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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

RULES OF ENGAGEMENT

Whereas there can be no doubt that Rules of Engagement (RoE) are important in determining how, when, where and against who armed force shall be used, are we not sometimes restricting ourselves with RoE and in the result causing the deaths of our own soldiers?

In Operations Related to War (ORW), the RoE are really very straightforward, especially as one of the aims of war is the annihilation of the enemy force. However, care still needs to be exercised in order to prevent civilian casualties or causing unnecessary, excessive damage to private property. But even in well planned and executed ORW, it is not always possible to prevent civilian casualties or minimise damage to property, especially in and around urban environments.

It is, however, when we embark on Operations Other than War (OOTW) that these rules can become restrictive and, in many instances, counterproductive. “Don’t shoot until you are shot at” is difficult to accept when you know a sniper is tracking your movements.

RoE, and the approach to applying such rules, differ from culture to culture. Furthermore, OOTW are often applicable to hostile environments and an enemy that does not abide by any laws, be they local, regional or international.

Whereas it is commonly accepted that excessive force in OOTW will result in alienating the local population and cause resentment which may strengthen the cause of the rebels/terrorists/insurgents, the rules still need to be very carefully crafted.

Ultimately, the RoE are applicable to both military and law enforcement operations that take place within the scope of both ORW and OOTW and are aimed at:

1. Preventing own forces casualties
2. Increasing force legitimacy
3. Minimising collateral damage
4. Preventing unnecessary civilian casualties
5. Increasing operational legitimacy.

Any commander’s aim is to, apart from achieving mission success, prevent casualties amongst his own forces whilst increasing the casualties amongst the enemy’s forces. But sometimes the RoE appear to disregard this fact in favour of not upsetting the politicians, the enemy or the media.

When the RoE are so restrictive that a commander cannot perform his mission effectively, tension will inevitably develop between the political masters and the military commanders. When the restrictive RoE leads to own forces casualties, the tensions are bound to escalate.

As all military operations are politically driven, too restrictive rules place the commanders at a disadvantage. When the political masters decide to use military force to achieve their political or diplomatic ambitions or objectives, they ought to consider that the lives that may be lost due to their restrictions could lead to operational disasters and a drop in morale, both on the battlefield and on the home front.

But, military incompetence should not be hidden behind or blamed on restrictive RoE. Blunders such as the so-called peacekeeping missions in Africa are commonly blamed on too restrictive RoE. The lack of will, the inability to gather and act on intelligence or develop sound military strategies is usually ignored at best or simply never mentioned.

On the other hand, too loose RoE can lead to the indiscriminate use of armed force against whoever passes through the sights. Whereas it may appear that artillery and air strikes on densely populated urban areas may break the morale of the enemy and the civilian population, these actions also violate international law as they are construed as “excessive and indiscriminate force” – which they are.

When crafting RoE, we ought to remember that the world has become a tough neighbourhood. If we wish to play in this neighbourhood, we ought to show our toughness – not by allowing our troops to be killed by the enemy but by killing the enemy. We can only do this if we know “who” the enemy is.

Knowing “who” the enemy is requires intelligence that is verified. In ORW this is, again, relatively simple as a state of war exists between two nations. We know who we are fighting. In OOTW, a lack of intelligence allows us to either view the “enemy” as the local population or the local population as the “enemy”. This confusing view on the “enemy” results in RoE that restrict offensive action – one of the fundamental principles of land warfare. In turn, this gives the enemy the initiative.

The lack of intelligence and the loss of the initiative may result in the rebels/insurgents/terrorists resorting to criminal activities to fund their operations. This can result in extortion, kidnapping for ransom, armed robberies and other financially rewarding crimes.

I disagree that today’s wars are either won or lost at the political level. A lack of real progress on the battlefield or in the area of operations, coupled to increased casualty figures, increased defence spending vs lack of results, resentment from the local population, negative media coverage, a decline of morale on the home front and so forth may add to the political pressures to leave a conflict area. But, this is a direct result of the military action.

Without intelligence, we cannot craft sensible Rules of Engagement. The lack of sensible RoE gives the enemy an opportunity to exploit the perceived lack of “fighting spirit”. Not understanding the cultural environment we operate in amplifies this problem.

