All my life I have been told to follow the rules, whether it’s the Rules of our Society, the Rules of Law, The Rules of the Schoolhouse, or the Rules of Engagement. The Rules have been in place to attempt to manage every aspect of my life. Some of these rules carry heavier consequences than others and some made more sense than others. For instance, if I defended myself from a schoolyard bully, I could be suspended from school, but if I didn’t, there would be more bullies attacking me. I learned at an early age that rules are not meant to protect, but to control.
There are many sets of that rules I’d like to discuss here, and they need to be brought to light, but the one set that weighs on my mind most heavily is the Rules of Engagement our troops are forced to live and die by. What’s their real choice? If they follow the rules of Engagement they die. If they don’t, they either go to the brig, or can possibly face a death sentence from their own government.
I can remember being docked in a Muslim country about a year before September 11. The Al-Quaida (already a serious threat) had promised to blow up the next American ship to pull into their port. We were surrounded on three sides by mountains and were one hundred yards from a major shipping lane. We could only leave during high tide, leaving us as sitting ducks lined up at a shooting gallery at a carnival. The enemy could not have asked for a better kill zone. We were issued ammunition and were patrolling the ship night and day to protect ourselves. We, as has been the case since about 1958, were issued our Rules of Engagement, or as I think they should be called, Rules to Die By.
I can’t remember all of these rules, nor would I write them here if I could, but let me tell you about the one that really bothers me to this day. It makes my blood run cold to see a U.S. troop arrested for supposedly violating the rules of Engagement, because I know personally, what they are asked to do. I swear the Rules of Engagement are designed to kill our troops and to defend the enemy.
What brings me to this attitude towards the current Rules of Engagement? When we were briefed on the situation we were facing, we were told not to fire unless being fired at. That sounds reasonable, right? Well, it did to me until they explained. We were given orders that if we had a fanatic with a RPG which he was aiming directly at the ship, he can point it at us all day. Now, if he manages to fire the RPG, since it is a single fire weapon, he is now disarmed and you can’t shoot him then either. The only time that you are allowed to shoot the terrorist is the exact moment his that finger touches the trigger. So, for clarification, this guy can aim a rocket launcher at you all day, but you can’t shoot him unless you can prove that his finger is actually on the trigger at the exact moment you fire. This is the sad truth of what we were told, not an exaggeration.
What do you think the police would do if the same terrorist were pointing a RPG at them? Do they have to play by the same Rules of Engagement as our troops? They don’t, because they would be killed with quickness. Why do we allow our troops to be tied down like this? The civilians in this country, which allow, no, demand these rules to exist have more of a right to self-defense than our own troops, which are putting their lives on the line for you and me.
We need to demand that this war be taken out of the hands of the politicians and lawyers, and put into the hands of our generals. The last war we fought in which the generals were in control of their men kept the world from speaking German. It’s also the last war we decisively won. There was no strategic pull out, there was victory. America needs a victory now, probably more than ever.