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U.S. Army: Infested with bad command July 22, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Politics.
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Here, read this. The lawyer for the accused in the probe of the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. troops says that the numbing effects of combat affected the way the soldiers acted.

Yeah, yeah, sure. Pardon me but that’s bs. I know it, you know it. If you’re gonna shovel it be prepared to stand it. But I am not going to sit here and chastize these young, accused soldiers. I am not going to pretend like I know what it’s like to be in combat or say that I know how I would have acted in a similar circumstance (I know I wouldn’t have raped anyone).

What I am going to do is say that the commanders in this and any American unit that is accused of crimes as horrible and brutal as these should be taken to task, dressed down and drummed out. Any commander that allows his soldiers such liberty as to plan and execute a multiple murder crime shouldn’t be allowed to wear the uniform.

Combat can exhaust even the strongest of men. While I myself haven’t participated, I have come across plenty of people who have, from both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, the Gulf War and, yes, the Iraq War. The one thing I noticed in almost all of the people who saw combat is that they were of exemplary character. Unhindered by the experiences that this attorney says numbed his clients.

Never once did I witness any one of these individuals engage in sexually deviant or homicidal behavior. I did witness them to be excellent leaders, role models and hard-working, contributing members of society.

So, no, I don’t think “stressful war duty” is a defense. Murder is murder. Rape is rape, any way you cut it. Right and wrong must have definition, even in warfare. The standards we uphold in our society should be upheld doubly in our military society. Our soldiers represent all of us, how they act is a direct reflection of how we all act, at least in the eyes of the world.

This is precisely why the commanders that allow behavior such as this must not be allowed to remain in command. Blaming the lower enlisted doesn’t solve the problem. What does it tell us about the leaders if those they lead are acting in these ways. The military is a “boy’s club” to be sure, for the most part anyway, but the look the other way attitude that those in charge seem to have cannot be allowed to continue. Laissez Faire should not be applied to military command.

If this and situations such as Abu Ghraib are what we know about, then what don’t we know about? I shudder to think. Until the Army (and for that matter, probably the Marine Corps) address the root problem of bad commanders this type of thing will never leave the headlines.

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Comments»

1. unitedcats - July 22, 2006

Sadly this is the way of life in modern America, accountability never rises above the bottom rung of the ladder. No matter how egregious the failure, it’s never the fault of those actually in charge and responsible, a far cry from Truman’s “The buck stops here.” I knew we were doomed when the head of the CIA, FBI, and Air Force weren’t cashiered immediately after 911. Letting the leaders escape culpability for their failures is a recipe for endless failure, Iraq is a shining example of that recipe in action.

2. yinn - July 22, 2006

I am positive that the vast majority of our soldiers have acted in an exemplary manner.

That said, I have been around long enough to know that what is deemed permissible starts at the top. Sure, even with good and decent leadership you may have a few “bad apples,” and in that case what counts is what you do with it when such an incident happens. Do you cover it up or do you deal with it swiftly and decisively?

IMO while you have people who will always do good, a few people will always do bad and others will “default” to the prevailing culture of the group. Leadership, then, is even more about creating that culture, setting tone and boundaries, than it is handing out marching orders.

The Bush administration along with its top brass has the military it wants. If they didn’t want rape and murder of civilians (i.e., terrorism) happening, they would have nipped activities such as rampant sexual harrassment of soldiers in the bud. IOW they have alternately encouraged bad behavior and ignored the responsibilities of leadership. But, why should we think that our military is immune to the culture of corruption that has infected us here at home?


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