Whereas Rules of Engagement are important, they should be based on sound intelligence and an understanding of the operational environment and not sacrifice operational freedom or expose troops to unnecessary danger.

28 comments:

matt said...

I was curious Eeben, what were the rules of engagement for your troops during the Angolan or Sierra Leone contracts?

This is actually relevant to the war in Afghanistan right now, because the current COIN strategy is filtering down to the troops in the form of extremely restrictive ROE's. I am hoping that Petraeus will be able to fix that, but we will see how that goes.

William said...

"Whereas Rules of Engagement are important, they should be based on sound intelligence and an understanding of the operational environment and not sacrifice operational freedom or expose troops to unnecessary danger."

That statement pretty much says it all. My biggest personal criticism of RoE is that they tend to be assembled under certain conditions of political feasibility and then are kept the same for years even though the conditions of war we find ourselves in remains in a constant flux.

In my view, RoE should be drafted and changed every time we enter a new phase of conflict. Are we fighting foreign soldiers? Have we now switched to fighting insurgents? What kind of civilian populace is there to factor in?

The kind of RoE that happens to be best to implement will change with each new phase of operations. While I wouldn't go so far as to saying we should scrap RoE altogether, I do think they should be replaced with a set of principles to work from as more specific RoE are put together.

We can start with the obvious (no shooting civilians for instance) and then deduct what kind of RoE is best suited for the conflict from there on out.

PMC's in general seem to be better at this (assuming they are free to make their own best judgments independent of any government). They have lives, a reputation, and plenty of potential contracts at stake. From what I can see from EO back in the day, they did well deciding what RoE best fit the scenario.

The United Nations on the other hand...

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, the SADF followed rather strict rules of engagement in SWA/Namibia as well as in Angola. It was definitely not a case of “whoever is not with us is against us”. Of course, as with any conflict or war, there are times when certain people don’t follow those rules. When they were caught, they were disciplined severely. I recall two officer friends of mine who discarded the RoE and when they were found out, they were sentenced to jail terms.

In EO, the RoE were decided by the commanders on the ground, based on intelligence, the enemy, the operating environment and the mission. The advantage EO had is that we used decentralised command and control and not a centralised system. Of course, the RoE had to comply with rules of war but it was based on a belief that we do not shoot civilians and we would attack/retaliate against anyone who was armed or fired at us.

As we were fighting both unconventional and semi-conventional warfare in Angola and SL, speed of decision is essential. That decision was left in the hands of the commander on the ground. That said, even to date, there have been no allegations that EO targeted or harmed civilians. Whereas I am not clued up on Iraq/Afghanistan, I get the feeling that command and control is very centralised and the prescribed RoE prevents effective mission achievement, effective soldiering and decision making on the ground. Every environment is different and RoE should be adjusted accordingly. In some areas, there will be semi-restrictive RoE (OOTW) and in others the restrictions will fall away.

In a COIN situation, we are still engaged in combat. Our trackers would tell us if tracks we were following were being made by men carrying equipment. They would confirm this when we found a resting place as they would show us the rifle butt indentations on the ground, mortar base plate indentations, the way the men walked, the length of stride, etc. All this indicated was men ahead who were armed. Then RoE became secondary to the mission: kill the enemy.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are spot on William. They are usually crafted by people who are not there, hope to make their political careers shine and who once crafted, never assess the validity of the RoE.

Again I agree with you. The RoE are decided not only by the phase we are entering but also on the operating environment. If we don’t do that, we stagnate and again give the enemy the initiative whilst denying it to ourselves.

Training, training and more training. It is training and belief in training that allows us to make snap decisions on when to fire and at what and who, gives us fire discipline, makes us take responsibility for our actions and ultimately carries the day. Trainie3d soldiers don’t shoot civilians unless the civilians pose a threat and are armed.

As I said to Matt, EO’s commanders determined the RoE required for any scenario. It certainly worked well.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Interesting stuff. I just posted an interview that Erik Prince did on CNBC. I looked at as a way for him to advertise the sale of the company, but he also delved into some interesting subjects.

