May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rules of Engagement, Then and Now

These are some of the rules of engagement our soldiers must obey in Afghanistan.

• No night or surprise searches.

• Villagers have to be warned prior to searches.

• ANA or ANP must accompany U.S. units on searches. (Afghan National Army Afghan National Police)

• U.S. soldiers may not fire at the enemy unless the enemy is preparing to fire first.

• U.S. forces cannot engage the enemy if civilians are present.

• Only women can search women.

• Troops can fire at an insurgent if they catch him placing an IED but not if insurgents are walking away from an area where explosives have been laid.

We had restrictions in Vietnam, but nothing this constricting. Basically I remember free fire zones, and restricted zones. Usually we had to be fired upon to engage, and if we saw bad the bad guys we weren't supposed to fire. That didn't always work so well. One gets a bit jumpy what with thick jungle and unseen movement. Killed a couple wild boar and a deer. We tied the deer to a Huey, got it back to base, hung it from the basketball stanchions, and some guys that knew how to do such things, dressed it, and we had a feast.

I can't imagine soldiers in Afghanistan having to follow even more life endangering stupid political rules. I hear too the the ANP and ANA just hang out, don't contribute, don't show up to missions, don't send the ANP or ANA personal that are required for missions. Have to wake them up, go get them, delay missions, etc. I know the feeling. In 'Nam we were supposed to rendezvous with South Vietnamese troops, and they would be nowhere. Or we were supposed to set up an ambush, and they would be nowhere.

This president says this is different from Vietnam. I don't think so. It's politicians micromanaging war, that don't have the training or guts to do it themselves. They just get people killed. I was sick of it then, and I'm sick of it now.

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