I was very disappointed with the Panorama programme last night. Of course, if Richard Bilton has new evidence the MoD should reopen their investigation into the alleged killing of unarmed detainees in Helmand. However, what we were shown was a few bullet holes, which he alleged were caused by British soldiers 11 years ago and the testimony of Taliban sympathisers, much of it second-hand. The subsequent emails by people in London who did not know the context and the views of Australians who were nowhere near the events do not pass any threshold for a legal case.
Colonel Lee of the Royal Marines cannot be faulted for his clear exposition of some of the legal and moral rights and wrongs, but no-one explained how these operations were launched in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of British soldiers in Gereshk, Nah-e Saraj and Nad-Alieriod. Nor did anyone explain how NATO and Coalition Special Operations worked in unison with capital cities. We have all seen the imagery of the operation to lift Usama bin Laden and the level of scrutiny from the highest commanders for these sorts of operation, but Bilton provided no discussion about how many soldiers lives were saved in Musa Qala and Sangin and there was nothing about the intelligence feeds on operations of these sorts.
This subject (Morality in Asymmetric War) was debated at length in London in the aftermath of 9/11 under the “Greater Good Principle” and there is plenty of open source material such as the Oxford Research Group papers, which the programme could have used to avoid the criticisms of poor research and bias.