By lex, on July 9th, 2011
They leave something to be desired, in Afghanistan:
BRITISH soldiers who spot Taliban fighters planting roadside bombs are told not to shoot them because they do not pose an immediate threat, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.
They are instead ordered to observe insurgents and record their position to cut the risk of civilian casualties, in contrast to US forces who are free to open fire.
The policy emerged at an inquest into the death of Sgt Peter Rayner, 34, who was killed in October by an improvised explosive device as he led a patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. His widow, Wendy, 40, said that in the days leading up to his death Sgt Rayner was told it was not his job to attack insurgents laying bombs.
Mrs Rayner, who lives with their young son in Bradford, told the inquest that the insurgents were being allowed to get away with the murder of British troops.
She said: “They are not allowed to fire on these terrorists. If they can see people leaving these IEDs, why can’t they take them out? One officer even told him [Sgt Rayner], ‘I am an army captain and you will do your job’. I believe strongly if people had taken on board what he was saying he might have been here today.”
Under the Geneva Convention and the nationally administered Rules of Engagement the 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan are told they can only attack if there is an immediate threat to life…
“There has to be an immediate threat to life and that’s a hard thing to prove. An IED does not count as an immediate threat. The Americans are different — their rules of engagement are pretty liberal. If they even suspect someone of laying a bomb, they can shoot them.”
British soldiers and Royal Marines have long fought bravely on the lines in Afghanistan, despite a lack of demoralizing lack of commitment and resources from government and the MoD. And it is important in a counter-insurgency not to overly antagonize the non-combatants.
But IEDs are the number one killer of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and emplacing one is an overtly hostile act.
This is just plain stupid.