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May 2010

Rules of Engagement and Weapon Status

First of all, the R.O.E. in Afghanistan is not new.  This is not something that has never worked.  It is not something that Obama's team foisted on anyone.  It's been around for years, and don't take my word for it...

Over at the Mudville Gazette, you can find the best examples of why the R.O.E. exists as it does.  It is a must read.

Next,  Jimbo, Crush, and Deebow have all expressed concern over the claims of Amber Status of weapons in Afganistan.  Crush wrote a piece for Human Events (that got Deebow to post).

I've refrained from commenting on the hopes that we're not giving the enemy a reason to test this theory out - that units aren't Red.  But it's been all over the place lately and common practice in both theaters so let's try to put this to bed.

Jimbo got a response from the higher ups in Afghanistan:

Headquarters ISAF, the ISAF Joint Command and the Regional Commands have not issued guidance to units instructing them to conduct patrols without rounds chambered.  Force protection levels are dictated by the local threats and determined by commanders at the lowest possible tactical level, so without knowing the specific unit from which this report came I can't verify with absolute certainty that verbal or written guidance has not been issued locally.  But the intent to subordinate commanders should be clear.  At no time do we remove our troops' inherent rights of self-defense, and we are confident that their training and discipline allows them to use force discriminately within the rules of engagement. We'd welcome information from anyone who has a problem with the way guidance is being implemented that they haven't been able to address with their immediate chain of command.

FWIW, I was once a Cavalry Scout Officer.  We never allowed bullets to be in the chambers of small arms because, if there was an accidental discharge, the ricochet would turn the inside of the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, 113 APC or even an MRAP today, into a human blender.  This was on patrol (and there is other specific ammo related reasons on some crew served weapons that you may prefer to be Amber first).

Mounted troops would go Red upon dismounting the vehicle.  It should take literally less than a second to slam the bolt forward and chamber a round.

Standard technique since probably WWI.

A message from a reader who is a grunt (Army Infantry Sergeant) in the country in question confirms:

In regards to Amber status... in our briefs it is stated that we are amber with our crew serves in [location X] and can't use anything heavier than our 240bravos. Now if we are dismounted we go red with our M4s. Now if we are driving through [location X] heading north on Route [A] or to Route [B] we have to wait until we drive through [location X] to go Red. We have to be in Amber when we pass through. As ya'll already have reported on, the ROE is still a charlie foxtrot even with [C] Province collapsing up here. The spring offensive in conjunction with the pull out of the Korengal has made things go from bad to worse. A lot of times we have CA roll with us and the locals are telling them that we're cowards for pulling out. Anyway I'm going on a tangent I hope this helps a bit.

Just trying to provide some context on why "at least one unit" might utilize Amber status and why the ROE is not the fabrication of some Socialist martinets in the White House.

Update:  The Sniper reminds us why all of this matters - our troops are in combat and the Taliban have tried to hit the big time.

Update 2:  Six days ago, the Mudville Gazette commented on the Amber status issue with a story about George Patton.

On TV and you won't believe where

This should be fun, I am appearing on Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC tonight along w/ JD Johannes to discuss support for repeal of DADT and asking for Congress to chill until the military completes its study.

Yes you read that correctly MSNBC, which most of you probably couldn't find on your cable. The segment is at 9:25 eastern and they said will run 8 minutes plus. Should be fun.  I'm betting it will be the most testosterone and the least hair she has had for guests ever.

Quite the media whoring day for me with a trifecta, the Op-Ed on medical training w/ animals, a segment on Frank Gaffney's Secure Freedom Radio show which streams live at 5 pm eastern here, and tonight on TV w/ Rachel Maddow. Boy, throw in the blog war w/ Mr. Yon and today has been action-packed. I am seriously sick of me.

Michael Yon and the cards he has dealt

Mike Yon has apparently taken some time in Thailand to address what I wrote about his exit from Afghanistan.

