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.
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.