The Rules That Take American Lives

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: War and Military  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is an essay about the Rules of Engagement.

Submitted: December 10, 2013

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Submitted: December 10, 2013



They are heroes. We see them, walk past them, and sit next to them during transportation. Some of us know them individually and some of us don’t. They all wear a uniform that represents purpose and integrity. They defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic. They are the men in U.S. military, and there is a problem threatening the safety of our protectors of the Constitution. This problem is known as the Rules of Engagement (ROE).

According to Free Dictionary, the Rules of Engagement are “A directive issued by competent military authority that delineates the limitations and circumstances under which forces will initiate and prosecute combat engagement with other forces encountered.” In my opinion, these rules disable our soldiers to do their job, which as previously stated, is to protect the U.S. from foreign enemies. These rules apply to all branches of the military. The rules are intended to protect the lives of those who are not shooting at U.S. soldiers. So what happens if a U.S. soldier shoots someone whom he or she suspects to be a threat? The U.S. soldier is persecuted in the United States court of law and is sentenced to prison for murder. These rules are unjust and cause our soldiers to hesitate in war in fear of being persecuted by the court.

Marcus Luttrell served our nation as a Navy Seal. This man was placed in a situation where he was limited by the Rules of Engagement, which clouded his judgment in war. Luttrell and his team, Seal Team 10, were operating inside enemy lines in a mission known as “Operation Redwing.” Luttrell and three of his teammates were preparing for an assault when their position was compromised by local farmers, whom they had captured. These farmers threatened the mission because if the SEALs let them go, and the farmers told the Taliban of their whereabouts, the SEALs very well would be history. The situation was clear: kill the innocent men or let them go and risk their going straight to the Taliban. According to the Rules of Engagement, killing the unarmed farmers would be murder and the SEALs who were trying to protect their country, would serve significant prison time with rapists and murderers.

The decision came upon Luttrell’s shoulders. Because Luttrell began to think about his Christian upbringing and because he was afraid of being pursued as a murderer in the U.S., he decided to let the men go. In his memoir, Lone Survivor, Luttrell states, “It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a fucking liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit” (206). Shortly after the farmers were let go, they went straight to the Taliban warriors and revealed the SEALs’ position. Before the SEALs knew it, 150 Taliban warriors were surrounding them. They killed all the SEALs except, miraculously, Luttrell, who got away. The Rules of Engagement caused this soldier to lose his teammates because he was hesitant. Hesitant, isn’t a word that belongs in combat: it swayed the life and death decision.

Another situation that makes one question these rules is recorded in Stjepan Gabriel Mestrovic’s book Rules of Engagement? : A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime - Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq. Mestrovic states, “Various soldiers and Marines were being charged with murder throughout the years 2006 and 2007 for their actions during some of these operations — including four soldiers who took part in Operation Iron Triangle. The problem lies in ‘connecting the dots’ among seemingly disparate events and linking them to the issue of ROE. These connections are not obvious to the information media or the public.” These same men took an oath for our country and are being attacked by the very country they endeavored to protect.

Granted there are several men and women who need rules to prevent abuses of power. But it appears that more people are hurt by the Rules. The Rules of Engagement were established to protect innocent lives. When it comes to the War on Terror, I do not believe the Rules of Engagement should have an influence in our nation’s military. If those who want to talk about innocent lives, they should think about the 2,996 innocent lives lost on 9/11.

Ultimately, U.S. citizens appreciate the living conditions and integrity that our nation was built upon. Every once in a while, people attempt to threaten our nation. When this occurs, we rely on our military to protect and serve our country. I feel they should protect against threats as well. Many try to argue for human rights, which seems reasonable. However, when it comes to the rights of terrorists, I believe we should let the people who fight for the U.S. decide their own Rules of Engagement.












Works Cited


Luttrell, Marcus, and Patrick Robinson. Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. New York: Little, Brown, 2007. Print.


Mestrovic, Stjepan Gabriel. Rules of Engagement? : A Social Anatomy of an American War Crime - Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq. New York, NY, USA. Algora Publishing, 2008. ebook. 19 Nov 2013.  


“Rules of Engagement.” Free Dictionary. Farlex, 2013. Web. 19 Nov 2013. 

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