In counterinsurgency, does restraint deserve its own reward?

The World

In April, British Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, who commands NATO forces in southern Afghanistan, proposed creating an award for “courageous restraint.” As avoiding the loss of civilian life is a cornerstone of the coalition’s counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, does rewarding restraint makes sense? Is restraint a courageous act of discipline under fire or does it put our troops in danger?

We look deeper at the issue of the rules of engagement and this award with an American veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Greg Papadatos is a sergeant in the Army National Guard, and served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both men think rewarding restraint represents somewhat circular logic.

“How can you award someone for not pulling a trigger?”, Papadatos asks. “There’s nothing that would make someone deliberately kill a civilian, so what would they be rewarding?”

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