Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by jumpinjarhead, Feb 4, 2010.
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Some insights regarding current ROE in Afghanistan:
That reads exactly like a comment from a Marine fighting in Vietnam in 1965. Things haven't changed; the guerillas still use the same "dirty" tactics and the americans still gets frustrated because they can't fight the set piece battles a la WW2 where they can achieve a clear cut victory through superior firepower.
It neatly summarises why most counter-insurgency efforts fail. Success or failure depends on the locals, and a the moment they blame the foreigners for every death, no matter how caused. This is an information operation, not kinetic. The opposition get this, I remain to be convinced that we do.
Oh, and to be really cheerful I'd direct our cousins to the stats from NI. Achieving the "peace" we have today was only possible by accepting a loss ratio of 3:1 - in favour of the terrorist. If you're not prepared to take losses in AFG and then stand back to allow the locals to deal with the killers then just go home now.
Given that 'success' in tactical operations is measured by the after-battle body count by some of our allies, you can see where strategic 'failure' is so easily achievable.
wish we had, instead of a holding on to the phukking two-bit dependency culture (just like that other boil on the world's backside - arsecrakistan).
Really - the yanks had an RoE which prevented them from returning fire in Vietnam?
First I heard of it
We are facing exactly the same enemy using old men and children to recce positions and check that command wires / IEDs are still in place. We also are unable to engage INS who are not positively identified as armed.
Annoyingly this is a war being fought in the glare of public scrutiny, many can identify the Taliban in a similiar way as the Vietcong and even the French resistance ( Freedom Fighters defending their homeland from foreign intervention). The fact that this is BS, does not prevent it being seen as having some basis in truth. We simply have to be better, be more clever, fight them on ground of our choice - when we choose to. Attack their weakness and destroy their base.
That's not what I am saying; but if you read books about the memoires of US servicemen in VN, they all have similar complaints to those we hear now. "Peasant by day and guerillas at night" was already a common gripe in the early 60s.
Seem to remember in the 70's the PIRA used similar tactics using firing points from a kiddies playground whilst kids were playing. with women, kids & old codgers carrying hidden weapons to and from firing points. must be in the bad guys handbook
Afghan casualties in Afghanistan provoke rage and frustration too...
There were RoE's in Vietnam but the calling of a Free Fire Zones was highly dubious to start with on a great many levels and later attempts to mitigate the problems thus created proved ineffective.
The Vietnam debacle obviously haunts the US Military to the current day in terms of RoE's. Even the Russians, not entire strangers to the odd spot of wholesale destruction, struggled in Afghanistan for not entirely different reasons.
"The practice of establishing free fire zones was instituted because many villages in what was then South Vietnam willingly provided safe haven to Viet Cong fighters. Some, by contrast, were forcibly occupied by marauding bands of guerrillas, who used the villages for cover. Many more were devotedly anti-Communist. Yet, the American forces often had fundamental difficulty in distinguishing among any of these villagers. The fact that the guerrillas commonly dressed in black cotton pajama-style outfits, like those worn by most Vietnamese peasants, served only to heighten the confusion.
But despite the GIsâ confusion, international law enjoins armies to avoid targeting any but military objectives and assures protection to civilians, in almost any circumstance. Free fire zones as defined by Department of Defense doctrine and the rules of engagement are a severe violation of the laws of war for two reasons. First, they violate the rule against direct attack of civilians by presuming that after civilians are warned to vacate a zone, then anyone still present may lawfully be attacked. The rule prohibiting direct attacks on civilians provides no basis for a party to a conflict to shift the burden by declaring a whole zone to be âcivilian free.â And second, they violate the rule against indiscriminate attack by presuming without justification in the law that warning civilians to leave eliminates the legal requirements to discriminate in targeting its weapons.
Where the protection of the Geneva Conventions does not provide a mantle to civilians is when they take âa direct part in hostilities.â There were, of course, occasions when Vietnamese civilians directly attacked U.S. troops, but those which drew the attention of news reporters were overwhelmingly those in which a village was labeled a free fire zone and innocent lives were taken in outbursts of indiscriminate fire and brutality.
Faced with this negative coverage and with severe difficulty in enforcing international laws limiting the imposition of free fire zones, as well as other elements of the rules of engagement, the Pentagon over time added more directives to its pocket cards: a village could not be bombed without warning even if American troops had received fire from within it; a village known to be Communist could be attacked only if its inhabitants were warned in advance; only once civilians had been removed could a village be declared a free fire zone and shelled at will.
According to an article by Maj. Mark S. Martens of the U.S. Armyâs Judge Advocate-Generalâs Corps and a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Oxford University, and Harvard Law School, all these rules were âradically ineffective.â Often they were simply ignored. In some cases, illiterate peasants couldnât understand leaflets dropped to warn them that their villages would soon become a free fire zone. In other cases, hurried, forcible evacuations left large numbers of defenseless civilians behind, to be killed by bombing, shelling, small arms assaults, or burning. âThe only good village,â went one bit of cynical GI wisdom, âis a burned village.â
Ineffective efforts to rein in the GIsâ propensity to create free fire zones in Vietnam resulted in a sense among many Vietnamese as well as Americans that U.S. forces were undisciplined. More important, perhaps, the widely touted grand plan to capture the âhearts and mindsâ of the Vietnamese was immeasurably diminished by the perceptionâlet alone the outbreaks of realityâthat Americans did not value Vietnamese lives.
Toward the end of the 1960s, the term free fire zone itself was dropped from the U.S. military lexicon in no small part because that doctrine embraced actions that the United States today would regard as illegal. Subsequent U.S. military manuals and rules of engagement, whether for ground, air, or naval forces, tend to track quite closely with the central principle of international humanitarian law on civilian immunity and the prohibition on the targeting of civilians. "
The French had the same experience in Algeria. Large areas of the country, especially a 30 km strip along the border with Tunisia, were "prohibiten areas". Hunting commandos partly made up of former "turned" guerillas roamed those areas looking for the enemy and either destroying it or calling CAS; over a million locals were put in "resettlement camps" often in very bad conditions...tactically it was a success but on the international front it was not...interstingly, one of the most vocal opponent to French presence and tactics in Algeria, especially during his 2 July 1957 speech, was a certain senator John F Kennedy...glass and stones in less than 10 years....
Often I find that military units are used to train state police in the states. I think this is a case where the police need to train the military.
This needs to be treated less like a war, and more like a criminal operation against organized crime.
Some of this is being done, where when those folks that throw down weapons walk in the open get their hands swabbed for powder residue, locking down parts of a town to find the bad guys, etc.
I just really think that the military needs to rethink it's tactics, one village at a time, provide security, gain the trust of the locals, and move on.
What's killing us is time tables to "achieve success" which should be measured in decades, but is measures in months/years.
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