The country….Afghanistan. The Province…..Helmand. The time…..The present.
A Platoon of twenty-four Royal Marine Commandos, along with a Manoeuvre Support Section using heavy weaponry (mortars, sniper rifle & machine gun) are being briefed ready for an active patrol.
The Platoon Sergeant completes his briefing, confirms that all Marines have been issued and hold their ammunition, food packs and survival gear, and asks if there are any questions.
Only one hand shoots up, and the Platoon Sergeant sees his daily nemesis, the barrack-room lawyer himself, Commando Smith; eager to speak. “Smith; what is it this time?”
“Platoon Sergeant, might we be told who the extra guy is, the man at the back of the tent, wearing standard camouflage gear, but instead of carrying a weapon, he is carrying a portable computer, and a radio pack on his back?”
“Certainly, Commando Smith, the new man is a new addition to the modern battlefield; he is the latest version of the roving Queen’s Counsel. If you make contact, under any circumstances, with the Taliban; whether they have tried to kill you with a roadside bomb, or an ambush with AK 47s, or even a suicide bomber who is intent on killing as many of you as possible, he will be able to give, in real-time, authoritative legal answers as to whether you are justified in believing you can raise your rifles and other weaponry and firing upon the Opposing forces. He, and he alone, will determine whether the Rules of Engagement have been fulfilled, even if your mates are dying all around you, and will be able to state that you can return fire without fear of being court-martialled at any time in the future! He will further be able to state, in the event of being ambushed by a member of the Afghan Army or Police, whether the attack has taken place as a direct result of Taliban involvement, or if the attack is carried out by a disgruntled or drug-soaked stone-age clown disguised as an Afghan soldier! ”
“Thank you, Platoon Sergeant, just wanted to know!”