Constitutional Emergency

Military.com


U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Justin Jones, of Regimental Combat Team 7, looks for signs of enemy movement during a firefight with insurgent forces.


KABUL, Afghanistan - The commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan issued updated rules of battle Wednesday, repeating his predecessor's curbs on use of air power and heavy weapons when civilians
are at risk but stressing the right of troops to defend themselves.


Also Wednesday, New Zealand announced it suffered its first combat death of the war during an ambush a day earlier in one of Afghanistan's most peaceful provinces. The Taliban claimed responsibility, raising
concern that the insurgency is spreading beyond its strongholds even as
U.S. and NATO forces are ramping up the war against the insurgents in
the south.


The new guidance comes after widespread complaints from troops that rules laid down by former commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal were putting them in danger and handing the advantage to the Taliban.


There had been speculation that Gen. David Petraeus - who took over from McChrystal a month ago - might ease the rules. But Petraeus, like McChrystal, emphasized that protecting the Afghan people was the top
priority in the war.









"We must continue - indeed, redouble - our efforts to reduce the loss of
innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum," Petraeus wrote in the
document released by the NATO command Wednesday. Some sections were not
released for security reasons, the command said.

McChrystal stressed the need to reduce civilian casualties as a tool for winning the war - noting that every civilian killed the crossfire created a legion of family members with a grudge against NATO forces and
motivation to join the Taliban.


Under this guidance, NATO forces drastically restricted the use of airstrikes, which had previously been called in without knowledge of who was inside a building. Troops were also instructed to only fire on
people who were actively firing on them.


Though McChrystal's directive did frustrate many Soldiers in the field, it also led to a drop in civilian deaths attributed to NATO forces.


Petraeus said nothing in the guidance was meant to hinder the right to self-defense.

"We must employ all assets to ensure our troopers' safety, keeping in mind the importance of protecting the Afghan people as we do," Petraeus wrote.


A spokesman for NATO forces said the directive will help troops understand how to balance the two.

"We also have now an absolutely clear wording and language on the necessary balance between the right of self-defense, the protection of the people, and the assurance of moms and dads back home that their boys
and girls absolutely do have the necessary means and measures to
achieve mission and success," said NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef
Blotz.


The new directive implied that some lower-level commanders had misinterpreted McChrystal's guidance and made rules in their areas more restrictive than needed.


"Subordinate commanders are not authorized to further restrict this guidance without my approval," Petraeus wrote in the document.


Petraeus said the rules were not aimed at slowing the war, but were essential to victory.

"We must continue to demonstrate our resolve to the enemy," Petraeus wrote. "We will do so through our relentless pursuit of the Taliban and others who mean Afghanistan harm, through our compassion for the Afghan
people, and through the example we provide to our Afghan partners."

The battle to win over the civilian population is being waged on both sides. The Taliban issued a directive a little over a week ago that calls on their fighters to avoid killing civilians and forbids them from
seizing weapons and money.


However, the 69-page Taliban booklet also declares that people working for international forces or the Afghan government are "supporters of the infidels" and can be killed.


Also Wednesday, a presidential delegation sent to investigate civilian casualties in southern Afghanistan reported that 39 civilians were killed and four others were injured in fighting last month in
Sangin district of Helmand province. According to a statement issued by
President Hamid Karzai's office, the delegation stayed in Sangin for six
days, interviewing local officials and relatives of the victims.









"They found out that the Taliban entered the houses of civilians and
they fired toward a joint force of Afghan and coalition troops, who
returned fire," the statement said. "President Karzai once again
emphasized that civilian casualties are not acceptable."

Earlier, the Afghan government said 52 civilians died when a NATO rocket struck the village of Rigi, one of the most violent areas of the country.

That report was disputed by the international coalition. NATO said investigators determined that alliance and Afghan troops came under attack about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of the village and responded
with helicopter-borne strikes. Coalition forces reported six insurgents
killed, including a Taliban commander.


At least 2,412 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting last year - up 14 percent from 2008, according to the United Nations. The U.N. found that about two-thirds of the civilian deaths were a result of actions
initiated by the insurgents, while the percentage of civilian deaths
attributed to NATO and Afghan government forces had dropped.


In the days since the release of their code of conduct, insurgents have killed 43 Afghan civilians - most in bomb explosions, NATO said.


The nearly 9-year-old war is becoming increasingly deadly. July was the deadliest month for U.S. forces with 66 troops killed, and June was the deadliest month for the overall NATO force with 103 killed.


