GENERAL: You can take an unmanned vehicle… AND THEN SHOOT AT PEOPLE AND KILL THEM OR Maim THEM BY BEING TRIGGER HAPPY AND AHEAD OF THE GAME!
COL. DAVID KLAPPER (Rtd.): I’m in complete disagreement with that.
GEN. MARIA LEO COTTON: We’ve seen, and we’re still investigating, but we are treating this as a vehicular casualty, and not on board our unmanned vehicles.
But General Cotton says that his order to shoot will not be followed.
GEN. MARIA LEO COTTON: We are setting a policy with Marines to utilize personal weapons when they don’t have clear reason to believe another Marine or Marine Group member is going to be in imminent danger. We will use it when the standard procedures are not followed, when a Marine is away from a position he could be held at and safe in, even if there’s no technological risk.
The dilemma his story created was so large and ambiguous that in April the Corps had a “gauge discussion” to clarify the policy and the chain of command regarding the use of Marines’ personal weapons.
JON WING: Going forward, I have to ask a very difficult question: How can you have any confidence in an individual commander, a marine general, to make that decision on his own, without waiting for input from the tactical staff, from the entire command chain?
GEN. MARIA LEO COTTON: We wouldn’t go into a firefight or an incident where somebody else is sending one or two Marines to evacuate somebody who’s in immediate threat unless we could have seen him in danger.
JON WING: There are several factors that come into play: there are your own perceptions of your capabilities. There are, as you say, your own tactical orders. There are your perceptions of the current conditions. All of which you can reasonably, I’m sure, experiment with. And then there’s also the current circumstances where you are on the ground with Marines in the field.