Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


This is coolbert:

I see that the U.S. military is giving "ethics" training to it's troops. Especially needed for those going to or already in Iraq.

Counter-insurgency environments tend to create situations that tax the patience of the average soldier. Troops often find themselves in the roles of policemen. A role they do not relish. Callous and just plain mean-spirited behavior is sometimes a consequence. Behavior that often alienates those people we profess to be "helping" Was the situation in Vietnam, is also now in Iraq.

The U.S. Army has for some time given leaders at the junior and lower levels [lieutenants and sergeants], training in how to deal with situations where illegal behavior may be occurring.

This training was mandated as a result of the infamous My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.

Situations that often involve violations of the Rules of Land Warfare or the Rules of Engagement peculiar to a particular conflict.

Situations that are obviously in violation, or may be in a grey area. Quasi-violations.

Specific training and specific protocols are described to the lower level leaders [those persons most likely to be found involved in "incidents"] as how to handle "incidents" of a sensitive nature [atrocity, war crime, violation of rules of engagement, etc!].

Situations such as:

* Searching a woman. If you are a male and searching a woman, make sure another troop is present while the search is being conducted. [this is especially important in a nation such as Iraq, where there is great sensitivity to something of this sort. "don't' touch our women!!"]

If you are OBSERVING an incident that is obviously illegal, you are to:

* First, use moral persuasion to convince the perpetrator of the error of their ways. Persuade or shame the perp to cease and desist.

* Second, if moral persuasion fails, warn the perp that you are compelled to report the violation to higher authorities. [this can be dangerous as you may become the object of violence on the part of the perp.]

Or, if you are ORDERED to commit an act that is obviously illegal, you are to:

* First, ask the superior that has issued the order to "Sir, please repeat that order!!". This is good advice. That superior may have been in an emotional state when issuing the obviously illegal order. A few seconds may allow a "cooling down" and a rethinking or what was said previously. "Belay that order soldier!!", may very well be the response.

* Secondly, ask the superior to "Sir, please put that order in writing!!". Few superiors would dare put an illegal order in writing. YOU DO HAVE the duty, right, and obligation to ask such a thing of a superior. YOU ARE NOT DUTY BOUND TO OBEY ILLEGAL ORDERS!! WHEN YOU TAKE THE OATH OF ENLISTMENT, YOU STATE THAT YOU WILL OBEY THE LEGAL LAWFUL ORDERS OF THOSE APPOINTED OVER YOU!! NOT ILLEGAL ORDERS!!

[in the famous war movie, "Paths of Glory", a subordinate asking a superior to put an order in writing is actually shown. A French artillery officer is commanded by a General to fire on his own men [French troops]. The office replies by asking the General, "Sir, put that order in writing!!'.]

The U.S. military does not want mindless killing machine automata [robots} for soldiers. They want folks that can kill on command, but also troops that can think for themselves and have presence of mind.



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