The attack against the New Zealanders occurred in Bamiyan province, a central area where most of the ethnic Hazara population opposes the insurgents. Two New Zealand soldiers and an Afghan translator were
wounded, New Zealand Defense Force Chief Lt. Gen. Jerry Mateparae told
reporters in Wellington.


He said the three-vehicle patrol was attacked with a roadside bomb, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.


Provincial spokesman Abdul Rahman Ahmadi said the attack occurred about 5 p.m. in the Kohmard district of northern Bamiyan. Ahmadi said the insurgents were believed to have infiltrated from nearby Baghlan
province, which has seen an increase in Taliban activity in recent
weeks.


Insurgent activity has been spreading into areas beyond the militants' longtime bases in the south and east of the country, even as the U.S. and its allies are rushing thousands of reinforcements to try
to turn back the Taliban. The focus of U.S. and NATO operations has been
in the ethnic Pashtun south.


Tags: Gen.-Petraeus, Self-Defense, US-Military

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With all due respect Tom, your analogy is flawed. We are not as burglars in Afghanistan, uninvited or unwanted. We have been invited there. If I am invited into a neighbors home to keep the burglars out, and a burglar enters and tries to murder me and my hosts, I have every right to shoot the burglar. I agree we should bring our soldiers home if our government is tying their hands and effectively making their mission a suicide mission. Afghanistan is a stronghold for Islamic terrorism, and the innocent citizens there hate the Taliban. The atrocities the terrorists commit to the villagers, especially the children, cannot stand. The warrior heroes who have paid the ultimate price to free these oppressed people cannot be held in vain. Yes, get our troops out as long as this administration craps on their service, and uses them as political pawns in their self serving agenda. But, please remember that we are there and we need to FINISH it, for the sake of all our soldiers gone before, and for the sake of our strategic war on the encroaching world wide domination by the religion of Islam. My son is a disabled Veteran who served in Afghanistan, and I fully understand the horror our soldiers encounter over there. Finish this war, or get out. God bless.
Rhonda, we did INVADE Afghanistan; we're in Pakistan, sort of by invitation. But the issue of "protecting" the civilians, which the enemy KNOWS and USES, hiding behind them, and attacking from such positions, either has to be "ignored " for the present until the enemy is defeated and destroyed, or we simply need to get our people OUT! You CAN'T fight a war that way! They're NOT popularity contests. Japan and Germany at least respected our forces at the end of WWII, and THEN we went in and rebuilt and got them back on their feet as nations, thereby making allies out of former enemies. 2 problems with the approach in subsequent wars that have prevented that happening is that the politicians, and in some cases UN and world opinion, have gotten in the way of actually fighting a war, making them unwinnable;and in this instance in particular, the enemy is USING our own humane feelings, which they don't share in the least, against us, on the world stage, the home front, and the front lines alike. This enemy is WITHIN our borders as well as without, and we, because of "tainted" leadership, are NOT fighting the enemy we're facing, but some "paper" image of that enemy. only the enemy IS fighting for real and our people are dying needlessly, so, yes it 's time tom just get them out NOW! We need them at home to defend us against that enemy's incursions here.
Sandra, I'm in 100% agreement with everything you said, EXCEPT, we did not "invade" Afghanistan. The Afghanistan government has invited the USA and NATO forces to fight this war over there. If Afghanistan didn't want us there, we wouldn't be there. I think Obama is a disgrace, and his administrations knows NOTHING about how to fight a war, and cares nothing about our soldiers. Believe me, I have as much angst as you do concerning the handling of the war in Afghanistan.
Taliban was in control of Afghanistan when we invaded; the same Taliban that's still trying to retake the nation from within; holding out until we pull out and then that's exactly what they will do. We did invade Afghanistan. And we invaded Iraq. Ugly or not, that is the truth. Afghanistan, under the Taliban rule, was targeted because they not only backed al Qaeda, but provided training areas and facillities for them, as well as sanctuary against the rest of the world when they'd attack somewhere and people would go looking for the perpetrators of said attack. They WERE the government until after we took the city of Kabul, and there's NO way they invited us. Pakistan has only done so with some reluctance, probably afraid we'd attack them if they refused, in our outrage over 9/11, believing them complicit with Afghanistan, should they do so. That is, of course, my speculation about the reason they did acquiesce, since they're clearly more in line with the Taliban and Afghani people than with the US and our war on terror. The Coalition forces were NOT invited into Afghanistan; they did invade.
