During Lone Survivor Week, I argued that Marcus Luttrell’s memoir is really just a 300 page ethical dilemma. And that I hate dilemmas, especially those that try to prove a political point.
In Luttrell’s case, the political agenda is our rules of engagement, following a long line of conservative commentators who make up hypotheticals to show the “stupidity” of our rules of engagement. Way back during my infantry training at Fort Benning, we discussed rules of engagement, and I heard an ethical dilemma designed to prove why they are wrong. Today, I am going to simply tell the story as it was told to me. On Wednesday, I will show why it is total malarkey.
The scene: downtown Baghdad. The time: before 2006. A Marine platoon is pinned down by a sniper and they can’t locate his firing position. Fire rains down on their positions when suddenly, from the front of the building, a woman emerges.
She goes outside, looks at all the Marines on the street, and goes back inside. The sniper fire instantly gets more accurate.
The woman comes out again. And again. Each time she leaves the building, the sniper fire closes in on the Marine platoon.
The Marines are trapped in an ethical dilemma, the speaker told me. They could shoot the woman, but they would be violating the rules of engagement because she didn't have a weapon. Or they could try to assault the building, but then risk massive casualties. The dilemma: shoot the woman and violate ROE, or let your own men get killed. The key? The men on the ground knew, for sure, that she was spotting for the enemy sniper.
Is this an ethical dilemma? Does it show how “stupid” restrictive rules of engagement are? Does this cause unnecessary risk to our Soldiers and Marines? I’ll provide my answer (No) on Wednesday.