SMALL WARS COUNCIL
Go Back   Small Wars Council > Small Wars Participants & Stakeholders > Trigger Puller

Trigger Puller Boots on the ground, steel on target -- the pointy end of the spear.

Closed Thread
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 04-30-2008   #21
Rank amateur
Council Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 568
Default

I agree 100%. It'll be much easier for the military to recalibrate if the country does, but I think the country is looking at it as a political/values issues as opposed to what's the most effective way to fight the GWOT.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.
Rank amateur is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #22
marct
Council Member
 
marct's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Posts: 3,682
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Buckwheat View Post
This is the heart of the problem we are having at many levels in the military. One time there was a pretty broad ethical line that COULD NOT be crossed....However my contention for the last seven years is that there is no authority to commit war crimes because the GWOT is considered (by guys like Douglas Feith) as "A new type of war."....We cannot continue to go there. Al Qaeda terrorists and Taliban sympathizers are combatants when on the battlefield. Unarmed civilians who may rat your mission out are part of the game.
This has been a concern of mine for quite a while now in more than just a purely military setting. I must admit that one of the reasons why I dislike Feith so much is because, IMO, he embodies the ideology of the ends justify the means without regard to what those means do to the people and their social system. As with many theologians, both "secular" and "sacred", he appears to live in an illusory world which, because it is "true", requires that everyone must accept it and, if they do not, be made to accept it "for their own good". In this way, he is similar to UBL and other brands of fanatics.

Abu, you mentioned "honour" and "chivalry" and they are important in this respect - they are lodged inside individuals. This is something that fanatic ideologues cannot accept - for them, "truth" must be given from a central system - it cannot be contained within individuals and serve as a source of opposition to that central system. This is all about a fight between types of power: "power within" and "power over" as Miriam Seimos would say.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Buckwheat View Post
We cannot second guess their moral struggle on the battlefield but the fact that he said military training was not a factor in his reasoning for voting against killing the civilians is indicative that the system has gotten so far off the rails that we need to re-institutionalize our own sense of honor and chivalry.

I think the wild west like "War on Terror" has really badly damaged our image as professionals....There have been too many incidents of murder (as many as 100 cases), abuse and random "screw it I'll just shoot them, its a different war and these aren't humans" have been seen and we will hear MANY more reported in the post-conflict period. This is an anathema to COIN. Paticularly in the Pashtunwali-soaked areas of the Lower Hindu Kush. Ask Kipling for examples.
Leaving aside the actual efficacy of it, and I agree it is about as useful as sending a package of Twinkies to a famine zone, there are other, more important issues. The "War on Terror" has done more than "damage" the US military's "image as professionals" - it appears to have damaged, at least in some cases, your self-image; in theological terms, your souls. It has done so by putting you in what Bateson called a "double bind"; a situation where you are squeezed between two conflicting and contradictory positions. Pulled apart a bit further, think of the "debate" over waterboarding with some ideologues saying that it is not torture while knowing that it is. The "solution" being offered to this double bind by certain ideologues - "it's not torture, just a necessary tool in the War on Terror" - is not a solution that can be accepted while retaining honour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Buckwheat View Post
Someone in the next DoD needs to be tasked to bring the nation's Honor and adhering to laws and humanity back as a core value (AGAIN) at the troop level. God bless all of those team guys. They are asked to do hard things, but the issue is not about the ROE, its about the ROL, Rule of Law.

We have some major league recalibration to do after this war.
While I agree, I would go further that saying it is about ROL - I would say I is about basic philosophy in the original meaning of that word; it is about "knowing yourself". Institutional "recalibration" is a good start to that; even St. Paul managed to realize that one when he noted that "I had not known sin but by the law" (Romans 7:7), but that is only the start - it is still basing individual ethics, "honour" as it were, on some system external to the individual which is amenable to manipulation by ideologues. Honour (and ethics) must be internal even if they are shaped by external (actually inter-personal) systems. If they don't live within you, then you are "just following orders" - a "defense" that I doubt will be accepted by any sane court or deity.

Marc

ps. Yes, Wayne, I am a radical immanentalist
__________________
Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
Senior Research Fellow,
The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
Carleton University
http://marctyrrell.com/
marct is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #23
Entropy
Council Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,457
Default

Well, I have read Luttrell's book, was in Afghanistan at the time, played a very small role in his recovery and have read most of the AAR's, etc. That said, the events that day cannot be singly traced to the decision to let the goatherders go - there were other factors at play which I won't get into. The point being, it wasn't ultimately a simplistic question of "kill the civilians, save the Americans" vs "let the civilians go, let the Americans die." What happened with Operation Redwing was a wake-up call to many and served as the catalyst for a variety of changes at various levels of command. And so I agree completely with the others in here who warn of monday morning QB'ing that one decision and the danger of what amounts to murdering unarmed civilians. Besides the legal and ethical considerations, there are practical ones as well including ramifications. For example, would the friendly villagers have taken Luttrell in, protected him, and contacted US forces for him had he killed the civilians? Probably not.

BTW, Luttrell's target, Mullah Ismail, aka Mullah Ahmad Shah, was killed in Pakistan about two weeks ago when he tried to run a Pakistani Police checkpoint in the NWFP after kidnapping some poor Afghan refugee.
Entropy is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #24
Eden
Council Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 223
Default What bothers me

I read Luttrell's book before I discovered this thread, and my reaction to the incident being discussed was a little bit different. Like most of you, it disturbed me that US soldiers could be so cold-bloodedly discussing murder of non-combatants; to me it is clearly a no-brainer that you abort at that point, and that killing is simply not on your options list. But that is not what disturbed me most. Two other things bothered me long after I put the book down.

1. Luttrell is brutally honest about his thought processes. As he reflects on his internal struggle, he continuously refers to his military training which he says clearly calls for killing the shepherds who have stumbled upon his team. Part of his burden of guilt rests on his not having followed his military training. Clearly this superbly trained warrior, a true elite member of the US armed forces, has either:
a. completely misunderstood whatever training he has received on this subject, or
b. has been trained in a way that undermines our common understanding of the law of war and its effect on military operations.

2. The fact that his lieutenant completely abdicates his leadership role and allows his subordinates to make such a momentous moral choice. It would have been fine, even wise, to ask their opinion, but to put it to a vote was wrong. It was a form of morale cowardice, and I do not say that lightly of a fallen soldier who displayed such formidable physical courage. He shifted a terrible moral burden from his own shoulders to those of his subordinates, a burden that still haunts Luttrell by his own admission.

I encourage all to read the book - you can't fully grasp the incident unless you have all the background - and I hope this incident will be used as a case study in the terrible choices men have to make in war a hundred years from now and how we prepare them to face those choices.
Eden is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #25
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default We can disagree. While I agree with your premise

if applied to a conventional unit, for some SOF missions one simply has to apply a different standard and Luttrell's quandry is but one example of many where there are differences in approach and training that must be applied.

Is it morally acceptable to shoot an innocent (if he is in fact 'innocent') shepherd, perhaps a child? Dunno. Is it moral to NOT shoot said child if his life being spared results in losing four or six or ten of your own people? Dunno the answer to that, either. METT-TC applies and I suggest that each person has to make their own decision when they are actually in such a situation. That creates a quandry and there is no 'right' answer.

You cite Luttrell's military training being abrogated and I agree -- if applied to conventional forces. In SOF operations of many kinds different rules apply; have to apply -- that's part of why they are called 'special operations.' You may disagree that such operations are conducted or that such organizations can have different rules. That is your prerogative but it doesn't change reality. Such organizations do exist, such operations are conducted, the rules ARE different and such quandries are a part of them.

You also condemn "his Lieutenant" for abdicating his leadership role. In most SOF units that line is not and absolutely cannot be as distinct as it is in a conventional unit. That, too is reality.

All the above factors are some of the many reasons there's a disconnect between the 'big Army' and SOF. You mention the incident as a "...case study in the terrible choices men have to make in war a hundred years from now and how we prepare them to face those choices." Good idea. Part of that case study could be used to educate the conventional force on some of the very knotty problems faced by their SOF brethren that conventional units rarely if ever face. We have not done that at all well.
Ken White is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #26
jcustis
Council Member
 
jcustis's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: SOCAL
Posts: 2,142
Default

Quote:
2. The fact that his lieutenant completely abdicates his leadership role and allows his subordinates to make such a momentous moral choice. It would have been fine, even wise, to ask their opinion, but to put it to a vote was wrong. It was a form of morale cowardice, and I do not say that lightly of a fallen soldier who displayed such formidable physical courage. He shifted a terrible moral burden from his own shoulders to those of his subordinates, a burden that still haunts Luttrell by his own admission.
There are others out there in the board/forum thread realm (whom I presume are the veteran SOF members they claim to be) who have damned Murphy for his actions, despite the resulting MoH citation. Bottom line, you aren't alone in this.
jcustis is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #27
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Dunno, wasn't there...

.................
Ken White is offline  
Old 04-30-2008   #28
Ranger94
Council Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 38
Default

From the accounts that I have read, Lt. Michael P Murphy, displayed the type of physical courage that deserves our respect and honor. I am humbled each time I read his story.http://www.navytimes.com/news/2007/1...l_moh_071011w/

I have not read Lettrell's book. I am completely hung up on one point of the mission. During the planning stage, was compromise by a non-combatant covered?

My head spins when I think of a Long Range Surveillance team leader (and this is how the Seal team was functioning) debating with his team on how to act given a common situation that must ALWAYS be accounted for PRIOR to movement.

Compromise on a RECON mission is a contingency plan/immediate action drill not a debate. Input from the team on how to handle this situation should have come during the planning phase.

If it was considered during the planning phase, I doubt very much, the Op-Order said "shoot the unarmed civilian and continue to observe"

I think the comments on training have been the most productive in this thread.

Last edited by Ranger94; 05-01-2008 at 12:04 AM.
Ranger94 is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #29
oblong
Council Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Georgia
Posts: 41
Default Fwiw

http://www.newsday.com/news/local/lo...,7551760.story

Murphy's father wasn't happy with Luttrell's book.

Quote:
In the NBC interview and in the book, Luttrell describes a discussion by the four SEALs and then a vote to let the herders go. That account, said Daniel Murphy, a former Suffolk County prosecutor and now a law clerk in State Supreme Court in Riverhead, is a far cry from what he said Marcus told the Murphy family not long after the death of their son.

"That directly contradicts what he told [Murphy's mother] Maureen, myself and Michael's brother John in my kitchen," said Murphy, who watched Luttrell on television but said he hasn't read the book. "He said that Michael was adamant that the civilians were going to be released, that he wasn't going to kill innocent people ... Michael wouldn't put that up for committee. People who knew Michael know that he was decisive and that he makes decisions."

Luttrell suggests that he sugar-coated the story later in a visit to Long Island, where he met Murphy's mother Maureen. She asked, he writes, "He didn't suffer, did he? Please tell me he didn't suffer."
oblong is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #30
Kiwigrunt
Council Member
 
Kiwigrunt's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Auckland New Zealand
Posts: 464
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ranger94 View Post

My head spins when I think of a Long Range Surveillance team leader (and this is how the Seal team was functioning) debating with his team on how to act given a common situation that must ALWAYS be accounted for PRIOR to movement.

Compromise on a RECON mission is a contingency plan/immediate action drill not a debate. Input from the team on how to handle this situation should have come during the planning phase.
Fully agree.
Indeed, Bravo Two Zero went through the same thing in '91 and everyone knows the story. Should be discussed under 'actions on'.
'Higher command' should take responsibility for troops on the ground not knowing how to react to 'unexpected' situations like these, especialy where those situations are to be so clearly expected.
__________________
Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
(Arthur Schopenhauer)

ONWARD

Last edited by Kiwigrunt; 05-01-2008 at 01:45 AM.
Kiwigrunt is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #31
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Interesting comments.

I agree with Ranger 94 to an extent but disagree that the Team was functioning in the LRS mode. Regardless, the action if a compromise or potential compromise occurred should've been part of mission planning and probably was. We do not know many things including the depth of that planning and the specific actions and the terrain and situation at the time during the mission; best laid plans and all that. Thus, I submit we cannot judge.

Obviously at first blush shooting civilians is not a good thing but situation dependent, we cannot say 'never.' Some missions may be too important and not be able to be rescheduled. In this case it would appear, and I agree with several, that the mission could be aborted (as it was) and rescheduled, so it was a bad idea if it was ever seriously considered. Was the shooting of the civilians ever seriously considered? We don't know really that, either.

