A few thoughts bouncing around in my head today. I apologize if they seem disjointed and out of order. Or make no logical sense.
I'm angry. This has really set me off.
The soldier who went outside the wire in the middle of the night and murdered 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children...
The first thought that went through my mind is that you don't just go out and kill non-combatants. Every soldier knows that. There are so many reasons why it's wrong.
Then I thought about how I would feel if it happened here, to my family. Not pleasant to consider. How would I respond? What "justice" would I wish for?
I have no idea what was going through his mind. I can't even imagine. He was serving his fourth combat tour. I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often when soldiers are forced to serve combat tours again and again. It has to wear on a person. It has to change a person. Yes, I realize that they're all volunteers. Perhaps that's part of the problem. Fairly decent pay and benefits. (not great, I know) A shitty job market and a shitty economy here at home. Whats a guy to do, right?
He volunteered for sniper training after he returned from his last deployment to Iraq. He passed the psych eval for that training. He then suffered a brain injury, recovered from it, and again passed a psych eval.
We still had a draft when I served. Perhaps we should have it again? Spread the load. Share the love. "You get lower quality soldiers with bad attitudes who don't want to be there so they don't perform". Yep, some of them. You have some of those in the volunteer ranks, too. The vast majority shoot back when being shot at, though. That "self preservation" thing. That's another topic for another time. :)
There is a good article here regarding this man and this incident. Read the entire article. It isn't very long. Pay special attention to the last paragraph.
E-6 with 11 years of service. 4th combat tour. Some have served more time in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some less. Some none at all. Wife and 2 kids.
He will be charged with murder and other crimes in the next few days. The charges will be levied in Afghanistan. I don't suppose that's unusual. The Afghan government has already stated that they want this soldier brought to "justice" in Afghanistan. They don't want this soldier taken out of their country to be tried in America. They do not trust the Americans to come to the right verdict in America. Afghanistan is a different world. They don't do things the way we do.
I believe that it will now become a political circus. We don't want to piss our Afghan allies off any more than we already have. We have to satisfy their need for justice. It's their country, their citizens who were murdered, after all.
I can see the trial taking place in Afghanistan. They won't listen to any defense regarding mental illness. They want blood. That's the way it works. I'm not saying whether that is right or wrong. I'm not judging that at all.
No person in their right mind would do what he did.
I'm afraid that if it happens this way, if he is tried by Courts Martial in Afghanistan, he will be found guilty. No extenuating circumstances. No insanity defense. Guilty plain and simple. What he did was wrong by any normal standards.
Except that we continue to send these people over there time and time again to satisfy a political need. This man's actions, no matter how abhorrent, no matter how uncivilized, no matter how wrong, are an indictment of the system that put him there. Like the psychiatrist in the article said... His leaders knew or should have known that there was something wrong. He didn't snap. He berserked.
Again, I firmly believe that what this soldier did was wrong, based on what little any of us know about the incident.
I'm concerned that this soldier's fate is already sealed. And that it is a political decision. Our government is going to send a message on this one. They are going to appease our Afghan allies.
10 years at war in that country. The same small group of people serving. Multiple tours. War and more war. We have no idea how it's going over there. I'm sure that there are successes, but we rarely, if ever, hear about those. Whenever an American soldier screws up we hear about it.
I had a young Second Lieutenant who became my platoon leader straight out of Officer Branch Basic during my second tour in Germany. I was the Platoon Sergeant at the time and we became friends but lost touch after I came back home. He retired as a Colonel and then became a civilian contractor. He is back in Afghanistan right now. (3rd or 4th time) He's there for the money. Wife, kids, grandkids back home in Ohio. Actually, I think he's there for something more than the money. He's a believer. Always has been. Anyway, he emailed me one morning last month and said that two American officers were executed in an Afghan government building. Shot in the back of the head. This was the day after the koran burnings. A few hours later it was all over the news. He said it's getting crazy over there. And dangerous. He never said that before. That it was dangerous. He's too old to be doing the shit he's doing :)
I have a bad feeling about this one. I believe that Eddie Slovik was the last American soldier to be executed by the US Military. Desertion. If he wasn't the last, he was one of the last. Doesn't matter. The only soldier executed for anything other than rape or murder since the War Between The States. Message sent.
102 soldiers were executed during WWII for rape or murder. 35 in WWI. Slovik is the one you hear about. Not that it matters.
You have no idea how much I hope I'm wrong about this. No idea.
I'm torn. I don't know what to think. Don't even know why I think this way.
He went through the wire. He pulled the trigger. He set the fires. He alone is responsible for his actions.
Or, is he?