On other forums, we’ve discussed the restrictive Rules of Engagement that our troops in Afghanistan are operating under. Over at The Corner, Charles Krauthammer discusses them briefly.
Look, it’s clear, as Steve indicated, that when you are under these constraints and these restraints and these rules, you’re increasing the danger to our troops. There is no doubt about it.
The question for me is: Is that decision made by the political types who want to appease world public opinion, who want to make it easy to get applause when you are addressing a crowd abroad, to preen about how good soldiers we are?
I don’t think that is the case here.
If it were, I would be really strongly against it and I think it would be scandalous — risking the lives of our soldiers in order to garner the applause of people whose applause we don’t need.
But it seems pretty obvious that in this case the decision is a military one by the commanders on the ground. We heard McChrystal here — [and] General Petraeus — they made a military calculation that in order to achieve the mission, you have to increase the risk by acting in this restrained way.
It’s the equivalent of looking at two hills and deciding that you’re going to send a company up to take the harder hill, thinking that that strategic position will give you a better chance of winning the war. The harder hill here is restraint, because it’s a guerrilla war and has to do with hearts and minds.
So even though I’m sort of instinctively very suspicious and worried about these very constraining rules of engagement, I would defer to the military here because they are making a calculation that this is the best way to win the war.
It’s cold-hearted to say it, but a commander’s job isn’t to make sure every one of his troops comes home. It’s to accomplish his mission. He’s got a moral obligation to ensure that those troops that DO get killed have not died in vain. We’ve been killing Talibani for 8 years. But if we’re blowing up a bunch of neutral civilians alongside them, we are not going to achieve our goals.
Having said that, restrictive ROE is not an excuse to avoid doing your job. Stormbringer has an entry on an incredibly frustrating bit of news. Go and learn.