I’ve often wondered about the “Leave No Man Behind” policy of western armies fighting in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. It seemed to me crazy to risk more lives to recover a dead body. Surely, it would be better to leave one dead body behind than lose five more men in a counter-attack to recover it. Of course, you can’t know for sure that someone’s dead until you take their pulse. And I’d like to think that if it was me lying there that someone would make to effort to rescue me. In the old days, rescuing the wounded used to voluntary. But now soldiers are ordered to go back in.
Then, I got it. Commendable though rescuing the wounded is, it’s not the point. What NATO commanders want to avoid is the bodies of their soldiers being used as propaganda. The last thing they can afford is a video on Al Jazeera of a British, Canadian, or American head being paraded through a village stuck on top of a pole. Hearts and Minds is a policy that applies as much to the Home Front as it does to the frontlines of an insurgent war.