(NY Times) Images of G.I.’s and Remains Fuel Fears of Ebbing Discipline

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A new revelation of young American soldiers caught on camera while defiling insurgents’ remains in Afghanistan has intensified questions within the military community about whether fundamental discipline is breaking down given the nature and length of the war.

The photographs, published by The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday, show more than a dozen soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team, along with some Afghan security forces, posing with the severed hands and legs of Taliban attackers in Zabul Province in 2010. They seemed likely to further bruise an American-Afghan relationship that has been battered by crisis after crisis over the past year, even as the two governments are in the midst of negotiations over a long-term strategic agreement.

The images also add to a troubling list of cases — including Marines videotaped urinating on Taliban bodies, the burning of Korans, and the massacre of villagers attributed to a lone Army sergeant — that have cast American soldiers in the harshest possible light before the Afghan public.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationPsychology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.AsiaAfghanistanPakistan

6 Comments
Posted April 19, 2012 at 6:16 am

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1. AnglicanFirst wrote:

When you send men off to face death in combat and the politicians seem to say,
“By the way, your death and wounding and that of those around you means nothing.,”
then even the best selected, the best trained and the most-proven-in-combat soldiers, sailors and Marines will begin to suffer losses in self-discipline and unit discipline.

When the politicians abandoned us and the South Vietnamese in South Vietnam in the late 1960s, there used to be a saying among the troops in South Vietnam,
“What can they do to me, send me to Vietnam?”

I think what we may be seeing is a loss of discipline and a level of cynicism that accompanies a loss of trust in our elected national leadership in both the Congress and the White House.

April 19, 8:14 am | [comment link]
2. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

If you are being sent into combat to fight for your country’s interests, what goes through your mind when you hear your Commander in Chief say he is uncomfortable with the concept of “victory”?

April 19, 8:43 am | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

Agreed.  But why, I wonder, were these two year old photos released/leaked now?

It is time to get out.  Obama is now engaging in the process of killing good soldiers because he hasn’t got the guts to throw in the towel now, but which he intends to do in the future.  It is equally contemptible that we have Generals who are willing to go along.

I well remember loosing all respect for Westmorland when he admitted that he realized that he couldn’t win in Vietnam, but was willing to continue to loose troops in that war so he could hang on to retirement.

April 19, 10:46 am | [comment link]
4. evan miller wrote:

Similar incidents were commonplace in the Pacific theater during WWII, when Japanese brutality resulted in our troops actively hating their enemy.  It was considered perfectly acceptable too.  Official propaganda encouraged a dehumanized view of the Japanese.  I think our troops in Afghanistan, correctly in my view, consider terrorists and suicide bombers beneath contempt and having forfeited any right to the consideration that would be shown to a civilized opponent.  My only concern is with the troops taking these pictures.  It’s simply stupid and injurious to our war effort.  Would I want to pose with the remains of a suicide bomber?  Absolutely not.  It seems downright ghoulish, but then I haven’t been in the position these soldiers have been enduring, and coursened by frequent exposure to indiscriminate death and destruction being inflicted by a savage and barbaric enemy.

April 19, 10:51 am | [comment link]
5. Capt. Father Warren wrote:

EM, I am not a vetern, but my son is.  He believes the Marine Corp trained him to be a good Marine, ready for war.  What I don’t believe our Marines, soldiers, sailors, pilots deserve is to be sent into combat on behalf of their country when their Commander in Chief has no interest in prosecuting that war.  We are playing political games with people’s lives.  How should they react to that?

When any of us get jerked around in political games at work, how does that make us feel?  What if your life was on the line, literally?

Sending our young and our best into war just to play political games, or worse, to get re-elected is criminal behavior.

April 19, 11:04 am | [comment link]
6. Cennydd13 wrote:

One would think that the experiences of the British Army in their Afghan campaign in the 1850s and those of the Russians in the 1980s would’ve taught our government something, but evidently the history of the region has taught us nothing.  The Afghan people do not want foreigners there.  They are a tribal society, warlords run things, and they want all of us out of there.  We are ostensibly fighting the Taliban for control, but we’re really fighting for control of the region’s natural resources.  Religion is merely the coverup issue here.

April 19, 2:36 pm | [comment link]


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