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Old 04-24-2012   #1
Sparapet
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Default ROE & Mission Command

An article in the military times (http://www.militarytimes.com/news/20...reers-042312w/) raises a consequential implication...

What is the purpose of ROE? and how does that purpose integrate into the concept of Mission Command?

I don't mean to be silly or superficial when asking this question. Beyond the apparent career-manuevering by this Marine officer's Battalion Commander, the issue of the place ROE's hold when put up against discretion is a critical one. Is it the case that we are designing ROE's with "Command and Control" circa 1990, or with "Mission Command - 2011" in mind?

I have always found the ROE's I was issued easy to interpret favorably or otherwise because they are so broad. The fact that ROE compliance can be checked by a SJA makes them a legal guideline or is this simply a misapplcation of a lawyer where a commander's judgement would be more appropriate? After all, laws of war are never amended by an ROE, so what's the lawyer's job?

This seems to be a rather dangerous element within our force's decision making evolution that needs to be resolved. Would love to see how many agree or disagree with the article's circumstance and the implication.
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Old 04-24-2012   #2
AmericanPride
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In theory, not only should the ROE ensure compliance with legal requirements, but should also deter military actions counterproductive to the political aims sought in the conflict. In complicated "small wars", especially if compounded by unclear strategic aims and/or intellectual assumptions driving the doctrine, then I think the ROE will become a focus of both frustration and misunderstanding (and resulting in the incidents as noted above). But, in my view, it is only a sympton of greater dysfunction where there is no "unity of understanding" next to the unity of command.
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Old 04-24-2012   #3
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Originally Posted by AmericanPride View Post
...then I think the ROE will become a focus of both frustration and misunderstanding (and resulting in the incidents as noted above). But, in my view, it is only a sympton of greater dysfunction where there is no "unity of understanding" next to the unity of command.

I have noticed quite frequently that ROE briefings are inconsistent. I would go as far as saying that SMs invariably look to their leaders for the "appropriate interpretation du jour". This tendency to interpret the ROEs rather than use them as your "range fans" (implying they are written to be clearly understood) is the issue that leads me to question the very purpose of modern ROEs. It's as if they are in an identity crisis between being a supplemental commander's intent, a standing order, or a legal obligation (I mean this in a sense outside of obeying orders...as in Law of War). A commander has decreasing discretion left to right on that scale.

Involving lawyers in the mix only confuses the issue further. Who do I ask about an ROE concern as a line leader: the Brigade/Division SJA or my immediate Commander? What possible opinion could the SJA provide that is of value beyond the question of law of war or UCMJ, unless the ROE is a legal obligation?

More importantly, if the ROE is a legal obligation beyond obeying orders (presumably then, an order violating the ROE would be an illegal order) why are so many ROE violations NOT resolved in Courts-Martial? Instead we see CYA maneuvers like the one in the OP that landed the Marine 1LT in the admin-slammer.

What the hell is an ROE when put up against Mission Command doctrine?!
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Old 04-24-2012   #4
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Default Henry VI, part 2 (act 4, scene 2)

is one COA.

A better one would be the advice of Lt. Col. Paul Ware, if it were followed (LINK):

Quote:
The Government counsel argued that positive identification of occupants of the room was required under the rules of engagement. Such a theory, requiring positive identification before engaging targets inside House 1 is clearly contrary to the training and experiences of the Marines in Third Battalion, First Marines.

I am reminded of what I learned from the very first day at The Basic School. “We train as we fight.” It is more than a simple motto to encourage full effort in field and classroom instructions. It is indoctrinating our Marines into a way of thinking, acting and most importantly, responding under the stress and crisis of combat. It is believed that through practice, mental and physical memory can work through the chaos of the event and allow Marines to respond quickly and appropriately to an otherwise overwhelming event.

Capt Capers, a trainer of SASO tactics in MCAGCC, 29 Palms, CA, testified that training Marines for SASO consists of many practical application scenarios. There are no correct answers to the problems posed, but the intent of the training is to demonstrate and provide Marines situations to develop that mental and physical memory of how to respond. An enemy combatant firing from a crowded market place, or a person aggressively approaching a checkpoint are examples of the type of situations that are presented. When a Marine makes a decision to use deadly force causing collateral damage, the scenario is stopped and discussion about the choice, why it was made and how to employ a better approach reducing collateral damage is explained. This training is important, relevant and ongoing. However, while the Government argues that the conduct of SSgt Wuterich violated the ROE, SSgt Wuterich, and through sworn statements and depositions, his fellow Marines, were trained in preparation of MOUT operations, the ROE are not applied in the same manner.

