- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No hesitation here

In his July 20 Inside the Ring column, Bill Gertz reported that an unnamed military officer and Defense official have asserted that instruction provided at the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School includes the admonition that to win the hearts and minds of the people, U.S. personnel may have to be willing to “take casualties” by “hesitating” to use an appropriate amount of force — to include deadly force — in defending themselves (“Deadly hesitation”).

The military officer and Defense official who leveled this misinformed criticism against the faculty and staff of the JAG Legal Center and School chose to remain anonymous, but I wish personally to advise The Washington Times and its readers of the true nature of the instruction at issue.

The concept of “hesitancy” is not included in any aspect of the Rules of Engagement (ROE) or Escalation of Force (EOF) instruction provided by the JAG Legal Center and School or in any of its training products. Any assertion to the contrary is inaccurate.

Consistent with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Standing Rules of Engagement, the JAG Legal Center and School instruction provides that a soldier facing imminent danger has the right to use “all necessary means available and all appropriate actions … in self-defense.” This includes, depending upon the tactical situation, the immediate use of deadly force. Emphasis is placed on the fact that EOF procedures do not limit this right.

In today’s complex counterinsurgency environment, EOF procedures are employed in situations such as traffic control when tactical considerations merit their use. EOF procedures are sequential actions that begin with nonlethal force and progress to the use of lethal actions when such actions are required. These procedures are not mandatory, and, accordingly, soldiers are taught that the immediate use of deadly force is authorized against a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent.

Properly implemented in appropriate tactical situations, however, EOF procedures afford soldiers with more time and information with which to assess potential threats and thus to act to markedly reduce incidents involving the killing of innocent civilians. In accordance with counterinsurgency doctrine, there are times when the best weapons to use are those that “do not shoot.”

ROE and EOF are the essential means by which responsible commanders regulate what they deem to be an appropriate use of force in accomplishing their missions. The instruction dealing with these subjects provided by the JAG Legal Center and School, as well as JAG Corps ROE-EOF training products, appropriately balance the soldier’s inherent right of self-defense to include the use of deadly force, with use of force principles and EOF procedures designed to prevent the loss of innocent lives.


U.S. Army


Crack down on criminals, not gun owners

Unfortunately for the residents of the District of Columbia and Maryland, the actions proposed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Gov. Martin O'Malley will do little to reduce the level of violence occurring in this area (“D.C., Maryland gun task force targets sellers,” Page 1, Saturday). Linda Singer, the attorney general for the District, should concentrate on keeping the people who commit crimes incarcerated rather than investigating licensed firearms sellers such as Realco Guns in District Heights, mentioned in the article. I have purchased firearms from Realco. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed the clerk refusing to sell a firearm to an individual whom he suspected of participating in a straw purchase. (A straw purchase is any purchase in which the buyer is not eligible to own a firearm according to the law and therefore purchases the item through a proxy buyer. A straw purchase is a felony under the Gun Control Act of 1968.)

Firearms don’t commit crimes; people do. The problem in the District and Maryland is that criminal activity is tolerated, beginning with the lack of discipline in schools and including the lean sentences imposed for criminal activity. Just recently in Prince George’s County, a five-year prison sentence was handed down in a case involving the stabbing in the groin of a deputy sheriff. The attacker should have been charged with attempted murder and sentenced to 20 years.

Story Continues →