Investigations out of the blue

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by OldRedCap, Aug 18, 2008.

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  1. I'm in a forum made up 95% civilians who seem to have little association with military matters.
    I posted this today in response to a thread raised by one of the older guys. I hope I have answered this in a manner which does in fact reflect the attitudes and opinions of the guys at the sharp end.

    I soldiered in some dodgy places at dangerous times. This undoubtedly caused me to form an opinion about how to treat those people who crept up behind me whilst dressed in civilian clothes and tried to kill me. I am therefore a trifle concerned to see the attitude to our blokes in Afghanistan when dealing with those who have a similar murderous intent.
    An investigation is under way after British troops killed four Afghan civilians - including women and children - in a rocket attack.
    Experts say the situation in Afghanistan has got worse for British soldiers. The Ministry of Defence confirmed that soldiers from the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment were involved. A spokesman added: "A full investigation will be carried out, and our sympathies are with the families of the killed and injured civilians at this time."
    The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said the four were "accidentally" killed in the Sangin district of Helmand province. Three other civilians were wounded when three rockets were fired.
    An Isaf spokesman said: "The patrol identified insurgents with weapons on the roof of the compound preparing to attack, and in order to protect themselves, launched three rockets all of which hit the target. "Unbeknown to the patrol, the civilians were inside the compound at the time"

    This is an initial report and the purpose of the inquiry will be to fill in the full story. As I understand it, the Rules of Engagement would allow the soldiers to act aggressively towards insurgents preparing to attack. Should they have waited until their attackers had used all heir ammunition and then inquired "Are there any civilians near to you? Is it our turn now?"
    I know some will claim that we are bringing ourselves down to 'their' level if we act with discrimination. Hello? We are there to deal with the AQ or Taliban. We are not descending to their level; 'their' level includes using women and children as cover and sending kids and mentally defective women into battle with suicide vests. They care not how many innocent bystanders are blasted apart.
    We need to stand aside and let the troops respond. If I call the plumber to deal with a blocked lavatory, I know just what he may have to do to clear it. I do not say "Don't bother mate. I don't want you to get sh*t on your hands" I close the lavatory door and let him get on with it. I knew the Parachute regiment ethic a long while ago and doubt if it has changed much. If we did not want firm patrolling and quick reaction to ambushes, we should not have sent them. To follow my example, they are not afraid to get sh*t on their hands.
    This prissy attitude to the facts of life where terrorism is involved seems to be becoming stronger. Maybe the Scots moral attitude of the part-time Sec of State for Defence are getting in the way of his professional judgement. There have been reports that we have identified gatherings of important Taliban leaders but been denied authority to take them out of the equation.
    Support from home is part of the morale package. I am sure some of the Toms will remember instances where we have lost lives to actions by other members of the coalition. No inquiry there beyond recording what happened. No search for malice in the actions of the blues who fired on blue. There have even been instances where a partner has refused to release their side's tale or tried to withhold embarrassing evidence from a coroners court. No disciplinary inquiry followed these events.
    There is another penalty for washing our dirty linen in public. Just as the death of one Iraqi in custody has been used to cast every single soldier as a murderer, this will go into the armoury of those who pontificate from a place of safety as to how one defends oneself. The general public accepts that hard times make hard laws and, I suspect, cares little for what happens in a country where they know little - and care less - about what we are doing out there.
    Given the filth and mire in which many politicians fester, it does seem a bit rich for them to seek to show they are whiter than the driven snow on the 'human rights' of a 3rd world and corrupt country.
  2. But that's the point, isn't it? By expressing outrage and insisting upon such investigations they take the limelight away from themselves, so they're free to furnish their second homes and claim expenses against the taxpayer.

    It's always going to happen. It just will. I'm not naive enough to believe that these politicans actually give two flying shits about what happens abroad, not to an Iraqi civilian and DEFINITELY not what happens to a British soldier. They've proved that, time and time again.
    They must know that without being on the ground themselves they have no say in the way the War is fought. They can't honestly believe that one single soldier has ever thought, "****, I hope I'm not out of order here," when returning fire, pinned down by incoming.

    You know what the real crime here is? The real crime is that soldiers ARE going to start thinking, wondering whether they'll be in the shit for defending themselves, instead of acting instinctively. And that's going to get OUR people killed.
  3. Erm troops? Investigation underway and all matters Sub Judice?

    By all means comment on Investigations in general but not this one in particular.

