Skip to comments.Commander to troops: Fight by the rules (high moral values "distinguishes us from our enemy")
Posted on 05/10/2007 2:05:05 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
BAGHDAD - The top U.S. commander in Iraq reminded troops Thursday they must fight by the rules after a Pentagon survey found many of them support torture in certain cases and would not report a comrade for killing or wounding civilians.
In a letter to U.S. service members, Gen. David Petraeus said that adhering to high moral values "distinguishes us from our enemy" and is essential to winning support among the Iraqi population the cornerstone of the new U.S. counterinsurgency strategy.
By contrast, Petraeus said al-Qaida's "indiscriminate attacks" had finally begun "to turn a substantial proportion of the Iraqi population against it."
"This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we not our enemies, occupy the moral high ground," he said in the letter, addressed to "soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen" serving in Iraq.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the letter, which was dated Thursday.
Petraeus' message followed a Pentagon survey which found that fewer than half of Marines and a little more than half of Army soldiers said they would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian.
More than 40 percent support the idea of torture in some cases, and 10 percent reported personally abusing civilians, the Pentagon said last week in releasing its first ethics study of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The survey found that 44 percent of Marines and 41 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to save the life of a soldier or Marine. Thirty-nine percent of Marines and 36 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to gather important information from insurgents.
Only 47 percent of the soldiers and 38 percent of Marines surveyed said noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect. About a third of them said they had insulted or cursed at civilians in their presence.
In the letter, Petraeus said he understood that watching a fellow trooper killed by "a barbaric enemy" can "spark frustration, anger and a desire for immediate revenge."
"Hard as it might be, however, we must not let these emotions lead us or our comrades in arms to commit hasty, illegal actions," he said. "In the event that we witness or hear of such actions, we must not let our bonds prevent us from speaking up."
The general also reminded troops that torture is not only illegal but often produces information "of questionable value."
"We are engaged in combat, we must pursue the enemy relentlessly and we must be violent at times," Petraeus said. "What sets us apart from our enemies in the fight, however, is how we behave."
Petraeus acknowledged that troops suffer from stress because of long deployments and brutal combat. But he said stress was not a sign of weakness and encouraged troops to turn to their commanders, chaplains and medical experts.
On Monday, Petraeus told the annual meeting of The Associated Press that he was concerned about the survey's findings and called for a "redoubling of our education efforts" to identify potential for abuses among soldiers.
"We have done that at times in theater and it has cost us enormously," he said by video link from Baghdad, referring specifically to the torture and humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
The Iraq war has seen other high-profile incidents of alleged abuse, including the killings of 24 civilians by Marines in Haditha and the rape and killing of a 14-year-old girl and the slaying of her family south of Baghdad.
Pentagon officials said they were studying the results of the survey and were revising training programs to focus more on values, suicide prevention, rules of warfare and behavioral health awareness.
Folks, I’m of mixed opinion on this one,, taking the moral high ground has a tendency of making one an easy target in the long run.
Better that we had never committed our troops on the ground there and let ‘them’ slaughter each other indiscriminately as they had become so used to doing or that we had not cowered out at the end of Desert Storm 1 and got the job done then.
History is a harsh taskmaster.. we are still learning lessons we ought not to be revisiting today.
What would Patton do?
Unfortunately, he wouldn’t last very long if he was even allowed to lead a task force in the field. Just a hunch.
He’s no George S. Patton. That’s for sure. Too bad.
With the current Rules of Engagement, Gen. David Petraeus would do well to advise the troops to BYOL*.
*Bring Your Own Lawyer
Patton had honor, and if he slapped and berated a Private for cowardice, I daresay he’d line up anyone that raped a 14 year old girl(then shot and killed her entire family, then burned them all) and have an impromptu firing squad. And probably anyone who witnessed it and didn’t stop it.
I cannot imagine a good reason for the Pentagon to release this data.
I think your right. Patton would not last long today. In fact, he would probably get drummed out of the service for talking too tough. However, I am willing to give Petraeus time.
Today men have been puzzified by political correctness. It is more important not to offend the Nazi Muslims than to kill them before they kill you. No war has ever been won like that. Either you control your enemy or he will control you.
People like Arthur Travers Harris held a certain high ground view. We live, they die. We win the war. It worked.
I would prefer that not being dead or maimed distinguish us from the enemy.
