8 July 2008

The Butter-Cutter On Sgt. J. Winnick And The ROEs

“Have you heard about a Sergeant John Winnick who is undergoing an Article 32 hearing for violating the Rules of Engagement [ROE] during his fourth tour of duty in Iraq,” I asked The Butter-Cutter. *

“Hold on. Ya mean ta tell me that this sergeant didn't know the ROE goin' on four tours in Iraq?” he asked with a note of disbelief.

“I'm not saying that he didn't know the ROE. He is being charged with, among other things, violating them. However, his platoon commander tried and failed to get clarification of the ROE elements of  'positive identification' and 'hostile intent' from his superior officers before he deployed. So, it appears, Sergeant Winnick's scout-sniper platoon went to war without a clear and up-to-date understanding of at least those parts of the ROE,” I tried to explain.

“Yeah, the most important parts of the ROE. Don't shoot 'til ya make positive identification. Like the bad guys wear black hats and the good guys wear white hats--since when? They ALL wear the same stuff 'n' they ALL have AKs--good guys and bad guys; that means, they ALL look alike! Now, you tell me: how d'ya make positive identification o' bad guys like that?” The Butter-Cutter asked.

“Well, I suppose, then, that the 'hostile intent' criterion of the ROE becomes the deciding factor; in other words, if someone threatens you with bodily harm, you are authorized to defend yourself,” I posited.

“Well, ya dodged the positive I.D. shit; like, ya don't have an answer. Winnick's a sniper. Snipers shoot long-range 'n' don't get up close 'n' personal that much. This time, he saw some rag-head doin' what looked like plantin' an IED 'n' he shot him. He figgered plantin' an IED meant this guy had a hard-on fer his fellow Marines. Waddaya say ta that?” he asked.

“First of all, you're right in saying that I don't know how to positively identify a bad guy if he isn't wearing distinctive clothing or carrying a distinctive weapon. Secondly, does the act of burying an IED amount to hostile intent? I would say so! But, it appears that the issue for a sniper is: can he positively identify the IED as . . . “

“Oh, stop it!” the Butter-Cutter bellowed in cutting me off. “Yer talkin' like them CYA officers who are tryin' ta make an example o' him by puttin' him in the brig. He . . .”

“Balderdash!” I shouted. “This is so serious, snipers must now get permission from a commissioned officer before they shoot someone, except in cases of self-defense.”

“Are you shittin' me? A Marine in combat must now radio an officer 'n' explain what he sees as hostile intent 'n' get that officer's permission before he shoots?” he groaned aloud.

“Evidently, that is now the case,” I answered.

“Well, let's see how that works. I call my platoon commander 'n' say:


        'Sir, I have a Hajji showin' hostile intent. Request permission ta shoot!' 


       'Well Marine. What is he doing that you interpret as hostile intent?'


       'Lieutenant, he just walked outta his house with a big hard-on.        

       I see his cock stickin' out in front o' him so he must have the intent 

       ta screw a Marine. Request permission ta shoot!'


       'What are you talking about Marine? Is this some kind of a Joke?'


       'Oops! Yer right, Lieutenant. That's not his cock. He's tryin' ta hid his 

       AK by stickin' it between his legs with the muzzle showin' out in 

       front LIKE a cock! Sir, this guy intends ta shoot someone. Request 

       permission ta shoot first!'


       'Alright, Marine, that sounds better. Permission granted!' “

“Whaaaaaaaat! This is not a joke! You . . .”

“BULL SHIT! Them ROEs are a joke 'n' everybody knows it. NOT me, NOT you, NOT anybody can make POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION of a bad guy when he doesn't wear a bad guy suit. An', what the f*** does HOSTILE INTENT mean when somebody ain't actually pointin' a gun at ya? Like we can read freakin' minds? The mother f***in' Spear Chuckers made up this shit ta cover their asses when one of us Snufffies does somethin' that pisses off some high muckety-muck. It's like Sergeant Winnick's company commander said, 'the Marine Corps eats its young'!"

Walking away from the Butter-Cutter, I could not shake loose the observation that, "the Marine Corps eats its young." Has Marine Corps leadership really come to that?

Semper Asking,

Anthony F. Milavic

Major USMC (Ret.)

* http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sniper2-2008jul02,0,7410113.story