Sunday, March 4, 2007

"Denying self-defense to GIs in Iraq"

It would be an interesting study to see what hapens to the number of troop deaths before and after the adoption of these rules. You raise the cost of defending people and it makes them more likely targets.

As part of President Bush's troop surge now under way in Iraq, he insisted that Iraqi leaders "lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces." That's an important step, but a deeply ironic one, because it overlooks other unreasonable restrictions imposed on US soldiers – by the US government.

In 2005, the Pentagon amended its Standing Rules of Engagement (ROE). The new rules make it harder for US troops to boldly counter hostile acts, and they specifically allow commanders to limit the right of soldiers to defend themselves!

The United States seeks to bring peace to Iraq by winning the "hearts and minds" of the civilian population. Unnecessary collateral damage and innocent civilian deaths undermine this effort. Presumably, the new ROE, which allow unit commanders to "limit individual self-defense by members of their unit" after notifying the secretary of Defense, were adopted with a noble purpose in mind: to lessen civilian casualties. However, limiting the right of self-defense is too drastic and it puts soldiers at risk.

Commanders take these restrictions seriously. Newsweek magazine recently quoted Marine Capt. Rob Secher, who complained that "anytime an American fires a weapon there has to be an investigation into why there was an escalation of force." . . . .

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