One of which was the ROE in Afghanistan, and the complaints from the troops about restrictive ROEs. He compared today's use of lawyers to decide the use of munitions, to the political officers of the soviet union. Interesting discussion, and wouldn't it be cool if started a blog and started talking things up? Check it out here.

http://feraljundi.com/2010/06/24/industry-talk-erik-prince-on-cnbc/

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I thought he gave a good interview, Matt. Thanks for posting it. I can certainly appreciate how he feels about things.

I am very pleased that others are talking about the RoE and the negative effect they can have on offensive operations. After all, to fight and WIN a COIN conflict, one needs to retain the offensive.

I believe that political and legal meddling has altered the landscape of warfare to such an extent that soldiers are unable to perform the missions the politicians and legal experts send them on.

A friend of mine said to me in jest one day “Maybe we can fix the bad strategy with firepower”. Now even that is not possible.

Rgds,

Eeben

Burro said...

The RoE concept might be one of the most bastardized nowadays. From a serious attempt at balancing the use of force it has degenerated too many times into a political (lowercase "p" politics) tool for either making more palatable for the public the use of military force or to disguise the nature of the operations altogether. I.e: as "Peace operations". By the way, what the hell is that?.

Other issue arises when RoE are, (As very often happens) ambiguous or ill-defined as they, as any other rule or regulation, can be "interpreted". The brass can (will) be tempted to stay out of trouble interpreting then in the most stringent way, getting the troops under their command very deep into way worse, real trouble, and sometimes rendering the mission ineffective. "Being there, doing next to nothing". (The most blatant examples of this might be found in the context of UN operations). What does mean, and what does include, "defensive action"?. Debatable, isn't it. What does even mean “Don’t shoot until you are shot at”?. I mean, by doing so, we let the enemy pick when they engage, but depending on the interpretation, we let they decide WHEN TO DISENGAGE. That makes a huge difference.

If you think I wrote the last paragraphs from the perspective of modern day European armies, you are dead right. I'm a Spaniard. To be blunt, the Government of my country is adamantly turning our Army (With the enthusiastic support of the brass) into an NGO, a laical version of the Salvation Army. The RoE has been a great tool for this aim and that does color my opinion about the matter. In other cases just the opposite may apply. I´ve read and heard many about over-eager officers bending the RoE in the other way in lots of conflicts, but never experience it.

In the context of multinational operations, it's often overlooked in the planning phase that two forces from different countries working side by side might have completely opposite RoE, or that they might interpret then in an opposite way. That causes poor coordination, mutual distrust, bitterness, ineffectiveness, and some huge f**k ups. And the funny (Well, it's no fun at all being in the middle of that, I tell you) thing is that this happens again and again, and no one seems to want to learn.

I been reading this blog for a while, but didn't post until now. I´ve read all the older post and always found them interesting, and many times enlightening. The effort that Eeben makes keeping up with the readers causes that many times the very interesting debates in the Comments are as informational and worth to read as the posts, and that's a rarity in today's blogosphere. Kudos to him for that.

Regards

Choco

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very true, Choco. The idea of RoE may be noble but it is muddying the waters and causing casualties. Yet, stupidly, it prevails in its current form – but I still believe it is to play the politically correct card for the politicians, their legal advisors and the media at the expense of the armed forces. As for “peace operations”...another attempt at political correctness I suspect as such operations, like “peacekeeping” are a fallacy.

The RoE are being exploited by the enemy – and we are allowing it to happen. As you rightfully point out, we give the enemy the opportunity and the timing to decide when to act. When we are reactive, we have lost the initiative and the momentum. Couple that to centralised command and control, and we have a disaster in the making.

I suspect that you are right wrt some countries turning their militaries into NGOs. Whereas I am not in-the-loop as you are, I base my support to your comment on the happenings I see with many foreign armies. Many of them are so laden with technology that in many instances is worthless, they are not allowed to engage on initiative. Why are they there then, one may ask. So to killed? I get really mad at this sad state of affairs.

My meagre experience with multinational operations was seeing the UN’s pathetic attempt at peacekeeping. Not only was language a problem, but to were agendas, equipment compatibility, marrying-up drills, radio procedures...you name it, it was a problem. I believe you re the points you make with these ops but as you point out, no one wants to learn and I am sure that those who want to rectify it are not allowed to do so.

