When and When Not to Shoot

After a lot of reading about people who have fought in 4th generation warfare(Characterized by  a blurring of the lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians.), like Iraq and Afghanistan, they all talk about the same thing. Rules of Engagement.

At some point in the Iraq war the rules of engagement stated that you could shoot anyone who had a shovel or anyone who had a cellphone. Although it may seem malicious, harmful, and wrong so many U.S. soldiers were dying to  IEDs that is was becoming a necessity. Insurgent fighters would pay, or more often threaten to kill, Iraqi civilians tiny sums of money to emplace IEDs or act as indicators of where U.S. troops were by paying them to carry shovels and dig in roads. Marcus Luttrell, the Navy Seal made famous for his actions during Operation Red Wings, talked about how hard it was to distinguish between ‘bad guys’ and civilians because insurgents were intentionally blurring that distinction. Luttrell’s time in Iraq was characterized by I.E.D. strikes, close urban combat, irregular warfare, and the use of civilians in war by enemy fighters. Marines, Army, and SOF alike fired upon and killed civilians driving at their checkpoints multiple times, simply because they felt threatened. I don’t condemn this action, what kind of idiot drives at a high speed towards a group of soldiers with guns pointed at you? I guess it’s an Iraqi thing.

This was a problem in Afghanistan too. Some guy in pajamas would shoot at U.S. soldiers with an ancient AK-47 and then disappear into a compound filled with innocent people, and then when the U.S. forces did eventually call in an airstrike to wipe that guy out the civilians became a casualty. I remember watching a documentary in which U.S. forces engaged in a firefight ended up killing innocent people because the enemy forces were using civilians to hide. The funny thing is, after the U.S. forces killed the fighter and moved in they paid the family of the victims in gigantic wads of cash. Imagine doing that during WWII when the allies had to bomb entire cities and countries back to the stone age.

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