Father seeks changes to battlefield rules

Conference raises awareness of 'Rules of Engagement'

SAN ANTONIO - Retired Navy Seal Commander Mark Waddell is the father of Marine Lt. Joshua Wadell, who he said was unjustly punished for breaking the military's "Rules of Engagement" in the name of safety on the battlefield.

His son's case is at the center of the Rules of Engagement and Wounded Warrior Support Conference, held Tuesday at the Center for Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University.

Some call the rules ethical, while others, like Wadell, believe at times they are a hindrance and pose a danger.

"These are self-imposed rules that are put on soldiers by politicians. In many cases, they do more harm to our soldiers than they do to the enemy," said Dr. Jeffrey Addicott, director of the Center for Terrorism Law at St Mary's University.

Adicott said some example of Rules of Engagement include soldiers being unable to shoot an enemy at night, shooting a female soldier with a rifle and being unable to kill a wounded enemy while they're trying to leave or in a civilian vehicle

"It does a lot of harm to our soldiers. In many cases, our soldiers are killed because they're afraid that they'll be punished if they use violence that contradicts these absurd rules of engagement," said Addicott

In November 2011, Marine Lt. Joshua Waddell was relieved of his duties as an executive officer of his company in Afghanistan after he ordered snipers to kill a wounded enemy on a civilian tractor.

"My son is a victim of failed leadership," said Mark Waddell. "We're letting the citizens of the United States know that we have problems (and) significant challenges going on on the field of battle right now."

Waddell said he hopes the conference will raise awareness so the rules can eventually be amended.

In addition, Sen. John Cornyn's office has opened a congressional inquiry and the Center for Terrorism Law is also aiding in writing legislation so soldiers can appeal rulings.


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