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An open letter to Gen. McChrystal ref. ROE

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [March 08, 2010]

UPDATE: You gotta give the guy credit, he is everywhere. Here is Gen. McChrystal's response:

Jim,

 Thanks for your note and I take the importance of providing clear
guidance to the force to be a responsibility that is critical.

 While I respect the concerns you outline, I believe the existing ROE
and Tactical Directive provide clear intent to the force.  We look into
every instance where the issue arises where a misunderstanding or poor
application of the intent could endanger our force - but detailed review
has convinced me that most concerns don't prove accurate when all the
facts are known - like the Gangigol valley fight.

 That said, I will continue to watch this closely.  Balancing the need
to conduct ourselves in a disciplined way that gives us a chance to win
this (by gaining the support of the people) - with the need to protect
our force is difficult - but something we must do.

Vr
Stan

That seems fair to me and he seems to say that all the facts about Gangigol aren't public. I think it is safe to say that there were messages that have been passed on private channels (as is appropriate). We will have many similar situations facing our troops in the coming months and they need to know that their higher echelons have their backs. Thanks for the reply sir and as I said good luck and godspeed to all out forces.

Previous:

I just sent the following correspondence to Gen. McChrystal and his Public Affairs officer. I believe he should reaffirm to all members of his command that, consistent w/ the ROE, legitimate calls for fire support must be granted.

Dear Gen. McChrystal,

I was heartened when President Obama put you in command in Afghanistan as it showed a seriousness about our efforts there. You have taken a long hard look at the situation and made some hard decisions about how we should operate in order to achieve our goals.One of these was to focus on creating better relations with the civilian populace. As a former Special Forces Weapons Sergeant I understand completely that safeguarding them builds rapport and shows that we are focused on helping them build a better way of life.

One of the major changes you made was to the rules of engagement as announced in your tactical directive last year. These limited strikes conducted against civilian dwellings and required all other methods of breaking contact to be used before a strike can be called. This is a good and necessary decision and I have supported it in many cases at BLACKFIVE. By announcing this publicly you made this known to the Afghan people and it became a way to show our concern for their lives.

This was also obviously distributed down the chain of command along with other guidance about how to effectively interact and operate among the locals. This has helped our progress and operations like Moshtarak demonstrate that restraint does not stop us from effectively clearing areas of the enemy.

But you have a problem sir. Some of your officers have taken an overly restrictive view of the ROE and consequently there have been instances where troops in contact were denied fire support. In some of these cases the ROE explicitly authorized such support, but these officers failed to provide it. The recent report on the incident in the Ganjgal Valley shows a clear example. A Marine ETT called for fire and the fire support NCO and the AF air controller were ready to provide it but were over-ruled by officers higher up the chain. This is not the only time something like this has happened.

It is time sir to issue another tactical directive reaffirming your intent and ensuring that everyone in your command understands that they are required to provide fire support when it is proper. The restrictions calling for all other tactics for breaking contact to be used is the right answer, but all of your officers and NCOs need to know that once that is done and there is no alternative, or if civilians are not at risk, then they should pull the trigger. All those serving under your command deserve to hear this and given the amount of email I'm getting from family members, so do they.

Thank you for your amazing service and good luck and godspeed for the difficult mission you and all our troops face there.

--
Cordially,

Jim


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