Theodore's World: General Petraeus Reloads Rules of Engagement

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August 08, 2010

General Petraeus Reloads Rules of Engagement

Petraeus Issues Updated Tactical Directive: Emphasizes “Disciplined Use of Force”

ISAF Information & Resources

The directive was issued on August 1, 2010, replacing the July 1, 2009 version.

International Security Assistance Force - Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan (Aug. 4) – International Security Assistance Force Commander, General David Petraeus has issued his updated Tactical Directive, providing guidance and intent for the use of force by ISAF and USFOR-A units operating in Afghanistan.

The Tactical Directive reinforces the concept of “disciplined use of force” in our partnership with Afghan Security Forces to defeat the insurgency in Afghanistan.

The updated directive is classified; unclassified portions of the document are included below.

“This directive applies to all ISAF and US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) forces operating under operational or tactical control ... Subordinate commanders are not authorized to further restrict this guidance without my approval.
Our counterinsurgency strategy is achieving progress in the face of tough enemies and a number of other challenges. Concentrating our efforts on protecting the population is having a significant effect. We have increased security in some key areas, and we have reduced the number of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces.
The Afghan population is, in a number of areas, increasingly supportive of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and of coalition forces. We have also seen support for the insurgency decrease in various areas as the number of insurgent-caused civilian casualties has risen dramatically. We must build on this momentum.
This effort is a contest of wills. Our enemies will do all that they can to shake our confidence and the confidence of the Afghan people. In turn, we must continue to demonstrate our resolve to the enemy. We will do so through our relentless pursuit of the Taliban and others who mean Afghanistan harm, through our compassion for the Afghan people, and through the example we provide to our Afghan partners.
We must continue – indeed, redouble – our efforts to reduce the loss of innocent civilian life to an absolute minimum. Every Afghan civilian death diminishes our cause. If we use excessive force or operate contrary to our counterinsurgency principles, tactical victories may prove to be strategic setbacks.
We must never forget that the center of gravity in this struggle is the Afghan people; it is they who will ultimately determine the future of Afghanistan ...
Prior to the use of fires, the commander approving the strike must determine that no civilians are present. If unable to assess the risk of civilian presence, fires are prohibited, except under of the following two conditions (specific conditions deleted due to operational security; however, they have to do with the risk to ISAF and Afghan forces).

(NOTE) This directive, as with the previous version, does not prevent commanders from protecting the lives of their men and women as a matter of self-defense where it is determined no other options are available to effectively counter the threat.

... Protecting the Afghan people does require killing, capturing, or turning the insurgents. Indeed, as I noted earlier, we must pursue the Taliban tenaciously. But we must fight with great discipline and tactical patience.
We must balance our pursuit of the enemy with our efforts to minimize loss of innocent civilian life, and with our obligation to protect our troops. Our forces have been striving to do that, and we will continue to do so.
In so doing, however, we must remember that it is a moral imperative both to protect Afghan civilians and to bring all assets to bear to protect our men and women in uniform and the Afghan security forces with whom we are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder when they are in a tough spot.
We must be consistent throughout the force in our application of this directive and our rules of engagement. All commanders must reinforce the right and obligation of self-defense of coalition forces, of our Afghan partners, and of others as authorized by the rules of engagement.
We must train our forces to know and understand the rules of engagement and the intent of the tactical directive. We must give our troopers the confidence to take all necessary actions when it matters most, while understanding the strategic consequences of civilian casualties. Indeed, I expect our troopers to exert their best judgment according to the situation on the ground. Beyond that, every Soldier, Sailor, Airman, and Marine has my full support as we take the fight to the enemy.
... Partnering is how we operate. Some civilian casualties result from a misunderstanding or ignorance of local customs and behaviors. No individuals are more attuned to the Afghan culture than our Afghan partners. Accordingly, it is essential that all operations be partnered with an ANSF unit and that our Afghan partners be part of the planning and execution phases. Their presence will ensure greater situational awareness. It will also serve to alleviate anxiety on the part of the local population and build confidence in Afghan security forces.
I expect every operation and patrol to be partnered. If there are operational reasons why partnership is not possible for a particular operation, the CONOP approval authority must be informed ...
Partnership is an essential aspect of our counterinsurgency strategy. It is also an indispensible element of the transition of security responsibility to ANSF.
Again, we need to build on the momentum we are achieving. I expect every trooper and commander to use force judiciously, especially in situations where civilians may be present. At the same time, we must employ all assets to ensure our troopers’ safety, keeping in mind the importance of protecting the Afghan people as we do.
This is a critical challenge at a critical time; but we must and will succeed. I expect that everyone under my command, operational and tactical, will not only adhere to the letter of this directive, but – more importantly – to its intent.
Strategic and operational commanders cannot anticipate every engagement. We have no desire to undermine the judgment of tactical commanders. However, that judgment should always be guided by my intent. Take the fight to the enemy. And protect the Afghan people and help our Afghan partners defeat the insurgency.”


