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Troops fail to understand rules of war

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posted on Sep, 3 2007 @ 11:45 PM
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Troops fail to understand rules of war


www.msnbc.msn.com

Newly released documents regarding crimes committed by U.S. soldiers against civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan detail a troubling pattern of troops failing to understand and follow the rules that govern interrogations and deadly actions.

The documents, released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of a lawsuit, total nearly 10,000 pages of courts-martial summaries, transcripts and military investigative reports about 22 incidents. They show repeated examples of soldiers...
(visit the link for the full news article)



Related AboveTopSecret.com Discussion Threads:
21 Days to Open the Gates of Hell




posted on Sep, 3 2007 @ 11:45 PM
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An interesting report, which to me raises some questions.

If the troops fail to understand the rules of war are they alone to blame, or is this failure to understand the fault of commanding officers?

Are there really any rules when you are in a hostile region on combat missions and active live fire operations?

In Afghanistan and Iraq, how hard is it to distinguish between friendly peoples and enemies when using "deadly actions"?

If there truly is a failure to understand these "rules of war" could this be by design and perhaps these troops are simply following orders?

War is hell?




www.msnbc.msn.com
(visit the link for the full news article)



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 12:15 AM
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reply to post by UM_Gazz
 



IIRC, the Nuremberg Defense is not valid under US - or International - law.

The Occupying US soldiers have a responsibility to adhere to international law - or they are war criminals - and should be treated as such.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 12:28 AM
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This brings up a point that I have had for awhile. How do you distinguish a civilian from a suicide bomber? If he doesn't have dynamite strapped onto him, he is just a civilian. How do you know who who is? I'm sure the taliban doesn't play by the laws of war. And surely they don't abide by the Geneva Conventions.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 12:48 AM
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Basically if they shoot at you then you can shoot back. Also if they have weapons they can be considered combatants. All firefights start with them shooting first for the most part or they have been identified by their actions as combatants. If a man walks up he better follow orders or he will be shot. Those orders (in Arabic) are like Stop; get on your knees, Hands on head etc so they can be searched.

There are signs tied on tailgates that warn in English and Arabic: "DANGER: Stay Back!" Every driver gets the message. Failure to maintain one's distance can draw fire

[edit on 4-9-2007 by Xtrozero]



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 01:00 AM
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I'm not making excuses, but thinking of psychological factors.

In the last major war (Vietnam), most troops were rotated into and back out of "forward areas" in fairly short order. I understand that officers were often accused of staying only the 90 days required to qualify for the combat infantry badge.

In contrast, most U.S. troops in Iraq serve for a year or more, in the field.

Part of this has been military doctrine, I believe, since urban guerilla warfare is the most dangerous combat, with the worst learning curve. The military, I'm sure, wants to introduce new troops gradually, and once they've mastered the needed skills, keep using that investment to best advantage.

I think that being "in the field" for extended lengths of time can cause soldiers to find their value system altered. Especially when moving among locals who themselves find the rules of war irrelevant.

I'm not just referring to insurgents. I'm saying, in afghanistan, even the supporters of the coalition may not think much of the Law of Land Warfare's code for dealing with prisoners. It's a Western document, and makes Western assumptions. For example, the section stressing the P.O.W.'s right to mail. Picture telling a village of pashtun about their right to mail---when less than 30% of the country can read. And even official literacy rates merely count males who have memorized the Qur'an.

The legal system in Afghanistan and Iraq is based in paper on Sharia law. But most remote villages still solve disputes with a council of elders or a "settlement" between rival factions. How do you explain the concept of the International Court of Justice at the Hague, and tell them that they may have a case against some american soldier, when their way of settling disputes involves appealing to clan loyalties.

In the west, we have an assumption of a court or judge as being neutral, even though they have a personal political affilition. For afghanistan, the CIA world Factbook lists what I count to be SEVENTY THREE political parties. Do you think most afghanis have a concept of impartial legal proceedings? Now, picture troops stationed among them for 14 months. . . .

Think about soldiers who deal ONLY with US military, enemy combatants, and neutral or friendly nationals, and you'll see why soldiers talk about "going back to the world" when their tour is up.

Thousands of miles from family, lovers and friends, from religious institutions, from real food and TV and movies and "normal" americans, I think most average people would be at risk for losing their moral compass.

.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 09:54 AM
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the world is lucky the US even cares about this stuff. If it was any other country, it would never have been public info.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 09:56 AM
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I always laugh when I hear the therm "rules of war". Anyone who actually thinks there are rules in a combat zone has obviously never been in one.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 10:47 AM
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Originally posted by slackerwire
I always laugh when I hear the therm "rules of war". Anyone who actually thinks there are rules in a combat zone has obviously never been in one.


