“…those ROE are very specific: we may not open fire until we are fired upon or have positively identified our enemy and have proof of his intentions. Now, that’s all very gallant. But how about a group of U.S. soldiers who have been on patrol for several days; have been fired upon; have dodged rocket-propelled grenades and homemade bombs; have sustained casualties; and who are very nearly exhausted and maybe slightly scared? How about when a bunch of guys wearing colored towels around their heads and brandishing AK-47s come charging over the horizon straight toward you? Do you wait for them to start killing your team, or do you mow the bastards down before they get a chance to do so? That situation might look simple in Washington, where the human rights of terrorists are often given high priority.” ~ Marcus Luttrell, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10
An article was brought to my attention a couple of days ago, which I was happy to read, yet, it’s hard, knowing more and more incidents of similar actions, the incredulous practice over the past number of years of charging our troops with murder because of what they do during combat or operations in the war on terror.
Michael Behenna joined the Army ROTC while in University and eventually after his commission and a year of training he was assigned to 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell. He made platoon leader and was deployed to a combat zone in Iraq in 2007.
One day he and his unit were on a mission, divided between three vehicles when the combat vehicle behind Michael’s was blasted by an IED, which killed two of his men, his friends.
A few months later, Michael’s platoon detained Ali Mansur who was part of a terrorist cell. Information which declassified intelligence reports showed he was al Qaida and intelligence sources said that Mansur was a supplier of explosives and weapons and was part of the same al Qaida cell that detonated the roadside bomb that killed the two soldiers from Michael Behenna’s unit.
On May 16, 2008, Michael’s platoon was ordered to take Mansur home after days of interrogations. With an interpreter and another soldier, Michael ordered the convoy to stop, and walked Mansur to a concrete culvert, where he was stripped of his clothes, commonly done by American soldiers when dealing with Iraqi detainees, and told Mansur to sit on a pile of rocks. Michael pointed his gun at Mansur and without authorization, began an interrogation.
During Michael’s trial, the prosecution argued that he planned to kill Mansur for revenge because of the deaths of his brothers and claimed he shot Mansur execution style as he sat on the rocks. In his testimony, Michael said that his intention was to interrogate Mansur, admitting he disobeyed orders, but that he planned to let him walk to a nearby checkpoint, and even allowed Mansur to keep his sandals, though he stripped him of the rest of his clothes. Michael testified that he turned toward his translator, who was standing outside the culvert and then heard a chunk of concrete hit the wall behind him. He turned to see Mansur, who was only a few feet away, beginning to stand and reach toward him and his gun.
Feeling threatened, Michael fired.
On July 31, 2008, the Army charged first lieutenant Michael C. Behenna with premeditated murder, assault, making a false official statement and obstruction of justice, a potential life sentence.
This was happening while US politicians were busy calling our troops terrorists and Nazis as charges against a group of Marines who had been accused of murdering innocent civilians in retaliation for a roadside bomb which had killed one of their own were mostly dropped.
Michael Behenna was quietly prosecuted and was sent to Ft. Leavenworth to do time.
With little fanfare except for his family and close friend, Michael was recently released. Now 30 years old, he remarked, “The only thing I’ve seen for the past five years is concrete, a little bit of grass, fence and razor wire. So this morning when they took me to see my family and all the people I truly care about, it’s a day I won’t forget.”
As I had a recent article I wrote still on my mind, a friend posted about Clint Lorance on Facebook. I looked up the information and it only added to frustration and anger.
1st Lieutenant Clint Lorance enlisted in the Army on his 18th birthday in 2002, and eventually became an Officer. Lorance was in charge of an Army platoon stationed near an enemy hotbed and Taliban friendly village in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The former platoon leader was killed, as were others of the unit within the last couple months because of insurgent attacks. Intelligence reports showed that terrorists had been using motorcycles, especially red colored, as a vehicle of choice to implant IEDs and also well known for use by suicide bombers who drive themselves into groups of innocent civilians or military patrols and detonate themselves.