U.S. Army General David H. Petraeus, Commander, International Security Assistance Force, talks with troops of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Dvision at Combat Outpost Monti, Aug. 5, 2010, in Eastern Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force Photo By Staff Sgt. Bradley Lail) (released)


Wild Thing's comment........

Victory is more important than pandering to the Taliban's supporters and appeasers. We didn't win World Wars one and two by worrying about how many of the enemy's civillians were killed.

Bin Laden famously said that people will always follow the strong horse. We are that steed. Unfortunately we seem to think that cutting off three of its legs will have no effect.

God bless our country and our awesome warriors, they are in my prayers every day.

Posted by Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:49 AM


Wild Thing, remember when WE had lethal AIRPOWER in the past? Proud to serve from 1977-1997:
Myrtle Beach AFB A-10 Thunderbolt Warthogs...
SPangdahlem AB F-4 Phantom Wild Weasels...
C-5 Galaxys...

Where have you gone Generals Hap Arnold and Billy Mitchell?

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at August 8, 2010 08:13 AM

God Bless these fine men and women....I have a friend teaching over there; clearly in harm's way. Seems as though "harm's way" is world-wide now...

Posted by: jan at August 8, 2010 08:38 AM

WT, I remember vividly the use of “Disciplined Use of Force” in Vietnam. It didn't have a fancy name back then.

Toward the end of my tour ('67) we had to call in and request "permission" to fire. By the time our request went all the way up the line and back down again to us...the enemy had already moved on, or Marines died or were wounded.

“Disciplined Use of Force” DOES NOT work in an armed conflict. It didn't work in 1967 and it won't now. Remember how the fall of Saigon looked.

Posted by: SSgt Steve, USMC at August 8, 2010 10:30 AM

Am I missing something I re-read that thing twice and don't see a whole lot of changes except the word 'Partnered' with Friendies.

It aint changed. This has nothing to do with Petraeus his hands are tied. This is coming from Buck-wheat Hussein obama...MMM mmm mmm. these are his rules of engagement. And lets be perfectly honest when Bush was in office, in Iraq, checkpoint guards would take a bucket of rocks with them to throw at the enemy to provoke them to shoot... LTC West did nothing wrong except save his soldiers lives it cost him his career, this all happened under Bushes watch.

Steve is right this restrained bullshit don't work. The bottom we are not there to win. And if not then we are wasting our troops lives by even staying there.

We don't need another, armistice, cease-fire, or some other cockamyame word to halt hostilities. Either Kill the bastards or bring them home.

Posted by: Mark at August 8, 2010 03:13 PM

Rolling Thunder and Arc Light both brought the North Vietnamese to their knees but our politicians allowed them to get up and regroup. Politicians involvement in war has cost thousands of American lives. When American Troops are sent into combat, the politicians need to back away and allow the military to do what it does best. After the enemy surrenders, then the politicians and diplomats can get back involved. After all, sending in the troops is due to the failure of diplomats. Both Bush and Obama's ROE's cost the lives of too many GI's.

Posted by: BobF at August 8, 2010 06:42 PM

Darth, yessssss......AWESOME! Thanks Darth!!!

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:25 PM

Jan, thank you for sharing about your friend teaching over there. You are right too harms way is everywhere now, but I will pray your friend will stay safe. The harms way over there is more fragile then back here at home, at least so far.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:27 PM

SSgt Steve,good to see you. You have been missed.

Thank you so much for sharing about your experiences with this. You are so right too, it is still happening like you said. Thank you Steve.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:31 PM

Mark, I did the same thing. I read it and re-read it. I even looked at several other write up on this and all said the same thing. They say it has changes but certainly not that I can see. Maybe that part is in the undisclosed that of course I would not post even if I had it.I hope and pray there are big and better changes we are not told about.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:34 PM

BobF., good point about the politicians. What a difference it would be if our troops could be left alone and not have politicians input and also the Generals etc. not have to walk the line of PC with the politicians to keep them happy. They put that too much above what is good for our troops and that is getting them killed.

Posted by: Wild Thing at August 8, 2010 07:39 PM

“disciplined use of force”

Recipe for defeat just as in Vietnam. Upper management needs their heads removed before we lose more brave Americans.

Posted by: Eddie (anti-Obama) at August 9, 2010 12:07 PM