This is for real – details on PM here…
…but are these guys?
There have been a growing number of reports from Afghanistan that senior ISAF commanders are losing in their desperation to win the information war with the Taliban on collateral damage. Two of the latest ‘initiatives’ include the creation of a medal awarded for not using lethal force during war and ordering soldiers to conduct patrols without a round chambered in their weapons. It seems clear that the ‘commanders’ fail to grasp that the role of the military in this environment is the application of force in support of national objectives – everything is subordinate to this role, unique to the military amongst other instruments of national power. If the situation in Afghanistan is now so benign that soldiers no longer need to keep their weapons in an ‘action’ state, then we should be seeing an immediate transition from a military campaign to a civil campaign.
Of course, the fact that applying restraint in the use of lethal force in Afghanistan implies that there is still a significant threat against which lethal force might be used; and both ‘initiatives’ are is stark contrast to the indifference to collateral damage inherent in current cross-border UAV strikes into Pakistan. Possibly the further you are, and can keep the media, from collateral damage, the more palatable it is.
The Rules of War provide for the right of every soldier to use force in their own defence should they believe this to be warranted. Both of these ‘initiatives’ seek to undermine this right. Training provides both the means of applying that force and the means to determine a proportionate level of response. This training builds upon the organisational ethos and values developed throughout an individuals career. Maybe, in seeking to win what appears more and more tobe an unwinnable war, ISAF commanders are leading their own ethos and values be eroded in placing their soldiers at risk in favour of a population that doesn’t appear to be particularly supportive of either ISAF or the Karzai government.
One of the reports quotes one source linking this to the rules of engagement that contributed to the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon: this line is interesting…”…do not chamber a round unless told to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized…” …and we all saw how well that turned out…There’s never an officer around when you need one which is why most credible armies rely on the training and experience of their NON-Commissioned Officers to apply their judgement to any particular tactical situation. There must be a balance between experience and qualification which is a point that Dusty discusses in Security NZ this week.
I see a recent note in the Marine Corps Gazette (real land forces have professional journals) that “…officials told lawmakers in Washington Thursday the reconstruction of Afghanistan is poised to become the largest overseas rebuilding operation in U.S. history…” Is there any point in rebuilding anything that is unlikely to last beyond that last helicopter lifting off the Embassy roof…? Who really gains from this rebuilding operation, the people of Afghanistan – or the corporate parasites clambering over them in search of profit before President Obama turns off the tap…?
Incidentally, I’m not sure that rebuilding Afghanistan will be a larger operation that the rebuilding of Germany and Japan and the Marshall Plan post-WW2…possibly only in terms of modern dollar levels…?
Michael Yon has been reporting from Bangkok and offering a distinct contrast to the pro-Red Shirt line taken by most of the mainstream media. One thing I have noticed is that large number of Thai people commenting on his Facebook page posts. Even accepting that Thailand is far more connected than Afghanistan, it is interesting to compare this with the number of Afghans commenting on his page which appears to be minimal at best. The Sicuro Group report from 19 May states that there are 3.8 million Afghans subscribed to Roshan, the largest telecommunications operator in Afghanistan. You’d really think that if any of those 3.8 million people cared, they might offer up some comments; that they don’t might be an indicator to the true level of support for ISAF and the fantasy of a central government led by Karzai or anyone else.