Numerous witnesses to include Capt McConnell (Company Commander), Capt Dinsmore (Intel officer), 1stLt Kallop (Platoon Commander), SSgt Fields (Platoon Sergeant), fellow squad members LCpl Tatum, LCpl Sharratt, LCpl Mendoza, Sgt Salinas, LCpl Rodriguez and Mr. Graviss provided sworn statements that in a MOUT assault, you throw a grenade into a room and assault into the room with gunfire. Almost to a Marine, the understanding is that once a house is declared hostile no further positive identification is necessary to lead an assault with grenade and gunfire. Each of these Marines state in various ways that once a house is declared hostile you can “blow it up”, “lead with grenades and gunfire” or call in indirect fire to destroy the structure. Capt Capers and Capt Navin testified that in applying the ROE, you can never declare a house as hostile and indiscriminately use deadly force against the occupants.

Capt Capers and Capt Navin are not in SSgt Wuterich’s chain of command and do not know the training SSgt Wuterich received in regard to tactics for clearing a house in a MOUT assault. The Government presented no evidence of any practical exercise, discussion, lecture, power point slide, field operation or tactical war game where the accused was placed in a simulated combat environment and was required to distinguish legitimate targets from innocents within a room. The SASO training described by Capt Capers was not a troops in contact situation. The Government does have training for close quarters with the focus on using limited force to preserve innocent lives but that training was not provided to SSgt Wuterich or Marines from his Battalion.

Time and again I read statements of Marines saying they didn’t or wouldn’t use additional positive identification in a troops in contact, MOUT assault or declared hostile house situation. The term “hostile house” does not exist in Capt Navin’s presentation, however clearly it exists in the minds of the Marines who are expected to be facing the enemy at the tip of the spear.

Capt McConnell, 1stLt Kallop and SSgt Fields were all in SSgt Wuterich’s direct chain of command. All the other statements are from Marines in the same Battalion. Clearly this unit’s training and leadership either received different training, or came up with its own form of MOUT tactics for clearing a house. The almost universal statements of these witnesses that a house can be declared hostile and you can lead with grenades and gunfire without further positive identification demonstrates this was widely believed throughout all levels of the Company, and most likely the Battalion. It is within the context that SSgt Wuterich and his Marines received training that conflicted with the ROE that the actions he and his Marines made on 19 November 2005 must be analyzed.
Of course, this was from the Article 32 report; and Wuterich went on to a court-martial anyway.

And, yes (as the Haditha courts-martial prove), ROEs can be asserted as the basis for homicide charges - even such as these:

Quote:
Positive Identification (PID) is a reasonable certainty that the target you are engaging is exhibiting hostile intent or committing a hostile act.
Quote:
PID is a reasonable certainty that the proposed target is a legitimate military target.
where the term "reasonable certainty" has no well-defined, fixed legal meaning. It may have a political meaning or a military meaning, which is well-defined; but, if so, I am unaware of it.

The legal uncertainty of all this - especially where political factors heavily underlay the ROEs - is why I suspect courts-martial are not that frequent.

I sounds to me that young Waddell is getting shafted via indirect means.

Regards

Mike
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Old 04-25-2012   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparapet View Post
I have noticed quite frequently that ROE briefings are inconsistent. I would go as far as saying that SMs invariably look to their leaders for the "appropriate interpretation du jour". This tendency to interpret the ROEs rather than use them as your "range fans" (implying they are written to be clearly understood) is the issue that leads me to question the very purpose of modern ROEs. It's as if they are in an identity crisis between being a supplemental commander's intent, a standing order, or a legal obligation (I mean this in a sense outside of obeying orders...as in Law of War). A commander has decreasing discretion left to right on that scale.

Involving lawyers in the mix only confuses the issue further. Who do I ask about an ROE concern as a line leader: the Brigade/Division SJA or my immediate Commander? What possible opinion could the SJA provide that is of value beyond the question of law of war or UCMJ, unless the ROE is a legal obligation?

More importantly, if the ROE is a legal obligation beyond obeying orders (presumably then, an order violating the ROE would be an illegal order) why are so many ROE violations NOT resolved in Courts-Martial? Instead we see CYA maneuvers like the one in the OP that landed the Marine 1LT in the admin-slammer.

What the hell is an ROE when put up against Mission Command doctrine?!
In my narrow experiences, the ROE might as well be the law of God, since the operations in which I helped plan and participate had to be approved by the same authority that promulgated the ROE in the first place. If we didn't conform to the ROE in our operation, it was a non-starter, and there was no room for interpretation by anyone between levels of command. So in all cases in my experiences ROE superseded mission command doctrine every time, which left us with few (and very ineffective) opportunities since ROE is not METT-TC dependent.
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