Monday, March 14, 2005

Subtle Pressure

I am going to take a piece of one of SFAlphaGeek's stories out of context to reinforce my point about "high visibility" incidents garnering an ever increasing amount of scrutiny. It goes to the point, that because of the visibility generated by the Sgrena affair, it is possible (and based on my experience, likely) that our troops feel increased pressure while manning vehicle checkpoints. Check this bit out...

"...When we got back, we talked it over. The gunner was terribly embarrassed - the Army conditions you to think of an accidental discharge (an AD), or what they've lately taken to calling an ND (negligent discharge), as a personal failing - something that might happen to a private in a finance unit, but not to an experienced SF operator...."

I am sorry, but calling a like incident a "negligent discharge" before any investigation is conducted, implies that the discharger is guilty, and it carries such a heavy, negative connotation that it wouldn't shock me if some troops directly modified their behavior in some manner, in order to avoid committing this most henious crime. Should ADs be taken lightly, no, but in their zeal to eliminate ADs by renaming them more negatively, they do take a very real chance that at the individual level, measures have been taken to avoid NDs. Anyone who has been around troops for any length of time, with their eyes open, knows this. Most of the measures that will be taken will lessen their individual readiness posture.

People make mistakes all the time, but in the end, solutions must reflect an outcome that balances the risks/penalties of the current situation with the risks/penalties of a future situation infused with a more restrictive (by direct order or by preceived pressure) operating scheme in place. It is important that those who get the "heat" for NDs, or perceived the "heat" from the Sgrena episode, that they only pass down "heat" that will actually improve the safety and readiness of our troops...not corrections that simply reduce the chance for another "high vis" incident, while potentially adding risk to those in contact.


Sus said...

I thought the very same thing, as I read SFAG's story about the AD/NDs. It seemed to me that by naming something with a negative conotation, you're just setting everyone up for failure, right from the get-go. Way to kill morale!

Then, . . . . after so much international press about little miss Sgrena, the soldiers get tried and convicted by the international public - and to top it off, a public investigation takes place. That's a lot of garbage to put in the head of any soldier - it's no wonder it might take just a fraction of a second longer to make the decision to fire. Someone needs to come forward, loudly, and reaffirm those soldiers' actions. Where's Gen. Patton when ya need him?

Besides, didn't I learn somewhere in my military science classes that politicians set the objective and soldiers carry out the missions that meet the objective? I say let them do their jobs and stop hog-tying them with ROEs that try to appease everyone else.

P.S. On a lighter side, did you goal??

Papa Ray said...


This example is a little different, but with the same results.

Back in the day, we would call for artillery support. Some times the first spotter rounds would be so far off you could not even see them. So you would call correction by sound (almost impossible in the dense jungle).

We had a series of bad luck incidents almost all within a six week period.

Friendly fire killed several US troops, and in some of the other cases, civilians.

For months, we could not get fire support from some units unless there was nothing around for miles and other impossible conditions.

That of course, was like no support at all.

Papa Ray
West Texas

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