Report: Petraeus to relax rules of engagement in Afghanistan?

posted at 9:40 pm on June 25, 2010 by Allahpundit

Fox is overselling this a bit, but just a bit. According to CNN, Petraeus won’t make any decisions until after he conducts a “sweeping review” of operations, but I think it’s a fait accompli that he will, ultimately, relax the ROE. They’re one of the biggest, most chronic complaints of troops in the field; dialing them down will, if nothing else, signal a new start under a new commander and hopefully boost morale that’s suffering from the loss of McChrystal and the sluggishness of progress on the ground. Which probably explains why the Pentagon is so eager to tout the impending change.

A military source close to Gen. David Petraeus told Fox News that one of the first things the general will do when he takes over in Afghanistan is to modify the rules of engagement to make it easier for U.S. troops to engage in combat with the enemy, though a Petraeus spokesman pushed back on the claim.

Troops on the ground and some military commanders have said the strict rules — aimed at preventing civilian casualties — have effectively forced the troops to fight with one hand tied behind their backs.

The military source who has talked with Petraeus said the general will make those changes. Other sources were not so sure, but said they wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen once Petraeus takes command.

Says CNN, drily, “Petraeus will seek to find out if the troops simply need a better understanding of the rules or if the rules need to be changed, the sources noted.” I’ve got a crazy hunch that a “better understanding” in this case will mean not applying the rules so strictly. But wait — why would a counterinsurgency guru whose strategy is based on winning hearts and minds want a freer use of force? Jason Thomas at Small Wars Journal explains in a list of five suggestions for Petraeus, the very first of which calls for tweaking the ROE:

1. Change Coalition Forces rules of engagement – it’s not about troop numbers it’s what the troops do – Yes, counterinsurgency is about winning the population not blazing your way through the enemy. But Pashtun’s and Hazaran’s are tough, resilient and stoic people and the coalition looses all respect when it does not engage the enemy when under continued attack. We experienced this regularly in Ghazni. It was not until two weeks of constant rocket attacks that the Polish, who own the battlespace in Ghanzi, finally responded – even then it was with a helicopter that spent all of 10minutes in the air. In Australia we have a better response to sharks spotted at a beach. Afghans do not think this approach is protecting the population.

The ROE will be topic number two at his confirmation hearing; topic number one is, of course, the withdrawal deadline, as McCain has already promised. If I were you I’d take five minutes and read this NYT piece now, because you might hear it quoted by Republican senators on Monday.

Pakistan is exploiting the troubled United States military effort in Afghanistan to drive home a political settlement with Afghanistan that would give Pakistan important influence there but is likely to undermine United States interests, Pakistani and American officials said…

Coupled with their strategic interests, the Pakistanis say they have chosen this juncture to open talks with Mr. Karzai because, even before the controversy over General McChrystal, they sensed uncertainty — “a lack of fire in the belly,” said one Pakistani — within the Obama administration over the Afghan fight.

“The American timetable for getting out makes it easier for Pakistan to play a more visible role,” said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the spokesman for the Pakistani Army. He was referring to the July 2011 date set by Mr. Obama for the start of the withdrawal of some American combat troops.

The GOP will spend its time at the hearing trying to badger Petraeus into a promise that he’ll do what he can to get The One to lift the withdrawal date, but that’s mostly a waste of time. Democrats will have had enough of the war by next July, and unless Petraeus works some kind of Iraq-times-two miracle, I expect most voters will have too. (See the beginning of this sharp but bleak Tom Ricks analysis on what The One likely has in mind.) So here’s my plea: Instead of pounding away at the deadline non-stop, can we spare a few questions for Petraeus about why we’re not doing more to involve the only country in the region that’s both allied with the U.S. and willing/able to check Pakistani influence by establishing its own long-term influence over Afghanistan? Hitchens raised that point last year and I haven’t heard a good counterargument yet. Please?


