Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Battle drill defense: What happened at Haditha? 
Newsmax does some good reporting here.

According to the Newsmax version, the civilian deaths occured as part of a standard room-clearing drill - form a four-man "stack" at the door, pop the door, and throw a frag grenade in as hard as you can. Make sure it rattles around a bunch. Then charge in a millisecond after the blast firing at anything that moves and any bodies that don't.

There is no quarter in a fight that close, and there cannot be. There never has been quarter given in a fight that close. Once you are within grenade range, it is a fight to the death. There cannot be any hesitation on the trigger. It would be difficult to practice positive target in any case, because of the smoke, and because you are likely to see only a fraction or glimpse of anyone in a furnished room, and you're going to be shooting through the sofa and any other piece of furniture you see.

If it is true that there was fire observed coming out of that house, then it is not at all clear to me that there was a violation of the rules of engagement. The rules of engagement allow for a close quarters fight like that. Indeed, that very drill was executed countless times in Fallujah.

The fact that four insurgents were spotted fleeing the area by UAV, loading weapons in a car, does lend support to what I would call the "battle drill" defense.

What's the "battle drill defense? That the Marines involved were executing a doctrinally-mandated battle drill when the civilians were killed. Not entirely a safe harbor - I would have to question why, when it became apparent that the Marines had clearly wounded noncombatants, aid was not rendered. And why were no civilians wounded, rather than killed outright? That would be unusual in any fight. Did the Marines simply abandon the people they had killed? That's not unthinkable, depending on the tactical context. But it would be unusual.

So I'm not saying these guys are off the hook completely. But I cannot establish beyond reasonable doubt that the Marines were guilty of a war crime - at least initially, during the room clearing - if the Newsmax story holds up.

Splash, out


Just curious, how do the ROE change in a close-quarters fight? Is there no need for PID just because you received fire from that building?
Frag grenades aren't that smart yet.
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