From a Marine in Anbar: “A lot of us feel like we have our hands tied behind our back,” says Cpl. Peter Mattice, of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. “In Fallujah, [insurgents] know our [rules of engagement] - they know when to stop, just before we engage.”
From a unnamed Soldier: “I’m hesitant to do the job I was trained for. I don’t want to return fire because I might be on CNN the next day. The hardest thing for a soldier to do, despite all his training, is to return fire when he is fired upon.”
From an NCO in Kirkuk: You make the wrong move and kill civilians though, you not only have to live with the mistake, but you will be ridiculed unmercifully by the media/big army. You will be buried in proceedings and paperwork the remainder of your deployment, and you will not be the same. Your buddies will be affected as well. Cpl. X will see how bad it could be to make the wrong decision, and will hesitate just a hair too long when there is a real threat… and more men will die. The fear of failure leads to hesitation, and hesitation in war is a lesser form of suicide.
From an NCO in Anbar: So yes, from the grunts on the field perspective … the ROE is vague and limiting. And every time “violations” of the ROE came up it caused our soldiers and marines to question their actions and sometimes cause casualties. If you look up the case of the [unit redacted] Soldier from the [location redacted] region you will see an excellent example. The [unit redacted] Soldiers started pulling back after that, and even though he eventually had the charges dropped it caused problems throughout the entire Battalion.
And without going into specifics if you look at [date redacted] incident when we lost two Marine pilots and an Army Lt north of [location redacted] you will see another example of how fear of ROE kept us from hitting an enemy until after he had fired at us (and led to a downed helo and an IEDed hummer). And it was almost much worse. We dropped two 500 lb bombs a little later and stopped the insurgents from a planned attack that might have led to even more deaths. And we almost didn’t do that because of ROE.
President Bush didn't mention in his State-of-the-Union address why websites such as this are necessary on his watch.
Crossposted at The Dougout