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Nobody can convince me that Obama is happy about this. Petraeus exacted a pretty price for pulling barry’s chessnuts, or some other kind, out of the fire. This is the unintended consequence that Rolling Stoners could not have anticipated

clnurnberg on June 25, 2010 at 9:45 PM

This was all planned in advance.

Electrongod on June 25, 2010 at 9:47 PM

This is the silver lining in the McCrystal debacle. The ROEs are awful. Hawkdriver and others who’ve been in the area can provide the best insight and the impact of this change.

If I were you I’d take five minutes and read this NYT piece now,

If you say so. As long as it’s only 5 minutes.

conservative pilgrim on June 25, 2010 at 9:47 PM

When I was in Iraq, GEN Petreaus let us light up anyone or anythig that attacked us, as long as we had positive ID – once had that, it was on.

Oh, and I don’t pay much mind anymore to Tom Ricks. That guy had us beaten and crawling out of Iraq years ago.

LTC John on June 25, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Thank you, Rolling Stone. You ousted your kind of guy, a Barry voter that hated Fox News and now….
We have a general might actually give our troops the tools to finish the job…and dare I say…WIN THE WAR.
Thank you, libtards.

HornetSting on June 25, 2010 at 9:48 PM

DNI position- empty
Afghanistan theatre commander – in transition
Centcom-to be in transition soon
State Depart in Afghanistan- should be emptied

Budget director- emptying soon
Navy Sec- doing 2 jobs

Any more?

journeyintothewhirlwind on June 25, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Shoot, post lost.

OK, shorter version here.

I think McCrystal’s unpopular ROE is going to be the way of the future. It’s Israel’s burden, too. Fight, but protect civilians, because the areas are so mixed up.

I got it. And I personally thought that taking out the leadership in targeted attacks was going to work in the end. There’s a limit to the depth of leadership.

I personally thought that we’ve been safer in the US because the training areas are obviously not top-drawer anymore, and that’s due to the targeted attacks.

We love BIG solutions in the US. But as usual, the real wars are won by inches.

AnninCA on June 25, 2010 at 9:58 PM

The ROE should be take out the enemy where ever they are.

iceman1960 on June 25, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Epic backfire.

Petraeus has Obama over a barrel.

John the Libertarian on June 25, 2010 at 10:01 PM

AnninCA on June 25, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Please call the Pentagon, genius. I’m sure they would love to hear your dissertation. Your way gets our troops killed.
It’s war. Act accordingly.

HornetSting on June 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Gloves off?

If Petraeus goes “Gloves off” he will have to throw his beloved COIN under the bus. That would be almost like Al Gore denouncing Global Warming.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Less rules, more engagement.

Make it happen.

Red Cloud on June 25, 2010 at 10:04 PM

Fallen soldier’s parents critical of Obama

We need a warrior, not a flower child.

Ben was from my hometown.

Connie on June 25, 2010 at 10:09 PM

Fox is overselling this a bit

Allah, don’t quit your day job :P

Ugly on June 25, 2010 at 10:09 PM

I think there is a reasonable way to try to avoid civilian casualties without basically laying down your weapon. However, this may help clarify — to the civilians and liberal Rolling Stone press back home — that we are in fact at war with this terrorist nation. Blaze away, and thank you to the soldiers in the field.

GTR640 on June 25, 2010 at 10:10 PM

If Petraeus goes “Gloves off” he will have to throw his beloved COIN under the bus. That would be almost like Al Gore denouncing Global Warming.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Dont know, i think afghans are of the “strong horse” philosophy. They feel they cant trust the US if it doesn’t defend itself fiercely.

the_nile on June 25, 2010 at 10:10 PM

If you can’t shoot the bad guys, the engagement is OFF!

On other fronts Cheney to get heart transplant from 24 year old, will run for POTUS in 2012!

tim c on June 25, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Less rules, more engagement.

Make it happen.

