We've seen mainly controversy over the publishing of a photo of Marine Corporal Joshua Bernard and his recent death in Afghanistan. To start though, I would like to honor his commitment to duty and service to our nation. According to the testimony of his father in this video, his fellow Marines called him "holy man" because of his Godly witness for Jesus Christ. His dad said that he was first and foremost a Christian. That's what his father wanted to emphasize. However, he ended and wanted to be very clear that this incident should bring to our attention the ROE, rules of engagement, of our soldiers in war.
Our soldiers are sent to these places, put in harms way, and are often sacrificed for American politics. If we are going to send them, then we should allow them to protect themselves. We see the same thing on American streets with our police officers. Rules of engagement recently resulted in the death of three police officers, gunned down in the streets of Oakland, CA. The Taliban and other foreign belligerents use non-combatants for cover. They do this purposefully, knowing our rules of engagement to gain an advantage caused by political concerns. Joshua Bernard was from Maine and the newspaper in Portland, Maine did an interview with his dad, John Bernard, and we have this reported from that session:
John Bernard said he blames his son's death on recently revised rules of engagement that essentially state troops can fire at an area if they are receiving fire and are in imminent danger, but if it's possible for them to move away from the area, they are to do so.
Several weeks before his son's death, John Bernard raised concerns about the rules in a letter sent to lawmakers. He wrote, "Our troops are nothing more than sitting ducks."
"They're being fired upon and being told they can't fire back in fear of hitting civilians, which means Marines can die and ultimately can't protect civilians because they can't fire at the bad guys," John Bernard said. "It's not that they want to go out and kill women and children, but they can't fight like this."
The Wall Street Journal, just today, wrote about this problem especially as it applies to the War in Afghanistan. Here is a recent example of the politics with German chancellor Angela Merkel coming under fire for a helicopter air strike that killed Afghan civilians. Here's a Chicago Tribune article about a week ago that explains President Obama's role in making the rules of engagement more strict for American soldiers, threatening American lives. This paragraph in a September 2, 2009 Washington Post article explains how the new rules of engagement has not only failed to protect American troops but also other Afghans.
U.S. rules of engagement restricting the use of air power and aggressive action against civilians have also opened new space for the insurgents, officials said. Western development projects, such as new roads, schools and police stations, have provided fresh targets for Taliban roadside bombs and suicide attacks. The inability of rising numbers of American troops to protect Afghan citizens has increased resentment of the Western presence and the corrupt Afghan government that cooperates with it, the officials said.
This August 14, 2009 article in the Toronto Star talks about the new rules of engagement, designed to prioritize Afghan civilians, harming the protection of American soldiers.
What do you think of this? I'm writing a letter to my congressman and Senators about rules of engagement in honor of Joshua Bernard.