Yesterday I received a comment that went as follows
In Iraq, just after toppling the Saddam Regime, we were issued two 10 round clips when we were sent out on patrols. And we were ordered (as we were told from the Pentagon) that if anyone is seen loading the clip into their weapon and chambering a round prior to being fired upon, we will be court-
They would then lead us to this dump called a village full of people who despised us. As we wandered through this village practically unarmed I often wondered if my government actually wanted me to make it home.
Beirut 1983: Have We Learned This Lesson?
The facts are stark. Twenty years ago, very early at 0622 on 23 October 1983, a lone suicide bomber drove a Mercedes truck-packed with the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of TNT-into the building housing many of the Marines of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (24th MAU) killing 241 Marines and members of other U.S. Services. Most of Headquarters and Services Company of Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines (BLT 1/8) was wiped out. At the same time, another suicide bomber drove a van into the barracks housing the French Foreign Legion killing several dozen Legionnaires.
Until 23 October 1983, the ROE specifically stated that:
When on post or mobile or foot patrol, keep a loaded magazine in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe, with no rounds in the chamber.
Do not chamber a round unless instructed to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.
Keep ammunition for crew-served weapons readily available but not loaded in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe at all times.
The perimeter guards at the BLT building on the morning of 23 October were in full compliance with these rules and were unable to shoot fast enough to disable or stop the bomber.
From Cairo comes word that no lessons have been learned
Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson “did not permit U.S. Marine guards to carry live ammunition,” according to multiple reports on U.S. Marine Corps blogs spotted by Nightwatch. “She neutralized any U.S. military capability that was dedicated to preserve her life and protect the US Embassy.”
American life, from the standpoint of the US government, is still cheap. It would interesting to ask whether Christopher Stephens in Benghazi had played a role in the decision not to have Marines guard the Consulate, as Anne Patterson did in Cairo.