Defend Our Marines | August 12, 2007
The Haditha Test: Rules of Engagement 101
are in the lead armored HMMWV escorting a four-vehicle
convoy along HWY 1. There is a flash behind you followed by a loud
explosion as one of the NTVs [Non Tactical Vehicles] in the convoy
disappears in a cloud of dust and smoke.
two males 200m [meters] away from you mount a motorcycle and speed
males in a roadside stand 100m up the road run into a nearby house,
but you start taking small arms fire from a different house 150m west
of your position. What do you do?
A. You should respond with
deadly force to the hostile fire coming from the house, remain
vigilant to the other possible threats in the area.
You should engage the fleeing men on the motorcycle first because
they are beyond effective range if you wait.
Engage everywhere you see movement because there’s no telling who
detonated the IED.
The convoy you are in
suffers an IED attack on the unpopulated outskirts of Ramadi. As you
focus your attention on the location of the IED, you notice two
individuals in civilian clothes and no weapons jump up out of fighting
hole 40 meters away from where the IED exploded and run away from you.
You quickly ascertain the individuals were within command-detonation
range of the IED. Command detonation is a common method of detonation.
What can you do?
A. Nothing because you
don’t have enough information to know for certain that the fleeing men
detonated the IED.
B. You can engage with
deadly force, ONLY after you fire a warning shot first.
C. You may engage the
individuals with the necessary force, including deadly force, to
prevent their escape.
Stumped? The answers are:
A. You should respond with deadly force to the hostile fire coming
from the house, remain vigilant to the other possible threats in the
C. You may engage the individuals with the necessary force,
including deadly force, to prevent their escape, according to
Bargewell Exhibits 002873 thru 002876.
eerily similar to other reports you might have read about the incident
at Haditha, Iraq? Not really!
exhibits are attachments of training aids of Capt. Randy Stone. Stone
was the SJA of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines’ at
the time of the Haditha incident. He used them to teach 3/1 Marines
the ROE in Iraq. They are found in Maj. Gen. Eldon A. Bargewell's
once-secret 104-page report on his Haditha cover-up investigation
leaked to the Washington Post last April. Bargewell found
no specific cover-up, concluding instead that there was no interest at
any level in the Marine Corps chain of command for investigating
allegations of a massacre, the Post reported.
wonder. At the time Tim McGirk, Time magazine’s inventive
reporter in Iraq, was sending emails to Stone’s superiors at 1st
Marine Regiment that a berserk Marine had killed a car and a closet
full of innocent Iraqi men in retaliation for killing his brother.
Then his buddies lined up three households full of women and children
and gunned them down execution style. McGirk later revealed he had
obtained the information from two Iraqis that Marines already knew
were insurgent counter intelligence operatives looking for someone to
scam. McGirk didn’t and took the bait.
“Bargewell found that Huck's division staff viewed the allegations of
inappropriate killings as part of insurgent 'information operations'
and an attempt to make the Marines look bad,” the Post
recommended an investigation until a Time magazine reporter
began asking questions about the attack in January 2006. Maj. Gen.
Richard A. Huck, the division commander, dismissed the allegations as
insurgent propaganda," according to the Washington Post report
of April 27, 2007.
Bargewell exhibits 002873 thru 002876 were introduced as evidence
during the Article 32 hearing of Stone 18 months later. He was
subsequently accused of dereliction of duty for failing to adequately
investigate the matter. Last Thursday Lt. Gen. J.N. Mattis – the
convening authority for the investigation - dismissed all the charges
against Stone and LCpl Justin L. Sharratt, a SAW gunner accused of
murdering three brothers.
Ironically, Stone was a poster boy for President George W. Bush two
years ago during a speech celebrating V-J Day.
“Captain Stone proudly wears the uniform just as his grandfathers did
at Iwo Jima. He's guided by the same convictions they carried into
battle. He shares the same willingness to serve a cause greater than
himself. …,” Bush said in an August 30, 2005 speech at the Naval Air
Station North Island in San Diego, California. Less than three months
later Stone would become enmeshed in the Haditha tragedy.
used the PowerPoint slides Bargewell obtained to teach the Rules of
Engagement (ROE) to his fellow Marines preparing to engage in combat
in Iraq. Labeled “Situation 12” and “Situation 13,” they were training
aides aimed at giving Marines combat scenarios to consider. Every
Marine is required to know the Rules of Engagement during deployment,
months later Stone was at the center of massacre allegations leveled
by McGirk when he emailed the 1st Marine Regiment brass his
nonsensical allegations of murder and mayhem at Haditha. By then his
allegation were more refined, less hysterical in tone, Marines who
read them said.
like the rest of the Regiment’s officers, dismissed McGirk’s missives
as the ranting of a confused person. They didn’t know they were doing
so at their peril.
you do when a reporter from a nationally prominent news magazine makes
inane, unsupported allegation of murder and mayhem?
Ask him what he has been smoking.
Rely on the truth to set you free.
Depend on the knowledge your superiors will put the matter to rest
with cool reflection and an appropriate response.
All of the above.
None of the above.
Defend Our Marines
Note: Nat Helms is a Contributing Editor to Defend Our
Marines. He served three tours in Vietnam and, most
recently, is the author of
My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story (Meredith Books, 2007)