Author Topic: Child Soldiers  (Read 39169 times)

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Offline Shipwreck

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Child Soldiers
« on: February 26, 2012, 14:13:44 »
I was just reading about Obama sending troops to Uganda to hunt for Joseph Kony/the LRA, and the meat of my question is that it said the only people he trusts as bodyguards are thirteen year olds. Would the US military/our forces be able to engage a child at all without needing it to be self defence or what have you. I'm just curious if anyone could shed light on how to fight child soldiers.
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2012, 14:29:09 »
I was just reading about Obama sending troops to Uganda to hunt for Joseph Kony/the LRA, and the meat of my question is that it said the only people he trusts as bodyguards are thirteen year olds. Would the US military/our forces be able to engage a child at all without needing it to be self defence or what have you. I'm just curious if anyone could shed light on how to fight child soldiers.

You know I have never thought of that....bigger brains than mine may have to tackle that one. It is a political minefield.


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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2012, 14:38:30 »
Damn. That IS a compelling question. Fighting child soldiers in self defense, yeah, that's legally crystal clear. But an operation that would require direct action on an objective known to be guarded almost exclusively by child soldiers that *would* fight- frig...

I cannot offhand think of any part of the laws of armed conflict that would proscribe such things- the LOAC are already violated by the party utilizing child soldiers, and I don't know of any precedent that would make it illegal to operate against such an enemy; *they* would bear the legal culpability, not we as a force.

But that's the legality of it. What of the *political* cost? Or. worse, the moral one? Could I, as a section commander, live with an order to go in and assault a position where I know I'll be shooting child soldiers? Could I morally deal with giving those orders to my soldiers? I know what my duty would be if orders were lawful. I don't know what it would take from me to do it, and I won't try to sit here on my leather couch on a Sunday morning and say for sure that I could.

This would seem to be one of those situations where *every* other imaginable way of neutralizing the enemy force without going in to shoot them in the face would suggest itself to be preferable, even balanced against some tactical and strategic risks.
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Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2012, 14:42:57 »
Damn. That IS a compelling question. Fighting child soldiers in self defense, yeah, that's legally crystal clear. But an operation that would require direct action on an objective known to be guarded almost exclusively by child soldiers that *would* fight- frig...

I cannot offhand think of any part of the laws of armed conflict that would proscribe such things- the LOAC are already violated by the party utilizing child soldiers, and I don't know of any precedent that would make it illegal to operate against such an enemy; *they* would bear the legal culpability, not we as a force.

But that's the legality of it. What of the *political* cost? Or. worse, the moral one? Could I, as a section commander, live with an order to go in and assault a position where I know I'll be shooting child soldiers? Could I morally deal with giving those orders to my soldiers? I know what my duty would be if orders were lawful. I don't know what it would take from me to do it, and I won't try to sit here on my leather couch on a Sunday morning and say for sure that I could.

This would seem to be one of those situations where *every* other imaginable way of neutralizing the enemy force without going in to shoot them in the face would suggest itself to be preferable, even balanced against some tactical and strategic risks.


Lets not forget the most fanatical of the enemy in WW2 were the SS and the child soldiers Hitler sent out.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2012, 14:48:00 »

Lets not forget the most fanatical of the enemy in WW2 were the SS and the child soldiers Hitler sent out.

Nope, not forgotten at all. I would contend that there's a difference between a total war between great powers where one of those powers is on the ropes, and an 'elective' international intervention that we could as easily (issues of ethical defensibility aside) not engage in.

I have no doubt that child soldiers can fight- though perhaps more as 'warriors' than as a cohesive unit. And with many of them kept in line with drugs, they would be an enemy that potentially could be very unrelenting if they're defending a position. Not a spot I'd ever hope to be in.

And now I've gotta turn this back around and do a 180- the moral costs of potentially sending troops in deliberate ops against child soldiers notwithstanding- is there not potentially an equal if not greater moral burden in *not* doing what we can and must to end something that puts these kids (or the next ones) in this position in future?