    The last thing those soldiers need is an uninformed internet rant being presented as evidence later.

    IMHO. Mr S
  4. Isn't the entire point that an investigation will establish what actually happened? If the guys on the ground have done nothing wrong, then they should have nothing to fear. If an investigation wasn't carried out, then there would always be that doubt in the public's mind that something was amiss.
  5. cpunk

    cpunk LE Moderator

    Good points from Mr S and his boots.

    Please limit comment to the general subject of investigations; not to the particular details of this one.
  6. If we did not have neutral and robust inquiries when this sort of things we would be accepting that we are no better than our enemy.

    If we decide that we are no better than our enemy then we may as well go home now. Having the moral high ground is everything - would you rather we were seen as being no better than the taliban?
  7. Now go tell the families of our dead servicemen/woman that.
  8. My understanding was that an investigation was always carried out for this sort of incident?
  9. You think they would want their soldiers killing civilians with the gay abandon of the taliban? Do you really think they wouldn't want the deaths of civilians investigated thoroughly?
  10. What any of us think the families would want is irrelevent; it's a matter for them alone.

    Thank God, I've never had a family member killed on active service. If I had, I doubt I would care if every man, woman and child in that country had been slaughtered.

    As I said, there are no moral absolutes in that situation. It's down to the individual how they react.
  11. One of my concerns was the high degree of MOD publicity for this incident. We must have been having collateral deaths elsewhere and they did not get brought to the fore.

    I understand the high moral ground angle. I thought though that with the mind set of our opponent here, HMG is not the main objective. The locals - and much of the Middle East - regard winning as the be all and end all.

    PARA used to get brought in to do the dirty work in NI when, e.g. a regiment had over-concerned itself with hearts and minds and lost the plot in knowing what was going on in their area. Refer Mrs Groves and to Bloody Sunday involvement. Their methods often attracted the comment (sometime from our own side) that they were over-zealous. I hope that the child of those days is not responsible for the MOD release.
    I had not intended to allocate blame - merely comment on a situation that I considered MIGHT be existing. I know very well that contact reports can differ quite considerably from the calm and considered study of the facts as fully established.
  12. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Whenever a death occurs an investigation is carried out to establish the reasons it happened. After a fatal car accident it is investigated. No charges may be brought but what led to the death are looked at and any lessons, if any, are learned. I'm sure the soldiers acted within the ROE and it is a sad and unfortunate result of terrorists hiding behind innocents.
  13. What Ord Sgt said, and,

    Perhaps the difference ORC is that these days operations are conducted in the full glare of the media spotlight. I think the MOD is very sensitive to any accusation of 'covering up' such incidents and will therefore be proactive in announcing investigations in order to avoid this. To be honest I don't see a particular downside - we would be conducting an investigation anyway - the important bit is how the findings of such an investigation are handled. This is where the lack of civilian understanding of the operational environment can cause problems. If there have been mistakes made (and I am making no suggestion that this was the case in the incident you refer to, it seems from the report that they operated within their ROE and were not aware of the civilian presence) then it is wise to be very careful about how such issues are handled in the public domain - if they need to be in the public domain at all.
  14. Also, if we didnt announce it, then we have to ask who would? Do we want the Govt of Afghanistan making a fuss, accusing our troops of murder and then making it seem like we're reacting off the backfoot - thus creating an even bigger story and suspicions of cover up? Better to be open, honest and hope the fuss dies down quickly.
  15. This is a counter-insurgency campaign. The goal is not a hill, or a piece of ground, or regime change, it is 'the will of the people'. If we are there by the consent of the host nation, and we kill their subjects, are they not entitled to an explanation? The Afghans know the tactics used by the TB, but it doesn't make it any easier (BTW - I was amazed as to how well they took this sort of thing, provided there was a true apology, restitution (NOT COMPENSATION) and an explanation).

    Remember, this is an investigation, not foregone conclusion. I can tell you that the fact these things are investigated is essential to the host nation when we have to explain, and we do, how and why this happened and what we do to prevent it happening again. This is not the first time, nor will it be the last, but everytime it does it will get harder to justify our presence.

    Kill one civilian - create 5 Taliban. He/she has a brother, father, son or cousin in a culture where blood feud is a way of life. It is not about religion, it is their way. Think about it.

    It's big boys rules, and the boys and girls on the ground know that and that is their lot. Like the professional army we are, play the cards we are dealt.