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  • British commanders condemn US military tactics

    British commanders condemn US military tactics
    By Sean Rayment
    London
    April 12, 2004

    Senior British commanders have condemned American military tactics in Iraq as heavy-handed and disproportionate.

    One senior officer said that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command.

    The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans".

    Speaking from his base in southern Iraq, the officer said: "My view and the view of the British chain of command is that the Americans' use of violence is not proportionate and is over-responsive to the threat they are facing. They don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in the way the British are."

    The phrase untermenschen - literally "under-people" - was brought to prominence by Adolf Hitler in his book Mein Kampf, published in 1925. He used the term to describe those he regarded as racially inferior: Jews, Slavs and gypsies.

    Although no formal complaints have as yet been made to their American counterparts, the officer said the British Government was aware of its commanders' "concerns and fears".

    The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used on targets in urban areas.

    British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets. The American approach was markedly different, the officer said.

    "When US troops are attacked with mortars in Baghdad, they use mortar-locating radar to find the firing point and then attack the general area with artillery, even though the area they are attacking may be in the middle of a densely populated residential area.

    "They may well kill the terrorists in the barrage, but they will also kill and maim innocent civilians. That has been their response on a number of occasions. It is trite, but American troops do shoot first and ask questions later."

    The officer believed America had now lost the military initiative in Iraq, and it could only be regained with carefully planned, precision attacks against the insurgents.

    "The US will have to abandon the sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut approach - it has failed," he said.

    "They need to stop viewing every Iraqi, every Arab as the enemy and attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people."

    - Telegraph
    I hate it when I see one of those road signs that says "Draw Bridge Ahead" and I don't have a pencil.
    -Lou Chiafullo

  • #2
    Lost cause

    The American way of war has always been uniquely different from her European counterparts. Perhaps its because they have played the game longer and have developed a certain sense of fair play. The concept of the application of firepower was something that grew out of the idea of manifest destiny. It reached its greatest point during WW2 when the idea of total war became something other than a pipedream.

    It is normal that the British would be uncomfortable with the concept because they never fully bought into it. War has always been a measured process with the goal of keeping the operation "tidy". Americans tend to be impatient and want to get the damn thing over with as quickly as possible..this leads to a quite necessary mental transition wherein the opponent begins to lose a certain humanity. You find it in almost all of America's wars. A "jap" was not a fellow in the opposing army on Tarawa...he was something that needed to be destroyed! A kraut, a frog, and Redcoat, a gook, etc, were similar epitaphs to assuage the mind to the business of killing. It is this killing concept that bothers the British officer. Americans accept collateral damage as inevitable, perhaps even desireable, in war....thats not the nice clean battlefield of Sandhurst or Salisbury Plain. Will it damage American efforts and their success in Iraq, yes and no. What these unfortunate British officers may well have failed to realize is that it pays a unique dividend. While it will never achieve nation-bulding, it does make you pause before you decide to step up to the plate.

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    • #3
      I have to say the cleanliness of war disappeared on the Napoleanic battlefield (if it was ever really there). The 'rules of war' have changed over time and have changed as 'players' have re-written the rulebook. The 'honourable' side of war has very little place on the modern battlefield (except between individuals perhaps), especially an unconventional one, where one side surely will not play 'by the rules' and the other side is handicapped because it chooses to.

      Oddly enough, life in a warzone is as precious as it is cheap.
      If voting could really change things, it would be illegal.

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      • #4
        The responses to the orginal post here seem to miss the key point entirely. While their arguments would be valid if confronting state sponser conventional forces. They simply will not work against population based terror forces. Every time we do collateral damage, every time an innocent is killed every time we are seen by the local population as being too forceful the terrorist win a major victory and their base of support grows.

        It is ironic that Rumsfeld closed down the division at the National War College devoted to peacemaking and nation building during the first week of the war. His reasoning was that we knew how to do that and had no intention of having our military assets tied down in that process. Well, no human being was more wrong or more ignorant in his actions in the history of the earth
        Boston Strong!

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        • #5
          Perhaps we should bring in British military leadership; after all they did so well in Northern Ireland...

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          • #6
            I find it exceptionally difficult to believe that any US officer has referred to the Iraqis as untermenschen and submit this story s a creation of the writer's mind, a deliberate provocation. While certainly some Coalition officers may disagree with how affairs are conducted by US forces, a natural occurrence amongst different cultures, I find it hard to believe that dissension is either so widespread or so severe that the Coalition is endangered.

            To quote the story: "British rules of engagement only allow troops to open fire when attacked, using the minimum force necessary and only at identified targets."

            Maybe in Iraq, but certainly not everywhere.

            Further, because of the simplistic manner of speech, appearing adolescent if not juvenile, one must assume that the story is false, or the product of some poorly educated officers.
            Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
            (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RetPara
              Perhaps we should bring in British military leadership; after all they did so well in Northern Ireland...
              BANG!!! Score a direct hit!!!:thumb:
              Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
              (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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              • #8
                I personally don't see a problem with someone posting news stories to the forums, but I'd really like to see a citation to the article, or even a link.
                “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

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                • #9
                  However much I love seing the US lay waste to ANYONE who dares attack our guys, I have to say that I can easily believe the standard grunt or NCO having no respect for Arabs, because not only are most US soldiers Blue Collar types (no offense!!) but also you need some disregard for the opponent to fight effectivly.

                  Remember those tales of WWI spontaneous Christman celebrations and games, with both sides getting together for a game of soccer/football ?

                  Now, any truly militarily strict and psychotic would have called in a mustard gass attack or ordered the MGs to open fire, but noone did. Mainly because you saw the enemy as a person, a human being, and not just a hay-filled target.

                  Most US combat infantrymen didn't fire their rifles in combat (don't ask me to quote source, I forgot and may be quoting incorectly) by most soldiers with specialty weapons ie. mgs, flamesthrowers, etc. did (around 60% of the GI fired standard weapons, while nearly 100% special weapons were fired)

                  There were no cases of 'fragging' of superior officers,

                  Now, look at Vietnam, with it's training processes so well shown in "Full Metal Jacket", where nearly 100% of US general infantry men fired thier weapon in anger.

                  There are multiple cases of 'fragging' in Vietnam.


                  So, training your men to kill the target and have no remorse turns them into a 'better' soldier.

                  Make of this what you will...

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RetPara
                    Perhaps we should bring in British military leadership; after all they did so well in Northern Ireland...
                    How did you work that one out?:nonono:
                    http://www.irelandinhistory.blogspot.ie/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Overseer
                      I personally don't see a problem with someone posting news stories to the forums, but I'd really like to see a citation to the article, or even a link.
                      All citations should be linked, lest anyone think it was Armchair General creating the story. Not good for ethics!

                      Thanks.

                      Our forefathers died to give us freedom, not free stuff.

                      I write books about zombies as E.E. Isherwood. Check me out at ZombieBooks.net.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Wolfe Tone
                        How did you work that one out?:nonono:
                        I assumed he was being sarcastic?

                        Dr. S.
                        Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

                        www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

                        www.tabletown.co.uk

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                        • #13
                          For Geeky Nerd

                          It has been suggested by several members that you give a complete citation of any articles that you may post (author, date and publication). This is the same standard expected of any other postings. If you do not do so, any improperly cited threads may be closed.
                          Mens Est Clavis Victoriae
                          (The Mind Is The Key To Victory)

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