The Honorable James Webb, Mark Warner, and Rob Wittman,
We have the most deadly and the most capable military in the history of the world. They are also the most versatile. The very same Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coasties who are feeding and tending to Haitians devastated by an earthquake also can turn on a dime and destroy the Taliban or al-Qaeda anywhere, anytime. It turns out that the only force on the face of the earth that can limit their effectiveness is their own government.
I have been scandalized by the news of the restrictive and completely unnecessary Rules of Engagement that our troops are laboring under in Afghanistan. The majority of things that our enemies complain about are designed specifically to undermine the training or technological advantages that our military has over our foes. Ours is the smartest and best trained military ever fielded. They deserve our trust not needless restriction. You can graphically see every day that these exceptional men and women can moderate the level of force to fit the particular situation. Leave it to them to determine on the scene the degree of force required rather than have some bureaucrat try to dictate their actions from Washington.
One of the finest men I ever knew had logged 48 months in Viet Nam by the time I worked for him. He distilled Rules of Engagement down to one simple phrase – “Don’t kill nothing that don’t need killin.” That is breathlessly uncomplicated and takes the decision making out of the halls of Washington, DC and places it squarely into the mind of the man or woman best equipped to make that decision. It is clear and morally sound. It also comes closer to the rules that governed the actions of their fathers and grandfathers in World War II. I would point out that our most bitter enemies in that conflict are now among our very best friends even though they were subjected to nearly unbridled violence.
The very best way to shorten a war and reduce the eventual loss of life is to unleash the deadly power of the American military and let them win every engagement and every battle. One of the other ways to ensure victory is the application of speed on the battlefield. If you make every decision on the battlefield unnecessarily complex, you slow down the operational tempo of military units and diminish their effectiveness. Though this might seem counter intuitive to people without knowledge of military history or military operations, increasing the violence and operational tempo of battle ultimately reduces casualties. Compare the difference between Germany’s invasion of France in 1914 that lead to four inconclusive years of slaughter with Germany’s blitzkrieg attack in 1940. Not only did fewer Germans die in 1940 than in 1914, but fewer French died as well.
The job of our government is to support our service men and women when mistakes are made and cut through the red tape to free them to do their job. If we don’t remove these ridiculous rules, our government will be guilty of marking the capture of every objective, every house, and every courtyard in Afghanistan with an American casualty.
I ask that you do whatever is necessary to eliminate these ludicrous rules that only serve to diminish our effectiveness in combat and protect our enemies.