Not so fast...
Military leaders clarify their "shoot first" policy - Army Halts Flow From Iraq
Intel Dump Report
May 17, 2003
Civilian and military leaders clarified the New York Times report from Wednesday's paper in which one of L. Paul Bremer's staff indicated that America's new rules of engagement called for the pre-emptive shooting of looters and criminals. The new, muscular guidance was intended to provide highly visible shows of force that would intimidate the Iraqi population into submission and compliance with American occupation. However, defense officials say now that this comment was mistaken, and that the old ROE of shooting-in-self-defense still apply. Speaking from Iraq, top American generals said their troops would most assuredly not shoot first and ask questions later.
In an internationally televised press conference, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan said that simple looting is not enough to warrant shooting an Iraqi civilian. Soldiers will, however, arrest and hold those caught in criminal acts.
Maj. Gen. Buford Blount, commander of the Army's 3rd infantry Division, joined McKiernan. Both addressed press reports that Iraq's new civil administrator, Ambassador L. Paul Bremer, told senior staff in a meeting that U.S. forces were "going to start shooting a few looters" to deter lawlessness in the Iraqi capital.
"We are aggressively targeting looters, but we're not going to go out and shoot children that are picking up a piece of wood out of a factory and carrying it away or a bag of cement," Blount said, adding that soldiers retained the right of self-defense.
"If a looter's carrying a weapon and the soldier feels threatened, then
of course he's going to engage," the general said.
Similarly, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said today that Bremer's staffmember was out of line, and that no such changes to the ROE were being made.
"That was hyperbole," Rumsfeld said. The rules of engagement for
troops in Iraq have not changed, he said. Rumsfeld said that the rules all along
have authorized whatever use of force was necessary "for self-defense and
other selective purposes."
This is a good sign -- that cooler heads have prevailed in the Pentagon over hotter heads in Baghdad. Nonetheless, it does not cure the real problem here. Soldiers may be forced to compensate for their lack of numbers with force. If pushed too far, or outnumbered by too high a ratio, soldiers may have to employ excessive amounts of force to resolve situations. The answer here is to get enough soldiers to Iraq to do the job. It may not be possible to get enough U.S. troops there quickly. However, this might be the time to enlist our NATO allies in the effort, particularly the British, French, German, Dutch and Russian armies who have extensive nation-building experience from the Balkans. That may require some eating of crow by the Bush Administration. But it may be necessary to accomplish the mission in Iraq, which is what really matters.
posted by Phillip at 9:54 AM
Army halts troop flow out of Iraq
Criticism of "boots on the ground" leads Pentagon to keep soldiers in country
Today, V Corps halted the depature of soldiers from Iraq, according to the New York Times and other media. Some of these units, like those from the 3rd Infantry Division, have been in the region for a year. The new orders come amid mounting criticism that America does not have enough soldiers in Iraq to establish law and order, and that cuts to the troop count might be premature. This change also comes at the time when diplomat-turned-proconsul L. Paul Bremer has vowed to stop crime in Iraq and establish order (he sounds like LAPD Chief William Bratton).
At the Pentagon, a senior Defense Department official said that American commanders in Iraq were "reviewing the appropriate mix of forces" to stabilize Baghdad, and that "some numbers" of troops would likely have their departures affected. The official said it remained unclear whether these troops would remain in Baghdad for additional days or weeks or longer.
Gen. Peter Pace, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the Senate appropriations subcommittee on defense that about 142,000 American troops are now in Iraq, about 49,000 of them in the Baghdad area.
"There are additional troops arriving as we speak," General Pace said. He said the First Armored Division is now bringing 20,000 troops into Iraq, adding that Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the allied commander, and his top aides "are reviewing the situation on the ground to see how they might reset themselves in the city to be able to provide the kind of patrolling and presence that's necessary to provide the stability they need."
Baghdad's residents have repeatedly complained that security is poor. The United States hopes a new police force can provide law and order. But the effort to establish an effective police force has gone slowly.
Just when the Third Infantry Division will leave is unclear. Some units may
stay longer than others. After serving as the main attack in the war many soldiers
hope it will not be long. Brig. Gen. Lloyd B. Austin said the deployment of
the division "could take a little longer."
Analysis: As much as this sucks for the 3ID soldiers now stuck in country, I think it's the right decision. Until we can get enough troops into Iraq to do the job, we ought not bring these soldiers home. They've fought a long, hard fight, but mission accomplishment has to be come above morale. It is true, however, that the 3rd Infantry's soldiers are tired and in need of replacement. This is not the division you want patrolling the streets of Baghdad, if at all possible. Ideally, the U.S. would have had a pre-staged occupation force in waiting, either of American troops or NATO troops. However, we did not. I imagine the Pentagon is trying very hard right now to build such a force. Until then, 3ID may not get to come home.
posted by Phillip at 9:43 AM