Peters distorts directive on rules of engagement to ask, "Can we win any kind of war without killing the enemy?"


During an appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Fox News contributor Ralph Peters attacked Gen. Stanley McChrystal's tactical directive meant to reduce civilian deaths in Afghanistan by asking, "Can we win any kind of war without killing the enemy?" However, in the directive, McChrystal stated, "We must fight the insurgents, and will use the tools at our disposal to both defeat the enemy and protect our forces."

Peters: Military's rules of engagement prohibits "killing the enemy"

Peters asks: "Can we win any kind of war without killing the enemy?" Discussing the American offensive in Marja, Afghanistan, Peters said, "General McChrystal's plan relies on protecting the population and not on killing Taliban. He's de-emphasizing that." Peters then asked, "Can we win any kind of war without killing the enemy?" [Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, 2/17/09]

Directive states "[w]e must fight the insurgents" and "use the tools at our disposal" to defeat enemy

McChrystal: "We must fight the insurgents." In declassified portions of a revised "Tactical Directive" to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan issued in July 2009, McChrystal wrote that American troops should avoid "causing civilian casualties or excessive damage and thus alienating the people" and that "excessive use of force resulting in an alienated population will produce far greater risks." However, undermining Peters' claim, McChrystal also wrote, "Our strategic goal is to defeat the insurgency threatening the stability of Afghanistan," adding, "We must fight the insurgents, and will use the tools at our disposal to both defeat the enemy and protect our forces." [NATO, 7/6/09]

U.N. credits measures with reduced civilian deaths. In its annual report on Afghan civilians, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan documented a 28 percent reduction in civilian casualties caused by the Afghan National Security Force and international forces in 2009. The report partially credited McChrystal's directive.

From the report:

Pro-Government forces - Afghan National Security Forces and International Military (IM) forces - were responsible for 596 recorded deaths; this is 25% of the total civilian casualties recorded in 2009. This is a reduction of 28% from the total number of deaths attributed to pro-Government forces in 2008. This decrease reflects measures taken by international military forces to conduct operations in a manner that reduces the risk posed to civilians.

Notwithstanding some positive trends, actions by PGF continued to take an adverse toll on civilians. UNAMA HR recorded 359 civilians killed due to aerial attacks, which constitutes 61% of the number of civilian deaths attributed to pro-Government forces. This is 15% of the total number of civilians killed in the armed conflict during 2009. IM forces and ANSF also conducted a number of ground operations that caused civilian casualties, including a large number of search and seizure operations. These often involved excessive use of force, destruction to property and cultural insensitivity, particularly towards women.

UNAMA HR remains concerned at the location of military bases, especially those that are situated within, or close to, areas where civilians are concentrated. The location and proximity of such bases to civilians runs the risk of increasing the dangers faced by civilians, as such military installations are often targeted by the armed opposition. Civilians have been killed and injured as a result of their proximity to military bases, homes and property have been damaged or destroyed; this can lead to loss of livelihood and income. The location of military facilities in or near residential neighborhoods has also had the effect of generating fear and mistrust within communities and antipathy towards IM forces given their experience of being caught in the crossfire or being the victims of AGE attacks on Government or pro- Government military installations


International military forces did take strategic and specific steps to minimize civilian casualties in 2009. The change in ISAF command, clearer command structures, and a new tactical directive have all contributed to the efforts by ISAF to reduce the impact of the armed conflict on civilians.


High-level policy decisions on the conduct of international military forces have contributed to an improved environment for civilians affected by the armed conflict. The 2 July Tactical Directive issued by COMISAF, applicable to all forces of ISAF/USFOR-A, was designed to reduce civilian casualties. It limited the use of force -- such as close air support -- in residential/populated areas. It also revised the guidelines for operations involving residential compounds, and searches of houses and religious establishments; which now should always be accompanied, or conducted, by the ANSF.conducted, by the ANSF. [United Nations, January 2010]

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Afghanistan
Fox News Channel
Ralph Peters
The O'Reilly Factor
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