Hard to look at some of the worst things humanity can do to itself and try to figure out the lesser evil on this one...
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2012, 14:52:09 »
Nope, not forgotten at all. I would contend that there's a difference between a total war between great powers where one of those powers is on the ropes, and an 'elective' international intervention that we could as easily (issues of ethical defensibility aside) not engage in.

I have no doubt that child soldiers can fight- though perhaps more as 'warriors' than as a cohesive unit. And with many of them kept in line with drugs, they would be an enemy that potentially could be very unrelenting if they're defending a position. Not a spot I'd ever hope to be in.

And now I've gotta turn this back around and do a 180- the moral costs of potentially sending troops in deliberate ops against child soldiers notwithstanding- is there not potentially an equal if not greater moral burden in *not* doing what we can and must to end something that puts these kids (or the next ones) in this position in future?

Hard to look at some of the worst things humanity can do to itself and try to figure out the lesser evil on this one...

What a good topic, if a bit morbid, to discuss.

Not only fighting child soldiers and the resultant negative attention it would bring, what of the moral cost when those soldiers who fought children were redeployed home? How would they be greeted by the public and treated by the ruling government?
Vietnam taught us that the public doesn't like children being killed, no matter what the reason....even in self defence.

I hope we never have to send soldiers on a "no win mission" such as this.
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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2012, 14:55:53 »
I hope we never have to send soldiers on a "no win mission" such as this.
I sure don't have an answer to the ROE question, but I hope those who decide where we go (and don't) keep this squarely in mind.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2012, 15:09:00 »
Yup- how many of those soldiers would be psychological write-offs through no fault of their own? Arguably our strongest proscription- doing wilful harm on those who are or ought to be innocent, particularly kids, turned right back around in our face by the sick ****s who compel those kids to fight and whose crimes are so awful that we *have* to stand against them. With those kids in the middle.

It's gonna happen, too, at some point. US SOCOM in Uganda are probably already facing this question.

Would these returning soldiers be seen as irreparably 'damaged' by society, and pushed out of it as a result? Would Canadians be able to accept a narrative that frames as a necessity the deliberate killing of child soldiers in order to effect an intervention that a segment of society will by default deem to be 'imperialist' or 'neo-colonialist' or whatever else they might come up with in objection?

I'd be very doubtful that any party in power in Canada would take its political chances in making a call to commit to something like this... I'm disappointed to think, too, that the decision *would* be a political, and not a moral one.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2012, 15:13:26 »
The highest levels of government better talk about this now......please, for the sake of our soldiers.
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Offline GAP

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2012, 15:18:04 »
That was one issue that came up because we were fighting people who were of the same stature of children, and in fact some were. Basically the issue resolved itself when push came to shove and you had to chose between protecting yourself or not. I was not a hard decision in the end.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2012, 15:20:26 »
Yup- how many of those soldiers would be psychological write-offs through no fault of their own? Arguably our strongest proscription- doing wilful harm on those who are or ought to be innocent, particularly kids, turned right back around in our face by the sick ****s who compel those kids to fight and whose crimes are so awful that we *have* to stand against them. With those kids in the middle.

It's gonna happen, too, at some point. US SOCOM in Uganda are probably already facing this question.

Would these returning soldiers be seen as irreparably 'damaged' by society, and pushed out of it as a result? Would Canadians be able to accept a narrative that frames as a necessity the deliberate killing of child soldiers in order to effect an intervention that a segment of society will by default deem to be 'imperialist' or 'neo-colonialist' or whatever else they might come up with in objection?

I'd be very doubtful that any party in power in Canada would take its political chances in making a call to commit to something like this...
I'm disappointed to think, too, that the decision *would* be a political, and not a moral one.


