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How Do You Win A War With Tactics Like This?

Posted By McQ • [June 22, 2009]


I'm certainly having some difficulty figuring it out:

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan will soon formally order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding in Afghan houses so the battles do not kill civilians, a U.S. official said Monday.

[...]

 McChrystal will issue orders within days saying troops may attack insurgents hiding in Afghan houses if the U.S. or NATO forces are in imminent danger and must return fire, 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."

Certainly I can understand the problems created by unintentional civilian casualties, especially in a tribal culture like Afghanistan. What I don't understand, however, is an order which all but outlines the new tactics of the enemy.

I mean, you tell me, where, if possible, would you initiate all of your contact from now on if you're the Taliban?

And yes, I understand that the order says they don't have to withhold fire if they are in "imminent danger and must return fire". But I also know how our military works and you'd better be able to defend your decision should any subsequent civilian casualties be discovered after your unit returns fire at your command. It's called "you bet your bars (or stripes)".

Anyone think that may cause a little hesitation among some of our units?

And hesitation in combat is often fatal to those doing the hesitating.

Good grief, the next thing you know there'll be "no-fire" and "check-fire" zones in which any return fire has to be cleared through the local provincial authorities. That worked exceedingly well in Viet Nam. If the order is as written in the article, I'd suggest it needs to be seriously reconsidered.

Understand the intent, but think the order, as conveyed, sucks.

Oh, and this:

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," and not the number of militants killed.

Really? The measure of "effectiveness" will not be the number of militants killed but instead the number of Afghans shielded from violence?

I sure as hell hope that measure of "effectiveness" doesn't end up trading American lives for "shielded Afghans".


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