Rules of engagement and civilian deaths

The ‘rules of engagement’ in modern warfare in relation to civilian deaths are a prominent factor in the ‘Hit & Run’ book and subsequent calls for an inquiry in New Zealand forces involved in attacks on two Afghan villages in 2010.

The US military played a prominent role, providing the faulty ‘intelligence’ that prompted the attacks, and also most of the fire power that caused the deaths and injuries of civilians and the destruction of their property.

Coincidentally this report from the Guardian: Mosul’s children were shouting beneath the rubble. Nobody came

Coalition bombs buried more than a hundred people in the ruins of three houses and raised fresh questions about US rules of engagement

By the time rescuers finally arrived no one was left alive. For almost a week desperate neighbours had scraped through the rubble, searching for as many as 150 people who lay buried after three homes in a west Mosul suburb were destroyed by coalition airstrikes.

Neighbours said at least 80 bodies had been recovered from one house alone, where people had been encouraged by local elders to take shelter. Rescuers were continuing to dig through the ruins, and the remains of two other houses nearby, which had also been pulverised in attacks that were described as “relentless and horrifying”.

This illustrates risks of modern asymmetric warfare, but civilian casualties have long been prevalent in conflict zones.

The US military said it was launching an investigation. Cololnel Joseph Scrocca, from the US-led command in Baghdad, said “the coalition has opened a formal civilian casualty credibility assessment on this allegation” from Mosul.

That sounds appropriate, but it is often difficult to get comprehensive evidence from a war zone still under fire.

Residents in Mosul Jadida say no Isis members were hiding among the civilians, although dozens of militants had been attempting to defend the area from an attack by Iraqi special forces.

Isis has been widely accused of using civilians as human shields by positioning guns and fighters on top of houses. Most residents at the scene said that while the group’s members were indeed on the roof of at least one of the homes, those who took shelter below did so willingly.

A very difficult situation.

‘Terms of engagement’ should indeed be rechecked.

And another thing – the US military has long had a reputation for it’s lack of subtlety in attack, it’s rip shit and bust blast to smithereens approach.

Might is not always the right way to do things.

The Nation: Iraq/Daesh, Maori seats, data

Today on The Nation:

As the battle for Mosul heats up talks to Gerry Brownlee about NZ’s role in Iraq.

Brownlee has just attended a meeting in France between the coalition countries trying to sort out Iraq.

Brownlee says a reconstruction team in Iraq is not on the table… but will see what requests come through.

Brownlee says NZ troops are “absolutely not” involved in combat in Iraq.

Brownlee confirms NZ troops have travelled outside of Taji to another camp near Baghdad.

What’s the end goal for our role in Iraq? Brownlee says it’s to ensure a stable civilian Govt in Iraq.

Live tweeting :

Fighting Daesh on the ground in Mosul is the easy part. We will win this battle. Fighting the ideology is the hard par.

NZ cannot be naïve about Daesh. Its ability to ideologically inspire people is scary. Thus, beating it in Iraq not sufficient.

How the West deals with the Kurds, who has suffered most with Daesh, will be interesting. I fear Turkey’s interests win out…

Turkish P Erdogan has been using rhetoric which evokes the Ottoman Empire. Fear is he has designs on Mosul and curtailing Kurds.

For me the broader question is: is it pertinent to NZ’s foreign policy to be part of America’s international security community?

If answer is yes then participating in American-led initiatives like Iraq is probably a price we have to pay.

Answering no is only palatable if you think NZ has zero security risks in an increasingly geopolitically sensitive Asia-Pacific.

I begrudgingly accept our Iraq action is a necessary activity. However, transparency is critical. Brownlee not convincing me.

Iraq’s problems are deeper than Daesh. Daesh is a symptom, not a cause.

Maiki Sherman, Chris Wikaira and Ella Henry on next year’s fight for the Maori seats… how crucial will they be for forming a Govt?

Ella Henry says it’s going to be a social media-driven campaign.

Sherman says Nanaia Mahuta has come out fighting after the King’s speech endorsing the Maori Party earlier this year (and also points out the questions will be asked what Mahuta has done for Maori after 20 years in Parliament).

Will Mana and the Maori Party do a deal? Sherman says she doesn’t think they’ll go down that path.

Te Tai Tonga and Te Tai Hauauru are the electorates to watch says Sherman.

Sherman on candidates in Māori seats: the people want to see that you’ve been peeling spuds or washing dishes at the marae.

Data Futures chair (and former Auckland City Missioner) Diane Robertson on what the Govt’s doing with your data… and how’s she’s trying to boost the public’s trust.

The Govt is collecting and sharing more data about us – but how do we make sure it’s being used the right way?

 

 

Drip feed to Iraq

I think we’re a step closer to going and sorting Iraq out.

Getting Iraqi soldiers all fighting together for a common cause against insurgents who control significant parts of the country including the second largest city of Mosul will be very challenging for a small number of Kiwi soldier trainers.