Tuesday, April 03, 2007

British Rules of Engagement Will Probably Not Change, But SOP Will

There is quite a bit of chattering about whether there will be a change to the British Rules of Engagement over the recent seizure of British Sailors and Marines by the Iranians. I don't think so.

What I think will happen is a big change in operating procedure, which is different than Rules of Engagement.

In the beginning of the crisis, it was reported that the two RHIBs had a helicopter on oversight. But, when it appeared that the search was going to be "routine", the helicopter returned or went on to another oversight. What I think will happen is that this idea of "routine" and, what can only be called "lax" security (because that is one of the larger aspects of this scandal), will be gone. I imagine that all missions, particularly close to this "disputed area" will have oversight by a much larger gun boat in immediate view or a helicopter.

This is going to be difficult for the available craft as well as in trying to keep the operations "de-escalated". Necessary close flight coverage may mean that the Iranians consider these activities more threatening. Still, I can't imagine that even now the operating procedures (SOP? in Britian?) are more stringent in maintaining the security of operating for their service members.

Second, I imagine, like the US military, that SOMEBODY is going to have at least a mild reprimand on their sheet for not providing appropriate cover. Obviously, SOP had already included some aspect of oversight and somebody left or caused it to be taken from the group. After the abductions from 2004 of the British marines operating on the al Shaatt Arab, something had to have been said. But, maybe it was only for the Marines and didn't make it around the rest of the forces?

Third, the appearance of these sailors on Iranian TV countering the official British line that the forces were taken in Iraqi water, posed significant issues in negotiating position for the British. It was one thing when it was one or two, but it was quite another when it was all of the captured forces making similar statements, indicating they were in Iranian territory and apologizing for the mistake.

Now, it does not take a genius to know that these men and one woman were probably told that, if they just admitted the problem and let people know that they had done it, no matter how accidental and apologized, the whole thing would be over shorthly and they could go home. This is why the Iranians were keeping them from seeing the British Consulate. If the sailors had known otherwise, they might not have been as keen to participate so directly with the propaganda stunt.

These men and one woman may have been operating under the idea that, if they were at least seen on TV their families would know they were okay. Many POWs from Vietnam had decided to do the same while silently trying to pass a signal that they were coerced.

Whatever the reasons, this definitely had a serious effect on the British position (need I say, "embarassing"?) I would be surprised if a memo regarding appropriate behavior for "captured" British military will have been circulated, if not an entirely new order and SOP.

Many have suggested that the forces need special training to this effect. That may well be getting underway for new recruits or those "shore side" in England.

On the otherhand, due to the nature of al Qaida and other extremists in Iraq and Afghanistan, many may have concluded that such training was moot since there are rarely any "captures" of US or Coalition forces. Mostly KIA and WIA with one MIA, Matt Maupin, who said very little but is alleged to have been shot by his captors shortly after his capture.

It is hard to tell what effect this issue and the need for "de-escalatory" procedures had on these operations and many like it.

New Rules of Engagement? I don't think so, but, if there are, I doubt they will be so different as to authorize firing on "non-involved" (ie, countries we are not declared to be at war with -recall the early Chinese and the AWAC story) forces trying to sieze our British allies' forces. If anything, they will most likely still be "non-violent", such as interdiction by the oversight flight through non-violent means (such as buzzing, maintaing follow on low flight pattern until called off, etc, etc, etc)

The whole point will be to keep an international crisis from spearheading into a national conflict.

The Guard -- the radical force that the U.S. says is supplying weapons to Shiite insurgents in Iraq, and that calls for exporting Iranian-style revolutions to other Muslim nations -- is ``interpreting their orders differently'' than the regular Iranian Navy, said Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Historically, Guard commanders and crews have been the ``most obnoxious,'' sailing directly at U.S. ships in high- stakes games of ``chicken,'' Pollack said.[snip]

The Revolutionary Guard may not follow standard procedures covering contact with U.S. and U.K. forces -- so-called rules of engagement -- that could help defuse potential conflicts.

``The rules of engagement of the regular Iranian navy appear to be very careful because we haven't seen them engaged in an incident in quite some time. But the rules of engagement for the IRGC are clearly very aggressive,'' said U.S. Representative Mark Kirk (news, bio, voting record), an Illinois Republican.[snip]

Britain's first sea lord, Admiral Sir Alan West, said on March 25 that British rules of engagement are ``very much de- escalatory because we don't want wars starting,'' the British newspaper The Independent reported.

U.S. forces may have more leeway because of a 1987 incident in which an Iraqi fighter jet launched two missiles at the USS Stark as the frigate patrolled Gulf waters. Iraq, at war with Iran at the time, said it was a case of mistaken identity.

As a result, U.S. Naval commanders were given more authority to protect themselves in the Gulf. ``It was emphasized that they do not have to be shot at before responding and that they have an unambiguous responsibility to protect their units and people,'' the Pentagon wrote in its formal report on the Vincennes incident.

Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps SOP very dangerous.

Another interesting note reported by Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrisey via Instapundit:

Iran, the New South Africa -

Missouri took the first steps among the states to divest their portfolios of any foreign corporations doing business with Iran, a move they started last year. Now eight other states have begun to follow suit, and the latest state may make the biggest impact of all. California has just passed legislation that would transfer billions of dollars away from foreign investments:

It is the kind of political movement that fits handily on a bumper sticker: Divest Iran.
Over the past year, one state, Missouri, has opted to do just that, while several others, including New Jersey, have also begun to write or to consider legislation to divest.

But the nascent movement took on decidedly more weight last week with the preliminary success of a bill in the California Legislature. The measure would force two of the nation’s largest pension funds — devoted to the state’s public employees and its teachers, with combined holdings of nearly $400 billion — to remove their money from any foreign company doing business in Iran. American companies are already barred from such dealings.

Missouri did it first, probably as part of an over all effort that it started after 9/11 to divest itself of stock from "terror sponsoring states". I noted this in 2004 I believe (can't find the link at the moment).

But, it is definitely a way to put pressure on Iran. However, a critic claims:

William A. Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, with offices in New York and Washington, which filed suit against the Illinois law, said divestment bills — while morally laudable — could sabotage diplomatic efforts to isolate Iran.
“The companies that would be divested would be European and Asian companies,” Mr. Reinsch said. “It sticks a stick in the eye of the very people and the very countries we are trying to get to cooperate with us.”

But, the Captain noted:

Uh, yeah. That would be those same European countries that declined to impose sanctions on Iran after the mullahcracy abducted 15 British sailors and Marines, right?


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