Aussies Kept Gung-ho US in Check

August 10th, 2005 - by admin

John Kerin / The Australian – 2005-08-10 23:56:19,5744,16198088%255E31477,00.html

(August 9. 2005) — Australian and British military legal advisers frequently had to “red card” more trigger-happy US forces to limit civilian casualties during the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to one of the Australian advisers.

Colonel Mike Kelly, writing in the Australian Army Journal, says the junior partners in the coalition forces succeeded in reducing civilian casualties and reinforcing the legitimacy of the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

In the most detailed insight yet into the secret rules Australian forces operated under during the conflict in 2003, Colonel Kelly, who went on to become a senior adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, said for Australian forces to open fire the enemy was “required to visibly carry weapons while deploying for an attack”.

Defence sources said that under more relaxed US rules there only had to be a “reasonable suspicion” that the person was an enemy combatant and a threat.

Australian F/A-18s rarely ventured into built-up areas during the conflict to make strikes, and on occasion pulled out of bombing raids at the last minute when it was realised civilians were in the target area.

The US put much store in its “shock and awe” tactics, which involved using reliable intelligence to pound enemy positions with precision-guided munitions while trying to minimise civilian casualties.

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom legal differences in assessing legitimate targets, tended to be resolved by the use of the ‘red card’,” Colonel Kelly writes.

“This card involved the coalition partners being able to indicate their disapproval in their targeting or tactics in any mission that ran contrary to their legal obligations.”

He added: “The United States generally accepted these decisions … (it was) prepared to modify its approach in the interest of harmony with its military partners.

The Red Card System
“The red card system assisted in the management of both international and domestic perceptions of the legitimacy of operations in Iraq – perceptions that were important given the brisk debate over the decision to use force in the first place.”

Colonel Kelly said that during the invasion Australian forces had to come to grips with the targeting rules of the US military which were far from ideal.

“Australian military personnel were forced into the unenviable situation of having to develop doctrine, practice and ultimately rules of engagement during actual military operations,” he said.

Among other legal differences, Colonel Kelly said that because Britain and Australia were signatories to the Ottawa treaty on anti-personnel mines, they could not refuel US aircraft carrying scatter-based and cluster-based weapons.

Colonel Kelly was one of the first Australian military officers to notify Australian authorities of his concerns over the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq.

“Given the highly publicised problems and failings of prison conditions in Iraq it is clear that much work needs to be done,” he said.

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US-Led Troops in Iraq Part of Problem

London (August 2, 2005) — The presence of British and U.S. troops in Iraq is fuelling the Sunni-led insurgency which has killed hundreds of people, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in comments published on Tuesday.

In an interview with Britain’s Financial Times newspaper, Straw said it was crucial Iraq’s draft constitution was ready by a mid-August deadline to pave the way for a troop withdrawal.

“The more certainty you have on that (the constitution), the more you can have a programme for the draw-down of troops which is important for the Iraqis,” he said.

“Because — unlike in Afghanistan — although we are part of the security solution there, we are also part of the problem.”

The Iraqi panel drawing up the constitution has come under intense US pressure to submit a draft on time.

The Iraqi government and its US backers see the constitution as a key part of any democratic process and hope it can help defuse the two-year-old insurgency and allow US and British troops to withdraw sooner.

US General George Casey said last month he expected troop cuts after a referendum on a new constitution due in October and an election for a new leader in December.

Casey made a similar prediction earlier this year, but US officials have avoided suggesting a timetable since violence worsened sharply after the new government took power in April.

Britain, Washington’s main ally in the 2003 war to topple former President Saddam Hussein, has about 8,500 troops in Iraq, based mainly in the south.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.