Rules of Engagement — Show Courageous Restraint, Die

July 19th, 2011

By Dan Miller

British Army Vehicle Hit by IEDAfghanistan is a beautiful place for a lovely little war.

This report is so incredible that it has to be accurate. A soldier in Afghanistan was blown up and killed by a Taliban improvised explosive device because he and others had been ordered to show “courageous restraint” when seeing IEDs being planted — lest the locals be disturbed.

Soldiers were ordered not to open fire on Taliban fighters planting mines in case they disturb local people, it has been claimed.

U.S. military chiefs ordered troops to exercise ‘courageous constraint’ and even warned them they could be charged with murder if they shot any Taliban without permission from above.

The claims were made by a former Royal Marine who spoke out following the inquest into the death of Sergeant Peter Rayner last week.

At the hearing in Bradford, his widow Wendy Rayner revealed how her husband was blown up days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged. …

[H]e and his men had watched the enemy, using night-vision goggles, plant improvised explosive devices and were not allowed to attack them. He was allegedly told by one officer: ‘I am an Army Captain and you will do your job.’ …

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The whole point of a counter insurgency operation is to protect the civilian population.’

He said soldiers had to go through a series of stages before opening fire and were sometimes asked to exercise ‘courageous restraint’ even when shots had been fired.

‘It is all about winning hearts and minds and using the least force possible,’ the spokesman said.

What a great, sensitive and humane way to fight a lovely little war!

Let’s do it some lots more. Perhaps some high ranking folks from General Headquarters would like to go along on patrols just for the photo ops — maybe videos. I wonder whether any of them can sing and dance.

(This article was first published at The PJ Tatler.)


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2 Responses to “Rules of Engagement — Show Courageous Restraint, Die”



  1. Tom Carter |

    Thirty years in the Army gave me a fairly well-tuned BS alarm when it comes to rumors and complaints, and the alarm is sounding right now. There are simply too many things in this case that don’t ring true. There are always problems and disagreements with the details of ROE, and often soldiers (of whatever army) don’t like the restrictions placed on them. I’ve been in that position myself many times, where I was getting shot at from a place and under circumstances where I couldn’t shoot back.

    The situation is most difficult when you’re in a “winning hearts and minds” position and, as always, when you want to avoid the chance of killing noncombatants. Sometimes “courageous restraint” actually is appropriate. But to imply that officers and NCOs leading troops in combat are indifferent to casualties is virtually always wrong.

    It will be interesting to see what comes of this, assuming there’s an investigation of some sort.


  2. Dan Miller |

    Tom,

    These days I find that my own BS meter is often at the peg; during the current debt limit mess it has been there constantly. Perhaps I need a new meter with a logarithmic scale.

    You have been in combat, I have never been even close. I recognize that courageous restraint can in some circumstances be the best available option, even when it results in otherwise unnecessary casualties.

    I agree that if there is a competent investigation the results should be interesting.


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