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Thread: Afghanistan ROE Change

  1. #61
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post

    Tom:We can disagree, that's okay -- but just as a point of interest, here are the two points I made:

    "...Me, too. I'll give it a month or two before it quietly disappears. Not a smart move on several levels... "
    That is where my disagreement comes in--it was a necessary move and one that we have needed to make for the past few years. It is not being done in a vacum; McChrystal's manning plan to improve command consistency should help in its execution.

    You also said that Blackjack putting it in terms of running away, etc. etc. -- the way I took what he said was that message could be sent to the local populace if it appears you're unwilling to fight.
    Blackjack used the term flee; that means running. How the population takes such a change depends on what you do. CAV offered a scenario that did not kill civilians nor did it allow the bad guys to escape.

    Oh and Tom, on this I have to ask WHY have we been dancing with a problem like that -- and it is one -- for several years; why has it not been fixed before this?

    I know the answer and it's not pretty and that really needs to be fixed. I doubt this order will fix it, it is attacking the symptom...

    That said, I understand that need, really do -- but rather than "this," I would have greatly preferred better training. That would have, should have, meant no need for "this."
    I would agree that better training would greatly help. I also believe that a command level directive was and is necessary as a rudder shift. That seems to be what McChrystal has in mind. Whether the shift lasts or slowly dies remains to be seen.

    Tom

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    Default Question, from an ignorant civilian perspective...

    Given the extensive and negative publicity that has been drawn by actual or alleged civilian casualties from air strikes, and given the very public nature of the announcement under discussion here, is it possible that the announcement is aimed less at altering the tactical environment on the ground than at creating or reinforcing a perception of a shift away from the use of air power in environments where civilian casualties are likely?

    I have no doubt that Gen. McChrystal wants and intends to reduce collateral damage, but I'm sure he also wants everyone in the picture to be aware of this intention. When a change like this is announced in the mass media before the new rule is even released, it suggests to me that there's a strong "for popular consumption" factor in the picture.

    I would certainly agree with those here who point out that if the JDAM is option A and running away is option Z, consideration needs to be given to the options in between - with full awareness that options are restricted by circumstances.

  3. #63
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    IF this is what it appears to be, then it looks to me like another case of "Some are abusing it so we will deny it to everyone." Maybe it's just me, but I hate taking proven tools out of my toolbox. This particular tool probably has been abused and greater controls over its use are probably warranted, but outright removing it doesn't seem like a good idea. CavGuy's scenario is a great one, IF you have the time and IF you have the resources and manpower and IF you can control the terrain. It is definitely a tool to keep in the box but that doesn't mean it will always be the right tool. It also doesn't mean that assaulting the building or even striking it with indirect or CAS is always the wrong answer.

    Again, we don't know what the full ROE will be but Ken is right, IF we create areas where our troops are reluctant to engage the enemy for fear of creating civilian casualties then we can virtually grantee that the enemy will be there.

    SFC W

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    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    This morning, Fox news broadcast a piece by Steve Harrigan, on the ground in Afghanistan. The thrust of the piece, which may or may not be accurate, was that the new ROE are intended to place restrictions on the use of air support, particularly with regard to bombs in "urban" areas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    IF this is what it appears to be, then it looks to me like another case of "Some are abusing it so we will deny it to everyone." Maybe it's just me, but I hate taking proven tools out of my toolbox. This particular tool probably has been abused and greater controls over its use are probably warranted, but outright removing it doesn't seem like a good idea. CavGuy's scenario is a great one, IF you have the time and IF you have the resources and manpower and IF you can control the terrain. It is definitely a tool to keep in the box but that doesn't mean it will always be the right tool. It also doesn't mean that assaulting the building or even striking it with indirect or CAS is always the wrong answer.
    My point exactly.

    Look, I agree with Ken. I wish we would invest in the upfront training and guidance to ensure subordinates aren't denied tools/flexibility they need to do the job.

    The unfortunate reality is that time and time again we have failed to exercise restraint.