I also submit that we cannot judge Murphy. Did he ask for a 'vote' (not a good thing) or did he simply solicit opinions about possible actions from the other more experienced Team members (a good thing). We don't know; we weren't there. We only have Luttrel's version and given that he apparently told the Murphys one thing for whatever reason and told another thing in the book his tale is at least mildly suspect to be after the fact-itis. Combat recall is dicey at best.

Much the same is perhaps true of Bravo Two Zero and 'Andy McNab.' There are others who dispute his version. Anyone who was not actually present in such operations is rarely going to get a clear unjaundiced view of what occurred. Thus, I'm inclined to believe judgmental calls on the rights and wrongs by all us bystanders (to include unit staff types involved but not in the field at the time and emphatically including higher echelon staffs) are probably going to miss many salient points, are generally unhelpful and should be avoided. YMMV.

Entropy who was peripherally involved says that there were many factors not made public (and I'm sure that's true) and that lessons were learned, absorbed and new TTP implemented as a result (and I'm equally sure that occurred) -- that's the important thing.
Ken White is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #32
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Is it moral to NOT shoot said child if his life being spared results in losing four or six or ten of your own people?
I think the point here is context is critical, but guidance does have to be absolute when dealing with such an area. You never kill unarmed and/or innocent civilians and you must be prepared to risk own lives in order to stick by that. (- an area where I and some of the IDF part company on the ethical implications. No IDF commander cannot put the lives of his soldiers first.)

...but there are clearly situations where civilians may be killed because they are trying to kill you or aid others that will. It is their intent and actions that should seal (no pun!) their fate.

Technically, I should have no problem (never having had to do it) in dropping some 14-year-old girl, with pig-tails, who is driving an SUV full or armed men, attempting to retrieve a weapon, carrying mortar bombs, or spotting the fall of shot for mortars. She is clearly "hostile."

(Will the BBC show the bullet ridden body to the world? Yes. That's my CoC's problem, and part of the "Information Ops," effort to deal with.)

I submit that the test would reside in the realms of an action being "clearly hostile."

Having said all that, the Luttrell book (and the book on Operations Anaconda) leaves me asking a whole raft of questions about how the operation was planned and how SEAL's are trained, but that's something different.

As was shown with the Bravo-Two-Zero, and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, it may be naive to believe that the written account is entirely accurate.

- and now seeing Ken's post I broadly concur.
__________________
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

Last edited by William F. Owen; 05-01-2008 at 05:09 AM. Reason: Ken was writing as I was
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #33
Abu Buckwheat
Council Member
 
Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Insurgency University
Posts: 143
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
There are others out there in the board/forum thread realm (whom I presume are the veteran SOF members they claim to be) who have damned Murphy for his actions, despite the resulting MoH citation. Bottom line, you aren't alone in this.
I agree with Bill. We can't give any ground to anyone judging Lt. Murphy. The team guys have a different way about decision making it depending on the unit. I am not a team guy but I have trained ALLOT of them in prisoner handling and interrogation in the field. They have a weird "I'm-the-Surfer-in-charge-but-we-decide-this-together-based-on-all-of-our-experience" thing going on inside the platoons. If anything the Chief Petty Officers have equal authority but its their way of doing business and what makes them special. So Monday morning QB'ing Lt. Murphy or the platoon's discussion is not particularly fair. It has happened many times before and its going to happen again. God bless them all but its beside the point.

The discussion is about what guys are presuming they can do if they get compromised by civilians. The issue at hand is that the military needs to re-institutionalize honor and chivalry in arms. This "our enemy has no rules so we should have none" stuff is out of line and getting out of hand. The Army's seven core values (which all other services embody) seem to be modified for this fight so that that Honor and Integrity are not applicable in this "different" war.

The "Hard Deck" as we call it in the Navy is this: We NEVER intentionally kill civilians or captives. This is what Zip-ties are for and I don't believe for a minute no one in that section had 550 cord or zip ties or a dump pouch to use as a hood. That’s not SOP even for super light Alpine style LR Special Reconnaissance missions ... now there are many "unless’s" to be considered like shooting in Self Defense, planting munitions or anything that makes a Sheppard change from non-combatant to combatant ... and spies, recon et al are considered combatants but you had better have proof ... and lots of it. Saying a guy is a look out and shooting him means we will have lots of dead and a trail of hostility that will defeat the ultimate mission.

