Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

A Marine’s Afghan AAR (XIII): Take your Time, Marines

Today’s comment from CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine makes me think about how much the military has changed in recent years. Back in the 1990s I never used to hear the phrase "tactical patience." He uses it here as if it were a commonplace. I hope it is. Here he cautions Marines to watch first and shoot ...

Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

Today's comment from CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine makes me think about how much the military has changed in recent years. Back in the 1990s I never used to hear the phrase "tactical patience." He uses it here as if it were a commonplace. I hope it is. Here he cautions Marines to watch first and shoot later. He reasons that if they really are bad guys, more of their comrades may appear while you wait.

Tactical Patience. We have done pretty well limiting civilian casualties but not as well as we could have if we observed a little longer - a couple is too many sometimes. A guy pulling a pitch fork out of the hay at night looks just like a guy taking a weapon out of a cache at first glance. Take the time to wait a few minutes and observe what the guys are doing before you shoot. The damage you cause may be irreparable. Along with that, if you are still covert and have the drop on folks, hold off they may bring in some of their friends and you can kill them too.

Today’s comment from CWO2/Gunner Keith Marine makes me think about how much the military has changed in recent years. Back in the 1990s I never used to hear the phrase "tactical patience." He uses it here as if it were a commonplace. I hope it is. Here he cautions Marines to watch first and shoot later. He reasons that if they really are bad guys, more of their comrades may appear while you wait.

Tactical Patience. We have done pretty well limiting civilian casualties but not as well as we could have if we observed a little longer – a couple is too many sometimes. A guy pulling a pitch fork out of the hay at night looks just like a guy taking a weapon out of a cache at first glance. Take the time to wait a few minutes and observe what the guys are doing before you shoot. The damage you cause may be irreparable. Along with that, if you are still covert and have the drop on folks, hold off they may bring in some of their friends and you can kill them too.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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