Red Cloud on June 25, 2010 at 10:04 PM

The same can be said about the Gulf cleanup. This whole McChrystal issue doesn’t smell right. I am with all of you that I want this war to end and end in our favor but I think we have been handed this possible victory at a high cost.

Electrongod on June 25, 2010 at 10:11 PM

One thing with Tom Ricks, he is of the opinion that the Iraq surge was a failure.

lizzie beth on June 25, 2010 at 10:14 PM

How about old school World War Two ROE!!!(sarc)

canopfor on June 25, 2010 at 10:15 PM

When you have kids running water and ammo out to the Taliban, and our troops are under orders to not fire when ‘civilians’ are present why would the enemy change tactics?

Sounds like a no lose proposition to me.

GnuBreed on June 25, 2010 at 10:15 PM

Less roe; more red meat.
Randy

williars on June 25, 2010 at 10:17 PM

Report: Petraeus to relax rules of engagement in Afghanistan?

This should have been done years ago.

Hopefully, it is true.

rukiddingme on June 25, 2010 at 10:19 PM

AnninCA on June 25, 2010 at 9:58 PM

Does Hiroshima or Nagasaki ring a bell. Or how about the 24/7 Christmas bombings of N. Vietnam which brought them to the peace table. Wars are sometimes won by inches and sometimes by other means.

chemman on June 25, 2010 at 10:25 PM

Dont know, i think afghans are of the “strong horse” philosophy. They feel they cant trust the US if it doesn’t defend itself fiercely.

the_nile on June 25, 2010 at 10:10 PM

Petraeus is the one you have to convince.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:26 PM

HornetSting on June 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM

I don’t know why any of us bother. She is so open minded her brains fell out in California somewhere.

chemman on June 25, 2010 at 10:29 PM

COIN, which is Petraeus’s baby, doesn’t work, certainly not in Afghanistan, and the men on the ground know it. Founded on a deadly pretense – namely, that fundamental cultural differences don’t exist between Islam and the West – COIN proposes that elevating generic “population protection” over generic “force protection” will someday, some way, convince that generic, protected population (in this case, grossly primitive, Islamically oriented, female-oppressing, girl-molesting tribal peoples) to fall in with the American Way or at least to support the U.S. propped-up, corrupt Karzai government.

It is this Petraeus COIN theory that is directly responsible for the unconscionably restrictive ROEs that have been attracting media attention, a postmodern form of human sacrifice staged to appease the endlessly demanding requirements of political correctness regarding Islam. There is no separating the two. If we have COIN, we have heinous ROE.

Luka on June 25, 2010 at 10:33 PM

I called this the other day here. Petraeus is going to get much of what he asks for because Obama knows the world is watching.

He’s going to make sure he won’t be blamed for the same thing twice..or he’ll be blamed for the entire mess should it turn south.

katy on June 25, 2010 at 10:40 PM

What General Petraeus should be doing now is simply asking himself why we went into Afghanistan in the first place and just how much of that still applies almost 9 years later.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM

Currently, when they spot someone laying an IED, they can’t fire on them. Sounds crazy, huh?

faraway on June 25, 2010 at 10:49 PM

Relaxing the ROE would hopefully do several very impotent things. From just the aviation mission.

1. Allow aircrews in Apaches and Kiowas to actively pursue IED emplaces. This video shows the sad truth that commands were hesitant to give the go ahead on engaging the obvious bad guys. It was because the bar was raised so high within the ROE to prove PID or positive ID or a hostile act or behavior consistent with hostile intent that battle captains became squeamish about giving the order to fire. Watch the whole thing and listen to the battle captain. Time how long it takes. These crews knew that these men had placed an IED not 2K from this site and detonated it earlier in the day. They had PID at the new site and they wanted to take them out. There is a good chance that had the emplacement not gone terribly wrong, that these gentlemen would have gotten away.