Leaving aside the main point, fascinating though it may be, any decision to send Canadian soldiers anywhere had better be political - not necessarily just domestic, partisan political, but mainly (one hopes) based on our geo-political (strategic) calculations. But even if international political/strategic considerations dominate, there will be, inevitably, some domestic "spillover;" there was when Jean Chrétien decided, in 2001, to send the CF to Afghanistan, against his own political instincts I have heard; there was, again, when, Paul Martin decided to move the mission to Kandahar; and, yet again, when Stephen Harper decided to extend the mission and then to leave Kandahar. Even when, as in 1939, the moral necessity for going to war is crystal clear there are, there were in Mackenzie King's deliberations, domestic political considerations.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2012, 15:30:30 »
Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that there ought not be a substantial political component to the decision. We elect representatives to pursue the national interest, and I respect that. I simply fear that the moral and ethical issues attendant in such a decision would be overshadowed by more shallow and callous political considerations. What it would mean for re-election, vice what it would mean for Canada and Canadian society.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2012, 17:10:54 »
The highest levels of government better talk about this now......please, for the sake of our soldiers.

 :nod:

The practice of indoctrinating and employing child soldiers in any aspect of asymmetrical warfare must be something that the international community takes a firm stand (i.e. material action) against offending nation-states or non-nation organizations.  Sadly many children are irrecoverable by the time they are established in conflict, but the practice should be curbed so that others don't follow. 

It certainly is an aspect that modern major militaries/nations do not address particularly well -- the danger of failing to do so places the nations' soldiers in significant psychological danger should they find themselves in a situation where the enemy combatant (trained in many cases to be quite proficient with small arms, etc...) may only be of single-digit age.  For militaries to 'whistle and look the other way' is perhaps not the best way to give due consideration to the potential of such situations in future operations around the world.

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Offline GD

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2012, 19:15:55 »
Wouldn't the decision essentially come down to weather or not the action was/is in the greater good of humanity. Unfortunately the decision would also rest on one person or a group of people who will be wrong in the eyes of the majority of westerners no matter the choice. If the politicians in charge chose to act then they lose because they attacked innocent children, but if they did not act and a disaster befell their people then they are at fault as well.

It ultimately comes down to weather or not we would be willing to justify doing a bad thing as long as it balances out with a good thing, e.g. killing enemy combatants even children in the name of preventing a genocide or something to that effect. Because ultimately if we are not willing to go to battle under those circumstances our enemies would employ children in any and all combat so as to win by default.

Offline Hamish Seggie

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2012, 19:37:24 »
We have to remember that children are far more impressionable than adults. Hitler knew this and so did the Communists, where children would report their elders for infractions of Communist ideology. Christians and Muslims are aware of this as well.

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Offline jeffb

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #15 on: February 26, 2012, 19:49:24 »
There is no goal here, in the scenario presented, to go and kill children soldiers. The goal is to end the use of child soldiers and the actions of a group that have cause a lot of problems for a very long time. Of course there is the psychological effect on the soldiers and the political considerations but I'm going to take a look at the moral question here.

It think the doctrine of double effect come into play here.  For purposes of argument let's say that killing/capturing Jospeh Konya is good and that killing child soldiers is bad although this may be a a point for debate.

Criteria #1: that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent;
I would argue that in this case the action is the removal of a mass murder. That action is good from a moral perspective.

Criteria #2: that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended;
The intention here is not to kill children but to remove a mass murder. Killing child soldiers is an unintended side effect.

Criteria #3: that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect;
This would be mission dependent but as long as the means of removing the leader involved some disproportionate means, then this test should pass.

Criteria #4: that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect;
In this scenario, I think that given the scale of murders, rapes, etc that have been conducted by the followers of this leader, this test is passed as well.

One also has to take action to minimize the potential of the evil effect. In this case, I think that this has already been accomplished to some degree through the numerous international efforts to ban the usage of child soldiers. The LRA knows that this is illegal yet persists. On an tactical level, this can also be minimized through IA. (Leafleting, word-of-mouth, amnesty program, providing surrender instructions, etc.) although I strongly doubt that these tactics would be useful.

I think that in this scenario, even if Konya is protected by child soldiers, there is a moral case here for engaging him.

This is a guy after all who was indicted by the ICC almost 7 years ago now...
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Offline Good2Golf

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #16 on: February 26, 2012, 20:10:49 »
GD, that's why the preferred course of action would be to politically address the situation international organization to offender state, so that it is not soldier pitted against soldier, some of whom would be children and the others not, but burdened with the discordance between military mission and what the adult soldier would see in his sights.   