So as far as COIN goes this is right up there with AC-130s blasting 50-100 person weddings. We need to ensure that the ROE defaults to supporting the strategic objectives of the COIN mission. Failing that gets you Iraq-style atrocities. Look what Marine SOF did on thier first mission in J-Bad two years ago ... they got IED'd and shot every damn civilian for over a mile ... then then got kicked out of Afghanistan. The indiginous people are the mission. Remember it. Dig it. Right on.

We need to re-establish the hard moral deck here.
__________________
Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993

Last edited by Abu Buckwheat; 05-01-2008 at 01:36 PM. Reason: general stupidity
Abu Buckwheat is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #34
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default If COIN was all one's got to do, I agree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abu Buckwheat View Post
...So as far as COIN goes this is right up there with AC-130s blasting 50-100 person weddings...

We need to re-establish the hard moral deck here.
Unfortunately, all war is not COIN. If I haven't learned anything else in the last 75 years, I've learned to avoid saying never...
Ken White is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #35
Abu Buckwheat
Council Member
 
Abu Buckwheat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Insurgency University
Posts: 143
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Unfortunately, all war is not COIN. If I haven't learned anything else in the last 75 years, I've learned to avoid saying never...
By God Ken, even as I wrote it I thought "One should never say never ..." Good advice.
__________________
Putting Foot to Al Qaeda Ass Since 1993
Abu Buckwheat is offline  
Old 05-01-2008   #36
Ken White
Council Member
 
Ken White's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 8,060
Default Sadly, the Pennsylvania Dutch have it right...

"We are too zoon oldt und too late schmart." And I'm a living example of that...

I agree with you, got be careful on the judging -- but we have to train people to do the right thing to the maximum extent possible. Thankfully, we mostly do a good job of that. Hard deck is good, just gotta allow for the occasional and hopefully very rare hatch (being careful not to trip over the coaming...).
Ken White is offline  
Old 05-02-2008   #37
Entropy
Council Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,457
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
Entropy who was peripherally involved says that there were many factors not made public (and I'm sure that's true) and that lessons were learned, absorbed and new TTP implemented as a result (and I'm equally sure that occurred) -- that's the important thing.
Ken is a wise man. The tragedy, as it seems is too often the case, is that good people have to die as a catalyst for such change.

Also, on the subject of books, it's important to keep in mind that some details will be left out because of security reasons and Luttrell's is no different.

Finally, on the goatherders, to me it doesn't matter if they were combatants or civilians - once "captured" and placed under the control of Lt. Murphy and his men, they are legally noncombatants and cannot be summarily killed. To do so would be a war crime if I'm understanding my LOAC correctly.
Entropy is offline  
Old 05-02-2008   #38
kehenry1
Council Member
 
kehenry1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
Posts: 89
Default Chivalry is not dead, it never lived [as you think] in the first place

Quote:
The "solution" being offered to this double bind by certain ideologues - "it's not torture, just a necessary tool in the War on Terror" - is not a solution that can be accepted while retaining honour.
How much history and how much myth are codes of chivalry and honor? and, would you consider certain acts as practiced in the past, considered within honorable and chivalric codes, to be honorable and chivalric today?

I am not, by any means, supporting torture nor am I discarding the idea that we must act and appear more honorable and humane than the enemy. Particularly in COIN. Nor even advocating a regression to some form of total war on the population.

But, I would challenge you all directly to point to a historical victory that was won through and honorable or chivalric act. I don't mean the last act where a leader accepts the parole or sword of another with honor and chivalry, but that the battle or war itself was predicated on such acts. I think we could name a few defeats or really horrific death tolls that occurred because an act of "chivalry" where the survivor of such an encounter returned to destroy the offerer.

They say that "war is hell" for a reason.

Historically, chivalry has been discarded out of necessity and honor conferred to the winner. Chivalry has often been limited to a small group or class. Everyone else being fair game. So, let us not confuse our modern ideas of chivalry and honor in military groups or individuals with history or actual war.

