War policy vs. our troops
There’s no question that war is always tough on the soldiers who fight it. But in Afghanistan (and Iraq), Washington has made things doubly worse for U.S. troops: it has imposed on them policies and rules of engagement that (I’ve argued) are inimical to our security — and to the lives of our troops. What underlies these rules is the notion that our forces are morally obliged to place the lives and well-being of Afghans ahead of their own — in the name of so called “compassion” — rather than fighting all-out. The results are heart-rending.
Under current policy in Afghanistan, our forces are required to endear themselves to the local population by providing so-called humanitarian aid. How does that affect our soldiers?
[The Times of London reports:] The soldiers are angry that colleagues are losing their lives while trying to help a population that will not help them. “You give them all the humanitarian assistance that they want and they’re still going to lie to you. They’ll tell you there’s no Taleban anywhere in the area and as soon as you roll away, ten feet from their house, you get shot at again,” said Specialist Eric Petty, from Georgia.
Captain Rico told of the disgust of a medic who was asked to treat an insurgent shortly after pulling a colleague’s charred corpse from a bombed vehicle.
This is combined with the long-standing battlefield rules that require soldiers to go out of their way to avoid injuring civilians.
The soldiers complain that rules of engagement designed to minimise civilian casualties mean that they fight with one arm tied behind their backs. “They’re a joke,” said one. “You get shot at but can do nothing about it. You have to see the person with the weapon. It’s not enough to know which house the shooting’s coming from.”
The soldiers joke that their Isaf arm badges stand not for International Security Assistance Force but “I Suck At Fighting” or “I Support Afghan Farmers”.
To compound matters, soldiers are mainly being killed not in combat but on routine journeys, by roadside bombs planted by an invisible enemy. “That’s very demoralising,” said Captain Masengale.