Soldiers Ordered Not to Shoot Taliban Planting Mines?

by David French

I really, really hope this report is not true. From the Daily Mail:

Soldiers were ordered not to open fire on Taliban fighters planting mines in case they disturb local people, it has been claimed.

U.S. military chiefs ordered troops to exercise ‘courageous constraint’ and even warned them they could be charged with murder if they shot any Taliban without permission from above. 

The claims were made by a former Royal Marine who spoke out following the inquest into the death of Sergeant Peter Rayner last week.

At the hearing in Bradford, his widow Wendy Rayner revealed how her husband was blown up days after senior officers had apparently ‘laughed off’ his complaints that insurgents were being allowed to plant explosive devices unchallenged.

I would be astounded if this is actual NATO policy in Afghanistan. I can think of few things more demoralizing to soldiers than an order not to shoot a positively identified enemy combatant in the very act of planting mines — planting mines on roads you’ll soon be asked to patrol. Rules of engagement are typically classified, but that shouldn’t stop an enterprising congressman from making an inquiry to the Pentagon. “Courageous constraint” is a recipe not just for death and defeat but also contempt from the very locals whose beauty sleep officials were trying to protect.

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