January 5, 2011

The lead prosecutor in the case, Maj. Nicholas Gannon, told the judge Wednesday that his evidence will show Wuterich killed five men who drove up in a car immediately after the bombing.

Gannon said he also will show that Wuterich caused the deaths of six people in one of four homes stormed that day by Marines under his command.

Eight other victims who were killed in a second house also died because of Wuterich’s actions, the prosecutor said.

“The accused is responsible for the deaths of 19 of the 24,” Gannon said

 What the generals and lawyers forget is that the SSgt Wuterich prosecution undermines their entire US Marine Corps tactical and strategic war fighting doctrine. 

In the late 70s and early 80s, the Marine Corps completely reformed its war fighting doctrine. The unique aspect of this reform is that it was initiated at the ‘grass roots’ or junior officer level.

The reform doctrine (now current doctrine) was based on the US Air Force Colonel John Boyd analysis titled: ‘Patterns of Conflict’ [1] This brief consisted of 196 slides that Col Boyd verbally hammered at you for 8 hours. If you could not give him 8 hours to listen, you would not receive the brief, no matter what your rank and especially, if you were a general officer.

Colonel Boyd [2] developed the theory that a decision cycle (Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action or ODAA loop) is essential to adapting and surviving on the battlefield.

Boyd theorized that large organizations such as corporations, governments, or militaries possessed a hierarchy of OODA loops at tactical, grand-tactical (operational art), and strategic levels. In addition, he stated that most effective organizations have a highly decentralized chain of command that utilizes objective-driven orders, or directive control, rather than method-driven orders in order to harness the mental capacity and creative abilities of individual commanders at each level. [3]

In other words, decentralize the decision making; push the decision making authority down the chain of command encouraging initiate at the lowest levels to seize fleeting battlefield opportunities where ever they were suddenly discovered.

Of course, the first issue for the general officers, as they attempted the cognitive assimilation of Boyd’s discourse, was control. Their question: “How do we, as division, corps and army commanders, control these ‘Boydian’ military operations?” Col Boyd answer was simple. “You control the whole thing with trust.” Trust in your subordinates and with their trust in you.  

The US Marine Corps Warfighting Manual (FMFM-1) [4] states this strongly in several passages but best in these two:

Strong leadership which earns the respect and trust of subordinates can limit the effects of fear.[5]

trust is an essential trait among leaders, trust by seniors in abilities of their subordinates and by juniors in the competence and support of their seniors. Trust must be earned, and actions which undermine trust must meet with strict censure.[6](Emphasis added)

How can squad leaders, who follow their ROE (Rules of Engagement)[7], their tactical training, their senior’s orders, possible exhibit trust when they see one of their fellow NCOs in front of a politically motivated court martial for their lawful combat actions?


Share your soldiers story with us like hundreds of soldiers have already done.


Yes, the ‘accused’ is responsible for 19 deaths, as is his platoon leader, company commander, battalion commander and up through the chain of command to the President of the United States, however, they were lawful deaths because they occurred in combat under a Laws of War ROE.

Semper Fi,

Bob  Weimannn
LtCol. USMC  (Ret)


[2]Robert Coram, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changes the Art of War; (Q-MB, 2002) http://www.amazon.com/Boyd-Fighter-Pilot-Who-Changed/dp/0316881465#_



[5]Ibid., p. 12

[6]Ibid., p. 45

[7]http://warchronicle.com/DefendOurMarines/Weimann/LawsOfWar_6SEPT10.htm – “The Laws of War are fundamentally different from the Rules of Law because they define the conduct and responsibilities of belligerent nations, neutral nations and individuals engaged in warfare, in relation to each other and to protected persons, usually meaning civilians, wounded and POWs. The principles of distinction, military necessity and proportionality are in play. For example: Under the Laws of War killing civilians is to be avoided (not forbidden) but can occur because of the need of ‘military necessity’. The individual Marine and Soldier also fight under a stated ROE (Rules of Engagement) based on the Laws of War.”


Bob Weimann is former Commanding Officer, Kilo Co., 3/1
and a senior contributing editor to Defend Our Marines.


Read more on the Haditha case by Bob Weimann: 

Open Letter to the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps concerning the 3/1 Haditha Marines February 8, 2008.

Huzzah! Huzzah! HUZZAHHH! June 6, 2008.

The Case for a Squad Leader: SSgt Wuterich in Haditha July 25, 2008.

Open Letter to General Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps (2003-2006) October 11, 2008

Undue Influence from the Start, October 30, 2008.

pen Letter to General Peter W. Chiarelli, Commander of the Multi-National Corps in Iraq (November 2005-February 2006)February 8, 2009.

The Loss of Strategic Legitimacy, December 1, 2009.

Political Equivocation at LtCol Chessani’s Board of InquiryDecember 6, 2009.


Explore Haditha documents:

Haditha evidence room


Go to the Defend Our Marines main page