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NATO to Award “Courageous Restraint”?

Photo by LCpl. Tommy Bellegarde; cropped by Beyond My Ken  (talk) 14:22, 14 April 2010 (UTC)According to this story (hat tip to Bob Murphy), NATO is considering honoring soldiers who courageously . . . choose not to fight.

Most military awards in the past have been given for things like soldiers taking out a machine gun nest or saving their buddies in a firefight, said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall, the senior NATO enlisted man in Afghanistan.

“We are now considering how we look at awards differently,” he said.

British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, the NATO commander of troops in southern Afghanistan, proposed the idea of awarding soldiers for “courageous restraint” during a visit by Hall to Kandahar Airfield in mid April. [NATO commander, Gen. Stanley] McChrystal is now reviewing the proposal to determine how it could be implemented, Hall said. . . .

“We routinely and systematically recognize valor, courage and effectiveness during kinetic combat operations,” said a statement recently posted on the NATO coalition’s website by the group, the Counterinsurgency Advisory and Assistance Team.

“In a [counterinsurgency] campaign, however, it is critical to also recognize that sometimes the most effective bullet is the bullet not fired,” it said. . . .

“There should be an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the troops who exhibit extraordinary courage and self-control by not using their weapons, but instead taking personal risk to de-escalate tense and potentially disastrous situations,” the statement said.

Of course, the “potentially disastrous situations” of which the NATO statement speaks are those involving the possibility of civilian casualties, because, as conventional wisdom and McChrystal would have us believe, “the war effort hinges on the ability to protect the population and win support away from the Taliban.” But, such “wisdom” notwithstanding, all wars have hinged and always will hinge on the ability to effectively fight and thus ultimately defeat the enemy, something that often necessitates attacking combatants and military assets in areas populated with civilians. Rather than diminish our military effectiveness by awarding soldiers for holding their fire, we should focus on using our overwhelming firepower to quickly destroy the Taliban with as little loss of life—American life—as possible, righteously recognizing that any civilians killed in the process are either guilty of sheltering our enemy or are genuine innocents whose tragic deaths were necessitated by Islamist aggression.

(For historical examples of effective war waging involving civilians, read John David Lewis’s TOS articles “William Tecumseh Sherman and the Moral Impetus for Victory” and “‘Gifts from Heaven’: The Meaning of the American Victory over Japan, 1945” or buy his new book, Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History. As to why the aggressor in a war is the murderer of any innocents killed by either side in that war, read this post.)

Image: Wiki Commons

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