Posted by Curt on 13 April, 2017 at 5:26 pm. 2 comments already!


David French:

I want you to read this tweet, sent after today’s MOAB drop and written by an American patriot and a man I’m privileged to know, Johnny (Joey) Jones:

In response to online argument, he further amplified his point:

And again:

By the way, I quote these tweets not to spark any anger against the man Jones is addressing, Daniel Riley (who’s also a vet and amputee; he lost his legs to an IED in Afghanistan), but to highlight an important and painful point about our almost sixteen-year-long war. Excessive American caution has cost American lives and American limbs, and it has left families and friends of the victims with deep psychological wounds. Those wounds would be grievous enough in the best circumstances, but they’re compounded by the fact that many of the decisions not to shoot, not to use artillery, or not to drop bombs were based on a combination of rules of engagement and military misjudgments that were transparently foolish at the time.

To understand what our men in the field faced, you have to understand just a bit about the legal and command superstructure. First, the law of war defines the limits of military force in any context. They’re designed to place outer boundaries on the conduct of any force in the field, not just America and its allies. In practice, however, only America and its allies comply with the law of war.

Second, rules of engagement place an additional restriction on the use of force. The rules can’t be broader than the laws of war, only narrower. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the rules of engagement have defined not just when force is authorized (for example, in the face of a “hostile act” or “hostile intent”) but also which level of commander can authorize the use of any given weapon system.

Finally, there still exists commanders’ discretion. This discretion can only run in one direction, however. Commanders can’t order the use of force in conflict with the laws of war or rules of engagement, but they can choose not to use force even when legally authorized. In other words, even if they have the legal power to bomb a target, they may choose to hold fire. This happened a number of times in my deployment, and this decision can be among the most agonizing a commander makes.

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