Clint Lorance and his unit came under enemy fire their first day out. The second day, while patrolling a road which intelligence reported as often used by the enemy, three men on a red motorcycle sped towards their position. Lorence had to make a split decision, much like what Marcus Luttrell mentioned in the quote at the beginning of this article.
Our men in combat have enough to deal with without worrying about legal issues. Clint Lorance had to decide whether to let them go by and hope these weren’t terrorists who were bent on blowing his men up, or doing what he and all of our military are trained for during war, engage in a fight.
1st Lieutenant Lorance gave permission for his men to fire at the motorcycle, killing two of the three men. For the crime of saving his platoon, and who knows how many others, Clint is serving a 20-year sentence at Ft Leavenworth for violating Obama’s rules of engagement.
New rules of engagement and the counter insurgent strategy (COIN) were created by the Obama administration in 2009, which force our troops to withhold from shooting until there is evidence of “hostile action” or “hostile intent“.
This is the most destructive and insane rule to be implemented by our government and it doesn’t take a genius to understand this. As I wrote in my latest article on the subject of what our troops have to deal with, they have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic- but our government has tied our troops’ hands behind their back, making it impossible for them to do what politicians have ordered them to do.
I can only imagine what true leaders from the past would think if they could see the ROEs that have been put in place, a direct target at our own men, especially those who are part of our Special Operations Forces.
I’m only a civilian, but my heart cries out for leaders such as George Washington, George Patton or Chesty Puller again- to save our bravest from having to suffer under leaders who have never been on a battlefield, yet have no problems making dangerous and absolutely stupid rules for those they send.
Recently Col. Allen West wrote about the ramifications of the Obama administration’s ROEs. “As a former combat commander, I can tell you that fear is difficult to avoid on the battlefield. But on today’s battlefields, a new fear haunts our troops: the fear of persecution by their own government. That fear leads to internal hesitation. And that leads to death.”
Col. West goes on to mention the story which has been largely ignored by the mainstream media and our government- what happened with Extortion 17 and SEAL Team 6. He mentions the steady rise in US Troop deaths under the Obama administration. Remember how under Bush, the mainstream news breathlessly tallied the number of Troop deaths in the top story of every nightly news cast as they showed the numbers, and if new deaths weren’t happening, they talked about old deaths.
Col. West explains, “In the first seven-plus years of war in Afghanistan (October 2001 – December 2008) we lost 630 U.S. soldiers. In early 2009, the Obama administration authorized the implementation of the COIN (Counter-Insurgent) strategy, more focused on “winning hearts and minds” than winning a war, and over the next five years, the U.S. death toll nearly tripled. Seventy-three percent of all U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have taken place since 2009. In the first seven plus years of war in Afghanistan, 2,638 U.S. soldiers were wounded in action. In the next forty-five months (2009 – 2012) an additional 15,036 suffered the same fate…”
The numbers and the actions of our government are deplorable. What our troops endure up close and personal while in Afghanistan and everywhere Obama has sent them is something that people here in the US have ever had to see, only because of those who do their duty and keep it away from us.
Our troops deserve to have those who send them to combat believe in their integrity, courage and sense of duty so that when they fight in war, they can fight without worry of prosecution and prison time when they come home.
While 1st. Lt. Clint Lorance potentially has more than 19 years to serve in prison, Afghani terrorists have been set free from prison, including those who are linked to attacks that killed or wounded 32 American and coalition service members.
How many more Michael Behannans, or Clint Lorances will there be? How many families who have missed their Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman while deployed will have to go on missing them as they face prison time for doing what they were trained for?
As the Obama administration announces drawdowns, as our military announces severe personnel cutbacks and as our government arms terrorists in Syria, our troops and Special Force members are still fighting. They are still putting everything they have on the line for us and for others. Are there any real leaders in Washington with not just common sense, but a sense of commitment to our troops?
To our active duty troops, returning troops, Veterans and their families, it seems that no one gives a damn about them, and its heartbreaking and clear to me that they’re right.