LOS ANGELES, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- A Los Angeles couple who lost their son, a soldier, to a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan say the rules of engagement are jeopardizing the lives of U.S. troops.
Beverly and Bill Osborn are representative of parents of military personnel who say the dramatic rise of U.S. casualties in the war in Afghanistan reflects a policy that protects Afghan civilians at the expense of their children's lives, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
American combat fatalities hit 60 in June, 65 in July and 55 in August -- by far the largest three-month number of deaths in the war, icasualties.org said.
The Osborns said their son, Ben, an army specialist and Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient who was 27 when he was killed in June, would have had a better chance of defending himself had he not been required to wait for specific orders to return enemy fire.
"Our soldiers are forced to fight with one hand tied behind their backs. They're not allowed to take care of business -- and they know it," Bill Osborn said.
If the rules prevent troops from effectively pursuing Afghan militants who attack them while posing as civilians, "then the rules aren't working, and why are we even there?" asked Debbie Morris of Arnold, Calif., who lost her son, Marine Lance Cpl. Gavin Brummund, 22, to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on June 10.
Michaela, Brummund's widow, said those in her husband's unit told her the rules are frustrating. Protecting civilians, many of whom are hostile to the U.S. military, "isn't worth our guys' lives," she said.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, responded to an e-mail message from the Osborns in which they asked for rule revisions and a lifting of restrictions.
Petraeus, who took over July 4 after Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was ousted, and who said he is reviewing the rules of engagement, wrote, "Commanders have a moral imperative to ensure that we provide every possible element of support to our troopers when they get into a tight spot, and I will ensure that we meet that imperative."