Friday, December 11, 2009
Riding the Whirlwind
(fm the BC thread "Blood red tape")
It appears the ROEs are in direct violation of the law
Nice try and I empathize with you but no cigar. The key phrase in the UCMJ Art. 99 sub (8) is "which it is his duty so to encounter." If the orders to not engage were lawful, and orders to Hold Fire or observe strict Rules of Engagement are lawful, even if they put the troops in danger, then disobeying such an order could itself be a violation of UCMJ § 892. Art. 92. Failure to obey order or regulation, or if done in combat a violation of § 894. Art. 94. Mutiny or sedition, a Capital offense. In sub (9) it says "all practicable relief" and if a senior officer and the civilians are saying that it is not "practicable" then you can't go.
That is where politics controls the operation. That is not all bad since the purpose of military action is to compel compliance to a political end. Suppose that you want to stage a raid because you hear that Sheik Bad Breath is in a village and you hear that he is planning to attack the Tuvalu combined Luge Team and Boy Scout Troop that the US spent $millions$ to rent for the Coalition. First you have to ask for permission. Unbeknownst to you Tuvalu is part of a secret operation to bring the Sultan of Halitosis over to our side, because he is nuts about the Luge. Or there is some 5 handed deal involving China and oil and opium that is way beyond your pay grade. Anyhow there could be valid reasons for senior command to withhold resources or place limits on military operations. That does not mean that I believe the reasons are valid in this case but the principle of civilian control is worth defending.
Lawrence of Arabia may ask for artillery but General Allenby and his civilian advisor may have other priorities.