News / Asia

Petraeus Issues Order To Protect His Troops and Afghan Civilians

General David Petraeus (file photo)
General David Petraeus (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid