- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Petraeus on rules

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus sent a letter yesterday to all U.S. and allied troops in Iraq that military officials say helps clarify current rules of engagement that many in Iraq view as vague and dangerous.

“The environment in Iraq is the most challenging that I have seen in over 32 years of service,” Gen. Petraeus wrote in the two-page letter. “Indeed, few soldiers have ever had to contend with the reality of an enemy willing to blow himself up for his twisted cause.

“In view of that, as you conduct your daily operations, remember that you have every right to protect yourself, even as you attempt to prevent situations from escalating without good reason,” the four-star general stated. A copy of the letter was obtained by Inside the Ring.

Gen. Petraeus reportedly is concerned about unintended consequences from confrontations with insurgents in Iraq because some young leaders are unsure how to react to what the military calls “escalation of force” situations.

Before taking over as the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Petraeus said one of his first jobs would be to clarify rules of engagement, a problem identified in this column for the past several weeks.

One Army sergeant said the current rules of engagement “don’t give us very much leeway with self-defense.”

“The right of self-defense under the rules is not clear” and as a result “it is hard for soldiers to distinguish when is the proper time to use self-defense and when it is not,” the sergeant said.

ONI on China

The Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) has produced a 130-page report on China’s navy that reveals new details of its structure, doctrine and function.

Key to China’s naval forces are new and deadlier submarines, and Beijing is producing several types at a very rapid pace, including five new ballistic-missile submarines.

The report identified what it called Beijing’s “capability of nuclear counter-attacks,” a reference to new missile submarines that will be equipped with JL-2 long-range nuclear missiles.

China’s navy also is beefing up “integrated combat capabilities” to better conduct combat in “offshore campaigns,” the report stated.

“In accordance with the principle of smaller but more efficient troops, the [People’s Liberation Army] navy has compressed the chain of command and reorganized the combat forces in a more scientific way while giving prominence to building maritime combat forces, especially amphibious combat forces,” it stated.

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