Though I am working on Afghanistan dispatches, during breaks over the next days I will address some those who took part in the blog lynch mob. Will start with BlackFive since it's fairly famous and influential.

I didn't particularly want to write that post, but he was calling Gen. McChrystal an incompetent liar and that he wasn't up to the task of running the war. Several people had contacted him and tried to tell him to chill out prior to me and a number of others calling him out publicly. He probably should have just let this lie, since he seems to have become more rational after some time in Thailand. But he emailed and told me to show my cards and called our collective ethics into question, so....

I wrote the following:

He has claimed he was told there was no room for him to embed, well that is not what I heard. It appears he was again removed for violating the embed rules. At some point you need to own up to the fact that it's not the rest of the world.....it's you. That point is now.

If by show my cards he means announce who told us that, well no thanks. Why would I expose something told in confidence so he could call these folks liars and incompetent or monkeys. Suffice it to say the sources are not in public affairs or on McChrystal's staff, and have no axe to grind with Yon. He posts a letter from the PA folks telling him his embed was ended because they had a waiting list of journalists waiting to embed and says that this clears him. Well apparently he has a short memory as he didn't believe that for a second when it happened. How about if I show his cards.

Michael Yon Looking for reports from the surge of embedded reporters that McChrystal's gang said needed my cot. Where are they? Apparently my cot is still empty. As the days/weeks unfold, and the mass of stories from embedded reporters do not arrive, folks will see that McChrystal's gang was lying.

Michael Yon I have in my possession compelling evidence of General McChrystal's smear campaign. It's been sent to my attorney. The sad part is that McChrystal is incompetent even with a smear campaign. Official statements by his people -- in writing -- have been defamatory and libelous. A writer must be able to spot libel just as ...a soldier must be able to spot IEDs. It's part of the job. If you can't spot it, you will get hurt. Further evidence of McChrystal's incompetence is the ease with which he jerks a writer from the field and gets a laser on himself/staff for lying. And then his own staff commits defamation and libel. They fight like children.

Michael Yon I strongly believe that this decision had to be blessed by a General officer. Will say it clearly: I do not trust General McChrystal or his PAO staff to honestly report to the American public.

I also mentioned that this wasn't the first time he had been booted and he can hardly dispute that since he has written about it. Here in a post entitled Bullshit Bob.

The surprise discontinuation of my embedment from the British Army left my schedule in a train wreck.....I do not know the reason for the embed termination.  My best guess is that it relates to my sustained criticism that the British government is not properly resourcing its soldiers.....Those officers are either completely oblivious to the actuality of the situation or lying......By perpetrating falsehoods that undermine our combat capacity, Richardson has helped the enemy.......The fact that the British Minister of Defence (MoD) would go on record with hogwash is again symptomatic of a much larger problem.  Mr. Ainsworth is lying to the British public about the helicopter issue in Afghanistan

Hmmm, the speaker of truth to power surrounded by a sea of liars, seems to be a theme. He has done some good work and without a doubt took the most iconic picture of the Iraq War, but calling into question the competence of Gen. McChrystal to run the war was ridiculous.

Today, I do not trust McChrystal anymore than some people trust the New York Times, Obama or Bush. If McChrystal could be trusted, I would go back to my better life. McChrystal is a great killer but this war is above his head. He must be watched..

So there are my cards Mike. If you want to be taken seriously, you might want to quit dealing them to the world. Why don't you head to Bangkok, wander down to Soi Cowboy and have a nice cold Singha.

Korea heats up

South Korea has determined its ship, the Cheonan, was torpedoed by a North Korean submarine.  46 South Korean sailors died.  In most people's minds, that was an overt act of war.

Yesterday, NoKo severed all ties with South Korea.  Of course, technically, they're still in a state of war, but this is a significant step in the wrong direction.  Said NoKo:

"The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea... formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the North and the South and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation," KCNA reported.

