News / Asia

Petraeus Issues Order To Protect His Troops and Afghan Civilians

General David Petraeus (file photo)
General David Petraeus (file photo)
Al Pessin

The U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, has issued his first tactical directive to the nearly 150,000 troops under his command, designed in part to address concerns expressed by some troops that previous orders made it too difficult for them to defend themselves.  

General Petraeus' directive orders his troops not to use force unless they are sure no Afghan civilians will be harmed, except in two circumstances.  The exact wording of that part of the directive has been kept secret.  But a release from the NATO command says the only situations in which Afghan civilians can be put at risk are those "where it is determined no other options are available" to protect international or Afghan troops

Aside from such instances, the troops are required to make the protection of Afghan civilians their top priority.  

Some troops had complained that the previous directive, issued a year ago by General Petraeus' predecessor, excessively restricted their ability to defend themselves.  The NATO military spokesman in Kabul, German Brigadier General Josef Blotz, says the document makes clear that is not the case.

"General Petraeus has made it quite clear that nothing is intended to hinder an individual's right to self defense," said General Blotz.

General Petraeus is a leader of the counterinsurgency movement in the U.S. military, which emphasizes protecting the local population.  But he told his Senate confirmation hearing in June he also recognizes it is important for the troops to be able to protect themselves.

"I see it as a moral imperative to bring all assets to bear to protect our men and women in uniform and the Afghan security forces with whom ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] troopers are fighting shoulder-to-shoulder," said General Petraeus. "Those on the ground must have all the support they need when they are in a tough situation."

Some military officials concluded that local commanders had interpreted the previous directive too tightly, so General Petraeus says in his order that "subordinate commanders are not authorized to further restrict this guidance" without his approval.

Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General James Dubik says that is important.

"Between the lines, he is seeking to achieve more alignment up and down the chain of command so that there's more clarity than perhaps in the recent months," said James Dubik. "You don't want a restriction at his level then to be more restricted at the next level below him, and then restricted even more the next level down, and by the time you get to the poor platoon and squad level, they can't shoot at anything.  So wisely he said, 'look, these are the restrictions that all of us will live by.'"

The Petraeus document also tells the troops to be "relentless" in pursuing the Taliban and related groups, but says "we must balance our pursuit of the enemy with our efforts to minimize loss of innocent civilian life, and with our obligation to protect our troops."  Petraeus says it is a "moral imperative" both to protect the civilians and to protect the troops.

General Dubik says those sometimes conflicting goals put a lot of pressure on ordinary soldiers and young officers in small units, which often operate in difficult conditions far from headquarters.  

"We ask and demand decisions by sergeants, lieutenants and captains in Afghanistan, and in Iraq, every day that are very complex, that require refined judgment and a balancing of competing priorities," he said. "This is something that I think is completely appropriate to push down."

In the directive, General Petraeus says he expects the troops "to exert their best judgment according to the situation on the ground," and pledges to support them when they do.  

Petraeus also says all operations must involve Afghan forces, in part to increase the international troops' understanding of the local situation.  He also tells the troops the new approach President Barack Obama announced in December is already showing results and starting to build momentum by beginning to reduce public support for the insurgency.  He describes the war as "a contest of wills," and tells the troops "every Afghan civilian death diminishes our cause."  

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid