been the point.

The Washington Post reported that:

Earlier Wednesday, insurgents detonated a car bomb outside the gate of an air base that serves as a NATO military hub in eastern Afghanistan and engaged in a gun battle with guards in the latest unsuccessful attempt by militants to penetrate a military compound.

At least eight suspected militants were slain in the attack on Jalalabad air base, Afghan officials said. The Taliban asserted responsibility for the operation, the Associated Press reported.

After the initial blast, NATO officials said, insurgents attacked the base’s guards with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms, wounding two.

NATO officials said the air base’s perimeter was not breached. “Afghan and coalition forces are always prepared to deal with attacks on this facility,” Maj. Mary Constantino, a NATO spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The response this morning was immediate.”

It would be good to get some clarification on this.  My contact (a contractor in Jalalabad) says that the outermost perimeter, manned by ANA, was indeed breached, but the U.S. forces responded quickly and didn’t allow incursions into the FOB (i.e., the inner security wasn’t breached).  Either way, Tim continues:

The attack on FOB Fenty has had zero impact on the local citizens or the troops stationed on the FOB – it was stupid and recognized as such.  But Jalalabad has had a series of IED attacks in the Safi Bazaar which is in the main downtown area.  The word on the street is that these are bombing targeting “un-Islamic” stores but they have hit cell phone stores and a juice bar which clearly fall within the definition of being properly Islamic. These attacks are very concerning but to date none of the local security offices have been able to turn up a night letter.  This area of the bazaar has had its share of problems over the past few years with several firefights breaking out between vendors with the local ANP joining in for good measure.  This could be score settling or the Taliban may feel strong enough to operate in openly in Jalalabad (which I doubt.)

I agree with Tim, and it isn’t clear to me what the insurgents were trying to accomplish.  There wasn’t any possibility of overrunning FOB Fenty.  Enemy tactics include massing of forces when they are attacking much smaller outposts.  Tim ends with an interesting and heartening account of the goings-on in Jalalabad.

Right now things are not looking too cool in Jbad for us internationals but there could be change afoot.  Lost in all the news surrounding the appointment of Gen Petraeus is the amazing (one sided) fights which have been happening in both Kunar and Nuristan Provinces.  Last week the troops stationed at the Nuristan PRT in Kala Gush spent several hours watching video feed of some 200 fighters climbing the mountain to the west of them in order to stage a massive attack.  Or something.  By the time these guys had humped all the heavy guns, mortars, rockets, ammo, etc… up the mountain there were B1’s stacked above them with 2000 lbs JDAMS.  Talk about an ass whooping – these kind of attacks really piss off the local tribes because their young men join the fighters and losing young men for nothing is not covered in any part of the Pashtunwali code.

Good.  As long as we are aggressively chasing and killing the enemy, we are doing what I have advocated.  We can do more, but we can’t do any less than that and win.  The best place to kill them is away from the population.  When they invite us to do so, we must oblige.

More Rules of Engagement Examples from Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

From Time:

An episode last month illustrates the quandary American troops face. In early June, on the southern edge of Kandahar city, a small Army convoy drove into a nighttime ambush. Within seconds, a turret gunner in one of the vehicles was hit in the arm. Muzzle flashes pierced the dark, alerting fellow troops to where the shots were coming from. But, thinking that they had to clearly identify the triggerman before firing back, they waited before retaliating, even as rounds of hostile fire poured in. Only after an officer radioed back with the go-ahead did the Americans return heavy fire. By then, the militants had melted away.

The wounded soldier, Private First Class Trevor Longcore, of Shadow Troop, 1-71 Cavalry, caught a lucky break: he wasn’t hit by a bullet but by a piece of shrapnel that had apparently ricocheted off his vehicle’s armor. But a month into their deployment into Afghanistan, he and his compatriots are still frustrated by the constant heat-of-the-moment uncertainty about returning fire. For many troops, the strict rules of engagement — overlaid with tactical directives meant to limit civilian casualties — are a source of confusion and, they contend, are putting U.S. soldiers in greater danger. “We have all of these stupid rules that in the end wind up hurting more people. I mean, hesitation can mean death out here,” says one disgruntled soldier serving in the volatile south …

In Marjah, the desert town in central Helmand province where U.S. Marines are battling a resurgent Taliban, roving groups of militants on foot and motorbike take potshots at the Americans when they are not setting up ambushes and IEDs. Yet even if Marines see an attack taking shape around them, the current rules of engagement mandate that they cannot shoot unless they are first shot at. The insurgents know this, so they often “drop and go”: firing from a distance, then abandoning their weapons. Sometimes Marines never get a single shot off in defense, an exercise in restraint that is especially taxing for the American military’s hardiest warriors.