The prospects are not very appealing for either side, but there is no doubt, even in conflicts in which Canada and other Western nations have been involved, that a pre-teen carrying (and in many cases rather proficiently [enough] trained on) an AK-47 would pose a significant moral dilemma most adult soldiers.  The real potential of a situation where an adult soldier may be protecting unarmed civilians, but whose position is being advanced upon by armed (and firing) pre-teens, exists.  It has happened before (I have heard of first-hand accounts from Rwanda) and it will no doubt occur again in the future.  I have no doubt that any soldier finding themselves in such a situation would be most certainly subject to an OSI, and knowing this, soldiers should be prepared by their respective nations (while the nations attempt to eliminate the root problem) to conduct themselves in a manner that respects the Law of Armed Conflict, such as it exists today, primarily within Additional Protocols 1 & 2 of the Geneva Convention and more recently (2003) the Optional Protocol (to the 1989 Children's Rights Convention) on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

As with the Ottawa Treaty regarding the banning (and destruction) of anti-personnel mines, Canada (some representatives, anyway, such as Sen. Dallaire) is taking an active role in the Child Soldiers Initiative (CSI) intended to eliminate (or at least greatly curtail) the use of children younger than 18 years of age from involvement in armed conflict.


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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2012, 20:23:34 »
There is no goal here, in the scenario presented, to go and kill children soldiers. The goal is to end the use of child soldiers and the actions of a group that have cause a lot of problems for a very long time. Of course there is the psychological effect on the soldiers and the political considerations but I'm going to take a look at the moral question here.

It think the doctrine of double effect come into play here.  For purposes of argument let's say that killing/capturing Jospeh Konya is good and that killing child soldiers is bad although this may be a a point for debate.

Criteria #1: that the action in itself from its very object be good or at least indifferent;
I would argue that in this case the action is the removal of a mass murder. That action is good from a moral perspective.

Criteria #2: that the good effect and not the evil effect be intended;
The intention here is not to kill children but to remove a mass murder. Killing child soldiers is an unintended side effect.

Criteria #3: that the good effect be not produced by means of the evil effect;
This would be mission dependent but as long as the means of removing the leader involved some disproportionate means, then this test should pass.

Criteria #4: that there be a proportionately grave reason for permitting the evil effect;
In this scenario, I think that given the scale of murders, rapes, etc that have been conducted by the followers of this leader, this test is passed as well.

One also has to take action to minimize the potential of the evil effect. In this case, I think that this has already been accomplished to some degree through the numerous international efforts to ban the usage of child soldiers. The LRA knows that this is illegal yet persists. On an tactical level, this can also be minimized through IA. (Leafleting, word-of-mouth, amnesty program, providing surrender instructions, etc.) although I strongly doubt that these tactics would be useful.

I think that in this scenario, even if Konya is protected by child soldiers, there is a moral case here for engaging him.

This is a guy after all who was indicted by the ICC almost 7 years ago now...

A great breakdown of the moral analysis, thank you- and your point about this being an excellent venue for IA effects is very well taken too. The same thought had occurred to me, but I lack expertise in that field and didn't bring it up.

The dynamics of a cult mentality as it applies to child soldiers is something that I don't think has received a lot of scholarship through to the tactical level. To what degree could IA be persuasive here? If these kids don't have exposure to the media through which IAoperates and if direct interface is likely to result in confrontation, I could see it being very difficult to make gains here. Children make easy zealots, and such zealots are easy to program to violently reject any attempt at influence or persuasion...
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2012, 20:31:54 »
I have not changed my opinion.

Quote
Army General / Re: After Afghanistan - What Will Canada Do With Its Army?
« on: March 30, 2010, 09:07:05 »
What is i.e. The RCR going to do when, unexpectedly or suddenly, 25 or so crazed (on something), or threatened (by something) child soldiers, firing AK 47's, attack an outpost/patrol/convoy with the intent of death to the invaders? Do we stand and fight, try to get out of there, get overrun while thinking about it/waiting for order clarification, surrender?

What are the rules of engagement when attacked by child soldiers, cause you will end up engaging them in Africa, sometime, someplace for absolute sure? If anything, the "enemy" will make sure it happens. They know Canadian politics.

