Chicago Journal of International Law


In February 2002, newspapers in the United States and United Kingdom published complaints by some nongovernmental organizations ("NGOs") about US and other Coalition special operations forces operating in Afghanistan in "civilian clothing." The reports sparked debate within the NGO community and among military judge advocates about the legality of such actions. At the US Special Operations Command ("USSOCOM") annual Legal Conference, May 13-17, 2002, the judge advocate debate became intense. While some attendees raised questions of "illegality" and the right or obligation of special operations forces to refuse an "illegal order" to wear "civilian clothing," others urged caution. The discussion was unclassified, and many in the room were not privy to information regarding Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Special Forces, its special mission units, or the missions assigned them. [CONT]