Powerline has a post about the options being considered by the group looking at Iraq options. Part of the problem seems to be the kid-gloves way the coalition treats the enemy’s unlawful combatants. “Catch and release” has recycled terrorists back to the battlefield because the coalition lacked a legal basis for detaining suspects. Michael Yon’s dramatic account of a firefight in Mosul, that nearly cost LTC Erik Kurilla his life, contains this passage:

The doctors rolled LTC Kurilla and the terrorist into OR and our surgeons operated on both at the same time. The terrorist turned out to be one Khalid Jasim Nohe, who had first been captured by US forces (2-8 FA) on 21 December, the same day a large bomb exploded in the dining facility on this base and killed 22 people.

That December day, Khalid Jasim Nohe and two compatriots tried to evade US soldiers from 2-8 FA, but the soldiers managed to stop the fleeing car. Then one of the suspects tried to wrestle a weapon from a soldier before all three were detained. They were armed with a sniper rifle, an AK, pistols, a silencer, explosives and other weapons, and had in their possession photographs of US bases, including a map of this base.

That was in December.

About two weeks ago, word came that Nohe’s case had been dismissed by a judge on 7 August. The Coalition was livid. According to American officers, solid cases are continually dismissed without apparent cause. Whatever the reason, the result was that less than two weeks after his release from Abu Ghraib, Nohe was back in Mosul shooting at American soldiers.

LTC Kurilla repeatedly told me of – and I repeatedly wrote about – terrorists who get released only to cause more trouble. Kurilla talked about it almost daily. Apparently, the vigor of his protests had made him an opponent of some in the Army’s Detention Facilities chain of command, but had otherwise not changed the policy. And now Kurilla lay shot and in surgery in the same operating room with one of the catch-and-release-terrorists he and other soldiers had been warning everyone about.

If the US changes its policy from “catch-and-release” to “catch-and-kill”, a policy perfectly acceptable when dealing with unlawful combatants, the terrorists will think twice about acting.

One of the biggest killers of US forces in Iraq has been the IED. These booby traps can’t be laid without the people in the area knowing what was going on. We saw this in the infamous Haditha case that Sweetness and Light covered in a series of great posts. The US policy should be that failure to warn coalition forces about IEDs, ambushes and other terrorist activity constitutes giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The “reward” for any neighborhood where an IED goes off or an attack occurs should be demolition of the neighborhood. Pretty soon Iraqis will learn that letting terrorists operate in their neighborhoods is not a good idea.

Iraq is a tribal society where the loyalty hierarchy is family, clan, tribe, race and religion. The leaders at these various levels need to be held accountable for the actions of their members. This can be done humanely by fines and the withholding of aid and money. If that doesn’t work, then demolishing the local sheik’s house and the nearest mosque might induce the elders to rein in the hot heads.

Our enemies misintepret Western magnanimity as weakness. It is time to disabuse them of that notion. Our military needs to live the motto “No better friend, no worse enemy” to the full. The sort of crap that Ilario Pantano went through should have resulted in court martials for the prosecutors who pursued that case.

That’s the little stuff in a “Go Hard” approach. Now for the big stuff.

As this blog and numerous other voices have recommended, Al Sadr and his Mahdi army needs to destroyed. I’d recomend executing that outstanding arrest warrant on Al Sadr and letting the US military loose on the Mahdi Army until it no longer exists. Sure, some of the civilians that the terrorists shelter behind might get killed in the process. They’d soon learn not to shelter terrorists.

Much of the trouble in Iraq is due to Syrian and Iranian support and incitement. So far that support has cost that pair of terrorist sponsoring nations nothing. It is long past time to make them pay. Bombing their military bases would be a start and it could be escalated up to the threat of open warfare. The trigger would be finding Iranian or Syrian supplied arms or agents or both.

The only policy change that is needed is to let our military do what they are trained to do: defend the good and destroy the bad. Take off the kid gloves, remove the PC rules, and let our forces fight the way they did in WW2, the last real war that we won.