@Jerry: No, we wouldn't still be fighting; we'd be speaking German and Japanese now, living under the Emperor and the Nazi regimes, or whatever grew out of them. I was reading an article by the son of Paul Tibbets. the pilot of the Enola Gay, about the group going to Hiroshima for that anniversary, and his feelings about what his father would say. The very real fact is that what those bombs did was devastating; but it did also end the war, at a lesser cost of lives on BOTH sides than an invasion would have cost; IF we'd actually gotten to invade. What the history books generally leave out is that Germany had been trying to build the bomb too, and before they surrendered they gave Japan what they had on it; Japan was mere days from testing their first bomb when we dropped Fat Man on Hiroshima. Had we not, had they dropped the first, I think the history of the past 65 years would be very different indeed. I seriously doubt had either Germany or Japan kept the upper hand, and defeated us, they would have been in the least concerned about civilian casualties in the doing. They certainly weren't in Europe or Asia. No nation in history has been as generous toward enemies during or after any war than the US has been; and that doesn't exclude that any war has casualties that are unintended; but when civilians are in the way of military targets, that happens. Unfortunately it's the nature of war itself. Personally, I think what we did with both Germany and Japan after WWII was the most humane and generous think any nation could have done about an enemy, and as near to the "right" way to handle it as humans have ever come.
In case anyone has any doubts this is not a game of chess in Afghanistan it is WAR. War means people dieing. If the concern was civilian deaths in winning a war was the main issue during WWII then we would still be fighting. In war there is collateral damage unintended but never the less it happens. I ma not suggesting we drop nukes but two were dropped to end WWII and the collateral dame was immense but it stopped the killing on both sides and saved hundreds of thousands if not a million lives. If Afghanistan can't take the losses then NATO needs to pull out and let President Karzai defend his own country. We have to do what ever it takes to win the war and kill as many of the enemy we can find. The fact that the enemy does not wear a uniform and hide in civilian homes for ambush and in churches and Mosques compounds the problem and that is the reason for casualties from civilians. Win it at all costs or get out. The people have been at war for centuries and it will never stop until Armageddon.
Either we need to fight a war AS a war and then pick up the mess, as we did with Japan and Germany, or we need to just get our troops out. This political pussy-footing is what lost Vietnam, and why Korea ended without a treaty, and it's getting our troops killed for nothing. Neither the Afghani nor the Iraqi people NOR our enemies respect our troops, and they know all they have to do is hold out 'til our troops are withdrawn and they can go back to "business as usual" and continue their assaults against the rest of the world unfettered.
Right now the Pentagon is blindly accepting Obama as CIC and following his orders, so there's not much chance of that; it's the CIA's drug business that's being protected there, as well as at the southern borders here, which is why those are still open. Petraeus did meet with Bilderbergers this spring, as did Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, neither of which is a good sign, for America. Congress is on board with the agenda too, which leaves no one to whom we can appeal to bring our troops home as they should be since they're NOT being allowed to fight the war there in any case!
I agree with Sandra Lee Smith. We cannot fight the enemy and our political leaders both. War, by definition, means the goal of conquering no matter what it takes. There is room for charity and benevolence, but only after the battle is won. We should not, by all means, deliberately harm civilians, but in any war there will be casualties among the homeland people. Our troops cannot, must not, be fettered with such restrictive prohibitions. If we had fought Germany and Japan like this, we would have lost the war. My respect for General Petraeus and anyone else who embraces these policies that we have fostered on our troops is nonexistent. It is sad to see the greatest nation in history be castigated and demoralized as has the United States. God help us.
This is political correctness at its worst! Our troops should not be hindered in any way, shape or form when they are engaged in battle. obama and his nicey, nicey attitude has made our country appear weak and has made us vulnerable to all kinds of attacks. Our troops have been made more vulnerable, also, now that nicey, nicey policies have been adopted. What a crock of bull!! I say let the troops do what needs to be done to win this war and get the heck out of there!!
It's about freaking time someone set the record straight. I don't think I could go on being this po'ed. Thanks.
I think community organizer, obama, is the one who ordered our military not to hurt anyone. What about our brave men and women who are in the midst of this battle? Don't they count? You can't fight a war with nicey, nicey policies!! Our troops are at a horrible disadvantage and need to be brought home. You can't win a war if you have to be "nice" to the enemy. What a crock of bull!!
While it is true that I do not like the situation on the ground it was, I believe Gen. Petraeus has given the green light to our guys to pull the trigger without waiting for their lawyer to get back to 'em. If it were not so, I'd want them to come home. They have gone there with Victory in mind. Don't you remember? Give them the equipment, the men, and get the heck out of the way!

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