Daily Archives: September 21, 2010

Grim military news…

One doesn’t know what to make of the U.S. death squad (officially known as 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment).  It really fills me with rage that these guys wear the same uniform that I do.

…five members of the unit staged a total of three murders in Kandahar province between January and May. Seven other soldiers have been charged with crimes related to the case, including hashish use, attempts to impede the investigation and a retaliatory gang assault on a private who blew the whistle.

To which one can only ask, ‘Where the hell were the NCOs?’  The leader of this group was a staff sergeant but c’mon.  This sort of thing doesn’t happen in secret.

…we worked extensively with this brigade while I was in RC South earlier this year.  And I have little doubt the permissive, savage command climate emanated from the top.

And I don’t want to hear any crap about ‘bad apples’.  We need to face facts and realize you don’t get a squad, platoon or company to stay quite about this sort of thing just because one person is a psychopath.  No.  The rot must run deep.

At Abu Gharib we took the easy way out and punished a bunch of low level misfits, leaving those who created the conditions for events there to spiral out of control to carry on with their careers.  You’d think that in the military, where the idea of collective action and responsibility are driven into you from the first day of basic training would treat events like this that involve people’s lives and have real national security implications at least as seriously as when soldiers allow a fellow member to fail in training.  In training, everyone is responsible for everyone else and if one person fails, everyone pays for it under the assumption that the rest of the unit failed to help that soldier succeed.  But here?  We put the killers on trial.  Maybe (maybe) we get the commander relieved.  But then what?  What about the soldiers who knew this sort of thing went on but didn’t do anything about it?  What about the leaders who didn’t maintain enough control to know what these soldiers were doing?

I know we don’t do collective punishment anymore but one wonders at the impact up and down the chain of a ‘virtual’ decimation where the unit is essentially removed from existence and its members scattered to the four winds.  There may be something to be said for such symbolism.  It may not matter to the junior enlisted but I suspect not senior officer or enlisted is going to want the distinction of being a part of a unit that so dishonored the country it had to be erased from existence.