McChrystal’s advocates argue that McChrystal’s tactical directive was misunderstood and applied too restrictively at lower levels of command (the rules have been distorted as they pass down the chain of command).  But that dog won’t hunt.  His tactical directive remains available for viewing, and his words set the context for its application: “If you are in a situation where you are under fire from the enemy… if there is any chance of creating civilian casualties or if you don’t know whether you will create civilian casualties, if you can withdraw from that situation without firing, then you must do so.”  The reader can make up his own mind.

But without weighing in again on the restrictive nature of the ROE in Afghanistan, I will only observe one more time that while the rules for engagement of the enemy in Iraq were too restrictive, or so I argued, they were not the same as those in Afghanistan.  Period.  There is a difference, and you can judge for yourself how successful each campaign has been.  For a reminder of how insurgents were engaged in Iraq, see Recon by Fire (or what some commenters called the “Drake Shoot”).

General David Petraeus, Max Boot and Independent Analysis

BY Herschel Smith
12 years, 1 month ago

Several months ago Max Boot did something I would never do, and offered what he called rare praise for Andrew Sullivan.  The subject of the article was mainly about Petraeus and his statements on Israel, but in the same article Max made some fairly strong observations or allegations about Diana West.

Andrew McCarthy writing for National Review Online penned a lengthy rebuttal to Max’s advocacy for Petraeus, while also analyzing the statements Petraeus had recently made concerning Israel.  Max’s position has seemed profoundly weak to me, and McCarthy’s rebuttal appears determinative in light of the alternatives.  Petraeus has said, for example:

… enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to advance our interest in the AOR (Area of Responsibility). Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile Al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizbollah and Hamas.

Now, one can even agree with the General that Israel and the Palestinian-Israel conflict is the fulcrum upon which everything tips in the Middle East.  It doesn’t offend or bother me in the least; I just believe that this view is naive and meant primarily as a narrative for simpletons.  Let’s be clear.  Palestine or Israel could cease to exist tomorrow, and Iran would still pursue regional hegemony.  There would still be hatred among some in the Middle East towards the U.S. (Wahhabists, etc.) regardless of who did or didn’t exist, or what other conflict was or wasn’t going on.

But whatever your view, McCarthy’s article was rather conclusive, that is, until Max Boot responded to McCarthy.  He has been a determined advocate for Petraeus and his Israel policy, indeed.  Joshua Foust explains why.

The recent revelation that Gen. Petraeus — now installed as the third commander of the flagging Afghan War in two years— collaborated with at least one pundit to get his story into the public isn’t exactly earth-shaking. But it might point to deeper problems with the commentary industry: namely, who’s driving the discussion?

An activist named Philip Weiss recently posted to his blog an e-mail chain that revealed Petraeus jovially chatting with Los Angeles Times columnist and Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot (Weiss makes a big deal out of Petraeus’ use of a smiley-face emoticon, though he’s probably overreacting about his supposed run for the presidency). At issue was a statement Petraeus gave the Senate Armed Services Committee that was critical of Israel. Wanting to combat the negative things pro-Israel pundits were saying about him, Petraeus reached out to Boot, who promptly repeated Petraeus’s statements, arguments, and talking points in his writing without directly disclosing their source.

None of this is terribly surprising, in the abstract: Petraeus has taken Boot on numerous DOD-funded trips around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in return Boot has written repeatedly about how the wars are worth fighting, etc. It’s kind of a standard quid pro quo and makes sense from the general’s perspective. What’s odd, and this is where Weiss is onto something, is that Boot would go so far as to take cues directly from Petraeus, no longer writing as a pro-war partisan but as Petraeus’s unofficial spokesman.

It is an unfortunately common relationship in the think tank and commentary universe: writers find government figures they respect and wish to support, and those figures make supporting them as easy as possible.

Joshua goes on to discuss the ethics of this approach to advocacy.  You can make up your own mind.  As for regular readers of The Captain’s Journal, you would find it implausible to the point of simply impossible that I publish anyone’s talking points.  I know that some Milblogs and commentators that.  That group has not and will never include this one.  If you must publish someone else’s talking points, it means that you don’t have any thoughts of your own.

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