(by Greg Corombos, WND) — If President Obama fights the Islamic State, or ISIS, under the same rules of engagement he uses in Afghanistan, the U.S. mission is doomed, warns a Pentagon official and prolific military embed reporter who says Obama hasn’t thought through the nation’s long-term goals.
Reagan administration Pentagon official Bing West blasted both Obama and former President George W. Bush for choosing nation building over victory and refusing to take any action that might have the slightest chance of endangering civilians, putting U.S. troops in a position that made progress almost impossible in Afghanistan and exposes the poor judgment of political leaders and military commanders who have no personal experience in combat.
West, author of the new book, “One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War,” also scolded Obama for thinking America’s enemies would go away if it just stopped fighting them.
“He did not want to be involved in wars, and he told us, ‘I’m just stopping these wars.’ Well, hello? If the other guy’s still trying to kill you, you can’t just stop a war. So he made the great mistake of pulling us out of Iraq, and I’m very worried that he’s still promised that we’re pulling out of Afghanistan completely,” he said. “If you allow those who intend to kill you to plot when they’re going to kill you, you’re going to get killed. So now he has been forced by public opinion to go back in against the Islamists who have taken over half of Iraq.”
West is very critical of Obama’s semantics in how he addresses the ISIS threat. Obama repeatedly has insisted there will be no “boots on the ground.” West said a thousand U.S. forces are already there. He said the government can officially designate the troops to be under CIA command and thus deny the U.S. has ground forces there.
In the book, West recounts his time with a Marine Corps platoon patrolling Sangin District, the deadliest area in Afghanistan. West describes Sangin as a place where the Taliban retreated after being forced back from other parts of the country. The dense vegetation made it very hard for Marines to see the enemy, but the rules of engagement made it even more difficult.
Due to intense protests from the Afghan government whenever civilian casualties occurred, the U.S. went to tremendous lengths to prevent future deaths from happening. In doing so, West said U.S. commanders tied the hands of soldiers and Marines in unreasonable ways.
“I am one of the few who doesn’t hold in high respect our four-star generals who most others know by household names, because I believe that those generals never understood the nature of the war,” West said. “They told us that we would go over and persuade the population to join the side of the government and to become democrats, and it never happened.
“They said in order to do this, we had to avoid any civilian casualties. The generals said to do that, you will have positive identification (PID) before you take a shot. Well, the fact of the matter is, the other side isn’t stupid,” he added, noting that those rules didn’t stand up very well to the reality on the ground.
“Usually, in a firefight you very rarely see the other human being. You only see him for about a second or two and then he’s gone again, because he’s hiding to stay alive and you’re hiding to stay alive. The notion that you needed positive identification, we all knew on the lines, everyone from a lieutenant colonel on down, that you really couldn’t do that.”