    In an odd way, this turns back to the discussion I have had with COL Gentile over "dogma" and doctrine. We seem to have a recurring pattern of commanders following "letter of the law" in risk adverse fashions rather than tailoring to each situation. Yingling has offered one reason why. I believe it goes back to the late 90s zero-defect checklist approach to training mentality. I don't believe it's the doctrine's fault, it's a sign of a massive failure in our Leader Development and Education System, and our inability to develop individual leaders and hold individuals responsible for their actions. We see every problem as a fault of the system, and issue blanket one size fits all policies as a result. It is sad.

    As a final note, although this thread started with the title ROE, we are really talking RUF - Rules for use of Force, which can be more restrictive than ROE. ROE in a legal way hasn't changed, and doesn't really cover specific weapons systems. It's more general. GEN McChrystal is changing the theater guidance for RUF. There is more than a semantic difference.

    "Why Johnny Can't Think for Himself" is an excellent question.
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  6. #66
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    My point exactly.

    Look, I agree with Ken. I wish we would invest in the upfront training and guidance to ensure subordinates aren't denied tools/flexibility they need to do the job.

    The unfortunate reality is that time and time again we have failed to exercise restraint.

    In an odd way, this turns back to the discussion I have had with COL Gentile over "dogma" and doctrine. We seem to have a recurring pattern of commanders following "letter of the law" in risk adverse fashions rather than tailoring to each situation. Yingling has offered one reason why. I believe it goes back to the late 90s zero-defect checklist approach to training mentality. I don't believe it's the doctrine's fault, it's a sign of a massive failure in our Leader Development and Education System, and our inability to develop individual leaders and hold individuals responsible for their actions. We see every problem as a fault of the system, and issue blanket one size fits all policies as a result. It is sad.

    As a final note, although this thread started with the title ROE, we are really talking RUF - Rules for use of Force, which can be more restrictive than ROE. ROE in a legal way hasn't changed, and doesn't really cover specific weapons systems. It's more general. GEN McChrystal is changing the theater guidance for RUF. There is more than a semantic difference.

    "Why Johnny Can't Think for Himself" is an excellent question.
    All good points and in many ways this change reminds me of what happend in Iraq with the change in leadership, change in doctrine, boost in forces, and strategic focus. Different AO with different issues I will readily agree. But I would also say similar in the need to make changes, not all of which can be affected by better training at the tactical level.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    1. I believe it goes back to the late 90s zero-defect checklist approach to training mentality. I don't believe it's the doctrine's fault, it's a sign of a massive failure in our Leader Development and Education System, and our inability to develop individual leaders and hold individuals responsible for their actions. We see every problem as a fault of the system, and issue blanket one size fits all policies as a result. It is sad.
    2. "Why Johnny Can't Think for Himself" is an excellent question.
    I was taught about ROE going through basic training in 1980. It's a central pillar of British Army thinking (or used to be). If ROE isn't at the centre of your use of force, then there may be a problem.
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  8. #68
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    But I would also say similar in the need to make changes, not all of which can be affected by better training at the tactical level.
    Totally true -- but that's the wrong focus. Cav Guy's got it right:
    "I don't believe it's the doctrine's fault, it's a sign of a massive failure in our Leader Development and Education System, and our inability to develop individual leaders and hold individuals responsible for their actions."
    THAT / those are the problem. Not tactical level training but the mentality we have developed over the last 30 years or so. That, I contend is inculcated by trying to define 'training' down to the lowest possible level and it is exacerbated by a culture that treats minor foul ups as major crimes while ignoring major crimes as non events. We have a minor tactical training problem -- we have major personnel management, integrity and military professional education problems.

    This is the result:
    " We see every problem as a fault of the system, and issue blanket one size fits all policies as a result. It is sad."
    It's beyond sad, it's flat dangerous.

    It results in this truth:
    "...It's more general. GEN McChrystal is changing the theater guidance for RUF. There is more than a semantic difference.

    "Why Johnny Can't Think for Himself" is an excellent question.
    My points are that:

    - McChrystal should not have to change the rules at any level. We have been in Afghanistan for Seven years and seven months, for chissakes -- or more correctly for seven plus one year or less tours -- that he has to do so is an indicator of institutional failure. The institution really needs to acknowledge that.

