The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

The USA should repeal the rules of engagement about Afghanistan in the Obama doctrine

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/28/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,790 times Debate No: 29638
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)




The Obama doctrine says that US soldiers in Afghanistan are not allowed to call in air-support or reinforcements. Also they cannot shoot unless shot at and if civilians are by then they may not engage. We need to repeal this because our troops are dying because of this. 22 members of seal team 6 died because of this. Innocents are going to die anyways unfortunately, but that is not going to save lives but waste them. Now we are just sending our men and women to be butchered by terrorists who know we are weak. Therefore we should repeal this and save American and in the long-run Afghan lives.


Challenge Accepted.

I would like to thank my opponent, in advance, for a spirited debate. I have every intention of keeping this a clean, civil debate, and to refrain as much as possible from making emotional or other unscrupulous arguments.
I will be taking the position that the current Rules of Engagement for the NATO and U.S forces deployed in Afghanistan are appropriate to current situation. I hold the position that they do not need to be "repealed" but rather clarified by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Commander.

As I understand the standing Rules of Engagement for U.S forces in a hostile occupation and/or peacekeeping action such as ISAF"s role in Afghanistan is as follows:
-You have the right to use force to defend yourself against attacks or threat of attack.
Hostile fire may be returned effectively and promptly to stop a hostile attack
-When U.S. forces are attacked by unarmed hostile forces and/or rioters U.S. forces should use the minimum force necessary under the circumstances and proportional to the threat
-You may not seize the property of others to accomplish your mission
-Detention of civilians is authorized for security reason or in self defense
-The United States is not at war
-Treat all person with dignity and respect
-Use minimum force to carry out mission
-Always be prepared to act in self-defense.

The above stated Rules of Engagement are similar to standing Rules of NATO forces as Joint Chiefs of Staff Standing Rules of Engagement clear state that U.S forces will follow the Rules of Engagement of the Multinational force (i.e. NATO). This is a policy that predates the Obama Administration, and actually predates the birth of President Obama, as it was established in 1949.

Are the current Rules of Engagement different than what I stated above? If so, what is the specific standing Rules of Engagement for the U.S. armed forces in the Afghan Theater of Operation, and can you provide a citation for those please? Are said Rules of Engagement used by ISAF more restrictive than in past NATO Peacekeeping actions such as Bosnia? Are said Rules of Engagement more restrictive than past U.S. Military operations of a similar nature?
How would different Rules of Engagement have prevented the 38 U.S. personnel, including members of SEAL TEAM SIX, from being killed in August 2011?

I ask, alternatively, what Rules of Engagement would my opponent suggest? Does he advocate the indiscriminate killing of civilians?

The current Rules of Engagement for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan are workable, while it is perhaps necessary to clarify the Rules of Engagement. General McChrystal and General Petraeus set and/or adhered to the current Rules of Engagement. The lack of the of any rules aimed at curbing the deaths of civilians and the willingness to openly target civilians did not benefit the Soviet Union in the late seventies and early eighties; why should we believe that things would be different in this decade?
Debate Round No. 1


I believe what you are describing was the Somalia doctrine in 1992. I ask you in reply to your question: " Does he advocate the indiscriminate killing of civilians?" No I do not, however, I do believe that our troops lives are more important than other countries citizens lives. If we send in our troops we should let them do what they are meant to do, kill the enemy by any means necessary.

"What alternate rules of engagement would my opponent suggest?"
I would suggest, like I said, we send our troops in to kill the enemy by any means. In operation Desert Storm, the US army was given this instruction and it lasted a heck of a lot shorter than the War in Afghanistan.

We are acting like the Vietnam war, all we are going to do is waste money and troops on a war that will do nothing. Either we are all in or all out.


No, I actually posted it verbatim and as I said in the first round it is similar to US and NATO forces Rules of Engagement (ROE) since "49.

All life is important. The lives of the people of the country we occupy are extremely important. If Afghans do not want US troops there because they feel that we are no better than Taliban or the Soviets before them then we will lose in Afghanistan and the sacrifices of US servicemen will have been in vain. Nothing will be worse for that the Afghan My Lai.

We are not at war, but I am not going to get into a semantic debate about the lack of uses of declarations of war or that you can not actually be at war with an insurgency. I do not advocate by any means necessary, we will not win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by carpet bombing Helmand province.