The men in this aircraft are part of my unit that fought in Iraq during The Surge. In my opinion, there wouldn’t be any bigger metric on that battle field that had a bigger effect as to the outcome of Iraq than these crews working tirelessly taking out roadside bomb teams. It got to the point where they were scared to do any IEDs. When that happened, the MSRs became more accessible to military and civilian traffic. You can only achieve that kind of effect, if you’re actually taking the shots.

In Afghanistan, it was as if tactics from Iraq were ignored because we were more interested in zero tolerance for CIVCAS.

2. Allow the full range of Escalation of Force (EOF). Within EOF rules, warning shots were a step after hand and arm signals to illicit an effect; get a vehicle to stop, cause fleeing enemy to stop running. Once warning shots were removed, EOF was a joke. If I have to go from hand and arms signals straight to vehicle disabling shots and worse, deadly force, guess what? I probably will let the bad guys get away because it’s not worth the possibility of causing CIVCAS. Warning shots, as cruel as it sounds, separates the good guys from the bad guys and then you know. And every once in a while, the bad guys even give up after warning shots.

3. And the last of the bare minimums I’d change back.; let our SOTF hit known IED makers homes whenever their intel dictates they have the best chance for mission success. Even if its at night.

Just these three things would have a bigger effect than sending more troops.

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM

That’s not his orders or his mission. His orders and mission are to prosecute the war.

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 10:55 PM

When you have kids running water and ammo out to the Taliban, and our troops are under orders to not fire when ‘civilians’ are present why would the enemy change tactics?

Well that’s easy! You just shoot holes in the lower end of the bucket so that when the kids get there, all of the water has run out./AnninCA

Vince on June 25, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Just these three things would have a bigger effect than sending more troops.

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 10:50 PM

I believe you are right. A year and a half ago, with different ROE, we had “only” half the number of troops in Afghanistan and things certainly seemed to be going better, or at least less bad. That was, of course, with McChrystal’s predecessor, and not so much COIN.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 11:03 PM

What General Petraeus should be doing now is simply asking himself why we went into Afghanistan in the first place and just how much of that still applies almost 9 years later.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM

That’s not his orders or his mission. His orders and mission are to prosecute the war.

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 10:55 PM

That’s a big problem as after almost 9 long years he should be asking that.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 11:08 PM

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 11:08 PM

The question might be well considered by a politician or a policy maker within the administratin, but “we” prosecute the war. We don’t ask the why, we just try to facilitate the administrations desired outcome.

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 11:11 PM

I hope that the nation is able to salvage some lasting benefit from the McChrystal mess. The American public should not be allowed to pretend the war in Afghanistan somehow ceased to exist under Obama, and quite honestly we need to either sh!t or get off the pot.

Unfortunately, the ensuing discussions are likely to be very vitriolic…but that’s the price we’ll have to pay.

Dark-Star on June 25, 2010 at 11:11 PM

Before Karzai makes any deals with the Taliban / Al Queda, someone should mention to him that 0 won’t be in office forever and remind him of Iraq’s Shock & Awe and what happened to Saddam.

Oleta on June 25, 2010 at 11:43 PM

The more relaxed the ROE is, the better. Personally, something really close to a gloves off policy would be the best.

Conservative Samizdat on June 26, 2010 at 12:05 AM

few questions for Petraeus about why we’re not doing more to involve the only country in the region that’s both allied with the U.S. and willing/able to check Pakistani influence by establishing its own long-term influence over Afghanistan? Hitchens raised that point last year and I haven’t heard a good counterargument yet. Please?

….You will probably hear little to nothing about this…..it would force Obama to have to stand up and fully address the Pakistani/ISI/Taliban situation which would involve a whole lot more troops and commitment to the war effort.
……..not going to happen because all Obama wants is to declare victory against “Al-Qaeda”,appeasement to the “moderate Taliban”(whatever that is), semblance of an Afghan Army/Police force,then get the he!! out declaring “smart power” a success.
…We will see if bringing Petraeus in means we will “defeat” the Taliban/Al-Qaeda threat in the Pakistan/Afghan region before we leave or not…..I am hoping so.