That certainly ratchets up the tensions between the two countries. In fact, many are saying they are at the lowpoint since the war. It makes you wonder, as if anyone could figure him out, what the Elvis-loving tin pot dictator of NoKo is up too.  As mentioned, these are significant steps in the direction of war, and you have to be wondering what is going on internally in NoKo to drive this sort of provocation.

South Korea and the US will be holding some naval exercises off the coast to emphasize their unified position and status as allies, but other than that, there's not much that can be done but wait and see what Kim Il Jung has up his sleeve.  In the meantime, this is about all SoKo has available to it:

South Korea has also said it will drop propaganda leaflets into the North to tell people about the sinking, as well as setting up giant electronic billboards to flash messages.

I'm not sure how it intends to drop leaflets, but the giant electronic billboards will only be seen by those NoKo trucks in every morning to work the model farms that can be observed from the DMZ.  South Korea is also resuming propaganda broadcasts to the North and using loudspeakers on the DMZ. 

It has also said it will take its case to the UN Security Council where China has a veto.  Any action (not that long time observers would expect much more than a strongly worded resolution) therefore is dependent on convincing the Chinese to go along with whatever the rest have planned.

Analysts say China's attitude is key, because it holds a veto in the Security Council and has in the past been reluctant to impose tough measures on Pyongyang.

So - State Department - your mission is to get China to the table and on the team.  Additionally, seeing that NoKo seems to be on a path to some sort of military action, whatever is decided should be aimed at lessening tensions, not heightening them. That doesn't mean giving in, necessarily, but it does mean devising a strategy that cools NoKo's jets.  That's what you get paid the big bucks to do.  It would be nice if you remembered we have 28,000 American troops there, and their fondest desire is not to be involved in a third simultaneous US war.  And trust me, if NoKo decides "to hell with it" and launches across the South Korean border, we're not talking about casualty counts trickling in - we're looking at a flood.

Taliban Ambush

Received this from a Marine Corps Times reporter. 


Good morning. I'm currently downrange for Marine Corps Times with 3/6 in
and around northern Marjah, and have been so since the beginning of May.

Monday night, we went out with a patrol of Kilo Company Marines from the
Five Points area, encountering a cunning attack that included all the
typical Taliban tactics -- spotters, sniper fire, motorcycle runners, etc.
It wasn't the first time we've been with a group of ambushed Marines this
trip, but it was probably the most complicated.

I'm not sure if you'd consider it of interest to your readers, but I
wanted to humbly pass along a video of some of the kinetic activity that
my colleague captured with his camera. It includes some after-the-fact
narration from one of the 0351s who was in the fight.


Thanks for the consideration.


Dan Lamothe
Marine Corps Times
Staff Writer

Posted via email from blackfive's posterous

American exceptionalism on the battlefield

Lt. Col. Oliver North reminds us why American fighting man (or woman) is the best the world has to offer. Ever heard of a Hamas/Taliban/al Qaeda/Hizballah fighter treat a wounded enemy soldier, then carry him from the battlefield? If they do grab one of our troops, it doesn't end well for the Americans. And there might even be a nasty surprise for those who find what's left of the body. (H/T SoldiersMom)

Saving our troops or saving animals

I know this is not going to sit well with some of you and I understand. I think it is important enough that I will ask you tolerance and if not your support, at least your acquiescence. We use animals to train Special Forces medics and many of our line combat medics and corpsmen. Let me say first of all that this is a horrifying thing, to ignore that or minimize it would be wrong. But it is less horrific than allowing our troops to die from wounds on the battle field because we were unwilling to train our medics as well as we could. Here is my Op-Ed in the Washington Times discussing this.

A choice between animal lives and human lives is pretty simple for most people, but there are some groups that would equate the two. Right now, there is an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act that would cost the lives of some of our troops in order to save the lives of some animals. One of the groups pushing this agenda is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which posts this on its website:

"On Dec. 10, 2009, Rep. Bob Filner, California Democrat, chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, introduced H.R. 4269, the BEST Practices Act, which would phase in human-based training methods and replace the current use of live animals in military medical training courses."

