Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We shouldn't be shocked

An American soldier snapped and killed some Afghan civillians.

This is terrible. Inexcusable. There's no justifying this action.

But, although the man who pulled the trigger must be held responsible-- and it looks like he will be-- the military should look at how they failed.  One thing I learned in the Corps is that when one of your people fails, it's your fault.  You, as his superior, should have seen the signs, should have tried harder, done better.

This as yet unnamed soldier had done four combat tours between Iraq and Afghanistan.  He had suffered a head trauma. He was returned to active duty in a combat zone. None of that excuses what he did, but should we be surprised?

We've been at war for over a decade. A nasty, ugly sort of war without clear objectives. A war where enemies dressed in the uniforms of our Afghan Army allies attack and kill coalition troops. Where the enemy fighters vanish into the population. The lines between soldier and civilian, enemy and friend, are blurred.

We've been fighting too long, with too few troops on the ground.  People have been rotated back into the line of fire time and time again.  It's only a matter of time before somebody goes off the rails. We've seen it before, and we probably will again if we fail to take a hard look at our procedures.

In this kind of war, we rely on the locals to help us identify the enemy. To spot the booby traps. To support the new civilian government. A year of careful positive work winning hearts and minds can be erased by one atrocity.

We, as electors of the people who send out troops into harms way, have to understand and accept that you can't fight a war on the cheap, and that actions and strategies have consequences.  We need to demand that our leaders do a better job, or admit that it's not working and cut our losses.

War is one of those things that should be done right or not at all.


  1. How about "not at all" for the next one they are panting to have?

  2. Well the military doesn't want a war in Iraq. That's usually a sign that we shouldn't go.

    The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said "If you liked Iraq and Afghanistan, you'll love Iran."

    I think the public are pretty much against it. We've had a decade of inconclusive, expensive, draining war in the Middle East.

    I'm hoping it's just election year sabre rattling. Social issues aren't resonating for the GOP, since they're not running for President of the vatican, so they're looking to play up the old Republicans are tough on defense, unlike the Democrats who just...killed...bin Laden...and Somali pirates...and helped oust Ghadafi. Crap.

  3. Ok, that should have been "Iran" in the first sentence.