    - The 'change' as understood thus far is cosmetic -- it attacks the symptom, not the problem. I do not question the need for him to do that; I do strongly question WHY he should have to do that. I also question whether it will achieve his apparent goal though I acknowledge it will temporarily assuage some Afghans.

    - Johnny can't think for himself because he belongs to an organization that goes to great lengths to discourage such activity in very subtle ways and allows malfeasance and incompetence to survive as compensation. That is indicative of flawed personnel policies, less than competent professional education and a dangerously skewed value system.

    Those things need to be fixed. New rules in one theater will not fix them -- nor, given the pervasiveness of those ills, are said new rules likely to have the desired effect.

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    Lots of intelligent comments. When you're being population centric, there really is no rush. The population was there in 2001. They'll be there in 2021. It really doesn't matter if the enemy occupies the village today, tomorrow or next week. It only matters whether the enemy is able to reoccupy the village after you guys have cleared it.

    As an ad guy, if I were selling the new ROE to the boots on the ground I would say in this one specific situation, if it is safe to do so, treat it as a hostage situation and not a firefight. Part of the safety, of course, is making sure you're not setting yourself up to be ambushed by the hostage takers colleagues. (I don't know the buzzwords for that. "Establish, secure defensible, oversight positions?")

    As to the fact this may encourage human shields. Perhaps that's a good thing. people don't like being taken hostage. They don't like their hostage takers. They like their rescuers. After the hostages are rescued, the takers almost always face justice.
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    My points are that:

    - McChrystal should not have to change the rules at any level. We have been in Afghanistan for Seven years and seven months, for chissakes -- or more correctly for seven plus one year or less tours -- that he has to do so is an indicator of institutional failure. The institution really needs to acknowledge that.

    - The 'change' as understood thus far is cosmetic -- it attacks the symptom, not the problem. I do not question the need for him to do that; I do strongly question WHY he should have to do that. I also question whether it will achieve his apparent goal though I acknowledge it will temporarily assuage some Afghans.

    - Johnny can't think for himself because he belongs to an organization that goes to great lengths to discourage such activity in very subtle ways and allows malfeasance and incompetence to survive as compensation. That is indicative of flawed personnel policies, less than competent professional education and a dangerously skewed value system.

    Those things need to be fixed. New rules in one theater will not fix them -- nor, given the pervasiveness of those ills, are said new rules likely to have the desired effect.
    Ken

    Well said and I agree with all but would say in a case where the alligators have us by the ass we need to pass on draining the swamp. McChrystal has got to start somewhere, quickly.

    Best
    Tom

  11. #71
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    Default Solid point

    Quote Originally Posted by Cavguy View Post
    We seem to have a recurring pattern of commanders following "letter of the law" in risk adverse fashions rather than tailoring to each situation. Yingling has offered one reason why. I believe it goes back to the late 90s zero-defect checklist approach to training mentality. I don't believe it's the doctrine's fault, it's a sign of a massive failure in our Leader Development and Education System, and our inability to develop individual leaders and hold individuals responsible for their actions. We see every problem as a fault of the system, and issue blanket one size fits all policies as a result. It is sad.
    ...

    "Why Johnny Can't Think for Himself" is an excellent question.
    Well elaborated on by Ken and Tom. I'll add that we also induct privates into basic training after given them 12 years of experience that mistakes means you're a "failure," with an "F" on a piece of paper to prove it to the entire world. Those who go on to college get another 4 years of reinforcement to the "lesson." (I've had to go so far as telling new graduate employees that if I don't see at least one mistake a week, it will be proof they aren't doing anything.)

    Here's the problem: if we want initiative and independent thinking, people must know that they won't be pilloried for getting it wrong. When that happens, you create a risk averse culture. You also start eliminating the possibility that people will learn from their mistakes and become the better for it. (I met an officer from the 11th Cav who stranded his troop on an island during maneuvers. Career over - and the Army lost an officer who for damn sure would never let his unit get trapped on the wrong terrain again.)

    The flip side problem, is creating a cultural environment where mistakes are accepted as the price of initiative and independent thinking, without creating one where the duds can "fail up."

