(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told CNSNews.com Thursday that the current rules of engagement and counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan are so restrictive and so limiting that he doesn’t see any merit in American military forces standing ready to give their lives in Afghanistan.
At a Capitol Hill press conference on Thursday, CNSNews.com asked Gohmert: “With the current withdrawal date set by the White House, as well as the current state of rules of engagement and COIN, do you see the merit in the potential further sacrifice and loss of American lives in Afghanistan?”
“I absolutely don’t,” Gohmert responded. “What this is about, and what makes the decisions of the president even more tragic is the Rules of Engagement that define what our military can do to protect themselves, that defines what their goals are.”
Under the current rules of engagement, the U.S. military cannot shoot at or drop bombs on anyone not clearly identified as an enemy combatant.
Joined by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and the chairman of Veterans for a Strong America, Army Reserve Captain Joel Arends, Gohmert called on the White House to establish an Afghanistan-Pakistan study group to reassess the Rules of Engagement and COIN in Afghanistan.
“Those have been so restrictive, that it puts our men and women in even more danger and creates more loss of life and more wounded to come back here. This is outrageous,” Gohmert said during the news conference.
The Texas congressman told CNSNews.com that the U.S. can still win in Afghanistan, if it changes the rules of engagement.
“I realize President Obama inherited a bad situation in Afghanistan, but we had defeated the Taliban within about four months with less than 500 military special ops in there,” he said. “nd we had provided the aerial support; they dropped bombs when called up by the special ops that were embedded.”
He added: “We let the people who wanted to fight for their freedom, fight for their freedom.”
The U.S. must be able to respond to aggression because it sends a message to terrorists, Gohmert said.
“If your government that you put in place declares war on the U.S. and says they’re going to annihilate us, and takes one step to do that, we will take them out and we won’t stick around for years and years and years and have these ridiculous rules of engagement that get our people killed and can’t defend themselves. No. We’ll take out who wants to take us out, and then you can put in whatever kind of government you want in,” Gohmert told CNSNews.com.
Rep. Franks commented on what he called the “indecision” of President Obama, not only as it applies to Afghanistan, but also in response to the recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya.
“I am sorry to say here today that the commander-in-chief of this nation has projected such indecision, such vacillation and such lack of willingness to stand up for the foundations that made us the greatest nation in the world,” said Franks.
“That not only has endangered our brave men and women in the battlefield, it has endangered American freedom and peace-and-freedom of the whole world,” he said.
Gohmert expressed frustration with the administration.
“For heaven sake, it’s still the most free nation in the world, and in the history of the world and we are losing it to people who think you can placate and pay off your enemies and make them love you and you can turn your back on your friends and your enemies will love you for it,” Gohmert said.
“It never works like that; history has shown over and over it never works like that. You stand with your friends, and you stand against your enemies and don’t switch the two around.”
Also present was Billy and Karen Vaughan, parents of fallen SEAL Team 6 member Aaron Carson Vaughan, and Retired Marine First Sgt. John Bernard, the parent of fallen Marine Lance Corporal Josh Bernard.