View Full Version : Restraint in War

11-06-2006, 10:24 PM
November's Marine Corps Gazette - Restraint in War (http://mca.webfirst.com/gazette/webarticle1.asp) by LtCol Lance McDaniel, USMC.

War has a way of teaching us hard lessons, some of which we learned in previous conflicts but, for various reasons, forgot and are having to relearn now in Iraq. One of the important lessons we are learning today is that in counterinsurgency operations, the manner in which we use force matters greatly and may play a role in determining whether we will be successful in achieving our campaign purpose. Military professionals must have serious discussions on the use of force and a more fundamental understanding of an American approach to the application of force.

Conceptually, total war can be viewed as conflict without any restraint or limit whatsoever and with the full force and energies of the belligerents applied toward annihilating their adversaries. As wars like this are more theoretical than real, particularly since the dawn of the nuclear age, all current wars can be considered to have at least some limitations. This observation is true for so-called conventional wars. It is even truer for small wars, such as counterinsurgency operations, that tend to be limited by their very nature. My purpose here is to discuss the role that deliberate restraint in the use of force has for combatants engaged in counterinsurgency operations and what the moral and practical implications are for this limitation. My desire is to consider the theoretical foundations of restraint, the rationale for restraint in combat, and what this really means to the military men and women who are the primary purveyors of force. I am an artillery officer, and it may come as a surprise to some that an artillery officer would be concerned with a deliberation on the use of force. Perhaps, some might contend, our lawyers should be the people in our organization most concerned with this issue. The reality is, however, that lawyers do not pull lanyards—gunners do, and so the issue of how force is applied is a discussion for all of us, including our lawyers, but especially operators who will ultimately have to make tough on-the-spot decisions relative to the use of force...