I would prefer that not being dead or maimed distinguish us from the enemy.
This PC crap also allows us to have our asses handed to us.
It’s killing our troops needlessly. Look at the casualty rates. They speak for themselves. Troops that agressively defend themselves, such as the “Hadiths Marines” are now prosecuted.
We could have never beat the Japs and the Germans with these self defeating rules. As it was, even with our much superior numbers and our air superiority, the Germans inflicted a higher casualty rate on us then we did on them. Patton knew how to handle them, however. Kill them until they quit fighting. The last man standing won.
If you’re going to fight, fight to win or don’t fight at all.
We did not cower. The job was done, Kuwait was liberated. In the final hours our pilots viewed further attack on the retreating Iraqis as not legitimate war, but murder. There was never any intent on the part of the US or the coalition allies, which include Arab ground troops to conquer Iraq. The libs subsequently said we should have “finished the job.” Well we did in 2003, and now they want to impeach our President.
I am willing to give Petraeus time.
and the troops to get it done.
Your point is well taken, but it also speaks to the short sightedness of leaders on the side of Western civilzation and its preservation, imo.
I would also ask,, How many have subsequently died as a result of just completing the mission of liberating Kuwait, employing the no fly zones and playing the UN inspector game strategy... and not just died there but here on our shores and our embassies abroad?
btw , I knew the word ‘cowered’ would get a response in that vein, Thanks!
When in Maryland, some of Lee’s troops were looting and pillaging. Lee was most unhappy about this. Lee got his troops together and said words to the affect, “We shall be Christians in the land of the enemy, just as we are Christians at home.
Of course, there are some on FR who do not want to be reminded of the fact that we had very strong Christian influence in our national founding and historical leadership . . . before the ACLU anyway.
And someone will say, “That wasn’t our national leadership, that was the Confederacy.” The same man, though, was a U.S. Army General before he took the Confederate States army. Lee was a genuine Christian gentleman, who endorsed Christian revival meetings in the camps of his soldiers. I do pray for a Christian morality to prevail in the US armed services. This in no way means that we shouldn't use the most effective means of interrogation in time of war. But, for example, our females should not be involved in the interrogation of men. Of course, I believe the females should not be assigned in a combat or potential combat zone to begin with (or away from any children they might have)
I do pray for a Christian morality to prevail in the US armed services. This in no way means that we shouldn’t use the most effective means of interrogation in time of war.
I would think most here at FR would agree with your sentiments.
The lessons of history and man’s inhumanities that are inflicted on his foes are oft times forgot and overlooked in the heat of combat.
Just what the Brits in N. America said in the mid-1770’s......
FIGHT TO WIN is what Patton would do. Hey General, go be an enlisted man and find out what’s real and what’s fantasy.
You win wars by making the other guy die for HIS country....Patton.
when is the MSM gonna start cornering muslims and asking them why they don't condemn beheading, why they don't condemn the killing of innocent women and children, why they will not allow us to "search" a mosque but knowingly with a wink/wink hide weapons in schools, hospitals and mosques,
He should have said the "We fight by rules of international convention against states in war, but the forces of the islamo-facist insist on indiscriminate murder, theft, lies, cowardice and betrayal. Instead of the best efforts by our men to protect civilians that are compared to the cowards that hide behind women and children."
Instead he came out with another propaganda point for the opposition, cause our troops have to me reminded to not violate international law but the jihadist are just innocent honorable combatants......
Well F#*k You! .....sir!....
And how did the Confederates actually DO in that war?
The outcome of the war is not the issue, and you know it. You do not like the fact that Lee was a fine Christian man.
You know, how did Mr. Lincoln actually DO at Ford’s Theater? That kind of thing. As if the outcome has something to DO with Lincoln’s faith or character.
God help those soldiers and Marines, because it sounds like the in-the-rear-with-the-gear scumbag commanders don’t give a rat’s behind. Simply disgraceful.
Norm, my feelings are not mixed at all. Dead is dead, and dead Marines don't say to themselves, "Well the other guy cheated when he killed me but at least I have the moral high ground because I played by the rules." This crap makes me throw up in my mouth a little. It's time to unload this idiot Petraeus and get somebody decent in there. Cripes, we'll never win this thing.
Scumbag commanders and their “rules of engagement” PING.
This idiot Petraeus has to go.
