Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Failure To Communicate

"What we've got here is... failure to communicate... So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it... well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men."

Ominous words, portending Cool Hand Luke's doom to failure because he didn't follow the rules.

When foreign governments, diplomats, politicians, and even domestic political opponents decry America's "heavy-handedness," they should recall this snippet from Newsweek's piece on the ongoing hunt for bin Laden:

Whenever he and his men moved within five kilometers of the safe house, he says, they had to file a request form known as a 5-W, spelling out the who, what, when, where and why of the mission. Permission from headquarters took hours, and if shooting might be involved, it was often denied. To go beyond five kilometers required a CONOP (for "concept of operations") that was much more elaborate and required approval from two layers in the field, and finally the Joint Special Operations Task Force at Baghram air base near Kabul. To get into a fire fight, the permission of a three-star general was necessary. "That process could take days," Rice recalled to NEWSWEEK. He often typed forms while sitting on a 55-gallon drum his men had cut in half to make a toilet seat. "We'd be typing in 130-degree heat while we're crapping away with bacillary dysentery and sometimes the brass at Kandahar or Baghram would kick back and tell you the spelling was incorrect, that you weren't using the tab to delimit the form correctly."

As I've written in the past, the United States follows strict rules of engagement. Far more rigid than those by which Afghanistan's last foreign visitors, the Soviets, operated under.

The U.S. military's dutiful adherence to the rule of international law, policy, procedure and documentation has saved innocent civilians' lives, but also spared many terrorists, and perhaps Osama bin Laden himself.

The military is exceedingly judicious in its use of force, and the left should remember that when assailing seemingly random "air raids" that have on occasion killed civilians (civilians terrorists have put into harm's way, more often than not).
Update: Some think the war on terror and our fight with al Qaeda would be over if we caught bin Laden. I disagree. Witness the rise of Qaeda acolytes Zarqawi and Dadullah.

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