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Thread: Forget swarming, itís our RoEs, and the laws of war that underpin them, that are the

  1. #21
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You don't confuse "war" and "battle", do you?
    No I do not. I am less pedantic when it comes to "battle" and "warfare."

    Another Roman example might be more useful; Caesar did not fight all Gaul armies that faced his. Sometimes he simply avoided a battle and waited till the superior enemy army disintegrated due to inferior logistics. He defeated and discouraged several tribes like that.
    And? What about the famous "battle" of Worcester in 1405, where the English forces the Welsh to quit the field, without anyone being killed.

    What many ignore was that only occurred because the English had the ability to kill the Welsh if the Welsh tried to attack, and the English didn't need to attack the Welsh - again, so what?

    The German invasion of Denmark in 1940 killed less than a hundred Danes and was the quickest war ever (officially no war, though).
    So the Danes quit without a fight? Why? Because if they didn't the Germans would have basically killed more than they could stand.

    You win by being focussed on killing. Very rarely you may not have to kill. So what? I am as dismissive as Clausewitz and Foch of the idea you can reliably win any armed conflict without visiting very sever harm or threat there of, upon the enemy.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  2. #22
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    That assertion doesn't stand up to historical tests, though.

    The focus on killing and lethality blinds you for other options.
    * political
    * quick strikes that drastically reduce the prospects of continued resistance before major fighting begins
    * taking away the economic base for the war effort
    just to name a few.

    It's not even helpful for the understanding of the instances when armies were simply overpowered because it guides the attention towards the fighting itself.


    You do not always win by focusing on killing, and it's not even always the best route. In fact, sometimes the best path in war isn't even to strive for victory.

    The 1940 France campaign was certainly one of the best ever and it wasn't focused on killing at all. In fact, the winners would have been highly content if they had been able to pull off the first phase with much less violence.
    The victory came through overwhelming power achieved by degrading the logistical support of a great part of the enemy to almost zero.
    Killing was uninteresting. Those who were in pursuit of killing and lethality failed badly. They marched forward for a meeting engagement and ran into a trap.


    The focus on killing and lethality is primitive, simplistic and misleading.

    Someone who goes directly for the kill (because he focuses on the same) will way too often enter a trap laid by a smarter, more versatile enemy.
    There's a reason why wars aren't short and made up of one or few quick battles only. Military strategy and operational art need to strive for much more than mere killing - a focus on it would dumb both down and lead to failure unless the strength ratio was very favourable from the beginning.

    Sure, killing and lethality make up a big chunk of warfare, but they're nevertheless merely two instruments of the orchestra and overemphasizing them leads to a poor performance.

  3. #23
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post

    The focus on killing and lethality blinds you for other options.
    Wrong. It does not. I am not stupid.

    * political
    That's politics. Not warfare.
    * quick strikes that drastically reduce the prospects of continued resistance before major fighting begins
    Clever killing and destruction is always good.
    * taking away the economic base for the war effort
    just to name a few.
    ...and? Do you mean attacking economic targets via military means?
    The focus on killing and lethality is primitive, simplistic and misleading.
    No it is not. Any focus on killing for killing's sake is stupid. That is not what I am talking about.

    I am talking about killing as being instrumental. I am not suggesting you seek engagements irrelevant to the strategic purpose. You do not get to conduct envelopment's and encirclements unless you have real combat power, and the aim of such manoeuvre should be destroy the enemy. If the enemy gives up before you do that, then great.

    My focus is on breaking will. The best way to that is to kill and destroy. If you are very violent and shocking, you may have to kill very few folks to gain your political end state.

    The huge fallacies at the heart of MW, EBO and Liddell-Harts almost criminally stupid "indirect approach" is the idea that you should seek to avoid battle and not the verity that the aim is to seek battle under the most advantageous conditions and reap high Loss-exchange-ratios.

    Armed forces deliver their strategic objective via arms.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  4. #24
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Re: Firn's post #10.

    It appears to me that, from a long-term EU-countries' standpoint, NATO will be something of a transitory collective defense concept for "certain" EU members. Once a common EU defense system is put in place, any rationale for NATO would seem to be gone.

    ?? Where would the US fit into an EU common defense system - which, if truly "common", would require definitive international humantarian law (what the ICRC prefers over laws of armed conflict or laws of war) and rules of engagement binding on all participants.

    ?? If Astan since 2002 is the guiding example of US-EU "coalitioning", do either the EU or US want to commit to future unknown armed conflicts under a trigger mechanism such as sub-para 7, Article 42 of Lisbon.

    Regards

    Mike
    I think you touched a lot of sensitive and important points for which there is no true or definitive answer and things are very much in motion on that one, as can be expected when so many interests are involved.

    Perhaps this should be discussed in a seperate thread, as there is much to be said.


    Firn

  5. #25
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A new thread?

    Firn,

    On a quick skim just I'd say the differences between the US & European (EU) approach legally to LOAC etc can stay here. Perhaps the thread title needs amending slightly to reflect the discussion so far?

    If others support your suggestion I will start a new thread.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-11-2010 at 11:50 AM.
    davidbfpo

  6. #26
    Council Member Wargames Mark's Avatar
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    Above all, to demand that civilians who raise their arms against us be treated like non-combatants until they choose to reveal their colours, and to allow them to slip back into this status whenever it helps advance their goals, imposes several costs. The most obvious ones are casualties on our side. Such an approach also generates perverse incentives for nations with conventional armies to circumvent the rules, to find some sub rosa way to deal with combatant civilians. Redefining the rules of armed conflicts is not just a much more effective way, but also a much more legitimate way, of dealing with violent non-state actors.
    See Training America's Strategic Corporals for a good answer to this. Here is a relevant part:

    There are also recurring misunderstandings by many service members and judge advocates concerning the level and degree of authority needed to engage lawful targets. This misunderstanding and confusion leads to the mistaken belief that the actual status of an individual shot in self-defense must first be ascertained. Too often, warriors are briefed that they must have “PID” (positive identification) before engaging. Such ill-founded beliefs are perpetuated by the repeated use of criminally-focused investigations into what are, in essence, line-of-duty shooting decisions.

    There are two – sometimes distinct – manners by which a military member can lawfully employ deadly force: (1) subject to a target being declared hostile by competent authority or (2) in response to a demonstrated hostile intent or hostile act (intended to inflict death or serious bodily injury to self or friendly forces). Against a declared hostile, once PID is established, then there is no legal obligation to detain, capture or otherwise take less intrusive means. By way of example, a Soldier could walk into a barracks room filled with sleeping enemy combatants who have been declared hostile and shoot them. There is no legal obligation to wake them, capture them or make it a “fair” fight. By direct analogy, if a tactical operations center can lawfully drop a 2,000 lb laser-guided bomb on that barracks room (subject to collateral damage and proportionality analysis), then it is axiomatic that a lone Soldier could kill them with his M-4. For some reason, however, when some judge advocates and commanders review these close-in killing situations, they mistakenly analyze them under a self-defense methodology as set forth below. In matters of individual or unit self-defense, as spelled out in the unclassified portions of the Standing Rules of Engagement (SROE) and Standing Rules for the Use of Force (SRUF) for U.S. Forces30, service members possess an inherent right of selfdefense predicated solely on a reasonable response to a demonstrated hostile intent or hostile act (intended to inflict death or serious bodily injury to self or friendly forces). In self-defense situations, PID is irrelevant and proportionality is rarely an issue. Soldiers need to understand that they can use reasonable force to quell such a threat until that threat is over.

    [...]

    Some commanders have been reluctant to authorize the shooting of insurgents clearly emplacing IEDs in roadways late at night. They have prevented the targeting of insurgents conducting probes of friendly positions; and, have also failed to authorize the kinetic engagement of clearly identified hostile vehicles speeding away from a mortar “point of origin” as they “were not a threat at the time of acquisition.” This last point is important to clarify; some less tactically aware judge advocates and commanders have opined that “fleeing hostile actors can’t be engaged.” To so state ignores both the tactical concept of pursuit as well as the hard reality that such a fleeing subject continues to be a threat. To put it even more bluntly: nothing in the law allows a hostile actor to fire a weapon at coalition forces, then drop the weapon and flee without fear of being targeted and killed. Even in civilian law enforcement settings, such fleeing hostile actors are well-recognized as a continuing threat that may be engaged.
    All in all, my thinking is that the entire idea of a law of war as an international legal tool is ridiculous to begin with. Only the victors can really apply law of war. I think that it makes sense on a national level, to require one's own personnel to act in accordance with their nationally-accepted standards for conduct in war. But it can't really go beyond that. War is enforcing will by organized violence. In the end, a nation or group does what they think they need to do to win. National survival trumps everything.

    However, it is important that societal standards of morality in war be applied to one's own troops. Otherwise, (especially in a media-saturated world), the public support for a given war effort will be sapped. This brings up the sources of ROE:

    • Law
    • Policy
    • Operational Considerations


    People, especially civilians, don't often recognize the operational considerations element in the basis for ROE. There are use of force situations one can come up with in which the force used is clearly legitimate under LOW, but unwise from a METT-TC standpoint. People voice lots of frustration over guidance that tells troops not to strike back at an enemy who is using a populated place as a shield. However, if you are conducting COIN, then I think that's the nature of the beast. My understanding (from a clean, safe living room here in the states) is that combat leaders must think in terms of the capabilities of their entire organization, and of the war, not just the battle. Nothing should stop troops from defending themselves, but beyond suppressing an immediate threat, do you really want to try and clear complex, urban terrain of populated town to try and destroy an enemy element when the enemy has chosen this time and this place for this fight? Is there a big-picture way to develop this situation that won't involve playing out the scene the way the enemy has scripted it?

    At this point, you are outside of what's legal and into what makes sense (notice how those are two separate categories ).

    Use warriors, not lawyers.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-11-2010 at 07:45 PM. Reason: I can't spell and quote marks added
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    Those who can count, and those who can't.

  7. #27
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Firn,

    On a quick skim just I'd say the differences between the US & European (EU) approach legally to LOAC etc can stay here. Perhaps the thread title needs amending slightly to reflect the discussion so far?

    If others support your suggestion I will start a new thread.
    This should work out well enough here, we just have to try to limit it a bit.

    Regards

    Firn

  8. #28
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    This seems pretty wrong-headed to me.

    Yes, the ROEs reflect strategic considerations. They must; especially in the environment we're in.

    I'm not sure why you think JA's add a PID component to self-defense. I'm not aware of any case this decade where a SM was court-martialed on such basis.

    ROEs can and do reflect considerations beyond the LOAC. Certainly one could dispute the efficacy or need for certain limitations; but that's not a discussion we can have in an open forum. But I'm not aware of any such limitations being based upon misstatements of the LOAC.

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