Blurry lines for US troops in Afghanistan

Many troops on the ground in Afghanistan have remained confused regarding clarity to rules of engagement.

Blurry lines for US troops in Afghanistan

World Bulletin / News Desk

During the ongoing battle with the Taliban capturing the Afghan city of Kunduz,  U.S. special forces had allegedely ask their advisers on numerous occasions to their commanders how far they were allowed to go to help local troops retake the city.

Their answer,  according to witnesses interviewed in a recently declassified, Pentagon report was silence which revealed the  confusion over rules of engagement that concerned the mission in Afghanistan.

With the insugency gaining strength, avoiding enemy fire was nearly impossible for t for advisers, who were taking on the role of consultants rather than combatants since NATO forces formally ceased fighting at the end of 2014.

The problem is not exclusive to Afghanistan: questions have arisen over the role of U.S. troops in Iraq after a U.S. Navy SEAL was killed by ISIL earlier this month.

"'How far do you want to go?' is not a proper response to 'How far do you want us to go?'" one special forces had said to investigators in a report into the U.S. air strikes on a hospital in Kunduz that killed 42 medical staff, patients and caretakers.

The bombing of the hospital is now seen as the largest tragedy during the fall of Kunduz to Taliban militants, and there is no doubt that it was largely due to the lack of clarity over the rules of engagement.  Brig. Gen. Charles H. Cleveland, the spokesman for the American command in Afghanistan. and said to him in no uncertain terms that “if we don’t really provide some very strong suggestion, direction, whatever you call it — if we don’t get engaged with this quickly — we’re going to have a much larger issue.”

But the 700-page report, of which the majority has been blacked out for security reasons, sheds light on how the rules are not fully understood, even by some troops on the ground.

The issues exposed in the report are likely to be considered by the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, as he prepares to makes recommendations in the coming weeks that may clarify or expand the level of combat support the U.S.-led training mission can provide.

"It's not a strategy and, in fact, it's a recipe for disaster in that kind of kinetic environment," said the soldier who has stayed anonymous like many other troops in the report.

He added that his unit, whose role was to advise and assist Afghan forces without engaging in combat, asked three times for commanders to clarify the rules governing their mission.

"Sadly, the only sounds audible were the sounds of crickets ... though those were hard to hear over the gunfire."

Source: Reuters/New York Times




Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Mayıs 2016, 11:40