The euphemistically named BEST Practices Act is anything but that. The best practice for a new combat medic is treating a living being. That is a harsh reality, but it is the truth. Currently, the military conducts what is called live-tissue training with goats and pigs. The animals are anesthetized and then given wounds the medics and doctors are likely to see in combat, and the medics perform the appropriate procedures to treat them. The animals are not a perfect analogue to a human casualty, but they provide one thing no simulation or dummy can: the visceral reaction each medic must face when a life is in danger.

Most medics would go to combat never having experienced treating a traumatic injury were it not for this program. The bill envisions expanded use of simulations to replace this training, but those can never re-create the reality of a wounded living creature. I experienced this firsthand while cross-training as a member of a Special Forces team. I had done a full emergency medical-technician course and all of the simulations with fake-wound makeup on people. When I was actually faced with a gunshot wound on a live animal, I was shaken deeply, and there was a hurdle I overcame in my mind. I have spoken to a number of Special Forces medics who credit this training with saving the lives of their teammates who were wounded in combat.

We also use vervet monkeys to conduct training on how to save victims of chemical attacks. The monkeys are given a nonlethal dose of a drug that mimics the symptoms of a chemical weapon and then are given appropriate treatment. A military expert in the field says:

"We have fortunately very few such casualties, meaning training doesn't support tutelage by experienced personnel. It must support getting it right the first time. In a real situation, medics must not "freeze." They must understand immediately what is needed, how to deliver, recognize how to proceed, and have confidence they are doing the right thing."

This is not callous disregard of animals. It is careful and thoughtful regard for the survivability of the men and women we send to war. We have made tremendous strides in body and vehicle armor, but the single factor most likely to save a wounded soldier is a well-trained, confident combat medic. We owe it to them to give them all the tools and training we can to help them save lives. I urge readers to contact their representatives in Congress and let them know that they oppose putting the lives of animals above those of our troops.

I had difficulty writing this because I was forced to confront the rationale behind my support for it. It is far from an easy choice and I don't believe it should be. But in the end I cannot equate the lives of animals with the lives of our warriors. An SF medic I know said "I'd rather see 1,000 goats die than one of our troops", that is a harsh idea to get your mind around but I agree with him. To clarify, the vervet monkeys do not die as they only get a drug that simulates the chem weapons symptoms.

Military Roundup 25 May 2010

Image of the Day: Run through the jungle

Korea: N.Korea cuts ties with S.Korea, raises war rhetoric

N.Korean leader to army: Prepare for war

Obama tells military to prepare for N.Korean military aggression

UN chief condemns torpedo attack, expects response

Afghanistan: McChrystal calls Marjah a ‘bleeding ulcer’ – apparently the “government in a box” isn’t working as planned

Military to adopt McChrystal’s counterinsurgency standards service-wide

Britain warns it wants to withdraw troops as soon as possible

Poland: First battery of Patriot missiles arrives in Poland

U.S.: White House backs delayed gay ban repeal

1200 guardsmen headed for Mexican border

U.S. authorizes covert operations in Middle East and Africa

Homeland Security delays funding for NYPD dirty bomb detectors

Candidate for S.C. Lt. Governor – and Afghanistan combat veteran – nets major endorsement

Republished with permission of the Victory Institute

More Presidential Douchebaggery....

This CINC just keeps giving the love...

Next week, after a long Memorial Day weekend at their other home in Chicago, the Obamas will return to the White House and the Banghra will give way in the East Room to the music of Paul McCartney.

Lose the map to Arlington Cemetery?  I bet that most of the members of your staff couldn't find the place if you drove them too it

Too busy to honor the fallen who keep this country safe I guess....

As we approach this long weekend, this is who I will be thinking about on Memorial Day...

Bracelets 001 


SGT Eddie Jeffers


Thanks for the love and respect for the sacrifices of our veterans Mr. President. 

I feel so appreciated....