ISAF, SCR Address Military ROE and Tactical Directives
KABUL, Afghanistan - Dominic Medley, Senior Civilian Representative spokesman, and German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesman, addressed the issues against the military rules of engagement in Afghanistan and the tactical directives used to implement them. (ISAF Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Lester Colley)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tania Reid
ISAF Public Affairs Office
KABUL, Afghanistan (July 11) - “Our strategic imperative to reduce civilian causalities has not, and will not change,” said German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, International Security Assistance Force spokesman, at a weekly operational update press conference held at the Government Media and Information Center today.
Blotz and Dominic Medley, Senior Civilian Representative spokesman addressed the issues against the military rules of engagement in Afghanistan and the tactical directives used to implement them.
“We have been very clear that our partnership with the Afghan government is a counterinsurgency, or COIN campaign,” said Blotz. “At the center of this is that we must protect the population, both from the insurgency that preys upon it, and from the unnecessary causalities caused by friendly forces as they fight insurgents.”
With regards to the rules of engagement he reiterated that it has remained the same.
“Our rules of engagement are solid, and they have not changed,” said Blotz. “They are based on international law and are standardized across 47 nations, and describe the circumstances and limitations under which forces will begin or continue to engage in combat. This defines the”right and left limits” of what we will allow our forces to do as they fight.”
These limitations are detailed in the tactical directives which give guidance on how the troops should operate while in combat.
He added that the tactical directives tell troops what they should do while the rules of engagement instruct them what they can do. In an example he describes the difference between the two directives.
“If our troops are fired upon from a compound, under the laws of armed conflict…international law, that compound is a legal target,” the general said. “However, the current tactical directive will ask our troops to consider the minimal level of force that’s required to handle the situation.”
In the earlier years there were other methods used which are no longer considered before a less dangerous tactic.
“In the distant past we may have used an air strike to engage the enemy in the building which is still an option if the forces are in danger,” said Blotz. “But it may be possible to resolve the situation with a cordon and a call out by the Afghan National Security Forces. If that option seems viable, the commander should make the decision instead.”
At the moment, the application of the current tactical directive is being reviewed to ensure it is consistently being used across our force.
“It is important to remember that [ISAF] military forces always retain the right to self defense, if commanders believe their forces are in danger they are required to make decisions to protect themselves,” said Blotz..
The general said that ISAF’s strategic imperative efforts are important to gain the trust and support of the Afghan partners.
“Especially since the Taliban has increased civilian causalities dramatically over the same period,” he said. “Their tactics are indiscriminate and we’re working hard to focus the fight on the enemy.”
At the press conference Medley discussed the upcoming Kabul Conference where the Government of Afghanistan will present an Afghan-led plan for programs for improving their security, development and governance.
“This will be presented as a “contract” with the Afghan people,” Medley added. “The international community and donors are expected to support these plans and programs and to adjust their aid efforts to assist the government to deliver services.”
He said that NATO actively supports the conference and its outcomes and should be considered a part of a larger transition to Afghan’s lead and responsibility.