Home  »  Afghanistan  »  Petraeus Makes First Moves To Change Afghanistan Rules Of Engagement

Jun 25, 2010 10 Comments ›› Pat Dollard


Update: Drudge took our headline. Cool!


Gen David Petraeus, the new US commander in Afghanistan, is to review the controversial doctrine of “courageous restraint”, according to Pentagon sources.

He is to re-examine the rules which some soldiers believe have prevented them from defending themselves.

“There will be no change in overall policy but all aspects of tactics and implementation will be looked at afresh,” a Pentagon official told The Daily Telegraph. “The issue of ‘courageous restraint’ is a controversial one on the ground and there may be ways it can be modified.”

Robert Gates, the Pentagon chief, said that “Gen Petraeus will have the flexibility to look at the campaign plan and the approach and all manner of things when he gets to Afghanistan”.

Changes to allow soldiers more flexibility in using lethal force are likely to be welcomed by both American and British troops.

This month became the bloodiest of the nine-year war yesterday after four British were killed when their Ridgeback vehicle rolled into a canal in Helmand. It meant a total of 79 foreign troops had died in Afghanistan so far this month. The previous record was 77 killed last August.

Gen Petraeus was nominated by President Barack Obama as the successor to Gen Stanley McChrystal who was fired on Wednesday for disrespectful comments by him and his staff about several top American officials and the French.

It is unlikely that Gen Petraeus will make radical changes leading to a return of the use of overwhelming firepower that once characterised US military operations. He drew up the new American counter-insurgency manual in 2006, implemented it in Iraq and was a mentor to Gen McChrystal.
But some senior officers believe that Gen McChrystal’s tactical directives were too rigid.

In guidance issued last August he stated that “destroying a home or property jeopardises the livelihood of an entire family – and creates more insurgents” and that “large scale operations to kill or capture militants carry a significant risk of causing civilian casualties and collateral damage”.

These things, he argued, carried the risk of sowing the seeds of Western demise in Afghanistan and that success would only be achievable if troops displayed the courage needed to risk being killed in order to spare civilian casualties and even property.

While the principle of avoiding civilian casualties is certain to remain at the centre of Afghanistan strategy, restrictive rules of engagement that require platoon commanders to seek higher authority before escalating force might be modified.

“Petraeus was the man in Iraq to row back from the indiscriminate use of force but he is not allergic to the use of heavy weapons and air power against an enemy area,” said a military analyst who was attached to his staff in Iraq.

“His approach is to get the troops among the population and build relationships on the ground. If that involves killing while trying to engage the locals then so be it.”

A British official who also worked with Gen Petraeus said: “Gen McChrystal imposed courageous restraint as a mantra whereas the big theme of Gen Petraeus was strategic patience.

“The difference between the two is important. Gen Petraeus believes in getting all elements in place through a slow strategic build up but he also prizes the importance of momentum by walking through the streets and taking them on.”

Mr Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were visibly distressed about the sacking of Gen McChrystal during a press conference yesterday (Thu).

Adml Mullen said of the former Special Forces commander in Iraq: “He led men in places the rest of us could not follow, and he fought men in ways the rest of us could not fathom.”

But they enthusiastically endorsed Mr Obama’s choice of Gen Petraeus, who agreed to a demotion to step into the breach.

“Gen Petraeus has already established himself as one of the great battle captains in American military history,” said Mr Gates. “His judgment, intellect and proven record of success as a theatre commander in Iraq make him the right choice to lead the military coalition in Afghanistan.”

  • David

    This will only work if Petraeus has control to change the rules of engagement and gets the troops that he needs. Taking orders from an asswipe who knows nothing about the military is a waste of manpower and money.


    Uneducated or brainwashed by their cult of death,my guess is these heathens would rather wipe their ass with a rock than toilet paper,because the tp is a product of rhe infidel.

    Figure out what # of ragheads is enough and call it good

  • http://www.thebandofmothers.com Beverly Perlson

    “Courageous restraint’, God Help Our Brave Warriors. My Son said if anyone got a medal for courageous restraint they would throw it away and NEVER let anyone know they received it! These rules of engagement are such a disgrace and disservice to our Warriors. Hoepfully, General HOORAYUS!!! will get things straightened out and our brave Warriors will be allowed to fight and defend themselves.

    I’d like to see Obama and BITE ME suit up and go over there and fight their war of courageous restraint. Getting a mental picture of that just makes my day!

    Beverly Perlson
    The Band of Mothers

  • political.fish

    The war can be won. Just not with Obama’s approach. And cultures can be changed. There are no examples in history where a war was won by completely withdrawing troops from the field of battle (Obama’s strategy, i.e. preemptive surrender), however, we have recent historical proof that war, when properly conducted, can indeed change cultures and , in-fact, improve global relations, productivity, prosperity and freedom. The most glaring example of this is WWII. The cultures of both Nazi Germany, and Imperial Japan were changed, and those Nations now (until Obama) have been great contributors to the international economy and marketplace. The solution is to wage war to its end using those methods most effective. Until that happens, we will be stuck in Mertin’s twisted world of effete duplicity and disgrace.

  • Ohnooo

    Well that’s a start..next…Target: White House and the Congressional offices..ROE..”If it moves shoot to kill” :gun: :gun:

  • http://patdollard.com Average Joe

    :arrow: political.fish
    Perfect analysis…

    And as long as crap views like Mertins are allow to exist then we have the “academia” teaching that America is the problem.

    Wish we could literally have armed cavalry charge with sabers to kill ALL at Harvard, Berkeley, Yale, Columbia, Univ of Chicago, Univ of Texas, etc that are the cause of this shit.

  • ROF

    Courageous restraint was NOT a McChrystal invention, it was an Obama invention McChrystal was forced implement. McChrystal is a fucking badass warrior who has proven himself time after time, even when he was criticized for publicly calling for as many as 40,000 to 80,000 troops when he was first promoted to the job, a number Obama would refuse and instead go with 30,000, 10,000 of which are UAV and logistical support. Gen. Eikenberry is the real criminal, for going behind McChrystal’s back and crying wolf to the media that the numbers McChrystal were asking for were irrelevant if the Karzai government remained as corrupt as he believed it to be.

  • thrasymakhos

    Mertin’s twisted world of effete duplicity and disgrace.

    Well stated.

  • Bill

    I vote for the # to be 0 :gun:

  • David

    Mertin: Those pussies in the executive don’t get it. IT’S CALLED WAR! Now do you get it?