Yes, there have been many excellent contributions to the posts on the blog. IN fact, I really enjoy getting the response of others to what I write.

Thank you for the compliment.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Eeben,

As usual, great subject and commentary. It seems the initial rule set needs to be defined first with the RoE to be determined by those affected most in contact. I'll have more thoughts soon but the comments here have really got me thinking.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I too value everyone’s comments on this matter, John. I just find it hard to believe that troops are deployed with their hands tied behind their backs and expected to deliver results.

I look forward to your thoughts on this very important matter.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I indeed have been thinking and the first step in all these tasks is to have a set finish line - how do we know we are done? Do we simply pacify a region, knowing full well that we will be back shortly or do we fight to win. The issue is always the definition of "win." As for any major undertaking we have to have a distinct finish line or we will muddle around - and lose the peace.

Now that we have our finish line the central tenet is intelligence, strategic and tactical. If we just wish to pacify weakly we will essentially irritate the population - and be thought of as occupiers (remember that we do not have the media on the side of freedom). The strategic intel tells us what to expect at first and the general direction to go, the tactical intel will give us insight to the populations reaction to our presence, and where exactly we need to pierce and destroy our enemies - from there the RoE can be developed. The strategic RoE is to not violate the first set of victory tenets - the tactical RoE has to be set on the ground by the local/district commanders. Every time we set up a centralized control for action it fails, Vietnam, Laos (post "Vietnamization), Jutland (Hugh Evans-Thomas control was a crime) - but we have to have almost instant communications. With the world media in bed with those who oppose freedom the message has to get out lightning fast. In an earlier age Nelson's Frigate captains had free reign within his strategic RoE - and this sounds very much like your RoE within EO.

As to our current RoE - it stinks of Vietnam, which is what the media wants to repeat. The current situations US/Coalition and PMC soldiers find themselves in seem to be a guaranteed loser and have to be delegated to the commanders on the ground to get our success assured. They will fight with honor and we won't be seeing the atrocities passed out by communist, nazi and fascist soldiers because the modern armies of the west are based on the ideals of free men - guaranteeing that the enemy will be killed with minimal spillover to the innocents involved. Now if the local population shelters terrorists willingly they throw those protections out the door. That is also the responsibility of free choice.

More thoughts to come.

Best Regards,

John

John said...

GoodAfternoon Eeben,

To finish my previous train of thought...

As to our current RoE - it stinks of Vietnam, which is what the media wants to repeat, not realizing that we won the war and lost the peace due to weakness of political leadership, compounded by Nixon's botched exit.
The current RoE US/Coalition and PMC soldiers find themselves in seem to be a guaranteed loser and have to be delegated and changed by the commanders on the ground to get our success assured. Our soldiers will fight with honor and we won't be seeing the atrocities passed out by communist, nazi and fascist (nee UN) soldiers because the modern armies of the west are based on the ideals of free men - guaranteeing that the enemy will be killed with minimal spillover to the innocents involved. Now if the local population shelters terrorists willingly they throw those protections out the door. That is also the responsibility of free choice.

Best Regards,

John

borr1945 said...

Good topic. Good discussion. Just
seems to me that ROE decisions can
cause a muck up of a situation as bad as the refs calls in world cup.
Though, I am enjoying the world cup
better.

regards,
ken

tyhz1995 said...

I believe Roe can stymie soldiers in an already dangerous situation to such an extent that they are in fact placed in jeopardy.Intel should dictate Roe in a real time and must be gathered and evaluated in the theatre,not thousands of miles away.I believe for the man in the field it is a balancing act,IE survival without atrocity.I also know that in war all can go wrong at once and one does the best one can.Especially when one is young and inexperienced.One would hope that command would correct for this but sometimes command is weak and far away leaving NCOs to make decisions.Sometimes I think command likes it this way as it can give them an out if something goes wrong.In closing I think Roe need to evolve as the conflict evolves and the intelligence dictates,though from my own experience one should err on the side of caution.That's all

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

To answer your question – I believe the decision lies at political level and is supported at the military level. If we look at the aims of war, this is what we judge success against. If we don’t, we will simply continue to fight in square circles. And then, we will miss recognising the finish line.

