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Petraeus to face soldier complaints over war rules

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There's a thing called fire dicipline boys. The US forces have always been poor in that regard. Its alway put as much lead down range and let god sort them out. Target identification is a foreign concept to US forces except the elite like the seals, Green berets and Delta.

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The only thing the that separates an Afghan civilian from a Taliban is the gun he does or doesn’t carry. “Courageous Restraint” wasn’t a McChrystal concept it originates with Petraeus and have any of you seen just how little combat experience Petraeus has? He’s not a soldier he’s a politician in uniform. I feel sorry for the grunt at the front.

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grafton said: The only thing the that separates an Afghan civilian from a Taliban is the gun he does or doesn’t carry.

This is representative of the type of thinking that is losing us Afghanistan. Its the kind of thing Darth Vader would say to Imperial Stormtroopers.

Moving on, I certainly understand why a soldier would be tempted to use overwhelming force to save his own butt and damn the consequences to any civies that might be in the area, but while that will save his butt today it will get his and so many other butts shot off tomorrow. If it is even possible to win in Afghanistan, the only way its going to happen is if we look like infallible saviors. When you lose a family member, it does not matter much whether it was an intentional Taliban hit, or an accidental American air strike. What little deference you might give the Americans is TOTALLY obliterated by the fact that the Americans are the foreigners and if your family member would be alive if they had been home. You can't reason with that.

I don't think we can win anyway, but if a soldier does, he should realize that the populace will turn against us if we are not extremely careful. If he can't accept that, he needs to quit the service.

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That also has to be balanced with the fact that the Taliban are holding people hostages in their own cities. If you don't have an effective way of eliminating them then you might as well not even bother trying. There are probably incidents where it's obvious the guy is a militant and they don't fire and end up letting his escape, and there are probably incidents where the guy isn't a militant (but might look like one) and shooting would have been a mistake. In the end we don't really know the percentages overall.

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his = him

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Couple of quick comments:

This reminds me of the old (and very politically incorrect joke) that goes something like this:

Q. What is the difference between shooting men, and shooting women and children?

A. You don't have to lead women and children so much.

(If you need an explanation of what this means, you are probably too young to be corrupted by such ideas).

Now with regard to rules of engagement, I must say that based both on joint training with the US military and a 2 year stint at Fort Bragg on exchange (including a nice 8 months in a certain desert oasis), the term "fire discipline" is very alien to some people. It is particularly scary when it involves a couple of overly-bored airline pilots who are moonlighting as A10 drivers over the wastelands of Northern Kuwait and who consider Australian English and Iraqi English as one in the same.

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I can clear up some of the rules of engagement...you have to assess how old the potential target is, and if they are throwing objects at you, you have to determine the size and weight of the object. If this falls into a certain parameter, then you can open fire. Total bunch of BS!!!. Roll the rules back to opening fire when you perceive a threat, and we will be okay. Too many troops have died while making assessments of the situation.

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djuice's idea is a key reason America is getting beaten in Afghanistan.

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What, you mean that rolling back the rules, making them more logical, and allowing troops to actually shoot Taliban is why we're getting beat in Afghanistan? Yeah, sorry Sushi, thats nonsense.

My own perspective is, lets get out of Afghanistan. If they aren't willing to stand up and fight for themselves against their terrorist brethren, why should we? Let them and their families, wives, daughters, sons, suffer, if they won't fight for themselves, why should we?

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A lot of you seem to forget that while a soldier is taking time to "determine" who their enemy is, the enemy can identify the soldier easily as the soldier always has to carry his weapon and wears a uniform.

You guys know that the amount of time it may take to "discover" the actual attackers dressed as a civilian from the actual civilians in situations like this how many soldiers are killed or wounded? Use your brains folks. Most of these guys do want to go home to their families too.

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I can clear up some of the rules of engagement...you have to assess how old the potential target is, and if they are throwing objects at you, you have to determine the size and weight of the object. If this falls into a certain parameter, then you can open fire. Total bunch of BS

Djuice is the very reason why the Chinese have zero-tolerance on military personnel blabbing online.

“Courageous Restraint” wasn’t a McChrystal concept it originates with Petraeus and have any of you seen just how little combat experience Petraeus has? He’s not a soldier he’s a politician in uniform. I feel sorry for the grunt at the front.

@grafton, agree. It seems some folks are forgetting that the rule originated from Petraeus' Iraq not McChrystal's Afghanistan. But I disagree with your assessment that the later was never capable of some crafty political maneuverings-- McChrystal's a politician, he just doesn't look the part =/

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HonestDictator said: A lot of you seem to forget that while a soldier is taking time to "determine" who their enemy is, the enemy can identify the soldier easily as the soldier always has to carry his weapon and wears a uniform.

Its a fact that we have not forgotten. Its a fact that has nothing to do with winning, so we have not forgotten it, we have deemed it irrelevant to the ultimate goal. Your problem is you think the whole thing is just an exercise in who can kill more people. Victory will not be counted in bodies.

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Molenir, I'll note your war-losing, backward-thinking notion on firing strategy, and also think the US should get out of Afghanistan. Your attitude that the US should revert to tactics that were losing it support at every level of Afghan society is 1 sandwich short of a picnic. Sorry, you'll have to come up with something more than just wanting to re-try failed strategy.