Desert Storm is a horrible example. The objective in Desert Storm was to drive the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait. I was an easy matter to identify the Iraqi forces; they were wearing Iraqi uniforms and using Iraqi equipment. Kuwaiti civilians were similarly easy to identify they we welcoming their liberation but U.N Coalition Forces. The US was not conducting what amounts to an occupation of a less than cooperative population for a protracted period of time that included country building. Operation Desert Storm lasted from 17Jan91 through 11Apr91 with ground combat lasting 100hrs.

Actually, the ROE for Desert Storm were:
A. Do not engage anyone who has surrendered, is out of battle due to sickness or wounds, is shipwrecked, or is an aircrew member descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft.
B. Avoid harming civilians unless necessary to save US lives. Do not fire into civilian populated areas or buildings which are not defended or being used for military purposes.
C. Hospitals, churches, shrines, schools, museums, national monuments, and any other historical or cultural sites will not be engaged except in self-defense.
D. Hospitals will be given special protection. Do not engage hospitals unless the enemy uses the hospital to commit acts harmful to US forces, and then only after giving a warning and allowing a reasonable time to expire before engaging, if the tactical situation permits.
E. Booby traps may be used to protect friendly positions or to impede the progress of enemy forces. They may not be used on civilian personal property. They will be recovered or destroyed when the military necessity for their use no longer exists.
F. Looting and the taking of war trophies are prohibited.
G. Avoid harming civilian property unless necessary to save US lives. Do not attack traditional civilian objects, such as houses, unless they are being used by the enemy for military purposes and neutralization assists in mission accomplishment.
H. Treat all civilians and their property with respect and dignity. Before using privately owned property, check to see if publicly owned property can substitute. No requisitioning of civilian property, including vehicles, without permission of a company level commander and without giving a receipt. If an ordering officer can contract the property, then do not requisition it.
I. Treat all prisoners humanely and with respect and dignity.
J. ROE Annex to the OPLAN provides more detail. Conflicts between this card and the OPLAN should be resolved in favor of the OPLAN.

By your own admission these ROE worked in "91,and should be used in Afghanistan. "I would suggest, like I said, we send our troops in to kill the enemy by any means." Shoot first and damn the poor afghan civilian that happened to get caught in the crossfire? You do not win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people by killing civilians, even if it was an accident.

Operation Provide Comfort, March "91 - 31Dec96, succeeded desert Storm. The ROE for Operation Provide Comfort were as follows:
1. All military operations will be conducted in accordance with the laws of war.
2. The use of armed force will be utilized as a measure of last resort only.
3. Nothing in these rules negates or otherwise overrides a commander's obligation to take all necessary and appropriate actions for his unit's self-defense.
4. US forces will not fire unless fired upon unless there is clear evidence of hostile intent.
Hostile Intent - The threat of imminent use of force by an Iraqi force or other foreign force, terrorist group, or individuals against the United States, US forces, US citizens, or Kurdish or other refugees located above the 38th parallel or otherwise located within a US or allied safe haven refugee area. When the on-scene commander determines, based on convincing evidence, that hostile intent is present, the right exists to use proportional force to deter or neutralize the threat.
Hostile Act - Includes armed force directly to preclude or impede the missions and/or duties of US or allied forces.
5. Response to hostile fire directly threatening US or allied care shall be rapid and directed at the source of hostile fire using only the force necessary to eliminate the threat. Other foreign forces as (such as reconnaissance aircraft) that have shown an active integration with the attacking force may be engaged. Use the minimum amount of force necessary to control the situation.
6. You may fire into Iraqi territory in response to hostile fire.
7. You may fire into another nation's territory in response to hostile fire only if the cognizant government is unable or unwilling to stop that force's hostile acts effectively or promptly.
8. Surface-to-air missiles will engage hostile aircraft flying north of the 36th parallel.
9. Surface-to-air missiles will engage hostile aircraft south of the 36th parallel only when they demonstrate hostile intent or commit hostile acts. Except in cases of self-defense, authorization for such engagements rests with the designated air defense commander. Warning bursts may be fired ahead of foreign aircraft to deter hostile acts.
10. In the event US forces are attacked or threatened by unarmed hostile elements, mobs, or rioters, the responsibility for the protection of US forces rests with the US commanding officer. The on-scene commander will employ the following measures to overcome the threat:
1. Warning to demonstrators.
2. Show of force, including the use of riot control formations.
3. Warning shots fired over the heads of hostile elements.
4. Other reasonable use of force necessary under the circumstances and proportional to the threat.
11. Use the following guidelines when applying these rules:
1. Use of force only to protect lives.
2. Use of minimum force necessary.
3. Pursuit will not be taken to retaliate; however, immediate pursuit may begin and continue for as long as there is an immediate threat to US forces. In the absence of JCS approval, US forces should not pursue any hostile force into another nation's territory.
If necessary and proportional, use all available weapons to deter, neutralize, or destroy the threat as required.

