Stricter Rules of Engagement Leads to Spike in Troop Deaths in Afghanistan

Shades of Vietnam: Spike in U.S. troop deaths tied to stricter rules of engagement

The number of U.S. battlefield fatalities exceeded the rate at which troop strength surged in 2009 and 2010, prompting national security analysts to assert that coinciding stricter rules of engagement led to more deaths.

A connection between the sharp increase in American deaths and restrictive rules of engagement is difficult to confirm. More deaths surely stemmed from ramped-up counterterrorism raids and the Taliban’s response with more homemade bombs, the No. 1 killer of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

But it is clear that the rules of engagement, which restrain troops from firing in order to spare civilian casualties, cut back on airstrikes and artillery strikes — the types of support that protect troops during raids and ambushes.


“It is no accident nor a coincidence that from January 2009 to August of 2010, coinciding with the Obama/McChrystal radical change of the [rules of engagement], casualties more than doubled,” Mr. Simmons said. “The carnage will certainly continue as the already fragile and ineffective [rules] have been further weakened by the Obama administration as if they were playground rules.”

If you read the article, it describes a battle where a captain had to request headquarters to approve an attack on a building, and were repeatedly denied.

Former ArmyCapt. William Swenson, who last month pinned on the Medal of Honor, repeatedly called headquarters to request airstrikes but was denied for hours, as more than 150 Taliban fighters surrounded and attacked his position.

I know it’s the humane thing to do to save lives – but when you are in a war, humane goes out the window and it gets ugly and people not involved get hurt. The enemy needs to be defeated ASAP in a war. I guarantee you if our middle easterners hiding out in the country attack, they will not be worried about saving civilians and performing targeted strikes.

Of course the next line would be – we don’t want to be like those savages. Let me put it this way. I bet those in the WTC 12 years ago would have something to say about our soft war approach.

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