Having said that, I would point to something I wrote a few years ago (pardon the self linkage) re: chivalry today and the art of war. Quoting Shay:

Quote:
This brings us back to my earlier line of reasoning. It is not enough to ask, “Can our warriors still get the job done if they do not have a code?” We must also consider the related question: “What will getting the job done do to our warriors if they do not have a code?” Accepting certain constraints as a moral duty, even when it is inconvenient or inefficient to do so, allows warriors to hold onto their humanity while experiencing the horror of war — and, when the war is over, to return home and reintegrate into the society they so ably defended. Fighters who cannot say, “this far but no farther,” who have no lines they will not cross and no atrocities from which they will shrink, may be effective. They may complete their missions, but they will do so at the loss of their humanity.[snip]
Therein, I believe, lies the question that must bother Luttrel. In the end, the two concepts of chivalry actually collide. The first part that demands we treat our brothers in arms with honor, defend them, bring them home, etc and to do no harm to others who also fall within the code.

Which one was the most important to have followed? Which one is the most cruel? Which one the most damaging?

Luttrel doesn't know and that is why he still wrestles with it today.

I would say, as others have, it is all good and well to talk in ideological terms here, even so far as intimating the lack of honor or chivalry in various others, but I would guess that each person would be tested under different circumstances and would come to the same dilemma in the end, which ever he or she chose, finding themselves wanting.
__________________
Kat-Missouri
kehenry1 is offline  
Old 05-02-2008   #39
William F. Owen
Council Member
 
William F. Owen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: The State of Partachia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean
Posts: 3,947
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kehenry1 View Post
They say that "war is hell" for a reason.

Historically, chivalry has been discarded out of necessity and honor conferred to the winner. Chivalry has often been limited to a small group or class. Everyone else being fair game. So, let us not confuse our modern ideas of chivalry and honor in military groups or individuals with history or actual war.
Exactly right, and I concur with the majority of your observations on this, but this is CvC area of total war and war as it really is.

We are all suffering (and the UK as well, witness recent events of abuse) from a failure to install a sense of right and wrong in terms of behaviour.

The reason is an inability to articulate this in the context of modern operations, and effective military behaviour, because our military cultures are rested on wars on national survival, where your people count more than the others, and the beleif that modern operations require absolute behaviours devoid of judgement. Thank, WW1, WW2, and prospective Nuclear War for all of this.

I think the members of this board could write a workable code of behaviour in about 30 seconds. What is patently lacking is the courage of armies to implement and enforce it.
__________________
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
William F. Owen is offline  
Old 05-02-2008   #40
Tom Odom
Council Member
 
Tom Odom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: DeRidder LA
Posts: 3,949
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kehenry1 But, I would challenge you all directly to point to a historical victory that was won through and honorable or chivalric act. I don't mean the last act where a leader accepts the parole or sword of another with honor and chivalry, but that the battle or war itself was predicated on such acts. I think we could name a few defeats or really horrific death tolls that occurred because an act of "chivalry" where the survivor of such an encounter returned to destroy the offerer.
One for a specific:

North Africa 1942 with regard to the Vichy French after limited combat between US and French forces

In general terms, I would offer that any conflict resolution based on reconciliation has elements of honor and chivalry built into it. That was true on the frontier wars of the United States and elsewhere. Tribal conflicts in the past often used ritualized combat as a limitation. The concept of blood feud and blood money draws on similar themes.

In my personal experience, I saw it take place in Rwanda between former Rwandan military whose government and fellow soldiers committed genocide and former rebels who won the war militarily and stopped the genocide. Acceptance of the idea that while accountability for genocide could and should be 100%, universal punishment was in the end self-defeating was and is very much a moral as well as practical position.

On the latter, moral positions and chivalry are in that sense quite practical. such terms are defined culturally; honor to an Arab sheikh is quite different than honor to one of us. Yet we have used a combination of self-interest, money, and honor as means to leverage greater accomodation between us and former insurgents.

I would agree with Malcom Nance about the moral hard deck; if you don't set it some folks will feel for the ground. But I would add that there are military and political benefits to setting that hard deck that are in the end imminently practical.

War is indeed hell. War without moral limits is absolute hell. Everyone does face their own test; group codes and morals frame those tests. When there are no limits, human beings are far worse than any animal.

Tom
Tom Odom is offline  
Closed Thread

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 08:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9. ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Registered Users are solely responsible for their messages.
Operated by, and site design © 2005-2009, Small Wars Foundation