- 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.

BRIG. GEN. CLYDE J. TATE II

U.S. Army

Charlottesville

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.

Mr. Fenty and Mr. O'Malley would better serve their constituents if they would crack down on criminals and leave the law-abiding firearm owner alone.

JOHN SMITH

Accokeek

Through the back door

The article “Virginia’s bid for help with illegals nixed” (Page 1, yesterday) brings an outrage to the attention of the public: The federal government claims not to have the resources to aid the state in providing training so prison personnel will be able to begin deportation procedures for those in the justice system who are found to be in this country illegally.

We have spent a staggering half-trillion dollars on the occupation of Iraq so that, in the president’s words, we will not have to fight the terrorists over here. At the same time, we are told that no resources are available to ensure that government gets the upper hand in the war against illegal aliens, which we already are fighting “over here.”

Those who broke into our country through the back door, as we estimate approximately 12 million people already living here have done, have every reason to believe that even if a comprehensive immigration bill is passed, the federal government has no intention of carrying out its provisions for enforcement.

Is it any wonder that responsive, sensible, and courageous officials such as Hazelton, Pa., Mayor Louis J. Barletta, who are accountable to the people, have sought to enforce immigration law on the local level as the feds turn their backs on the citizenry?

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.

Peace at any price

Chuck Woolery’s rebuttal (“Global rule of law, not law of force,” Letters, Sunday) to ThomasSowell’scolumn “Morally paralyzed” (Commentary, Thursday) is coming from some world that I do not recognize. His claim that humanity has chosen the “rule of force” over the “rule of law” does not compute.

Laws mean nothing unless they are backed up by force. Our current illegal immigration crisis is a perfect example. Mr. Woolery proposes development of a global rule of law that would “eliminate war as a means of solving problems.” How could that be enforced without involving war?

In the United States, practically every new law, even reconsideration of existing laws, involves a major struggle between our two political parties. Both groups of people are, by and large, from the same culture with similar religious beliefs. Now try to imagine the possibility of developing an acceptable global law, for which it would be necessary to obtain agreement from (at least) all of the most powerful countries in the world. We already have seen the result of one attempt, the United Nations, and it’s not even close.

Mr. Woolery categorizes his opponents as backing “war at any price.” He fails to recognize that peace at any price can be even more costly.

DENIS ABLES

Vienna