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Old 06-22-2009   #1
Entropy
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Default Afghanistan ROE Change

Quick summary: No more engaging insurgents near homes unless absolutely necessary.

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Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who took command of international forces in Afghanistan this month, has said his measure of effectiveness will be the "number of Afghans shielded from violence" ó not the number of militants killed.

McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger, said U.S. military spokesman Rear Adm. Greg Smith.

"But if there is a compound they're taking fire from and they can remove themselves from the area safely, without any undue danger to the forces, then that's the option they should take," Smith said. "Because in these compounds we know there are often civilians kept captive by the Taliban."
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Old 06-22-2009   #2
Anthony Hoh
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I appreciate the perspective that if you lose the people you lose the war. However if the enemy fires on you indiscriminately and you have to pack out over concern for civilian casualties… I like to think I am somewhat counterinsurgency savvy, but the way I interpret this ROE change it sounds like a recipe for frustration to ground forces. Cant we focus our energy on making the populace resent the fact that the Taliban hide behind the innocent as opposed to offering the Taliban a free opportunity to send some lead our way. How many times do you get shot at from the same compound/village that you drive by every day before you can do something about it? I realize that may seem like an extreme example, but not an unrealistic one.

Gen McChrystal is smarter than me...Okay I got it. But I will really be watching with interest on how this gets implemented/enforced.

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Old 06-22-2009   #3
Ken White
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Default I'm not sure that's true.

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Gen McChrystal is smarter than me
On this one:
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I will really be watching with interest on how this gets implemented/enforced.
Me, too. I'll give it a month or two before it quietly disappears. Not a smart move on several levels...
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Old 06-22-2009   #4
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On this one:Me, too. I'll give it a month or two before it quietly disappears. Not a smart move on several levels...
I agree ken, it is an order with the best of intentions that will more than likely have the worst of results. Civillian seems to be a more ambiguous word than ever. I touched on the idea of the insurgent who by attacks ISAF forces and then scurries off to the local villages where he is supported by friends and family. I think this order plays too much to the advantage of the enemy. Not all non-combatants are truely non-combatants. I learned this the hard way while doing peace operations in the Legion.
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Old 06-22-2009   #5
Ron Humphrey
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Default Ok get the drawbacks everyone sees right off

What I haven't necessarily seen is anyone talk about the Afghan piece of this puzzle. What yall are sayin seems pretty ISAF centric. How would you see that piece
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Old 06-22-2009   #6
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What I haven't necessarily seen is anyone talk about the Afghan piece of this puzzle. What yall are sayin seems pretty ISAF centric. How would you see that piece
I would say given the history, culture, religion, recent issues with the locals many Afghans may see it as weakness, the Talibs will certainly see it as weakness and start exploiting it soon.

If I were a Mujahideen commander I would direct units to start settign up shop in close proximity to civillian compounds. I amy even move my staff and command assets into one and do some clear, hold, opress operations to get the point across to the locals that we are strong and the ISAF are a bunch of majnoon who have lost their will to fight.

Is that the piece you were speaking of?
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Old 06-23-2009   #7
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I would say given the history, culture, religion, recent issues with the locals many Afghans may see it as weakness, the Talibs will certainly see it as weakness and start exploiting it soon.
Absolutely. One recurring theme in talking to Afghans was "The Russians were jerks, but at least they never ran from a fight." ISAF is already too prone to break contact. I can't see this helping that.

Other than that, if we have to run when we're getting shot at, can we at least shoot illum rounds over their houses?
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Old 06-23-2009   #8
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Default Adding to what Blackjack said and with which I agree, I suspect the civilians

who are nominally innocent will get more visitation by various bad guys and said civilians will not really appreciate the extra attention (nor will they be happy that a small source of income, claiming non-existent casualties, has been removed).

