Fighting the "war" on terrorism with one arm behind our backs

Recently a U.S. trained Philipino patrol brushed up against Abu Sayef terrorists holding the Christian missionary Burnhams and in the ensuing lethal bullet firefight, Mr. Burnham and a hostage nurse were killed though Mrs. Burnham was saved.

While the media pundits began to criticize the "rescue" as "bungled" they are right but for the wrong reasons. The chance meeting engagement was NOT a deliberately planned hostage rescue that went bad. The bungling was in the training and equipping offered to the Philipinos stemming from U.S. political self-imposed stupidity.

When I joined the U.S. military in 1981, a lot of sound tactical, lessons learned from the Vietnam war were still being used. We knew to gain fire superiority and we carried loads of tear gas grenades to break contact and scatter the enemy in event of a chance contact. We carried field protective (gas) masks on our legs and it was always fun when we got the drop on another unit and gassed them with CS "tear" gas.

However this tactical technique evaporated when President George Bush Senior unwisely signed a treaty denying the U.S. military the use of riot control agents like CS.

I doubt if many of those media pundits criticizing the death of 2 of the U.S. hostages recently realized that it was some of their avant garde advocacy years before banning "chemical agents" as "evil" that swayed President Bush and robbed the U.S. military of non-lethal CS tear gas that its advisees (the Philipine Army) could have used to scatter the terrorists and save ALL of the hostages who would have went to ground choking but would have lived.

Every Police Department across America has tear gas...but not its military locked in combat against terrorists that his behind civilians as "human shields"....whatever happened to common sense? Has it departed the politically correct (and stupid) American psyche? Is it a wonder we have 9/11 attacks?

The U.S. Army Center for Lessons Learned (CALL) doesn't even know tear gas is gone from our ranks judging from its recent Afghanistan report:

"All team members should carry a mixture of fragmentation, CS, and WP grenades on their belts for the following reasons:

Fragmentation grenades are good for inflicting casualties.

CS grenades are ideal for stopping or slowing down enemy troops and dogs pursuing your team and are effective in damp and wet weather, whereas CS powder will dissipate.

WP grenades have a great psychological effect against enemy troops and can be used for the same purpose as CS grenades. The use of CS and WP at the same time will more than double their effectiveness.

Thoroughly train and test your indigenous troops in grenade-throwing, particularly WP. Not all of them might be adept at baseball-style throwing or be able to get much distance.

Violet and red are the smoke colors most visible from the air.

Notify aircraft before signaling with WP. Gunships or fighter-bombers may mistake it for a marking rocket indicating an enemy position and attack you.

Camouflage smoke, CS, and WP grenades, using black or OD spray paint."

Its too bad, CALL is right, the Army is wronged by the executive branch which sends them into battle without the tools it needs despite promises to the contrarary by President Bush Junior.

A SF Soldier writes:

"As to non-lethal munitions (CS, CM civilian vomiting agent), we're stuck on the horns of a dilemma: we're signatory to a bunch of treaties that, although well-intentioned for the most part, were drafted by people not our friends ratified by politicians (under pressure from NGOs) altogether unconcerned with our military requirements necessary to accomplish the missions they thrust upon us.

Some time ago, in *Eastern Europe*, my team deployed to "stop a riot." There were three of us, and a translator. Our MP support convoy didn't show, and our infantry support platoon never appeared. Go figure. So, 'no shit, there I wuz...'

In response to a funny feeling in my gut, I grabbed a 203 and raided the arms locker for rounds, only to find that someone had "turned in" all of the smoke rounds. Realizing that non-lethal munitions might be necessary, I grabbed the only alternative non-lethal round at my disposal: 40mm HEDP.

Locked and cocked, I was the only member of my team that could do anything besides kill rioters if the situation got out of hand - so long as I shot them from 15 meters or less, before the grenade spin-armed...

Fortunately, no shooting (only shouting) proved necessary. After that, a couple of smoke rounds ended up in my butt-pack for the duration...

Reason the smoke was squirreled away?

"Soviet doctrine dictates that use of smoke will be considered use of chemical munitions, and we don't want to start an NBC conflict."

Ditto for riot agents.

We weren't fighting Soviets, but the doctrine was still in consideration. Geneva Convention concerns also played a part ("Hey! That stuff could *kill* somebody?" What, and my M16 couldn't?).

In Somalia, CS might have made a big difference, especially if delivered by mortar/artillery. There we would have been able to have our Rangers continue the fight and treat casualties without forcing them to go to MOPP 4. The only problem was, we didn't have artillery, and we didn't have CS. Aside from that, it would have worked fine launched even from on-scene M203 grenades launchers and by hand...

We now have a mine treaty that limits our use of claymores and anti-pursuit mines, further disadvantaging our *always* outnumbered forces; I'd have two claymores in every fireteam if I had my way. Yet another limitation designed to force others' compliance that simply hampers our operational abilities while not making the bad men stop.

Ah, well.

The bad guys are going to start using smoke and gas as soon as they feel comfortable in promasks. Right now, however, we're getting a respite because promasks are uncomfortable and restrictive. If we face another actual army, however, especially one built on Soviet doctrine, they will use non-lethal agents and bank on our forebearance (and lack of assets) to keep us from responding. In my opinion."

Now that George Bush Junior is President in a war against terrorists who will likely intermingle with innocents he should reverse the bad decision of his father and follow through on his promise that our Soldiers will be given EVERY TOOL they need to win the fight, to include non-lethal riot control agents.