Leadership: August 5, 2001

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: The current American determination to not lose a man in combat, or at least in peacekeeping operations, is having some interesting side effects. The Americans in Kosovo are the only ones who go out on patrol with flak jackets, helmets and lots of extra gear (like additional water, to avoid heat stroke) This is about a forty pound load. This slows the troops down considerably. The Albanian smugglers know this, and prefer to move stuff (weapons for guerillas or goodies for sale to civilians) through the American sector. The other NATO allies send their lads out with a much lighter load and are thus more capable of capturing the Albanians. But sometimes the Americans get lucky, catching the smugglers in a gulch or in some similar location where flight is difficult. The Albanians are prepared for this. They use several strategies. One is to get off their horses, and flee on foot. The horses will then run off and, as horses are wont to do, find their own way home. If that approach seems unlikely, the smugglers always seem to have one of their number ready to play "victim of the day." This lad allows himself to get captured, while his buddies get away. This is not such a bad thing, because the American detention facility is known for it's good food, indoor plumbing and soft beds. When American soldiers suggest that traveling light would enable them to catch more of the smugglers, their commanders ignore such advice. The Albanians get away because they can and because they know the American Rules of Engagement forbid firing on smugglers unless the smugglers fire first. If more smugglers were threatened with capture, they might start using their weapons to get the Americans to back off. And it would probably work. But Americans might get hurt, so the flak jackets stay on.