Aside from the impacts on own forces, the net result is most likely to be more, not fewer, civilian casualties and the Afghans will figure that out fairly quickly. How long it will take us to figure it out is the issue because the number of added casualties will be difficult to determine. Plus, it's been my observation that when a US General reinvents a wheel; usually by simply modifying the existing model by making it hexagonal or octagonal -- and then it doesn't work -- reversion to the old, round variety is done slowly, quietly and below everyone's radar.

Good thing about that technique is the reinventor then gets credit for being 'innovative' while everyone forgets that the innovation didn't work.

We need to get over the idea that "COIN" is something new. All this stuff has been done before. From us in Viet Nam, to the French in their colonies, the British in theirs, the poor Federal commanders tasked to hunt down Morgan and Mosby -- the Hittites, for that matter. Or, to put it in the right location; Alexander...
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Old 06-23-2009   #9
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Default NO. Absolutely not!

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Originally Posted by IntelTrooper View Post
Other than that, if we have to run when we're getting shot at, can we at least shoot illum rounds over their houses?
We cannot risk setting a Goat afire. Heaven forbid we burn a Poppy Crop -- neither Solatium Payments for the Goat or Damage Claims for the crop so caused are authorized.

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Old 06-23-2009   #10
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We cannot risk setting a Goat afire. Heaven forbid we burn a Poppy Crop -- neither Solatium Payments for the Goat or Damage Claims for the crop so caused are authorized.

I was afraid of that. I guess those payments would have to come out of the pocket of the responsible commander.
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Old 06-23-2009   #11
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Default You fiddling the

CERP funds again? You Spooks and your nets...
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Old 06-23-2009   #12
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From my very first operational experience the one consistent theme for our ROE is the inherent right to self defense. That ROE fundamental even applies in peacetime operations. If the reporting is accurate on this, then this ROE change fundamentally alters that and takes away the inherent right of self defense in combat situations that are relatively common in Afghanistan.

The second issue I have with this is that an ROE change is a needlessly draconian, top-down solution to the problem. Why can't the commanding General provide detailed Commander's intent and guidance that subordinates can apply as the situation dictates? Changing the ROE seems to me to show a lack of confidence in the ability of subordinate Commanders to properly follow and interpret the Commander's intent.
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Old 06-23-2009   #13
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CERP funds again? You Spooks and your nets...
Ask me again in 25 years...
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Old 06-23-2009   #14
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I am reminded of Schmedlapís post a little while ago on another thread where he said that they got more recognition (Iraq) from the locals once they started making more noise with increased (careful) use of HE etc. This created a perception among the locals that they were doing their jobs!
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Old 06-23-2009   #15
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Going to play devil's advocate here -

Is it always necessary to pursue and finish the fight, usually ending w/ a bomb?

I was in a firefight once, had insurgents in a house. Wounded one of my guys. Decided to charge in after supression, got one of my guys killed and another wounded. Wound up bombing the house. Killed about half of a family next door too.

A few weeks later council member Tankersteve was in the same situation about a klick away. He surrounded the house until the insurgent gave up.

I'll pick his solution. I have seen it often where we resort to firepower when other, less lethal options, would do.

I'm not saying it's good for every case, but often our firepower has replaced the use of good tactics and innovative thinking to solve problems. As FM 3-24 says, "sometimes the best action is to do nothing". Keyword "sometimes".

Another way to think about it - should the cops level your house because criminals take refuge in it?

Just feeling contrary tonight.
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Old 06-23-2009   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
The second issue I have with this is that an ROE change is a needlessly draconian, top-down solution to the problem. Why can't the commanding General provide detailed Commander's intent and guidance that subordinates can apply as the situation dictates? Changing the ROE seems to me to show a lack of confidence in the ability of subordinate Commanders to properly follow and interpret the Commander's intent.
That's exactly what it is. The obvious problem is that with the "commanders discretion" guidance we are still making a royal mess of things. Not saying it's the best solution, but may be necessary to get the commander's intent across.

I'm not comfortable with it easier, but much of what I hear/read is that we (ISAF) are very quick to call an airstrike to resolve what could be taken care of by other, less destructive, means that don't hand an IO victory to the enemy.
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Old 06-23-2009   #17
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Default Trying to think of a legal rule ....

that would require this open-source ROE (positing that the article is accurate ?) - and I am stumped.