Vietnam War how? In the way that the Afghan was has be a prolonged, longer than Vietnam, occupation to democratized Americanize a hostile populace that has spent countless generation under foreign rule or puppeteered by foreigners? Is it like the same fashion that the guerilla fighters of both wars used the civilian population as shields and hiding places?

The fact is the only way to guarantee the lives of US forces is to withdraw them from Afghanistan and let them crew themselves to hell. We started this in 2001 now we have an obligation to see this through to a positive end. This means winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans, which means RESTRANT IN THE USE OF FORCE.
Debate Round No. 2


None the less as my closing argument, I would like to state that we should repeal the new rules of engagement, which I have stated and referenced, because we have lost 28 soldiers and 33 US civilians including the ambassador in Benghazi who for the record was denied and air support right before he was mortared. If we do not retaliate to the death of our people we will lose the respect of everyone especially our own people.


This debate was not about what could have or should have been done in in Benghazi. This debate was about the Rules of Engagement (ROE) for the international forces in Afghanistan. My opponent has failed to prove that these ROE are detrimental to the troops in Afghanistan.

My opponent has offered no real evidence, beyond the incidents he mentioned in round one of the debate, that the "current rules" have caused a dramatic increase in the causalities of US and NATO forces, or had only a marginal decrease in the civilian causalities.

He has not provided any specifics about what Rules of Engagement should be developed for US forces in Afghanistan. There was an up tick in the number of US troops killed in Afghanistan in 2010 this can be attributed to the increase in the number of troops deployed to the Afghan theater. The number of troops killed in action has been decreased since 2010.

As I have illustrated through this debate the current Rules of Engagement in Afghanistan are not new. They are the same basic rules that U.S forces have employed since 1949. My opponent has not refuted or even counter this argument.

The Rules of Engagement in are in place for a reason. They are there to define when about how troops can engage the enemy; to conform the rules of war, treaties that the US and/or our international allies are committed, and our moral conscience as a nation. This is to say nothing of the psychological implications for troop being told to disregard civilians and noncombatants. We cannot pretend that killing women and children would not affect the men and women deployed to Afghanistan. We can not think that the mission in Afghanistan will be a success if we disregard the rules of war and disrgard the lives of the people we are trying to help.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Deadlykris 5 years ago
Why don't we just get out of the Middle East altogether?
Posted by lewis20 5 years ago
The Obama Doctrine says US troops aren't allowed to call for airstrikes or reinforcements eh?
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by OhioGary 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Interesting discussion here. Pro wanted to discuss the need to repeal the ROE in Afghanistan, but then asked Con to propose new rules. Then Pro pivoted to Bengazi in closing arguments. Pro's burden of proof was to discuss why repeal in Afghanistan was necessary and I did not see Pro meeting the burden of proof. I don't see how Con was arguing the same side as Pro. Con said that the ROE need to stay in place and this was the opposite of what Pro argued.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Con did as much to make the Pro case as Pro did. Con quoted the Desert Storm rules of conduct as having "attack only military targets," whereas according to Con, the Afghanistan rules are to only act defensively. Whether it is an official war or not, soldiers need to be able to attack military target -- i.e, kill bad guys. Pro should have brought up the different rules used for targeting drone strikes. Con should have argued that the rules would be a net positive in winning the conflict, not that the alternative was indiscriminately killing civilians, a tough case but arguable. Whether the rules have been in pace for a long time or not is irrelevant.