I've been in a combat zone as an unarmed civilian(!) And there are all kinds of rules of war. From "rules of engagement," to how to classify P.O.W.'s and civilians according to their intel value.


Combat is not just a mosh pit in a sporting goods store.




Rules are a way of courting "world opinion" and trying to gain the moral high ground. But that's not their true purpose. In Sun Tzu's Art of War, first and most important of the "5 factors" that begin that work is usually translated as "doctrine." If you read the chapter on doctrine, you'll see that what is meant by doctrine are the two classics:

1) "Why we fight" - the rationale for going to war

2) "How we fight" - the list of goals and methods for achieving victory.



It's deplorable that Bush never gave a 10-minute or less speech at the UN outlining these two points. That's all it would have taken, and world opinion would still be on the side of the coalition.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 10:47 AM
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Of course we have rules in the book, this is how it works:

1. Geneva Convention

2. Regional Rules of Engagements this are given to you once you are about to go to a AOR (area of reponsability)

3. Mission specific ROE, drawn up for a particular mission.

Of course 3 don't can not go above 2 or 1, or 2 above 1, as each ROE is issue by a higher authority.

The problem with the interrogation practices I don't know how to answer to that, but as far as combat goes, IMO combat is something that even if you train for it, you don't know how you going to react until the first bullet past your head, I seen and heard so many stories about how guys react to combat, the fact that insurgents don't abide by international law don't give us an excuse to us to get to their level.

There has been report of US military breaking the law and if they are found guilty in military court, then so be it.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 10:51 AM
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reply to post by dr_strangecraft
 


Rules and laws are 2 different things, both of which are easily broken numerous times in stressful situations. The most effective method of dealing with an enemy may be against the rules (written by a politician thousands of miles away), but it won't be that politician or his friends getting their asses shot off while trying to follow a rulebook that the enemy does not recognize.



Mod Edit: Converted entire post quote to REPLY TO: link.

[edit on 4-9-2007 by UM_Gazz]



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 11:18 AM
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Originally posted by slackerwire


The most effective method of dealing with an enemy may be against the rules . . .




This urge to break the "rules" is the basis of most effective ambushes and traps and have resulted in most of the stunning defeats in military history. From the Roman defeat at Carrhae to the Little Bighorn.

Effectiveness can be measured in different ways and different scales. What may look like a shortcut by "eradicating" a village in an active area in Vietnam can become the "My Lai Massacre" that destroys support at home, and loses the entire war.

.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 11:39 AM
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Yet Dresden turned out to be a great idea....



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 11:55 AM
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reply to post by slackerwire
 


Again, depending on the scale. Postwar germany's attitude toward the US and Britain have been affected by it.


Or consider the WWII firebombing of Tokyo by the US. That did as much as anything (including the atomic bombs) to ruin Japan's military effectiveness, and make an invasion of the mainland by US troops look realistic.

On the other hand, General Curtis LeMay became associated with the firebombing of over 100,000 civilians, and it precluded a presidential career in the 1960's. Being lampooned in Doctor Strangelove and vilified for his role in firebombings and the atomic bombs gave him an image in the popular mind as "bombs away Lemay" and probably cost Wallace any serious support in the 1968 election.

Had LeMay not been sidelined, the bay of pigs invasion of cuba might have succeeded. . . . and the cuban missle crisis might have gone nuclear.




The ends justify the means; but the means condition the end.


.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 01:45 PM
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well the obvious way to tell a comatant from a noncombatant is when the former takes a shot at you. sadly, once he's taken his shot you may or may not still be here.

these people dont wear uniforms, dont carry their weapons out in the open and think nothing of walking into a crowd wearing a bomb.

so, our troops have to make decisions based on what they see and feel at that time. does that kid look like he has an AK under his coat? does that girl look a little bigger than the rest of her body would suggest? does that mean she has a bomb?

and if they make a wrong decision some punk is there screaming WAR CRIME!!!

now, that is NOT to say that all the reports are mistakes, no im sure some, if not many are legitimatly war crimes. crimes carried out by some kid with a gun and an attitude (think inside the hut in full metal jacket) and these people deserve to be put on trial.

but you take 160,000 young men and women, put them in an area where anyone they see (or dont see) could try to kill them any second and people are suprised that, as disciplined as the military can be, there are crimes committed?

