How to lose a war: Administration opposes new trial for soldier doing his duty

Losing a war is pretty easy. Hamstring soldiers with suicidal Rules of Engagement, refuse to label and target your enemy, flail around with foreign policy, and kowtow to people you can’t trust. While you’re at it, praise an alleged deserter for serving in the US Army honorably.

Furthering those losing policies, the Obama administration’s military officials are attempting to squelch efforts for a new trial by a soldier who, shortly after assuming command, gave orders to kill the enemy in a hostile war zone in Afghanistan in July, 2012. 

1LT Clint Lorance

1LT Clint Lorance photo from official website:

That soldier, then 1LT Clint Lorance, was determined to not make the mistakes his platoon’s former leader had made resulting in serious injuries to a number of the men. The nearest village was reportedly under Taliban control. At the time Lorance made his decision, the Obama administration was engaged in difficult negotiations with what by all accounts was a very troubled government in Afghanistan. In an unrelated incident, according to media and other reports, a US soldier had killed Afghans without cause. Lorance’s case was completely different.

The Lorance case is complex, but the prosecution painted Lorance as a man out to get Afghans. Much testimony was based on claims by other soldiers who were loyal to the previous platoon leader and adjusting to the more formal approach Lorance had. Some of those who testified were given immunity and avoided charges. Lorance never fired his own weapon that day.

After being convicted of murder, Lorance took on a new defense team, and his attorneys discovered a great deal of information about two of the men killed in the engagement Lorance permitted. Terrorist ties were documented, and the defense created a video that impresses just how dangerous the area was for US soldiers.

The administration didn’t appear to care, opting to apply rigid Rules of Engagement to US troops who at times had no idea who was friend or foe as numerous insider attacks indicated. A sobering tally of troop deaths under this president illustrates just how lethal his war policy was for our troops:

“Fifty-five U.S. servicemen were killed in Afghanistan in 2014, bringing the total number of American fatalities in the 13-year war to 2,232, according to a database.

Of those 2,232 deaths, 1,663 – 74.5 percent – occurred since President Obama took office on Jan. 20, 2009. The deadliest years for U.S. personnel were 2010, when 495 were killed; 2011, when there were 404 casualties; and 2009 when the death toll was 306.” 

Lorance’s attorneys filed a petition for a new trial in December, 2015. The prosecution opposes it but at the same time conceded hundreds of violations at trial and also that key evidence was not disclosed. The prosecution’s response offered nothing more than a restatement of the original prosecution, claiming Lorance had no right to self-defense. The prosecution’s response comprised the same misleading impression delivered at trial—that the men Lorance permitted to be shot were no threat. Yet the area was seething with threats at the time.

If you look at Rules of Engagement, you will see just how ridiculous they are. But there is also this statement:

“Wartime Versus Standing ROE. In general, ROE differ in wartime to reflect the increased justification for using force. Wartime ROE permit U.S. forces to open fire upon all identified enemy targets, regardless of whether those targets represent actual, immediate threats. By contrast, the SROE, which will be discussed later in this chapter, merely permit engagement in individual, unit, or national self-defense. Most legal grounds for international use of force during peacetime are traceable to self-defense.”

Lorance made a judgment call based on his experience and primal drive for survival via self-defense. Because the men who were shot defied all orders, including signs posted in different languages, he perceived the men as a threat. That the government chose to second guess him after hearing negative statements and what amounted to gossip from some of his newly acquired platoon mates is irrelevant.

Lorance’s defense provided a response to the prosecution’s claims. The prosecution held the men were not “lawful targets”—even if “the court-martial knew they were the enemy.” Think about that for a moment, and ask yourself exactly how crazy the people holding this view are. 

The prosecution also held, said defense, “the newly-discovered evidence was available at trial even though the government withheld it.” The men who were shot were repeatedly described as military aged men of Afghan descent. No disclosures were presented by the prosecution regarding ties the men had to the enemy.

The defense rebuttal of the prosecution’s claims a new trial isn’t needed says it all—the result would have “been substantially more favorable” for Lorance if evidence found by the defense after the court martial had been included in the original trial.

The whole case boils down to the government making a judgment call to second guess a soldier confronting enemies he believed aimed to do his platoon harm.

The defense has placed a video online depicting the circumstances prevailing the day Lorance’s decision was made. Anyone who watches that video will completely understand Lorance’s orders. Anyone except the government.

Meanwhile, the US president makes no secret of his fondness for using drones to attack suspected enemy, with emphasis on the word suspected. President Barack Obama has far exceeded even George W. Bush when it comes to using drones. At least one US citizen was droned, without benefit of charges filed or trial.

Obama perceived a threat and, following a policy espoused by former US vice president Dick Cheney, neutralized the threat.

No charges have been filed against this president and none should be. We are a country caught up in a world war that was decades in the making.

No charges should have been filed against former 1LT Clint Lorance either. He did exactly what this president and others before him did, and for loyalty to his country and his men, Lorance had everything taken from him.

The Lorance case is a textbook example of how to lose a war. What this president has offered our troops is simple—risk suicide or prison.

Featured Photo: Still shot from the video supporting former 1LT Clint Lorance’s innocence. These weapons were transported via a single motorcycle, a vehicle used commonly in Afghanistan by both terrorists and locals. (Snip:

Previous stories on former 1LT Clint Lorance

Military horror show: Former 1LT Lorance asks for new trial

Archived articles at Day on the Day related to former 1LT Lorance

** [Must-See] Newly released video reconstructing events of July 2, 2012; includes data about insurgents killed

Petition for new trial for former 1LT Clint Lorance

Free Clint Lorance
Website with documents and more information on Lorance case

Free Clint Lorance (Facebook page)

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 10, 2015)

Disclosure: No benefits, financial or otherwise, are derived from my advocacy for this soldier.

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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