What is the result of Canadian soldiers killing child soldiers? More PTSD cases? War criminal charges led by the Liberals/NDP/CBC/ Jane Taber/Jim Travers et al?

What happens when some of these child soldiers capture one or so of our female soldiers who then becomes a toy? Or one of the guys being gutted, his heart eaten, body thrown into the bush?

Stay out of Africa.

Quote
Army General / Re: After Afghanistan - What Will Canada Do With Its Army?
« on: March 30, 2010, 18:33:00 »
I have no doubt that you and many others will execute the mission. My questions are to the Canadian and Quebec public, the LPC/NDP/Bloc. the media, the pot stirers, new Canadians from Africa?

Soldiers will carry out lawful orders, but do you trust the LPC/NDP/Bloc, the media, the pot stirers to cover your back. Not friggen likely.

The soldiers will be wounded within, in more ways than the engagement of child soldiers.

Quote
Army General / Re: After Afghanistan - What Will Canada Do With Its Army?
« on: March 31, 2010, 10:19:48 »
Quote

    Just out of curiosity, why have you fixated on child soldiers?  There are a multitude of other threats out there.


To answer your query: Child soldiers are the biggest problem. Bigger than weather, insects, disease, snakes. All this is out weighed by Canadian politics. I personally do not think the Canadian public will accept, under any circumstances, Canadian soldiers shooting/killing/wounding/opening fire on child soldiers. Canadian politics will not allow it. The CF has a track record of war crimes in Somalia and Afghanistan. I did not say that, but the G & M/CBC/CTV/etc, the Liberals/NDP has constantly bombarded the Canadian Public with this.

Right now, if :

- 2 PPCLI was somewhere in Africa, and following all the rules (anyones: Canada/NATO/UN);
- fourteen boys, aged approximately 12 to 14 were wounded, with three mortally wounded after an armed attack on a element of Canadians delivering food aid;
-  two Canadian soldiers were wounded (none killed);
- the entire episode, from start to finish, was video taped by CBC, and witnessed by a G & M repeater; and
- the video clearly shows, beyond doubt, that the Canadians held their fire to the last instant, attempted,by whatever means to stop the attack, took two wounded, then fourteen individual  soldiers each took one shot only at their target (no sounds of "rapid" fire).

So where do you think the focus of the story would be? How would that video be edited? What part of the video would be repeated, and repeated (guess:the dead "boys", focusing on the youngest). The outrage of Iggy and Jack (and Quebec) would be bouncing off the rocky mountains.

Stay out of Africa. Let China do it. China is already in Africa building influence. They will be the next world power, like it or not.
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Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2012, 21:20:48 »
I'd give the order to fire the split second the rules of engagement allowed me to do so.  Holding fire until the last second and taking Hollywood aimed shots is noble for sure- but also a way to send your own guys home in a body bag.

Let the politicians deal with it.  The Taliban and insurgents are realizing the way to make NATO allies loose heart is to have NATOs ANA allies shoot and kill NATO troops.
The same will happen with child soldiers.   Once a country shoots [armed and attacking] children and it blows up in the news and they start to pull out the bad guys are going to realize we don't have the heart to deal with it on the world stage and step up child attacks.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #20 on: February 26, 2012, 21:24:29 »
I'd give the order to fire the split second the rules of engagement allowed me to do so.  Holding fire until the last second and taking Hollywood aimed shots is noble for sure- but also a way to send your own guys home in a body bag.

Let the politicians deal with it.  The Taliban and insurgents are realizing the way to make NATO allies loose heart is to have NATOs ANA allies shoot and kill NATO troops.
The same will happen with child soldiers.   Once a country shoots [armed and attacking] children and it blows up in the news and they start to pull out the bad guys are going to realize we don't have the heart to deal with it on the world stage and step up child attacks.