    So to summarize, solving the problem seems to require creating a culture that addresses two points:
    1. Tolerating mistakes as the result of initiative and independent, creative thought.
    2. Weeding out the people who can't or won't learn from their mistakes, or believe that initiative and independence somehow mean out of control.
    Last edited by J Wolfsberger; 06-24-2009 at 05:11 PM. Reason: Clarification
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    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    I agree that a zero defect mentality exists within the institution but I am not convinced that the root of the problem resides within the institution. In today's modern, media saturated hyper-partisan politcal environment, ground commanders are subject to very public scrutiny of their actions in the press and in the government. Of course our elected officials have always had oversight of the military but I think they are more willing to intrude on operations for political reasons. That's going to foster some risk adversity.

    SFC W

  13. #73
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Probably why I said this:

    "...The 'change' as understood thus far is cosmetic -- it attacks the symptom, not the problem. I do not question the need for him to do that; I do strongly question WHY he should have to do that..." (emphasis added / kw)
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Well said and I agree with all but would say in a case where the alligators have us by the ass we need to pass on draining the swamp. McChrystal has got to start somewhere, quickly.
    It also seems you are corroborating my point that this is a bandaid and that we are attacking a symptom...

    Not sniping at you but I think this all too pervasive general idea and attitude "...where the alligators have us by the ass we need to pass on draining the swamp." is endemic in the Army, more so today as it has been increasing in intensity for over 20 years and that it is exactly why we are where we are in a great many respects.

    We have a bad tendency today to put out fires instead of removing the combustibles that allow such fires. People acquire credit and gratification from 'fixing' things that are wrong -- and being seen to do so...

    Few seem willing to put in the hard thankless effort required to change the direction of the elephant. That attitude is dangerous and is not good for the long term health of the institution -- or the nation.

    I'd like to amend something I said earlier: "...that he has to do so is an indicator of institutional failure. The institution really needs to acknowledge that. Append: and fix it before it gets worse..."

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    Default ROE vs RUF - Good point ....

    from Cavguy
    As a final note, although this thread started with the title ROE, we are really talking RUF - Rules for use of Force, which can be more restrictive than ROE. ROE in a legal way hasn't changed, and doesn't really cover specific weapons systems. It's more general. GEN McChrystal is changing the theater guidance for RUF. There is more than a semantic difference.
    JP 1-04 (pp.73, 72):

    rules of engagement. Directives issued by competent military authority that delineate the circumstances and limitations under which United States forces will initiate and/or continue combat engagement with other forces encountered. Also called ROE. (JP 1-02)
    ....
    rules for the use of force. Directives issued to guide United States forces on the use of force during various operations. These directives may take the form of execute orders, deployment orders, memoranda of agreement, or plans. Also called RUF. (JP 1-02)
    Explanatory article, ROE vs RUF in Marine Corps Gazette (linked from SWJ Library).

    Because RUF generally assume a nonhostile host with a generally friendly population, RUF primarily focus on using force in self-defense as a matter of force protection based on mere presence—rather than an assigned operational mission—or using force in the exercise of a very limited law enforcement or security mission. ROE policy concerns tend to focus on relations with foreign actors and furthering international political objectives. RUF policy concerns tend to focus on domestic or host-nation political objectives and domestic or host-nation public opinion.
    I find the distinction between ROE (in foreign ops) and RUF (in domestic ops) to be pretty straight-forward. Where the two are both programmed into the same operation (as JP 1-04 allows or requires ?), I understand the definitions ("will" vs "guide" ?), but do not really understand the possible implementations.
    Last edited by jmm99; 06-24-2009 at 07:36 PM. Reason: add quote

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    Default ROE vs RUF - added sources

    I think MAJ Smith has revealed to us a real legal can of worms - as well as a project for education and training of soldiers that is beyond me.

    Current SROE/SRUF and consequent ROE/RUF date from the complete 2005 overhaul of that system of rules. The changes are described, with various problem areas highlighted, by Major Daniel J. Sennott, Interpreting Recent Changes to the Standing Rules for the Use of Force, Nov 2007, The Army Lawyer DA PAM 27-50-414, pp.52-78.

