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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.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

“COURAGEOUS CONSTRAINT” – WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE DOING??

Having read an article about the sheer lunacy of an instruction to exercise “courageous constraint”, I have to ask myself what on earth are we doing?

Going to war is a political decision.

Making war is the military’s responsibility.

Making war and in the process minimizing collateral damage is something all soldiers accept as necessary. However, there will seldom be a situation where an enemy action provokes an own forces retaliation with zero collateral damage – unless the enemy acts away from population concentrations. Sadly, this is something the modern-day enemy does not do.

To order troops not to fire on the enemy as it risks waking up the local population is going several steps too far. By having to get permission to open fire on an armed and identified enemy laying IEDs – or face murder charges if that order is violated - is nothing other than surrender without honour.

Playing politically correct games with the enemy at the expense of the lives of the very people the politicians sent there must surely border on treason. Given the deaths that have already occurred due to this stupidity, those who formulated and applied it should be tried for manslaughter – as that is what it is. Better still, they should be forced to show soldiers how to apply this new principle when under a looming threat.

It is even more shocking that military commanders seem to go along with this treasonous order. It seems to me that they are no longer soldiers but wannabe politicians posing as soldiers, more concerned about their media profiles and political futures than the lives of the men they supposedly command and their mission.

To add credence to this stupidity, the next thing will probably be a medal to those who were able to exercise this “courageous constraint”. In fact, cowardice under fire can now be ascribed to acting with "courageous constraint".

Whereas it is seemingly fashionable to be politically correct, it is this correctness that will lead to the deaths of many good soldiers – and has already led to the deaths of soldiers.

As it now appears that the politicians and senior commanders have lost the stomach to follow through on their decisions, perhaps the Principles of War ought should be whittled down to 2 basic principles in order to appease them.

Principle #1: Do not fire at the enemy.

Principle #2: If you observe the enemy, either run away or surrender.

When senior military commanders simply accept such orders, they are, in my opinion, not fit to command. If they lack the moral courage to stand up for their men, they ought not to be in uniform at all. If they are so lacking in moral fibre as to bend and buckle with the political whims of the politicians who drafted their mission, then they may save more lives by simply surrendering to the enemy and then disbanding the armed forces and going home.

It is time the real military commanders stood up for their men, accepted their mission and brushed aside the stupidity generated by politicians whilst doing the job the politicians sent them there to do.

Unless, of course, there never was an intention of ending the war....