From the Navy Times:
But there are several things Petraeus can and should do as he takes command in Kabul to turn the corner in this war:I'm currently reading Bernard Cornwell's take on the King Arthur legend. I'm in book three of the trilogy, Excalibur. The protagonist of the series is one of Arthur's followers, Lord Derfel, and in a scene just before a major battle he has this to say:
• Clarify the rules of engagement and ensure that the interpretation of those rules are consistent throughout the combat zone.
Troops from every service complain that the current rules tie their hands, put Americans and others at risk and are too easily exploited by the enemy.
Petraeus must seize the opportunity created by his arrival to craft clearer and more logical rules for how and when they can use lethal force — while still minimizing civilian casualties and collateral damage.
The current rules are simply too restrictive. Frustrations over those rules — which affect artillery fire, airstrikes and even mortar attacks — are intensifying as casualties rise. And in that department, June was shaping up as one of America’s worst months in Afghanistan.
Petraeus must walk delicate ground on this issue; loosening the rules of engagement will not play well with Afghan officials whose cooperation is essential to the war effort.
But that concern is overshadowed by the need to ensure that the U.S. troops putting themselves in harm's way every day have the confidence they need to do their jobs effectively.
Only a fool wants war, but once war starts then it cannot be fought half-heartedly. It cannot even be fought with regret, but must be waged with a savage joy in defeating the enemy, and it is that savage joy that inspires our bards to write their greatest songs about love and war. We warriors dressed for battle as we decked ourselves for love; we made ourselves gaudy, we wore our gold, we mounted crests on our silver-chased helmets, we strutted, we boasted, and when the slaughtering blades came close we felt as though the blood of the Gods coursed in our veins. A man should love peace, but if he cannot fight with all his heart then he will not know peace.I think Cornwell has the right of it, and not much has changed in 1500 years on this topic.