Dilemma facing boots on the ground: Meet 1LT Lorance

Pt. 1

casualties Afghanistan US UK

icasualties.org maintains records of casualties; this graphic shows yearly casualties for Afghanistan for the US and the UK. (Snip: icasualties)

US war policy has changed drastically since the last war our country won definitively. As a result of the global anti-war movement and domestic politics, more restrictions are placed on our troops than at any time in our history.

If we were fighting Nazi Germany present day, a soldier would not be able to shoot a Nazi even in a combat zone without  “evidence of hostile action or direct hostile intent.”

Facebook Clint Lorance

Featured Photo: From Facebook page for Clint Lorance; www.facebook.com/freeclintlorance

Executive policy contributed to more US casualties in Afghanistan under the Obama administration than the Bush administration.  That policy also landed a promising young lieutenant in Ft. Leavenworth, serving a 20-year sentence for murder, for “ordering a sniper rifle discharge into an [abandoned] village, and for other “generic  article 134 charges.” Among the 134s: “using harsh language toward Afghans.”

How did 1LT Clint Lorance end up with a shattered life after he had worked hard for 10 years to build a successful career, including being the first in his family to earn a college degree? Lorance became ensnared in the politics of war. It is quite likely that decisions he made that ultimately sent him to Leavenworth could have sent him to an early grave had he not made them. 

OVERVIEW OF LORANCE’S CASE
2012

Lorance and  his platoon were on patrol in an isolated area in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in July 2012. The account of Lorance’s actions that day is detailed at a website his family created for him. In this article, where quote marks appear, the text is taken from Freeclintlorance.com*. The website account is based on evidence given at Lorance’s trial.

At that time, casualties continued at high levels.

Political discourse was heated in the United States, with the president publicly emphasizing his intent to get the US out of the country. Rules of Engagement limited actions a soldier could take even if he thought someone might kill him or his men. There had to be “evidence.” There had to be “direct hostile intent.” Suicide bombers know this still, and take advantage.

Obama and the government of Afghanistan were discussing a “status of forces” agreement. In March, a sergeant had killed 16 Afghan civilians, including children. I believe the soldier had a mental breakdown that led to this tragic event.

As 2012 elections drew near, analysts and experts in the US were calling attention to troop deaths. Former head of the bin Laden unit at the CIA, Michael Schueur, said soldiers should not trust their Afghan allies. One military analyst, author Kerry Patton, said the ROE were “binding our warriors,” and causing many to be killed unnecessarily. Time proved both experts right.

Ironically the US was also fighting a war on drugs in that war torn country. A freelancer for Time magazine cited an International Security Assistance Force news release, Tweeting, “Jan1 NATO’s burnt 86741lbs pot, 13600lbs hash, 990lbs pot seeds & (shocker) only 15lbs opium in Panjwai alone.”

To say the least, the climate in the war zone was most definitely blinking red. A US soldier had recently been shot in the neck in the village where Lorance, 16 US infantrymen, 5 Afghan Army soldiers, and their US interpreter were patrolling.

As Lorance and his men made their way on foot through an area known to contain many mines—one reason the military chose not to use vehicles there—they were using handheld mine detectors and dogs trained to detect explosives.

Suddenly “a two wheeled motorcycle” carrying three men described as “military-aged” approached at a “higher-than-normal rate of speed.” The men on the motorcycle pointed at the soldiers. “Radio signals were being intercepted by US intelligence soldiers” confirming “someone was pointing out via radio the positions of the US troops on the ground.” That information was transmitted to Lorance by radio.

It looked like an ambush.

One soldier asked Lorance for permission to fire because the motorcycle was coming at them so fast. The men on the bike ignored “the Afghan soldiers’ verbal and visual warnings to stop.” Lorance told the soldier he could fire, but he missed the target.

At that point, most people would have fled a US soldier firing at him. Not these Tali. They “broke through Lorance’s formation and began to circle back around.”

Then the men parked the bike beneath a tree about 300 yards from the soldiers. The Taliban then “began walking aggressively toward the patrol.”

Afghan soldiers prepared to fire, and yelled at the men to stop. They just kept coming.

At that point Lorance told his soldiers to fire. Two of the men were killed and one escaped.

MURKY POLICY, CASUALTIES HIKE

Although Lorance appeared to have done his job to protect his men and himself, the military eventually wouldn’t see it that way.

A brief glance at casualties in Afghanistan, including numerous deaths in Kandahar, suggests many soldiers wouldn’t come home to their families. The government lists hostile fire, IEDs, and small arms fire as major causes during that time period.

As a matter of fact, the man who escaped Lorance’s soldiers that day was captured. The Tali tested positive for explosives residue, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone. The residents of the village had moved out when the area was assaulted and taken by the Taliban.

What the government would do to Lorance for his actions that day mirrors actions the administration had taken before with other troops, purely for what appeared to be political reasons. That behavior on the part of America’s leaders suggests President Obama should put boots on no ground. To do so would be like asking our troops to commit suicide.

It’s way past time for a discussion of Rules of Engagement and protocol for troops in combat zones.

Coming: Pt. II of our analysis of Lorance’s story

Featured Photo: From Facebook page for Clint Lorance; www.facebook.com/freeclintlorance

Related

Freeclintlorance.com (Family website)*

Milblogger’s post a backgrounder for Captain’s case (The US Report)
Article 32 for Capt. Carl Bjork in Iraq… (The US Report)
Capt. Carl Bjork’s verdict–a study in trickle down policy…(The US Report)

Army 1LT Lorance sentenced… (The Blacksphere: Tami Jackson)

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Sept. 18, 2014)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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9 Responses to Dilemma facing boots on the ground: Meet 1LT Lorance

  1. Pingback: Mrs. Clinton gets benign treatment while members of military are railroaded | DAY ON THE DAY

  2. Pingback: Lorance a perfect example of why survey showed US military demoralized | DAY ON THE DAY

  3. John Riddle says:

    the only way these travesties will end is when more of the American people realize that there government is in the hands of the tiny group of people who make money on war.stop the business of killing and you stop these travesties.i think the best way to stop the killing is to let your government know that your on to them.google [ pawns in the game ] or [the creature from Jekyll island ] and you should realize that your government is your only enemy.

  4. Jackie Collins says:

    please dont give up on this we have a newly elected Congress and Senate maybe they will help Ted Cruz Gregg Abbott surely this can be over ruled!!

  5. Convicted in spite of the evidence . This was not a legal matter , it has been politically motivated , from the beginning . Until our Presidunce is removed from office , nothing can be done . Assuming our next President Will be a human being , the man can be exonerated , and released from prison .
    Progressives in this country have denied the validity of our Constitution , the foundation of all law in America ( Supposed to be ) , Until citizens wake up and demand things be set aright , change for the better will not happen .

    Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights . Carry

  6. JeffersonOh says:

    I’m a Marine Corps veteran. I would never volunteer for today’s military.

  7. Pingback: Confusion at heart of Lorance case: “Apparent Afghan decent [sic]“ | DAY ON THE DAY

  8. Pingback: Government secret in Lorance trial: Witnesses had immunity | DAY ON THE DAY

  9. Pingback: Political prisoner Clint Lorance wrongly convicted | DAY ON THE DAY

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