Hat Tip Blackie SM
Commanders have ordered a U.S. military unit in Afghanistan to patrol with unloaded weapons, according to a source in Afghanistan.
American soldiers in at least one unit have been ordered to conduct patrols without a round chambered in their weapons, an anonymous source stationed at a forward operating base in Afghanistan said in an interview. The source was unsure where the order originated or how many other units were affected.
When a weapon has a loaded magazine, but the safety is on and no round is chambered, the military refers to this condition as “amber status.” Weapons on “red status” are ready to fire—they have a round in the chamber and the safety is off.
The source stated that he had been stationed at the base for only a month, but the amber weapons order was in place since before he arrived. A NATO spokesman could not confirm the information, stating that levels of force are classified.
“Our overall aim is to defeat the insurgency which means we must gain and then maintain the support of the Afghan population,” said Lieutenant Commander Iain Baxter, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in a statement to HUMAN EVENTS. “This must be the objective of every action taken by ISAF service members, and it calls for responses that de-escalate situations where the use of deadly force may not be necessary. In doing this, leaders at all levels make enormous efforts to ensure that troops balance their own protection with the protection of the Afghan population.”
If there was a spate of friendly-fire casualties, then perhaps a change in the company’s rules would make sense. ISAF keeps no records of negligent discharges, however a search of casualties in Afghanistan showed only three fatalities due to friendly fire since January 2009—one from the U.K. and two from the Netherlands. With only three fatalities in the past 18 months—none of which were from the source’s unit—that argument doesn’t hold water.
“The idea that any combat unit would conduct any operation, including patrolling and even manning a security post—in which direct action may or may not take place—and not having weapons loaded, borders on being criminally negligent in my opinion,” says Lt. Col. W. Thomas Smith Jr., a recognized expert on terrorism and military issues. “This is nothing more than infusing politically correct restrictions into already overly restrictive rules of engagement.