Intelligence is more than just knowing something about the enemy and making wild conclusions. We also need to look at aspects such as the terrain, how it will influence our logistical supply lines, the local population and their beliefs, cultures and traditions, etc. Indeed, we need the political and military understanding of everything in our Area of Responsibility, Area of Influence and Area of Interest. If we miss these, we do so at our own peril. As you point out the central tenet is intelligence. Without it we are blind.

But this also leads to a decision on sound RoE and not ones based on “I think...”. That attitude smacks of a lack of intelligence (on both counts!), a lack of understanding the operational environment and area, not understanding the mission, etc.

It is ironic that a platoon commander can call in an airstrike on an enemy position but cannot decide when to open fire – such important matters being left to someone at HQ. If we do not allow decentralised command and control, we risk losing the initiative. Once lost, it is very hard to gain at some cost.

Atrocities are the result of poor discipline and poor fire control, supported by poor command structures. At least, that is how I see it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

You have raised some very valid points in these two posts of yours.

Being “free” does not imply being weak to the advantage of opposing forces. Whereas it is good and well to speak of “human rights”, “kindness” and so forth, there are cultures that view these tenants as a weakness and will exploit them. This we will only know about if we know and understand the culture in the AO.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Ken,

There have been some very good comments to the RoE.

If the SWC 2010 referee does not take control and impress his “RoE” on the players, he will lose control of the match – and make poor calls. Much the same in a combat situation.

Yes, everyone who predicted doom and gloom in the SWC may be wondering why they took “poor intelligence” as “fact” without confirming it. I am proud of how the country hosted this tournament – even though I am not much of a football fan.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi tyhz1995,

Yes, sadly some politicians want to play soldier and some soldiers (senior ones at that) want to play politics. This blurring of the lines prevents both parties from doing their jobs correctly and leads to a weakness in command and control structures. But, as you point out, this may just give them an excuse to lay the blame elsewhere when things go wrong.

War is not an exact science and despite the best laid plans, things can still go horribly wrong. But, if we are flexible, well trained and well led, we can overcome these lapses in the plan. However, we need strong command and control to help us overcome them and not RoE that surrender initiative and break our momentum.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Eeben,

Very apt analogy to a center referee setting the attitude and flow of a game, though football will not get as out of control as rugby if the ref calls poorly in the beginning - much as a president or prime minister can change the path of a conflict from the beginning.

As to SA hosting the 2010 SWC - they have done a fabulous job. Now after what the All Blacks did to the Springboks yesterday the 2011 RWC may be an interesting affair.

Regards,

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

It was actually Ken who brought the referee into the equation...I simply took his idea and used it.

Yes, I am rather proud of how SA hosted it. SWC 2010 was a great success and I will be definitely be watching tonight.

Our rugby went wrong when they chose a good player but with an appalling record for wanting to brawl on the field. But fortunately, another game is close – let’s see what happens then.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Very true and much apologies to Ken - it is a great analogy. SA is certainly getting a great showcase with the SWC here in the US which is a great thing for all involved.

Ill-discipline is always a negative force - Mr. B. may find this weekend was his last of the tri-nations if the commission takes a dim view of his antics that weren't penalized yesterday. The whole tourney will be awesome as usual. Enjoy the game tonight - our broadcasters here are certainly having fun with your home country.

Regards,

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure Ken will gracefully accept your apology, John.

I wonder what happened to all of the doom and gloom prophets that predicted the SWC would be a disaster fraught with danger to tourists? Indeed, I recall the German football team being on the hunt for body armour to protect them – and that is not a joke.

I guess that the RoE the media tend to follow are based purely on sensationalism and to hell with the truth. The active measures they follow have a massive effect on all readers/listeners out there. Now if only they could turn their efforts into a positive contribution...

Rgds,

Eeben

ncockle said...