Baxter Greene on June 26, 2010 at 12:34 AM

Please call the Pentagon, genius…

HornetSting on June 25, 2010 at 10:02 PM

Too funny. AnntheWarStrategist.

Gang-of-One on June 26, 2010 at 12:47 AM

hawkdriver on June 25, 2010 at 10:50 PM

Explain to me why we can’t kill a kid who is materially aiding the enemy? The Geneva Convention allows us to kill them (not that we need to follow it when they don’t).

Tim Burton on June 26, 2010 at 12:50 AM

What General Petraeus should be doing now is simply asking himself why we went into Afghanistan in the first place and just how much of that still applies almost 9 years later.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM

Answer as to why we are in Afghanistan in the first place: 3,000 innocent Americans killed on September 11, in the year of our Lord 2001 buy the Islamofascist terrorist organization Al-Queda lead by one Osama bin Laden in allegiance with the Taliban regime that was at the time running Afghanistan.

Answer as to how much still applies: Osama still alive. Al-Queda, while badly battered, is still a combat effect force bent on conducting terrorist operations. The Taliban still exists.

Answer as to when we shall leave: When Osama is dead, Al-Queda combat ineffective and the Taliban pushing up daisies.

This obvious to all those without the mental disease called liberalism.

Bubba Redneck on June 26, 2010 at 4:38 AM

All this shows is that Petraeus is better at public relations than McChrystal was and we shouldn’t be so quick to assume there’s going to be some huge shift here. If the ROE really do get changed and civilian casualties increase then that will be reported as just more proof that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable. Because we can’t fight without killing civilians and killing civilians makes the population turn against us and if the population turns against us then it won’t cooperate and on and on. The story writes itself every time. It’s the same old trap.

Bennett on June 26, 2010 at 5:16 AM

Explain to me why we can’t kill a kid who is materially aiding the enemy? The Geneva Convention allows us to kill them (not that we need to follow it when they don’t).

Tim Burton on June 26, 2010 at 12:50 AM

First and foremost, soldiers would just naturally hesitate when kids are involved. We’d do anything to develope the situation if possible to get the kid out of the picture. If it were a more immediate situation than the video I posted, a soldier would have yto do what is necessary for self preservation and to protect his comrades and equipment.

hawkdriver on June 26, 2010 at 6:32 AM

If they are serious, strengthen ties with India as much as possible.

rob verdi on June 26, 2010 at 7:18 AM

Answer as to when we shall leave: When Osama is dead

Bubba Redneck on June 26, 2010 at 4:38 AM

Are you sure? You do realize Prez. Obama has been in office for about 1 1/2 years now. /

CWforFreedom on June 26, 2010 at 7:40 AM

I wonder if our brave troops will actually be able to shoot the enemy now? I have a good idea, shoot the lawyers and get them out of the way.

Wills on June 26, 2010 at 9:21 AM

Put the fear of implacable death and oblivion for their ideology into the Jihadis.

If they understand we are more serious than they, they will either mount a Gotterdammerung strike and be done with this de facto cowardice on their Islamic leaders’ parts, from Bin Laden to Ahmadinejad to A.Q. Khan’s handlers in Paki, or will slink away to regroup.

(And be spied upon relentlessly because of their totalitarian aim.)

The ROE’s only need to be:

Finally to learn the ideology of imperialistic Islam and defeat it.

Not the Taliban, or Al Qaeda, or Wahabbism, ad nauseam.

Militant Islam.

Which is the nature of this Irrationalistic creed.

profitsbeard on June 26, 2010 at 11:19 AM

The McChrystal/Obama ROE was killing our troops. Once those rules are there, and are killing troops, who is going to change them and take the blame for the deaths of so many troops? Having the same people change them actually alerts the public about the disaster.

Someone had to go and someone new had to come along to change the ROE without too much focus on why…as if it’s just the new guy’s preference. They came up with this Rolling Stone solution so that everyone could save face, relatively.

