The national security panel at the Reclaim American Liberty conference in New York on Wednesday considered (1) whether we have the right legal architecture for maintaining our security and (2) whether we have the right battlefield architecture for this purpose. I summarized the panel discussion regarding the first question here. Tonight I’ll write about the second.
The key panelist on our “battlefield architecture” was Col. Allen West (U.S. Army, Ret.). Col. West served as a commander in Iraq and, after retiring from the Army, served as an adviser in Afghanistan.
West retired from the Army with full benefits after being accused of misconduct in connection with the interrogation of an Iraqi police officer. Information obtained during the interrogation is said to have led to the arrest of two insurgents and the cessation of attacks on West’s 4th Infantry Division battalion. At a hearing, West testified that he would act as he did if he had it to do over again. “If it’s about the lives of my men and their safety, I’d go through hell with a gasoline can,” West said.
Not surprisingly, West was blunt about our military’s rules of engagement — they are not suited for the 21st century battlefield and they put our troops in danger. On the 21st century battlefield, our enemy has removed its uniforms and taken to hiding among the population. Our rules of engagement enable them to obtain an advantage by adopting these tactics.
West noted that in a fire-fight, our troops typically have about five seconds before the dying starts. Yet, we require them to hold their fire until the intentions of the enemy have been verified and the potential for collateral has been assessed. This can’t be done in five seconds. Thus, our troops are at a significant disadvantage.
In addition, when the enemy holes up in a mosque, we cannot attack. Thus, the enemy is able to use our own “politically correct” rules against us.
West argued that “top-down” rules of engagement are inherently inadequate on the 21st century battlefield. When these rules are driven by political correctness, our ability to fight is undermined even more.
The same lesson applies to the homeland, which West correctly considers part of the 21st century battlefield. The Fort Hood massacre illustrates the point. In this instance, political correctness prevented us from dealing with the enemy before he dealt with us.
Col. West is running for Congress in Florida’s 22nd congressional district. Currently, that district is represented by Ron Klein, who defeated West in 2008 by a margin of 55-45. However, the seat was held until 2006 by Republican Clay Shaw, and we have seen that making up a 10-point gap from 2008 is, in the current environment, hardly out of the question. The Weekly Standard wrote about the race here.
West, an African-American, is quite charismatic and, if elected to Congress, would be a marvelous spokesman for the conservative cause. If you wish to donate to the campaign, you can do so here.
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