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Molenir - '...to actually shoot Taliban...' Molenir, the biggest problem with your over-simplistic idea is that US soldiers are rarely sure who the Taliban are, hence the need to identify them before pulling a trigger. Your lack of theater experience shows.

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Not a new problem, I think the US military in Vietnam, etc had the same problems identifying enemy combatants.

Not really a solution ot the problem until the international "rules of engagement" get changed.

People that have to stick/follow rules will always be on the short end of the stick vs people who don't.

HTH.

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I think Stephen Colbert says it best in this clip:

The afghan war is finally more important to Americans than season 14 of the bachelor...

Excellent points made here!!

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/word-who-war-it-best

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The only thing worse than being in Afghanistan is not being in Afghanistan.

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"Request ( for an airstrike ) denied. Civilians might be inside"

Yes, we can't risk having civiians who are hiding snipers firing in coalition troops come to harm, lol.

"The only thing worse than being in Afghanistan is not being in Afghanistan"

I dunno, there's plenty of places that are better being in than Afghanistan, like most of the rest of the world, lol.

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Sarge said: Yes, we can't risk having civiians who are hiding snipers firing in coalition troops come to harm, lol.

Wait, I was under the impression that the people of Afghanistan actually did not like the Taliban and were basically forced to give them food and shelter. Which propaganda and I am supposed to believe now?

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jruaustralia...get a clue...and sushisake...it's not my idea, it's the way it is.

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"Your problem is you think the whole thing is just an exercise in who can kill more people. Victory will not be counted in bodies."

Uhm I never said the only way to win is by killing more people. At least give them credit that not only does our military destroy but also tries to rebuild in the aftermath. I just said that they're burdening our soldiers not just with avoiding civilian casualties, but making it more difficult to protect themselves under extreme conditions of duress and survival. Sure if the enemy is easily identifiable that would be great, but they're not and I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be as calm and collected when a sniper is trying to pick you off from an unknown location in heavily populated civilian area.

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Thanks PeaceWarrior for the clip I really enjoyed it.

We cannot kill civilians willy nilly. We have to win the peace. We must therefore make a constant concerted effort to win over the hearts of the civilians. Just because it is far easier to fight the war by shooting everyone on sight does not mean that it is effective.

I personally believe this is an important war to win. That is not to say it would have the devastating impact that Vietnam had on our psyche if we walk away without a clear victory. If we were to win the war and win the peace it would be quite a feat. With the Pakistani border infiltrated with Taliban it would seem an impossible task. That makes it all that more important to win. Don't get me wrong I don't expect to win. It would take "managing" the Pakistanis like we have never managed in our countries history. But it would be to the Pakistanis advantage also. The insurgents have found a winning strategy in the game of attrition. Time is definitely on their side. But we have a few advantages ourselves. We do not have to eradicate the enemy to win. Politics and diplomacy are effective tools. We already know many of the "enemy" fighters are only in it for the money. In the long run we have more money. Reaching the paid soldier who might switch is a whole different story. If we deliver a few devastating blows through surge activity maybe we can get them to the table quite a bit rattled. And yes getting them to the table is the ultimate goal. Well technically getting them to make certain concessions and agreements at the table is the ultimate goal.

By the end of the summer we will have approximately 98,000 troops (U.S. troops) in Afghanistan. I believe we still need 20% - 40% more troops in Afghanistan when the number of Iraqi troops has fallen dramatically. But this will not do us any good unless we can get boots on the ground in Pakistan. I don't see that happening. If we did I think we could get them to the table and reach an agreement that would legitimize the government in Afghanistan with the Taliban participating. Unfortunately right now unlike the Sunnis in Iraq that just wanted power and access to the countries rich resources the Taliban want to continue to make women wear burkas and throw acid in the face of girls who want to attend school. I believe the difficulty will be in steering the Taliban to acceptable negotiations. The Sharia law in other countries is no where near as extreme as the Taliban's.

I think that it may be a case of fighting a long protracted war; not that it has not already been long. But rebuilding, initial building and development will show ordinary citizens how progressive societies live. Or at least give them a glimpse. It will take a long time to build meaningful infrastructure. Terrorist will try to destroy what we build. If ordinary citizens want what we build badly enough they will despise the Taliban when they tear it down or blow it up or whatever.

I wish both sides would line up and fight wearing uniforms; but that is not going to happen. It would be easier if every non-combatant would understand when we kill innocent civilians; but that is not going to happen. Now I can predict that the eventual outcome will not look like any scenario I have outlined here. In all probability it will be leaving behind a government that will eventually fall from its own weight. We have little control over the corruption in the various stages of government. Perhaps the only lesson we will learn is not to get into such conflicts or to get out sooner rather than later. When I stressed the importance of winning perhaps I did not stress the "if" strongly enough. If we don't have a clear victory I don't think it will be that important to America's military strength. However if we were to walk away with a clear victory, supplemented by political negotiations, it would be immensely important. That is why I think we should continue to give it at least one good effort to see where it leads us. When you all want to tell me how myopic I am, don't forget I said the key would be Pakistan and there is no way we will get what I want there. So that's the last big "if;" Pakistani cooperation.

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