Buddahpundit on June 26, 2010 at 1:02 PM

There were a few articles about service members who were killed when the Obama administration issued it’s new rules of engagement. There were a couple of stories about it, but it was not covered much by the MSM and here is a reminder.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2009/09/08/75036/were-pinned-down-4-us-marines.html

If you want to listen to one of the people involved talk about it and tell about how hours passed without support.

Obama Admin. Rules Of Engagement murdered 4 of our heroes

The more I hear about this story to more, the more I am starting to believe that Gen. Stanley sacrificed his career to save peoples lives to get this changed.

JeffinSac on June 26, 2010 at 1:13 PM

I think we should relax the one main liberal rule about war, the one that says we’re not allowed to win any of them.

Really Right on June 26, 2010 at 1:29 PM

What General Petraeus should be doing now is simply asking himself why we went into Afghanistan in the first place and just how much of that still applies almost 9 years later.

Tav on June 25, 2010 at 10:46 PM

You must Paultard if you’re gonna ask that question.

Conservative Samizdat on June 26, 2010 at 5:32 PM

Answer as to how much still applies: Osama still alive.

That is unknown. If he is still alive it is VERY unlikely that he is now in Afghanistan or has been for many years.

Al-Queda, while badly battered, is still a combat effect force bent on conducting terrorist operations.

Very few Al Queda are still in Afghanistan.

The Taliban still exists.

We invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban would not turn Bin Laden and his top lieutenants over to us. If they had we never would have even entered Afghanistan. Bin Laden and his top lieutenants are almost certainly not even there anymore. Those still alive are most likely in Pakistan or possibly even Iran, and can plot just as well from there, if not better, than they could if they came back to Afghanistan.

Answer as to when we shall leave: When Osama is dead,

So if he dies, if he is even still alive, in Pakistan or Timbucktoo or Dearborn, MI, then we then leave Afghanistan? That doesn’t even make any sense.

Al-Queda combat ineffective

Most all Al_Queda are not even in Afghanistan anymore and haven’t been for years.

and the Taliban pushing up daisies.

That was never why we invaded Afghanistan and is not even the objective in Afghanistan now.

This obvious to all those without the mental disease called liberalism.

Bubba Redneck on June 26, 2010 at 4:38 AM

What is obvious is that you are not thinking. If the reason for doing something does not apply to a certain course of action any longer, no one put a blind fanatic keeps doing the same thing.

Tav on June 27, 2010 at 12:18 AM

Can anyone state what we have gained in Afghanistan during the last 8 years that justifies the death of even one American, let alone hundreds, not to mention all the billions of dollars that we don’t have which could have been spent on military weaponry? Arguably, a lot was accomplished during the firsts few months in Afghanistan, but after that? Can any American actually think that the situation is improving in Afghanistan, or has for years? Oh, I know, just wait til next year – success is just around the corner – it’s always around the next corner. Meanwhile Islam advances all over the world.

Tav on June 27, 2010 at 12:32 AM

We went into Afghanistan to get Bin Laden and his Lieutenants. They aren’t even there anymore. But the Taliban are, so we kind of sort of go after them, kind of, but not even that very much. Like a drunk looking for his car keys where the street light is rather than where his keys are.

Tav on June 27, 2010 at 12:37 AM

The political policy of endless war….for political gain….is destroying our military, bankrupting this country. We’re losing this war; and Iraq isn’t going our way either. It’s not “conservative” to support such wanton waste of blood and treasure, is it?

McChrystal’s bleak outlook

General McChrystal knew “his time was up” and had been told by White House aides his “time-frame was all wrong”, with the general thinking in years while the President was thinking more in months, he added.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-last-post-mcchrystals-bleak-outlook-2011730.html

Endless War: Recipe for 4-Star Arrogance

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/25/AR2010062502160.html

mountainaires on June 27, 2010 at 12:31 PM