    MAJ Sennett sums the distinction between the SROE/ROE family and the SRUF/RUF family as follows (pp.52,53; footnotes omitted here - see original for extensive footnotes):

    The Department of Defense (DOD) released the current Standing Rules for the Use of Force (SRUF), dated 13 June 2005, in early July 2005. These rules are drastically different from prior versions. Both the format and the language have changed, but probably the most important modification is the addition of new terms and definitions. While some of the modifications serve to simplify the SRUF, other modifications may not be as favorably received. The SRUF, which are designed for use in the United States, and therefore based on domestic law, now include language that is identical to the Standing Rules of Engagement (SROE), which are rooted in international law. As a result, the potential for confusion in application of these two distinct sets of rules may be significant.
    ....
    The DOD defines rules for the use of force as “[d]irectives issued to guide United States forces on the use of force during various operations.” This rather general definition is further augmented by the definition contained in the current SRUF: Standing Rules for the Use of Force “establish fundamental policies and procedures governing the actions to be taken by U.S. commanders and their forces during all DOD civil support and routine Military Department functions occurring within U.S. territory or U.S. territorial seas.”

    Perhaps the best way to define SRUF is in the negative: SRUF are not SROE. The SROE “establish fundamental policies and procedures governing the actions to be taken by U.S. commanders and their forces during all military operations and contingencies . . . occurring outside U.S. territory . . . and outside U.S. territorial seas.” Although SRUF and SROE share some common principles, SRUF are based on domestic law, while SROE is largely based on international law. Therefore, any definitions and concepts contained in RUF must be rooted in the U.S. Constitution and domestic laws.
    Not a doubt exists that the primary doctrinal use of the SRUF/RUF family was intended to be in domestic operations within the US.

    That having been said, Niel is entirely correct in saying that the SRUF/RUF family can be used outside of the US without violation of doctrine. The Clamo article in the Marine Gazette expressly says that (e.g., references to "host nation", etc.). The 2008 Operational Law Handbook, chap 5, lays out the state of SROE/ROE and SRUF/RUF as its CLAMO authors saw it. Whether a specific extension of SRUF/RUF to a foreign operation is wise or not is not an issue for lawyers, military or civilian - it is a command decision.

    The combo of SROE/ROE and SRUF/RUF is, to say the least, complicated. Can this combo result in the end state defined by Jon Custis:

    I don't view ROE as ironclad, nor do I view them as restrictive. Fail to train your troops properly in their execution, and they can be. For the most part they are permissive from my experience.
    especially re: his "to train your troops properly in their execution" ?

    It is not within my expertise to suggest education or training methods; but unless there is adequate education and training, all this complexity (add EOF - Escalation of Force to the mix) promises to become a mess (IMO).

    It is within my expertise to wonder what the Federal courts will do with this. For the past 9 months, the DC District and DC Circuit have been deciding detainee cases based on a strict AUMF-LoW (LOAC) standard. As such, they have accorded NO constitutional rights to detainees other than a limited habeas right; at most, releasing them into the diplomatic custody of the US for possible future OCONUS transfer.

    It will be interesting to see what SCOTUS will do with the concept that "definitions and concepts contained in RUF must be rooted in the U.S. Constitution and domestic laws" when SRUF/RUF are applied to Astan. I haven't the foggiest WAG as to whether the U.S. Constitution and domestic laws will become applicable to Astan as a consequence.

    ----------------------
    As further support for Niel's legal position (that SRUF/RUF can be applied), JP 1-04 (cited in my prior post) allows - but does not require (that being a command decision as I interpret it) - use of SRUF/RUF in the Course of Action Development process, across a very broad spectrum:

    (pp.32-33)
    (b) The joint force SJA reviews other staff section proposals for legal sufficiency. As an example, the joint force SJA assists other staff elements (typically the operations directorate of a joint staff [J-3] or the plans directorate of a joint staff [J5]), in determining whether the standing rules of engagement/standing rules for the use of force (SROE/SRUF) are sufficient to accomplish the mission, and, if not, which supplemental ROE/RUF measures are needed and why. The joint
    force SJA should consider and assist other staff elements in considering, for example, whether and
    under what circumstances the JFC should request or authorize the following: authority to declare forces as hostile (who and under what circumstances); use of riot control agents, offensive operations, and cross border operations; and use of all necessary means during special operations, collective self-defense (defense of non-US persons and property), beyond visual range engagement of airborne objects, exercise of national self-defense, use of wartime reserve modes, training or spotlighting with a directed energy weapon, collateral damage (LOAC-standard or minimum possible), attacking space assets, computer network attack, destruction of designated lines of communications or facilities, destruction of designated major supplies or resources, and detention of civilians. Other areas that require review include detention and interrogation operations, treatment of civilians, integration of contractor personnel, and intelligence operations.
    Last edited by jmm99; 06-25-2009 at 02:41 AM. Reason: add JP 1-04 reference