Easily said. Perhaps not quite so easily done by all involved. You're right about the strategic ramifications of hesitation to engage child soldiers, I won't argue with you there. I WILL say that I'd be suspicious and a bit frightened of any society whose soldiers, drawn from within that society, were not generally troubled morally and ethically by being put in such a situation.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

Offline Jarnhamar

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #21 on: February 26, 2012, 21:36:48 »
Easily said. Perhaps not quite so easily done by all involved. You're right about the strategic ramifications of hesitation to engage child soldiers, I won't argue with you there. I WILL say that I'd be suspicious and a bit frightened of any society whose soldiers, drawn from within that society, were not generally troubled morally and ethically by being put in such a situation.

In 2006 4 PPCLI soldiers died when a security team let an old harmless grandpa on a bike through a check point without searching him because he was in a hurry to catch up with his wife and grand daughter.
It's good that you'd be frightened by such a society and it would be especially good if who we are fighting were doubly frightened knowing that we won't allow ourselves to be taken advantage of in such a way.

Morally it should upset anyone placed in that kind of situation (I'd be very upset) but I wouldn't want a soldier in my section who hesitates at a moment like that.  Afterwards I'd probably strongly suggest everyone report to the padre or something.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #22 on: February 26, 2012, 21:43:59 »
In 2006 4 PPCLI soldiers died when a security team let an old harmless grandpa on a bike through a check point without searching him because he was in a hurry to catch up with his wife and grand daughter.
It's good that you'd be frightened by such a society and it would be especially good if who we are fighting were doubly frightened knowing that we won't allow ourselves to be taken advantage of in such a way.

Morally it should upset anyone placed in that kind of situation (I'd be very upset) but I wouldn't want a soldier in my section who hesitates at a moment like that.  Afterwards I'd probably strongly suggest everyone report to the padre or something.

Absolutely. And the solution to that is drills, and rigid adherence to them in the tactical setting. I think that earlier, though, we were talking about the question of committing ourselves not to an operation where this sort of thing might be incidentally possible, but rather to an op where through our own actions it was deliberately likely- a direct action on an LRA facility guarded by child soldiers whom we expect to have to kill.

Again, legally there's not much ambiguity. And as soldiers, our duty is clear if we're put in that position, and I as well would expect my soldiers to act accordingly, and would expect the same of myself. But the bigger question of our higher authorities- those who *aren't* behind the rifle - making the decision to put us there is a tough one indeed.
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Offline GD

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2012, 22:18:15 »
I don't know if it makes sense, but the initial question deals with sending armed soldiers to attack a target protected by child soldiers. I don't think there would be such a big problem with fighting child soldiers as the Allies had to deal with that during World War 2, the question is would there be any will to deploy troops knowing full well that they will be fighting child soldiers?

Once Canada is in Afghanistan, soldiers will do their job wether they like it or not as it comes down to professionalism, but what if say things came about where the West was to invade Iran, knowing full well that they would deploy tens if not hundreds of thousands of children to the front lines. Would the western world have the heart to go in and deal with a imminent threat to world security that puts millions of lives in danger if we knew that we would be fighting against children?

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Re: Fighting child soldiers?
« Reply #24 on: February 26, 2012, 22:41:59 »

The dynamics of a cult mentality as it applies to child soldiers is something that I don't think has received a lot of scholarship through to the tactical level. To what degree could IA be persuasive here? If these kids don't have exposure to the media through which IAoperates and if direct interface is likely to result in confrontation, I could see it being very difficult to make gains here. Children make easy zealots, and such zealots are easy to program to violently reject any attempt at influence or persuasion...

This would obviously  be a major problem for any IA actions. I think that the best outcome that could be hoped for would be giving the "soft core" fighters instructions on how to surrender. That could be accomplished through leaflet drops, radio broadcasts, text messages (everyone has cell phones these days) but I suspect that literacy would be a problem so the design of any message would have to be very good. Basically, you have to get the message to them that if they put down their weapons, raise their hands and offer no resistance when the soldiers come, they will be taken care of. If they resist, they die.

I would suspect a very low uptake on this message but it is critical to help mitigate the harm done. There would also be the tactical problem of telegraphing your intentions. In order to avoid this, a messaging campaign would have to be in a sufficiently wide enough area, and go on for long enough, to avoid this. This would probably be the key component of the IA campaign in order to get the support of the manoeuvre commander.
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