Sunday, January 22, 2006

REMF alert!

And it's worse when the REMF is a lawyer:
An Army judge advocate general (JAG) temporarily banned Army and Marine Corps snipers from using a highly accurate open-tip bullet.

The JAG, we are told, mistakenly thought the open-tip round was the same as hollow-point ammunition, which is banned. The original open-tip was known as Sierra MatchKing and broke all records for accuracy in the past 30 years.

The difference between the open-tip and the hollow point is that the open tip is a design feature that improves accuracy while the hollow point is designed for increasing damage when it hits a target.

About 10 days ago, the Army JAG in Iraq ordered all snipers to stop using the open-tip 175-grain M118LR bullet, claiming, falsely, it was prohibited. Instead of the open-tip, snipers were forced to take M-60 machine gun rounds out of belts and use them instead.

The order upset quite a few people here and in Iraq who said the JAG ignored the basic principle of every military lawyer that there is a presumption of legality for all issued weapons or ammunition that are made at the military service level at the time they are acquired.

"She forced snipers to use less accurate ammunition, thereby placing U.S. forces and Iraqi civilians at greater risk," a Pentagon official said of the JAG, who was not identified by name. "And she incorrectly issued an order. JAGs may advise a commander, but they cannot issue orders."

After Army lawyers were finally alerted to the JAG's action, the order was lifted and the JAG was notified that the open tip was perfectly legal for use by snipers. However, the reversal was followed by the Army officials' taking retaliation against a sniper who blew the whistle on the bogus order. The sniper lost his job over a security infraction in reporting the JAG.
I'm waiting for the part of the story where the JAG is assigned to KP.

Has anyone else noticed the current infestation of lawyers in military activities? My fave from the early days in Afghanistan:
The Predator identified a group of cars and trucks fleeing the capital as a convoy carrying Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader. Under a previously worked-out agreement, one knowledgeable official said, the C.I.A. did not have the authority to "push the button." Nor did the nearby command-and-control suite of the Fifth Fleet, in Bahrain, where many of the war plans had been drawn up. Rather, the decision had to be made by the officers on duty at the headquarters of the United States Central Command, or CENTCOM, at MacDill Air Force Base, in Florida.

The Predator tracked the convoy to a building where Omar, accompanied by a hundred or so guards and soldiers, took cover. The precise sequence of events could not be fully learned, but intelligence officials told me that there was an immediate request for a full-scale assault by fighter bombers. At that point, however, word came from General Tommy R. Franks, the CENTCOM commander, saying, as the officials put it, "My JAG"—Judge Advocate General, a legal officer—"doesn't like this, so we're not going to fire." Instead, the Predator was authorized to fire a missile in front of the building—"bounce it off the front door," one officer said, "and see who comes out, and take a picture."CENTCOM suggested that the Predator then continue to follow Omar. The Hellfire, however, could not target the area in front of the building—in military parlance, it could not "get a signature" on the dirt there—and it was then agreed that the missile would attack a group of cars parked in front, presumably those which had carried Omar and his retinue. The missile was fired, and it "obliterated the cars," an official said. "But no one came out."

It was learned later from an operative on the ground that Omar and his guards had indeed been in the convoy and had assumed at the time that the firing came from rocket-propelled grenades launched by nearby troops from the Northern Alliance. A group of soldiers left the building and looked for the enemy. They found nothing, and Omar and his convoy departed. A short time later, the building was targeted and destroyed by F-18s. Mullah Omar survived.
A senior military officer viewed the failure to strike immediately as a symptom of "a cultural issue"—"a slow degradation of the system due to political correctness: 'We want you to kill the guy, but not the guy next to him.' No collateral damage." Others saw the cultural problem as one of bureaucratic, rather than political, correctness. Either way, the failure to attack has left Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "kicking a lot of glass and breaking doors," the officer said. "But in the end I don't know if it'll mean any changes."
Hey, Rummy! I got a new target for ya! And a sniper who needs his job back.