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Judge-led review to provide greater certainty for troops being investigated

A judge-led review into how allegations of wrongdoing are raised and investigated will help tackle the uncertainty faced by military personnel on future overseas operations, the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced Tuesda…

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FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
You're against this review then?
What exactly does it achieve and how? The problem starts with the circumstances under which troops are deployed and continues with the degree to which our political masters can be pressurised by special interest groups. Any decent soldier knows what murder is, the problem is to do with ROEs and political blame-dodging/opportunism.

Rightly or wrongly, Widgery wasn't the last word on Bloody Sunday and there was the Saville 'retrial' because it was politically expedient. Why should this new initiative be any different?
 
What exactly does it achieve and how? The problem starts with the circumstances under which troops are deployed and continues with the degree to which our political masters can be pressurised by special interest groups. Any decent soldier knows what murder is, the problem is to do with ROEs and political blame-dodging/opportunism.

Rightly or wrongly, Widgery wasn't the last word on Bloody Sunday and there was the Saville 'retrial' because it was politically expedient. Why should this new initiative be any different?
How would the announced inquiry into investigation methods etc be like Widgery and Saville, which were inquiries into an event? Why do you think the problem is to do with ROE's?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
How would the announced inquiry into investigation methods etc be like Widgery and Saville, which were inquiries into an event? Why do you think the problem is to do with ROE's?
Because the outcome of any enquiry is only as strong as the resolve of the powers that be to respect it. When it becomes expedient to set it aside, that's generally what happens.

In terms of ROEs, they often seem drafted with a view to covering the politicians rather than reflecting realities on the ground. The Lee Clegg affair being a case in point:

"Clegg was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in 1993, the court having decided that lethal force had been used without a lawful purpose. The fourth bullet was said to have been fired through the back of the car as it was leaving the checkpoint and was therefore no longer a threat to the soldiers."

Creating a situation where an attack can be initiated but the attackers have immunity as soon as they are not in an immediate position to do damage is the worst sort of legalistic nonsense.

If one considers the extensive lawfare waged against British soldiers over Iraq, one has to conclude that something provided the latitude for the legal activists to go after soldiers on multiple occasions and for years on end. If we're going to consistently send our troops up against those who fight in civvies, with no holds barred and who hide amongst the civilian population, we need to accept that there will be collateral damage and that innocents might occasionally be on the receiving end despite everyone's best efforts.

I would also consider limiting the application of the Law of Armed Conflict to those who don't observe it. That's not to argue for a My Lai re-enactment but to say that we should not adopt practices and procedures which risk the lives of our people on the battlefield and their future health, wealth and mental well-being in the years afterwards.
 
In terms of ROEs, they often seem drafted with a view to covering the politicians rather than reflecting realities on the ground. The Lee Clegg affair being a case in point

That may well be, but I suspect you've picked a bad example.

You're referring to the "Lee Clegg Affair" where the patrol were so confident of their behaviour under the Rules of Engagement that they immediately picked one of their number, declared "you're it", and stamped on his leg to add evidence to their claim that the vehicle had been a danger to them? The one where a soldier was convicted of an attempt to pervert the course of justice? Where the RUC officer gave evidence in court that contradicted the patrol's assertions? That patrol?


Wander down a road known for joyriding, on a joyrider deterrence patrol, in the dark, without any significant indication that there's any VCP, then see a joyrider head past. What a surprise.

From the linked article:
What had happened was that RUC Constable R W Gibson had gone on patrol on the night of the killings with 17 paratroopers. The constable knew that joyriding was endemic in his area of West Belfast. He could hear the screeching of tyres as he came on duty and read in the station incident book that there had been complaints about stolen cars earlier in the evening.

He briefed the commander of the Parachute Regiment patrol, Lieutenant Andrew Oliver, that the purpose of the late-night work was to deter joyriders. The courts heard that the officer did not tell this to his men. The first checkpoint the paratroopers made was a recognisable barrier of armoured vehicles. But after five uneventful minutes the vehicles were sent away and the patrol split up and walked down the road in staggered formation.

The paratroopers were now, in Army jargon, a "rolling vehicle checkpoint". In plain language this meant that when Peake drove the stolen car down the unlit road towards the outskirts of West Belfast, all he could see ahead were dark figures shouting and flashing torches.

Peake slowed down when he met the first group of soldiers, then revved up and sped off. The soldiers shouted at their comrades up ahead to stop him. This they did by pouring rounds into the car. The police were unable to prove who killed Peake. Ms Reilly was shot twice, and the courts found that one of the fatal bullets came from Clegg's gun.
 
I would also consider limiting the application of the Law of Armed Conflict to those who don't observe it. That's not to argue for a My Lai re-enactment but to say that we should not adopt practices and procedures which risk the lives of our people on the battlefield and their future health, wealth and mental well-being in the years afterwards.
Do you have any examples of which bits of LOAC you don't want to apply to those who don't observe it?
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
That may well be, but I suspect you've picked a bad example.

