A “Proactive” Question for Congressman Cicilline

Congressman Cicilline:
I turn to this forum to communicate with you because your Congressional website bars you from receiving e-mail from anyone outside of your district.
You voted “No” on the following amendment.

An amendment numbered 38 printed in House Report 112-88 to require that the rules of engagement allow any military service personnel assigned to duty in a designated hostile fire area to have rules of engagement that fully protects their right to proactively defend themselves from hostile actions.

Please explain, without platitudes and with specificity, why you did so. Only two reasons come to mind – either you don’t wish our men and women to be able to defend themselves or you don’t trust them to do so. But perhaps there is a third reason not readily apparent. If so, please advise it.
Your response can be directed to my e-mail address off on the left or, if you prefer, feel free to e-mail any of the other contributors.

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John
John
10 years ago

“Please explain, without platitudes and with specificity,”
You dare to ask the impossible?

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

“proactively defend themselves from hostile actions”
I think it’s the ‘proactively’ part. According to most of my uncles, several who are in the armed services, the best way to ‘proactively defend themselves’ would be to mow-down anyone with dark skin and a beard.
I can actually understand that there are situations where one might want to be able to hold a soldier accountable for drawing first blood, which is what this clause is about.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

The better question is, why do you think the change is necessary?
Rules of engagement have historically allowed two kinds of acceptable targets, those acting in a hostile manner and those displaying hostile intent. So your contention is U.S. soldiers should have total impunity to fire on anyone so long as someone in the area fires on them or shows hostile intent?
The rules have also historically required that the use of force should be proportional to the threat. Sounds to me like you’re advocating “proactive” defense of war crimes. The idea of U.S. soldiers in internation war crimes tribunals doesn’t upset you?
www2.icc-cpi.int/NR/rdonlyres/F596D08D-D810-43A2-99BB-B899B9C5BCD2/277422/OTP_letter_to_senders_re_Iraq_9_February_2006.pdf

Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives,11 even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur. A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) (Article 8(2)(b)(i)) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality) (Article 8(2)(b)(iv).

Max Diesel
Max Diesel
10 years ago

“I think it’s the ‘proactively’ part. According to most of my uncles, several who are in the armed services, the best way to ‘proactively defend themselves’ would be to mow-down anyone with dark skin and a beard.”
Mangeek,
Surely you jest. That’s the most ridiculous comment I’ve seen you post and you don’t post many.
_______________________________________
“Sounds to me like you’re advocating “proactive” defense of war crimes.”
Russ,
Did that one come as an epiphany? Clearly you didn’t give it much thought. And where did you find this gem:
“The rules have also historically required that the use of force should be proportional to the threat.”
Newsflash, people kill other people in wars. I don’t think they’re worried about the use of force continuum. If they’re waving a white flag, that maybe a different story unless of course they’re packing a suicide vest.

stuckhereinri
stuckhereinri
10 years ago

I realize that this is not a conventional war, i.e. it’s not simply an “us vs them” situation, we’re dealing with insurgents, not a well defined army.
However, regardless of the rules of engagement, whatever happened to completely overwhelming the enemy with superior numbers, superior weapons and superior tactics?
Forget being ‘nice’, be so nasty that NO ONE wants to mess with us.
To quote Sean Connery in the ‘Untouchables’, “They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.”
They kill one of ours, we kill 10 or 100 of theirs, sooner or later they either give up, or there are none left.
War is brutal, so in order to win you need to be more brutal than the other guy, this isn’t boxing.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“…where did you find this gem”
Ummm, I’ve already cited the Rome Statute, but you may be familiar with the 3rd and 4th Geneva Conventions which provide protections to prisoners of war, others such as hors de combat and medical units, and civilians in international conflicts?
This would also seem to be in violation of Protocol I although while I believe the U.S. is a signatory to that it was never ratified.
http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1987/012987B.HTM
Notably passage of the proposed amendment could open U.S. soldiers up to procecution in the ICC as per the Rome Statute.
“If they’re waving a white flag, that maybe a different story…”
I agree which is why it’s a bad amendment.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

However, regardless of the rules of engagement, whatever happened to completely overwhelming the enemy with superior numbers, superior weapons and superior tactics?

Ended with the destruction of Europe and much of Asia if I remember correctly.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“To quote Sean Connery in he ‘Untouchables’, ‘They pull a knife, you pull a gun…”
How’d that work out for Malone, anyway?

Ralph
Ralph
10 years ago

Perhaps our Congress people, who are all about serving their country, would consider forming, equipping and training the “1st Congressional Company” comprised of Congress people and their staffs. They could then be sent to an active war theater for a couple of months to test the efficacy of their proposed rules of engagement. I don’t wish to prejudge, but I’m guessing that any impulse to micromanage the actions of people in a war zone would diminish.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

“If they’re waving a white flag, that maybe a different story…”
Maybe, but watch “Guadacanal Diary” (After the war, Firestone, or Goodyear, sued the U.S. government for destruction of their rubber plantations on the “Canal”. So much for corporate patriotism.)
It is well to remember that there is no “declared” war. Are the Taliban signatories to the Genmeva Convetions?
What is this “Rome Statute”? Some Club of Rome idea? Italians have become holy, interesting. Wasn’t it the Italians who slaughtered all of those Ethiopians, even after Haile Selassie appeared before the League of Nations. I now forget their name, but they also wiped out another Arab tribe in a water, or river, dispute. To quote Sean Connery in the “Untouchables”, “Just like an Italian, bringing a knife to a gunfight”. Let us also remember that Elliot Ness was himself a drunk, who drank his way through 3 marriages.
“They kill one of ours, we kill 10 or 100 of theirs, sooner or later they either give up, or there are none left.”
Guerilla warriors know this. Their theory is “send 100 men looking for us and they find nothing. Send 10 men looking for us, and those 10 are never found”.
When you start comparing men and weapons, remember the 300 Greeks (actually about 1500 if you include the Thespians and Thebans with them) at Thermopylae. A very small number of men, with the right real estate,can be a very tough enemy. No one in the history of warfare has ever surrendered to an airplane (helicopter).
Sorry, tonight I am unable to control the impetuosity of my thoughts. Fortunately, they do not emerge as rhyme.

David P
David P
10 years ago

“No one in the history of warfare has ever surrendered to an airplane (helicopter).”
Actually during Desert Storm there was at least one documented case of an Iraqi unit surrendering to an Apache helicopter.
And during WWII there were apparently occasions where Japanese were so terrified of napalm that they attempted to surrender to U.S. fighter bombers.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
10 years ago

David P, didn’t know of the incidents you report. My comment is actually, I believe, a quote from Curtis LeMay.
Still, assuming the accuracy of your data, how may airplanes, how many armies.

David P
David P
10 years ago

WF
The incidents are admittedly rare. I just find them interesting as historical trivia. I take what I assume to be your main point that no degree of air superiority or supremacy can seize hostile territory.
The Desert Storm incident was one of a number of cases showing just how thoroughly the Iraqi Army had been demoralized by the air campaign. Tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers couldn’t wait to get to a nice safe POW camp. Some even attempted to surrender to a TV news crew.
Of course, even if someone attempts to surrender to an aircraft, only ground troops can actually take them prisoner.

Russ
Russ
10 years ago

“Are the Taliban signatories to the Genmeva [sic] Convetions?”
That’s irrelevant. You’re saying we shouldn’t protect Afghan civilians because of that? Perhaps we should use nerve gas there too.
“What is this ‘Rome Statute’?”
The Rome Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). A key component is that the ICC can only investigate and prosecute in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves.
untreaty.un.org/cod/icc/statute/99_corr/cstatute.htm

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