Possibly it is an application of Additional Protocals I and II (the best and highest use of Lawfare against the US, so far), which in general shift the burden of civilian protection from the defending force to the attacking force - even though the defending force is hiding amidst the civilians.[*]

On the other hand, it could be a pure and simple political move - or some misguided view of COIN. If fully implemented, this rule would logically result in giving up built-up areas.

But, the article says:

Quote:
Smith said McChrystal will address in the coming months how U.S. and NATO forces are deployed around the country, and forces could be withdrawn from remote regions in order to concentrate troops around population centers.
So, we remove troops from the boondocks (where they can shoot) to built-up areas (where they can't) ? None of this hangs together.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, which announced support for the rule, has a Wiki and official webpage. See its "change the rules" page.

Placing the burden on the warring parties is cute - where the AQ-Taliban are not complying with the laws of war as they now exist. So, the burden (as with AP I & II) will only fall on those nations who will follow the rules (no matter how stupid they be).

Looks like a lawfare example to this old buzzard. Maybe some of you younger, more sophisticated folks can talk me down.

---------------------------
[*] AP I & II are not accepted by the US (or by either Astan or Pstan, for that matter). They are accepted by most NATO countries.
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Old 06-23-2009   #18
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Question Well the source is AP -- with all the credibility that implies

Could be conjecture; could be a ploy, could be a misstatement of intent (accidental or deliberate). We'll have to wait and see...

Every new Boss is good for three or four wild rumors.
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Old 06-23-2009   #19
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Default Our old friend...

...the WSJ reports U.S. Revisits Afghan Battle Rules by Yochi J. Dreazan

Quote:
WASHINGTON -- The new U.S. commander in Afghanistan is finalizing a far-reaching change in tactics that will generally require U.S. troops taking fire in populated areas to break contact rather than risk civilian casualties, military officials said.

Exceptions will be made when the lives of U.S. and allied personnel are in danger.
Quote:
The rules make clear exceptions for situations where the lives of U.S., North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Afghan personnel are in danger, U.S. officials said. The guidelines allow U.S. personnel to call in airstrikes or use powerful weaponry if they fear being overrun, can't leave the area safely, or need to evacuate wounded colleagues.
Quote:
Gen. McChrystal, who arrived in Afghanistan last week, is "trying to make it as clear as possible that risking civilian lives for the sole goal of killing the enemy is not acceptable," said his spokesman, Rear Adm. Gregory Smith.
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Another way to think about it - should the cops level your house because criminals take refuge in it?
I have looked for civilian casualties & property damages on the heals of operations with my CA-bubba team. I have also done the life/limb/eyesight coordination/escort for those caught in the middle. My take is that its our guys first & always, certainly, but we also need to play smart when we can. Why add avoidable friction to our operations when many times its a variable that's under our control?

War is messy and alot of #### happens...we all know & accept the risks so try not to beat yourself up...we can't go back and fix things but inshallah we can go forward and apply what we have learned. 1LT Joshua Hurley, RIP.
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Old 06-23-2009   #20
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Going to play devil's advocate here -

Is it always necessary to pursue and finish the fight, usually ending w/ a bomb?
Definitely not. And someone needs to tell some ODA teams that is the case. You're absolutely right -- just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I do have some trouble with being told that if someone pops up over the wall of a qalat and shoots an RPG at me, that I'm supposed to just shrug and leave. Maybe I'm reading the guidance wrong, but I'm fairly certain that a lot of more risk-averse commanders will understand it that way.
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I was in a firefight once, had insurgents in a house. Wounded one of my guys. Decided to charge in after supression, got one of my guys killed and another wounded. Wound up bombing the house. Killed about half of a family next door too.

A few weeks later council member Tankersteve was in the same situation about a klick away. He surrounded the house until the insurgent gave up.
Thanks for sharing that. A lot to think about, for sure.
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