You're referring to the "Lee Clegg Affair" where the patrol were so confident of their behaviour under the Rules of Engagement that they immediately picked one of their number, declared "you're it", and stamped on his leg to add evidence to their claim that the vehicle had been a danger to them? The one where a soldier was convicted of an attempt to pervert the course of justice? Where the RUC officer gave evidence in court that contradicted the patrol's assertions? That patrol?


Wander down a road known for joyriding, on a joyrider deterrence patrol, in the dark, without any significant indication that there's any VCP, then see a joyrider head past. What a surprise.

From the linked article:
What had happened was that RUC Constable R W Gibson had gone on patrol on the night of the killings with 17 paratroopers. The constable knew that joyriding was endemic in his area of West Belfast. He could hear the screeching of tyres as he came on duty and read in the station incident book that there had been complaints about stolen cars earlier in the evening.

He briefed the commander of the Parachute Regiment patrol, Lieutenant Andrew Oliver, that the purpose of the late-night work was to deter joyriders. The courts heard that the officer did not tell this to his men. The first checkpoint the paratroopers made was a recognisable barrier of armoured vehicles. But after five uneventful minutes the vehicles were sent away and the patrol split up and walked down the road in staggered formation.

The paratroopers were now, in Army jargon, a "rolling vehicle checkpoint". In plain language this meant that when Peake drove the stolen car down the unlit road towards the outskirts of West Belfast, all he could see ahead were dark figures shouting and flashing torches.

Peake slowed down when he met the first group of soldiers, then revved up and sped off. The soldiers shouted at their comrades up ahead to stop him. This they did by pouring rounds into the car. The police were unable to prove who killed Peake. Ms Reilly was shot twice, and the courts found that one of the fatal bullets came from Clegg's gun.
I agree it's contentious but I was referring to the specific ruling that the shots fired when the vehicle was approaching them were legitimate but not the shot when the vehicle had passed. It's excessively legalistic, hence the complete muddle that followed and the eventual outcome of the appeals.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
Do you have any examples of which bits of LOAC you don't want to apply to those who don't observe it?

The assumption of POW protection for combatants fighting in civvies for a start, or those who operate in such a way as to blur the distinction between combatant and civilian.

Automatic benefit of the doubt for friendly forces on questions of military necessity/humanity/proportionality.
 
I agree it's contentious but I was referring to the specific ruling that the shots fired when the vehicle was approaching them were legitimate but not the shot when the vehicle had passed. It's excessively legalistic, hence the complete muddle that followed and the eventual outcome of the appeals.

Clegg fired all four rounds in roughly 3 seconds. The Judge spent 3 days deciding if they had all been legally fired. That always struck me as very unfair on a 19 year old private.
 
Clegg fired all four rounds in roughly 3 seconds. The Judge spent 3 days deciding if they had all been legally fired. That always struck me as very unfair on a 19 year old private.

I see the point you are trying to make but he shows that he did consider it
 
The assumption of POW protection for combatants fighting in civvies for a start, or those who operate in such a way as to blur the distinction between combatant and civilian.

Automatic benefit of the doubt for friendly forces on questions of military necessity/humanity/proportionality.

so you basically want to remove the protection of civilians from the LOAC ??

the LOAC is quite clear civilians cease to be civilians when they take part in hostilities
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
so you basically want to remove the protection of civilians from the LOAC ??

the LOAC is quite clear civilians cease to be civilians when they take part in hostilities

Why don't you actually read what I wrote rather than what you'd have liked me to write?

I'm saying that to be recognised as a combatant and entitled to automatic protection as a POW, individuals should be clearly identifiable as combatants, which would actually make things safer for civilians.
 
Why don't you actually read what I wrote rather than what you'd have liked me to write?

I'm saying that to be recognised as a combatant and entitled to automatic protection as a POW, individuals should be clearly identifiable as combatants, which would actually make things safer for civilians.

it was a question not an assumption
 
The assumption of POW protection for combatants fighting in civvies for a start, or those who operate in such a way as to blur the distinction between combatant and civilian.

Automatic benefit of the doubt for friendly forces on questions of military necessity/humanity/proportionality.
I haven't had a LOAC brief for a few years but, IIRC there isn't "assumption of POW protection for combatants fighting in civvies" granted by LOAC.

There's "treat as a POW" if you aren't sure of their status but, regardless, what do you want to do to them that granting them POW status stops you doing?
 
Why don't you actually read what I wrote rather than what you'd have liked me to write?

I'm saying that to be recognised as a combatant and entitled to automatic protection as a POW, individuals should be clearly identifiable as combatants, which would actually make things safer for civilians.
Isn't that what LOAC says
 
Clegg fired all four rounds in roughly 3 seconds. The Judge spent 3 days deciding if they had all been legally fired. That always struck me as very unfair on a 19 year old private.

The Judge also concluded that Clegg didn't believe that the car contained terrorists. So LOAC or PW status had nothing to do with it.

Putting up a "Built by robots, driven by joyriders, stopped by A Coy 3 Para" Astra mock-up in the NAAFI didn't exactly demonstrate remorse (or good sense) on the part of the hierarchy.

You have to feel sorry for a 19-year-old, wound up and put in that position, surrounded by officers and NCOs who should have behaved more competently (and trained him better in the Rules of Engagement).
 
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