Thursday, June 01, 2006

Iraq, the Marine Corp, and historical footsteps

This post unfortunately must be brief. For reasons currently unexplainable I am experiencing technical difficulties with my blog template.

I did wish to remain true to my prior post and mention in this blog the alleged massacre by United States Marines of Iraqi citizens.

I would like to state first that the news reports have made me VERY angry and sad. I grew up with military men in my family and was taught to respect the uniform. I watched with youthful satisfaction the CBS television series JAG and in our current conflicts firmly support our troops abroad. It is with a heavy heart that I read news reports such as this one, in particular because of my affinity to the Marine Corps. With that said:
If, when the various investigations are completed it is proven true that those particular Marines did in fact kill innocent civilians then those held responsible should be part of a court-marshal. This includes not only the soldiers in the immediate area involved in the killings but up the chain of command to the company commander, regimental commander as well as the battalion commander. I abhor the idea that the commanders on the ground have to issue ethics training. This is something that should be part of basic training as well as continuous on-the-ground training. To issue such orders after such an incident sends an equally bad image to our allies and the people in countries were we are providing protection and security.

Most important of all: Restitution should be given to the surviving family members.

Psychology of soldiers is fascinating. These men and women volunteer to protect their country. The military training program is indoctrined legalized killing, which is done rather efficiently. However, the public still expects their fellow citizens to have moral's and when particular missions become nasty (as they all do) public conscience recoils with the discovery that our trained killers do not have an "off" switch. I am in no way excusing the actions of the men in this particular story. I applaud the military for being forthright to the media and the Iraqi government, contrary to initial action reports. However, this entire affair reminds me a little too bit like the infamous Lt. William Calley and the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War. The lessons of that war and of that massacre can be applied to our current war in Iraq. An indiscernible enemy is the worst because the very rules of engagement our soldiers are trained to follow do not apply. Another lesson and this one is very important. Battlefield stress is very real. Our troops serving abroad have had their deployments extended to the point that the adverse effects now are being seen. Rotating troops, in and out of the theatre of operations is not the answer either. Our military leaders know the answer. The question is will our politicians listen?

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