1. The timing on this sucks.
2. WHY is he addressing the ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AP?!
3. when at the last of the article they turn right around and call Haditha the killing of 24 CIVILIANS!
The idea of 'war' is to WIN! With the jihadis, we need to beat them before they beat us. They are the ones hidding behind and among civilians.
Is it possible to win 'nicely'? I don't want indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, but I want to win!
Patton would have told US leaders that terrorists have no honor, and they have no God. He would have told them that terrorists who hide behind women and children while shooting at US forces are cowards and reprobates who know no morality...that they are the bile of Satan.
Patton would have read the damned Geneva Convention and reminded the sissies in power that Al Qaeda terrorists are not protected by the Convention’s articles as written. He would have told them that torturing a member of Al Qaeda in order to extract information to protect innocent civilians or US solders “IS,” in fact, the moral “high ground.”
Patton would have said that protecting the innocent from harm at the hands of evil forces is the essence of morality.
Oh, really? So then you don't care if we win or lose this war so long as we observe Emily Post rules of etiquitte regarding a vicious and brutal enemy?
Your comparison is apples and oranges. Lincoln was not in Ford's theater trying to win a war. It was not a battlefield.
Our military has fallen once again into the political trap. So many here have voiced this concern for some three years or more regarding this unfortunate situation. The winners of course are all the radical criminal muslims.
You should check the status of current events. Not the MSM's version, but reports from people on the ground. We are winning. Petraeus is doing better than any US Commander to date. Let the man do his job.
Concentrate on the Democrat surrender monkeys here at home. They are the real danger.
Better that the dead Marine wakes up to find himself in heaven rather than kickin’ it with old Satan.
Better that there are no dead Marines, they can’t reincarnate like people here at FR.
Patton would have had little trouble handling Iraq..and the insurgents...as long as he were free to command. This stuff isn’t rocket science unless the hands of the command are tied by politics.
Your reply indicates that you have not operated under counter-insurgency doctrine.
"Our Country won't go on forever, if we stay soft as we are now. There won't be any AMERICA because some foreign soldiery will invade us and take our women and breed a hardier race!" -Lt. Gen. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, USMC
My reply indicates that I know that Patton wouldn’t have tolerated the type of political hamstringing current commanders are forced to endure. Left to make his own rules within the actual legal framework of the Geneva Convention, Patton could have handled this “insurgency.”
I have previously posted information about a group of men who were called “The Regulators,” who took up arms in the North Carolina Piedmont, against the British militia. This was prior to our war for independence. The Regulators were whipped, but they were right. They were defending their homes, families and churches from the British militia who was detached under orders of Anglican clergymen in eastern North Carolina who detested the Baptist revival led by one Shubal Stearns. The outcome of the battle didn’t determine who was right and who was wrong.
I believe that you were trying to imply that General Robert Lee is somhow to be doubted as to his Christian leadership in time of war, and that his insistence upon his troops abiding by Christian principles (these were my points) means nothing just because he surrendered to General Grant. Well, General Grant himself knew better than that. Grant respected Lee as a Christian Gentleman and leader. Lee’s surrender never changed that.
And the defeat of the Confederacy doesn’t indicate that President Lincoln was correct in every one of his positions with regard to the Constitution or the Union, either. I and millions of others believe that he made trash of the Constitution. We, however, still believe that he was also a Christian with an upright testimony. He erred in his view of how to preserve the Union, in our opinion, but he was a fine man and a Christian in his innermost principles.
Patton's credo most likely would have been: "Grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow." Unfortunately, that does not conform to contemporary doctrine.
On balance, we do not disagree.
Which branch of service and MOS?
One function of the General is to say the right words. What the General does is demonstrate what he meant. He says fight fair; he means dominate and rule fair when possible.
“Is it possible to win ‘nicely’? I don’t want indiscriminate slaughter of innocents, but I want to win!”
As we all do. But such wars are political in ature as well as militray. Defeating the enemy units militarily, whether regular or irregular is one thing - but one must careful to avoid being defeated politically. The Tet offensive, for example, was a military disaster for the Viet-Cong, but they managed to turn it into a political boon.
The Coalition troops in Iraq walk a fine line, but there is no viable alternatie. Incinerating whole cities or communities won’t help them win this war - and more importantly, will only spell the end of any US-friendly Iraqi government.