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Thread: On Rules of Engagement Plus More, Part II

1. Bad rules of engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq got people killed, needlessly. Part I of this series provided an overview of what ROEs are in general, with some expert commentary on bad ROEs, etc.
2. Part II continues commentary from a couple of folks who wish to remain anonymous (special ops, covert CIA contractor, Marine) on Iraq ROEs and the politicization of both the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns. I then wrap up the series with a short summary and conclusions.
3. <begin quotes> Same-o for Iraq, but by then the FBI had honed their skills at causing grief. I hate to say it, but I once let three guys get away that had lit me up with a PKM at night, landing me (alone) on the side of the road.
4. They were running away, and I could only back-shoot them which would have allowed the FBI to have a field day with me. So, they got away with shooting up my truck. [The story is longer than that, but it would take too long to write it up, but you get the general idea.]
5. I am not sure whether the ROE problems are “PC Gone Wild” or whether they stem from a genuinely kinder and gentler Pentagon advising a President that was a born follower. My evaluation is that it was/is stupidity.
6. We stopped winning wars when we started calling them something else - "police actions" - "reconstructions" - "security operations" - "nation building" and whatever else they are called these days.
7. Wars are won or lost. Call them something else, and if you don't win – well, then winning wasn't a goal, right? No general or politician wants to be blamed for a loss. No general seems willing to lay it on the line – career-wise – for the troops he claims to love and be one of
8. ROE is part of that as the media in the Instant Television Age ALWAYS makes the call of "murder" when our troops are in the aggress-to-win mode.
9. A side note. When I casually say that an internal conflict featuring the civil militia and our vets is an easy win, I say that knowing that IF a violent course correction has to be made, it will be made without ROE.
10. Our vets are in large part chomping at the bit to engage in a WW-II-quality no rules conflict, and they have an ax to grind concerning the government. Once it starts, they can do what they have been educated to do, i.e., “war stuff.”
11. And with family at risk (if things every blow up into civil war here) – it will be beyond no ROE; it'll be dirty pool. And it won't be over until they win. Winning is a requirement for amnesty. And those vets will sleep well for the first time since their first deployments.
12. Now some particulars about Afghanistan. By December 2001, Mullah Omar (the legitimate president of Afghanistan – before the U.S. backed coup) had already agreed to official talks with the USG. He had already agreed to:

A. No more AQ in Afghanistan
12. (cont'd)

B. No more (ever) terrorist elements having safe haven in Afghanistan
C. Reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the USA.
13. For a little medical, de-mining and educational aid support, the whole thing would have been over for good in early 2002, AND we'd have a WIN(!).
14. Now, after all this time, expense and lives lost or damaged (on BOTH sides), we are again talking with the Taliban about solutions. F@#k me; we were there in December 2001!
15. BTW, there was loose contact with Omar until his death, but those in the Agency or military with the ability to initiate contact were threatened with “negative workplace actions” and even turnover to DoJ/FBI if any contact was made.
16. Now for some commentary on Iraq. By Christmas 2003, we had a grip on the Iranian infiltration, the business fronts they had acquired and their bases of operations along with the ability to identify their Action Officers on the ground.
17. A little known (publicly) fact is that the Iranians trained and supplied all sides in the Iraq insurgency/resistance/terrorism/civil war. This advantage we developed would have allowed us to cut off the hostile actions and insurgency logistics by the end of 2004.
18. Furthermore, during Ramadan 2003, we had (on ten of the thirty nights) the ability to reel in both Saddar AND Zarqāwī – the prime trouble-makers and leaders of the conflict starting in 2004.
19. On most of those nights, we had folks literally across the street from where they were gorging themselves (post sundown Ramadan food fest). Each night we were stood down, and the rest is history.
20. Wish I could detail how we gained the time/location intel on them, but that is still classified. Instead, the Agency/military crowd that managed all that and actually understood what was going on and how it WOULD play out if not countered were relieved of duty & brought home.
21. The so-called Christmas massacre beforehand terminated all ability to counter the coming insurgency. That travesty is summarized here:…
22. BTW, if you read that article, you will only see CIA Baghdad chief Gerry Meyer mentioned, but they recalled ALL of us: Gerry's deputy, Chief Ops, Chief Intel, Chief Interrogations, and BOTH Chiefs of Field Ops.
23. FWIW, Gerry (a young guy) was GREAT in Iraq. He performed his duty faithfully and, because he knew his limitations, worked WITH the Ops folks and deferred to their expertise. The military loved him and the support he enabled.
24. He got a raw deal for being honest, supporting his folks and refusing to cook the Intel into a political tool. Just the kind of guy who should have risen far in the Agency.
25. Anyway, both Iraq and Afghanistan could have been taken care of early on. The decision to transition into Reconstruction and Police Action in environments where we were not welcome is the worst thing I have ever experienced.
26. Finally, there is this. By mid-summer 2004, Agency managers and analysts were approaching me and asking "how did you know" about how the Iraq thing was going to spin out of control. I retired rather than killed them.
27. After the Washington Post printed that front page photo of the C-17 full of flag draped remains transport cases, I really lost it for a while. IT DID NOT HAVE TO HAPPEN THAT WAY.
28. One can study war history all one's life and not be prepared for such a moment when it is YOUR turn to face the unnecessary loss of life that could have been prevented. I try to steer away from anger (unless I need super strength).
29. But I will never shake the cold, patient anger I have toward Cheney, Rumsfeld, and those who made the political/greed/personal need-based decisions on Iraq and Afghanistan.
30. Iraq would have been over in 2004 and Iran tossed out of the theater but for Cheney and Rumsfeld – two idiots who thought they could call the war over for political purposes, and then once told what had to be done (war authorities reinstated) ….
30A. … not only refused to listen but went so far as to fire and bring home the military and other governmental authority staffs that had a line on the Iranians and the budding insurgency.
31. Everything after 2002 in Afghanistan and 2004 in Iraq is on the heads of the Bush administration. It was a horrible thing to watch happen. (And of course Obama and his minions only made it worse after he took over policy.)
32. They should be made to crawl across the country on their hands and knees and beg forgiveness for their actions from each living vet and each parent of each killed or injured soldier, sailor, marine and airman. And Bush ought to be trailed behind on a leash. <end quote>
33. There you have it. A tale of politicized ROEs, politicized war transition to police-keeping operations, ill-defined mission success criteria, no exit criteria, politicized personnel recall decisions, allowing the Taliban and Iraq insurgency to regroup ….
33A. … when they were on the ropes and/or ready to negotiate a lasting peace, and the other items related by my friends.
34. That they and others who served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years and are “in the know” are bitter about their experiences is completely understandable. The average American just doesn’t know what transpired and why. Another (intentional?) legacy media failure!
35. If a political decision is made by POTUS and Congress to unleash hell on an adversary/threat overseas, then all means necessary should be used to finish the job – with clearly defined success and exit criteria.
36. Then get out of the way and let the commanders on the ground execute without meddling from out of area (DC). We didn’t apply that lesson-learned from Vietnam in either Iraq or Afghanistan, and things have gotten more politicized since 2008 (imagine that!). ///The end.
Addendum A. How Does @POTUS Factor into This Topic?

A1. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but I suspect one of @POTUS’s first actions was to review the status, plans, and ROEs for continuing overseas actions in the Middle East, esp. Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
A2. As someone who always gets to the heart of the matter, he would have undoubtedly inquired about success and exit criteria for each, and since Obama and his generals made a hash of those criteria, decided then and there to shake things up.
A3. Note that ISIS has been eliminated in Syria-Iraq (although its ideology has spread to Africa and apparently Sri Lanka). And further note that he’s in the process of extracting US forces from Syria and is apparently pushing for negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
A4. These things didn’t just happen in a vacuum. I am convinced he is working to extract US military forces from the endless wars in the Middle East, and that revised exit criteria are already in play. We shall see what transpires.
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