Thanks for the interesting read Eeben. From speaking to a couple of people who have served in Afghan and whaat I have read they have found the RoE very restrictive especially in deliberate operations. I find it ridiculous how they cannot engage an unarmed hostile planting an IED and how snipers have been told to (but ignored) to adopt a policy of 'warning shots' which is horribly impractical especially with the nature of combat which is occuring in Helmand currently. I think they're is a desperate need for a some let up in these rules which could be inderictly linked to the huge IED threat but unfortunately in a war of supposed 'hearts and minds' I doubt this will happen. What do you think about this?.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Now I wonder if you are the son of an old friend of mine, Nick?

A very valid question you pose: We have become so tied up in RoE that we are unable to actually perform our missions. Whereas ROE are important in limiting collateral damage and alienating the local population, they nevertheless should not be all restrictive.

By telling soldiers that they may only react under certain conditions, we lower morale and allow the enemy to cause us to be reactive. Being reactive means that we are no longer offensive but rather defensive. We cannot retain initiative in a defensive posture – unless it was a planned defensive action to achieve a certain strategic or tactical goal.

“Hearts and Minds” are of course important but this aspect aimed at “getting the locals on sides” is not achieved by allowing the enemy to increase his successes over us.

But, we also need to examine our TTPs when it comes to IEDs, landmines and so forth. I somehow suspect that we are not doing so.

Rgds,

Eeben

ncockle said...

Yes it's me,

Unfortunately I can't see any let up regarding the IEDs either (even though the losses on the ground due to IEDs and other such devices are being sorely felt and a constant lingering threat. I'm sure they also have a horrible mental effect aswell.) and there is an urgent need to review these procedures.

In 3 Para's tour of Afghanistan they were accused of 'over-agression' and this was as you say operating in a purely reactive way. But I'm sure these observations were made by someone who had'nt been attacked in Sangin and Musa Qaleh for 6 months. Considering the ferocity of the fighting in Helmand agression is needed when fighting such a relentless war. Unfortunately the RoE do not allow the men on the ground to act in such a fashion.

I was curious who decides the restrictions of the RoE?

Regards,

Nick.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

IEDs and similar unseen threats have a massive psychological impact, Nick.

It is indeed ironic that when units such as 3 Para are aggressive (a fundamental factor in offensive operations) they are regarded as being overly aggressive. I am sure the idiot who thought that out has kept himself hidden behind a desk.

But as long as the senior officer kow-tow to these comments and indeed even agree with them, the soldiers will continue fighting on two fronts – the enemy and the homefront with its humanitarian restriction imposed on the soldiers. Sadly though, we cannot fight a war in a “politically correct” manner and the sooner this is realised, the better.

The RoEs are usually imposed by the armed forces command structures in consultation with the politicians.

Rgds,

Eeben

ncockle said...

Well many people see the war in Afghanistan as a dirty war which the government have tried to cover up with a politically correct veil over it (But fortunately the soldiers out there are greatly praised). Where there is little politically correct about a war of druglords and insurgents but to the soldiers it's just about the guys next to them so political correctness is the last thing on their minds in a firefight.

But overall if the government can't trust our soldiers to make an informed decision on the ground regarding who to engage using the correct trigger discipline there are obviously some very serious problems. Especially when agression is the only thing that will truely drive the taliban back and this is why 16 Air assualt brigade have operated so effectively in theatre in 2006 and 2008 due to their nature of controlled aggression. It will be good to see redeploying in the coming months.

Thanks a lot for your views on this and I'm glad to see you share mine.

Regards,

Nick.

P.S i am greatly enjoying your book at the moment.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

All wars are dirty wars, Nick. However, by denying that they are dirty, some politicos try to gain kudos from their uniformed utterances. The impact of this on the uninformed is a desire to either get the troops home or belittle them and label them as the “bad guys”.

Soldiers view life differently as the majority of them believe in the profession of arms, honour, integrity and loyalty to each other, the unit and their country. Political correctness is not possible to adhere to when someone is trying to kill or main you or your fellow comrades.

I believe that if the politicians who are so quick to declare wars had to spend a year in that war as a soldier, they would very quickly alter their views on ROEs, PC-ness and so forth. Those politicians who have passed through the military understand that all too well.

Good luck with your studies – your Old Man told me of your future plans and I wish you well.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: Pleased to hear you are enjoying the book.