Thursday, December 11, 2003

Supporting the (right) troops

I found this disturbing video over at tbogg and I must say that I am disgusted. The Marine who fired these shots and the highest ranking Marine on the scene should both be court-martialed, according to FM 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, Chapter 4, Sec. II, Para. a, which states this about the wounded and sick:

They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict in whose power they may be, without any adverse distinction founded on sex, race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or any other similar criteria Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or exterminated, subjected to torture or to biological experiments; they shall not wilfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be created.

To add to this nauseating spectacle, a Marine captain and chief warrant officer attempt to defend the shooting of an injured man who was clearly no longer a threat. Disgusting. Why is it that an Army first sergeant has to set them straight, writing:

I too, am recently returned from seven months in Iraq, with a Division Cavalry unit. I see nothing to defend in that video and am glad that you have archived it so that others can see it. As a scout with over twenty years in the Army, mostly in combat units, I would say that what is captured on the video appears to be murder and in violation of the Law of Land Warfare.

This is not how warriors behave but how thugs operate. If the Iraqi man was indeed laying in ambush or setting an IED, then it is entirely appropriate to shoot him and to shoot him until he is no longer a threat. Once he ceased combat operations however, it became the soldiers' job to treat him and give him the same aid they would have one of our wounded soldiers receive.

That's how the Law of Land Warfare works.

To use him as a target and appear so joyful about it demonstrates that murder occurred and not combat operations. That is not a reflection of how callous all the soldiers are or what is encouraged or allowed in units. That unit has a problem. Any commander that glosses over that incident is neglecting his duty.

In the opening days of the war, our medics treated many Iraqi casualties, sometimes heroically. That's what you do. Its the law. I have no love lost for Iraqis, especially after watching the ones so happy to get a handout dance so gleefully in soldier's blood.

Our troops killed plenty, engaging in combat actions. My instructions to soldiers on missions almost always included the words - "if at anytime you feel threatened, shoot, shoot first and shoot center mass." But at no time were any of our soldiers instructed, allowed or countenanced to murder an injured person, be he combatant or not. I took pride that my commander insisted we "keep our mean faces on. We are not here to make friends" but also insisted on the humane treatment, even recommending our PA for an award solely for working heroically on an Iraqi casualty.

This man had attempted to engage our forces, was shot and shot bad and eventually died. No one was happy that a human died. We understood that if we are to expect to be treated a certain way upon injury or capture, then we must treat the enemy the same way. That's what warriors do.

Hooah, first sergeant.

I have known many Marines in my time and I know them as honorable men and women. I know that it must turn their stomachs as well to see this kind of disgusting display.

Update: It gets worse. I just noticed that the Marine captain who attempts to defend this murder works for the Marine Training and Education Command, whose responsiblity it is to teach the Law of Land Warfare (among other things). In fact, here's the lesson overview for the law on the TECOM website, which says:

While some people today still think that war is a free-for-all and that anything goes, this is no longer true. Although man continues to be the force behind the weapons, there now exists certain limiting rules to which most countries have agreed to follow. It is the policy of the Marine Corps to conduct operations in accordance with the existing laws of warfare.


Post a Comment

<< Home