By Kay B. Day
The US Report was one in a minority of voices in the political blogosphere months ago when we raised the issue of the Rules of Engagement for US forces, partly in response to reading milblogs as well as following dispatches filed by war correspondent Michael Yon.
And Congress, at least, appears to be mindful. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) issued a statement on Friday after sending a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (MO-4) and Ranking Member Howard “Buck” McKeon (CA-25). Jones’ statement said he is “requesting a Full Committee classified hearing on Rules of Engagement and Tactical Directives in Afghanistan.”
Jones’ statement also said fellow House Republicans Jeff Miller (FL-1) and Doug Lamborn (CO-5) joined him in signing the letter, and that this “action comes on the back of growing concern both inside and outside the military over the significant restrictions placed on U.S. service members regarding when and how they can engage the enemy in Afghanistan.”
Herschel Smith at The Captain’s Journal does an excellent roundup on the conversations in the blogosphere and traditional media. Smith is one of the few writing about the military I am comfortable quoting. One reason is that he identifies himself. Another is that he writes about technical matters on a layperson’s level. I trust his voice.
Summing up information from various sources, Smith wrote about the ROE, “We cannot achieve sustained tactical success with the current rules of engagement. They simply aren’t rules suited to win a counterinsurgency campaign. But the report is more stark for the sad and anecdotal report of the state of the population. The villagers are laughing at U.S. troops.“
Bloggers are talking about more than Gen. David Petraeus, however. Consider Stripes Central at Stars and Stripes, part of the newspaper published continuously since WWII. Aside from the ROE and the new command, Jeff Schogol addresses a matter that may seem trivial to some—‘Will the Burger King at Kandahar reopen’?
Apparently McChrystal, legendary for his Spartan approaches to sleep, exercise and food, closed it down because of the cargo space required.
My take on the Burger King is fairly simple. For starters, what’s more American than the smell of a grilled burger? That scent alone, even if it is coming from the base, will carry to noses afar and frankly, unless you are a vegan, it’s a good smell. The modest hamburger is an American icon. Most Afghans, like many of us, are meat eaters. I predict the smell will have a positive effect. Call it primitive public relations in the interest of supporting the counterinsurgency.
Humor aside, it seems to me it would serve as a comfort to troops pulling very hard duty. It also seems to me that our great Republic should be capable of designing a means of running a Burger King in a faraway land for the benefit of our fighting men and women.
I know there will be a few leftwingers critical of my support for a burger joint in a war zone. But most leftwingers would criticize a statue of George Washington for taking up green space. So give our men and women a Burger King and get on with it.
One little discussed matter is the absence of hate speech from those on the left regarding Petraeus. Recall the character assassination delivered by extremist groups like Move On and by none less than our current Democrat secretary of state. Our commander-in-chief also had a few choice words, though his dig was primarily at President George W. Bush. All those naysayers are quiet as mice now, typical of leftwing proselytizers. For that we can be grateful—finally there is silence in those quarters. Don’t get too happy—this is certainly a temporary state.
In calling for the congressional hearing, Jones said, “As Members of Congress, we need to know if our men and women, who are bravely fighting for this country, are given the proper authority to defend themselves…We cannot further endanger the lives of our troops by restricting their ability to protect one another.”