given the situation overall, i think we're not doing so badly. i mean one is too many, but these numbers are hardly bad enough to label the mililtary as a whole as messed up or flawed in any way.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 03:51 PM
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There are rules to war, and we have to follow them. That is just a fact of life no matter how nasty things get. You can't win a war if you don't follow them. Some of the basic ones are:
1) Don't shoot civilians and non combatants.
2) Do your best to get noncombatants out of the line of fire.
3) Treat wounded prisoners immediately.
4) Protect captured prisoners from harm.
5) Treat all prisoners with the respect due a human being.
6) Treat the dead with respect.
7) At all times act in a professional manner.
8) Treat civilians in a repectful and tolerant way.
9) Respect the laws and customs of the country you are in.
10) Never loot or steal from the people. This includes prisoners.
If you break these rules you are creating a situation where the local populace starts to see you as the bad guy and the enemy. Then they start slipping off in the night to join up with the enemy. They see this as the best way to deal with the invader that has come and is harming their home. They may not beleive in the cause that the enemy is fighting for, but they do beleive that you need to be chased from their homeland because you are causing damage. There is also a revenge factor to be taken into consideration.
It also makes it more difficult to work with the locals if they don't trust you. You have to have the trust of the local populace if you plan on stabilizing an area. If they don't trust you, they won't police their own population to route out the spies and terrorist elements. And they won't give you the intel needed to keep your men safe at night.
The other thing that the rules do is give the soldiers a sense of discipline that they might otherwise lack. Self discipline and structure are the only things that a soldier has to hold on to when things get bad. Without them, they turn into barbarian warriors and usually end up dying or going nuts.
IMO that is the one thing that they don't stress in training in the US, and why they turn out killers as opposed to soldiers.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 04:17 PM
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"Rules Of War"

I like the sound of that. Any chance we can round up all the "insurgents" before they blow themselves up in a crowded marketplace and explain that to them? Any chance maybe they can be told that they have to wear uniforms so that the coalition troops know who's holding a bomb and who isn't?

Wouldn't that mean that nuclear weapons cannot be used at all? A nuclear weapon detonated anywhere near a populated area will kill/harm civilians. According to these "Rules Of War", that is a violation, is it not?

War is war. You shoot at the ones you know are the enemy, and if you have a strong enough suspicion that the guy with the big belly is an enemy too, you go with your gut instinct to protect yourself and your platoon.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 04:24 PM
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Originally posted by Mekanic
"Rules Of War"

I like the sound of that. Any chance we can round up all the "insurgents" before they blow themselves up in a crowded marketplace and explain that to them? Any chance maybe they can be told that they have to wear uniforms so that the coalition troops know who's holding a bomb and who isn't?



The point is not what they do it is what we do, and we do it well and have the best trained forces in the world. To do it well just doesn't mean to wipe the village for it means to get the bad guys only, and that is extremely hard to do, but we still get it done.



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 04:30 PM
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Originally posted by Damocles

. . . .so, our troops have to make decisions based on what they see and feel at that time. . . . .

. . . no im sure some, if not many are legitimatly war crimes. crimes carried out by some kid with a gun and an attitude (think inside the hut in full metal jacket) and these people deserve to be put on trial.




So how does the average Joe tell the difference? How do I know whether I'm being acceptably cautious, or whether I'm being "some kid with a gun and an attitude?" Unless you can supervise them 24/7, and supervise the supervisors, how do you help them not make a bad judgment call?


Um. . . . we could give them a set of . . . rules of conduct to judge their actions by.

We could tell them that there's an unchanging standard we expect them to uphold, even in dangerous situations; one that will protect them from our condemnation if they will just adhere to it.

We could call them . . . . . . . . the rules of war



posted on Sep, 4 2007 @ 04:38 PM
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Originally posted by Direwolf
There are rules to war, and we have to follow them. That is just a fact of life no matter how nasty things get. You can't win a war if you don't follow them.


Julius Ceasar didn't follow the rules you listed. Neither did Genghis Khan or any other great ancient warlord. These ideas of "rules" to war are basically a modern construct and seem to have little or no bearing on the reality of war. Trying to regulate something that has existed with it's own methodology since the beginning of time is like making "rules" for having sex. Utter political feel-good nonsense.



Originally posted by Direwolf
It also makes it more difficult to work with the locals if they don't trust you. You have to have the trust of the local populace if you plan on stabilizing an area. .


Read your history. The traditional, tried-and-true method is to exterminate the local populace if they refuse to submit. No negotiation, no dialogue of mutual understanding. A common reward was, in fact, to allow the victorious troops to run rampant, raping and pillaging the locals to further demoralize and subdue them. Obey or die, that's the way it's always been.


Originally posted by Direwolf
The other thing that the rules do is give the soldiers a sense of discipline that they might otherwise lack. Self discipline and structure are the only things that a soldier has to hold on to when things get bad.


Sort of true but mixing the "rules up. The traditional rules weren't : "Be kind to captured soldiers and civilians". The rules were : "Obey the commander without question or die yourself." The rules you refer to are a modern mode of thought - not the historical way soldiers have behaved.

[edit on 4-9-2007 by passenger]




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