Following the success of my work on Navy SEAL combat actions in Iraq, The Sheriff of Ramadi, I set out to examine the importance of battlefield ethics in effectively combating terrorists without losing the continuous efforts for the hearts of the local population. As a SEAL operator in Vietnam, we didn’t give much thought about ethics, nor to the importance of winning over the local population. During my recent trips overseas in the active theaters, I learned that the mistakes we made in Vietnam forty years ago are being repeated in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the stakes are much higher now. This book takes a critical look at the battlefield conduct of U.S. ground-combat units fighting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the prize of the fight on the modern battlefield is the people, the consequence of overlooking right battlefield conduct puts the mission at risk. Every killing has both strategic and moral significance for U.S. warriors.
In my research for this work, I tried to examine the sources and issues that can lead to wrong conduct on the battlefield, how it comes about, and what can be done to correct it. I took a look at the roles of command intent and the official rules of engagement. They are important, but ethical conduct at the squad and platoon level is where the moral rubber meets the operational road. A strong sense of a personal tactical ethic is the moral and ethical armor that should accompany every American warrior into battle. In this work, I have not only been a harsh critic of bad moral behavior, but have offered realistic measures to correct these shortcomings. Proper moral conduct must be a cornerstone of our deployed military posture. It’s good for the mission and it’s good for the warrior. And as a nation, we must do all we can to protect our soldiers’ humanity so that they can return from their overseas service with honor.
A Tactical Ethic; Moral Conduct on the Insurgent Battlefield is on the Commandant of the Marine Corps reading list.
It is available in Trade Paperback and e-Book.