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    Default one thought (maybe two)

    The one thing that gets me is how widespread this information is, part of the way to win any conflict (or battle) is to deny the enemy information on our tactics and battle plans. Announcing to the world (and the enemy) what we will or will not do in a situation is just asking for some "smart" opponent to use this against our troops.
    my other point to be made is how this can be confusing to anybody on the ground (or air), the last thing we need is for the troops and/or leaders to start second guessing themselves (or third....) for concern on how their action will be view by others.

    just my two cents to a interesting thread
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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    "...The 'change' as understood thus far is cosmetic -- it attacks the symptom, not the problem. I do not question the need for him to do that; I do strongly question WHY he should have to do that..." (emphasis added / kw)It also seems you are corroborating my point that this is a bandaid and that we are attacking a symptom...

    Not sniping at you but I think this all too pervasive general idea and attitude "...where the alligators have us by the ass we need to pass on draining the swamp." is endemic in the Army, more so today as it has been increasing in intensity for over 20 years and that it is exactly why we are where we are in a great many respects.

    We have a bad tendency today to put out fires instead of removing the combustibles that allow such fires. People acquire credit and gratification from 'fixing' things that are wrong -- and being seen to do so...

    Few seem willing to put in the hard thankless effort required to change the direction of the elephant. That attitude is dangerous and is not good for the long term health of the institution -- or the nation.

    I'd like to amend something I said earlier: "...that he has to do so is an indicator of institutional failure. The institution really needs to acknowledge that. Append: and fix it before it gets worse..."
    No sniping detected. Again I agree on the need for institutional change and I am not saying ignore it. I have advocated change too long to say that. I am saying that whether it is cosmetic or fundamental, an immediate change in approach was needed and McChrystal is doing that. Gates is clearly involved as well.

    As for the renaissance or revolution that will come from the younger generation as they move up--at least that is what I hope.

    Best
    Tom

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    Default

    Great thread, which has cleared up some of my false assumptions.

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    Default Same "hymm sheet" ?

    A short video clip of the UK Commander in Afghanistan (I am sure it is longer on the BBC News itself) and the US Commander - on these issues: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8119396.stm

    Incidentally BBC have added a lot of items in last few days.

    davidbfpo

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    Default Public Nature of the Directive

    Quote Originally Posted by lobo View Post
    The one thing that gets me is how widespread this information is, part of the way to win any conflict (or battle) is to deny the enemy information on our tactics and battle plans. Announcing to the world (and the enemy) what we will or will not do in a situation is just asking for some "smart" opponent to use this against our troops.
    my other point to be made is how this can be confusing to anybody on the ground (or air), the last thing we need is for the troops and/or leaders to start second guessing themselves (or third....) for concern on how their action will be view by others.

    just my two cents to a interesting thread
    *plink, plink*

    Lobo

    Call me naive, but...

    If you presume that the enemy will read this traffic... and that the enemy will then tend to fuse itself in large numbers to population centers in order to leverage a perceived seam in NATO/US RUF...

    Maybe, just maybe... that is part of the design of the public release... in addition to assauging some Afghan sensibilities, perhaps a second order effect of the the wide spread release of the directive is exactly so the adversary will read and respond as mentioned above...

    A significant problem in dealing with non-compliant forces in AFG is exactly the fact that after getting some "sch-onion" laid upon them in 2001, that got smart and stopped "pooling" into targetable entities...

    Of course that's just a wag... stranger things etc etc etc

    Time to make the donuts
    Hacksaw
    Say hello to my 2 x 4

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