Friday, December 18, 2009
Rules of Engagement
Are we fighting a war or not?   Sometimes I wonder. Wars are generally all-out efforts to kill the enemy and destroy their ability to fight. The goal is to win, and to do that it’s necessary to kill people and break things.
However, there are some rules, although not everyone observes them. The most widely accepted are The Geneva Conventions, which Wikipedia describes as follows:
The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties and three additional protocols that set the standards in international law for humanitarian treatment of the victims of war. The singular term Geneva Convention refers to the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of World War II, updating the terms of the first three treaties and adding a fourth treaty. The language is extensive, with articles defining the basic rights of those captured during a military conflict, establishing protections for the wounded, and addressing protections for civilians in and around a war zone. The treaties of 1949 have been ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 194 countries.
Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion. However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.
Unfortunately, as terrorism has appeared on the scene, the generally accepted standards of The Geneva Conventions have fallen by the wayside. Terrorist combatants wear no uniforms, represent no specific nation and observe no rules, including attacking and killing women and children, even those in their own societies. 
Furthermore, the forces of Political Correctness have influenced our military mindset to the point that the United States has exceeded the basic standards of The Geneva Conventions by imposing extraordinary Rules of Engagement (ROE) on our military, which can jeopardize their safety in combat zones.
Based on individual soldier accounts, WorldNetDaily reports that current ROE restrictions include:
·        No night of surprise searches.
·        Villagers are to be warned prior to searches.
·        Afghan National Army or Afghan National Police must accompany U.S.   units or searches.
·        U.S. soldiers may not fire at insurgents unless they are preparing to fire first.
·        U.S. forces cannot engage insurgents if civilians are present.
·        Only women can search women.
·        Troops can fire on insurgents if they catch them placing an IED but not if they walk away from where the explosives are.
In addition, the ROE often require varying levels of approvals before action can be taken.
One company commander has been quoted as saying, “We can’t do anything if we don’t have the ANA or [the Afghan National Police]... We have to follow the Karzai 12 rules. But the Taliban has no rules…Our soldiers have to juggle all these rules and regulations and they do it without hesitation despite everything. It’s not easy for anyone out here.”
Imposing restrictive ROE’s is not just some theoretical exercise in winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans, that they have caused the loss of life is well documented. For example, in one case, four U.S. Marines (fighting in Kunar Province) twice radioed for artillery support during a combat action, which was refused. As a result, they were killed. Who knows why those in command would not or could not give their authorization?
So, while we are supposed to fight with one hand tied behind our backs by observing PC Rules of Engagement, our enemies are free to engage in the most heinous actions, torturing and beheading people, hiding among the local population, using them as shields, committing the most violent acts against both our military forces and civilians alike.
Under the circumstances, my conclusion is that we should be less concerned about the constraints of The Geneva Conventions than taking the fight to the terrorists without hesitation. The idea that we can fight a war in which we hamstring our military because of some PC notion that we are morally superior to our enemies is counterproductive. My sense is that they also believe they are better than their enemy, us, which permits them to win by any means possible, no matter how despicable.
© 2009 Harris R. Sherline, All Rights Reserved
Read more of Harris Sherline’s commentaries on his blog at www.opinionfest.com
Posted at 13:54 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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