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Thread: Are Atrocities Part of War? - Military.com

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    Member Moechtegern's Avatar
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    Default Are Atrocities Part of War? - Military.com

    The images capture the darker side of a decade of war: A smiling Marine hurls a puppy off a cliff. Airmen cheer as a goat is beaten to death with a metal pipe. Scout snipers pose before a flag bearing the symbol of the Nazi SS runes. Marines urinate on bodies of dead insurgents.
    Each time such images appear, they raise questions about how they happened. How are American troops capable of such acts? How did leadership tolerate an environment that allowed them?
    “You don’t get a pass for acting stupidly because you’ve been in a war,” said retired Army colonel and Medal of Honor recipient Jack Jacobs... the bigger issue is the lack of leadership, according to Jacobs. Where, he asked, are the noncommissioned officers, the lieutenants, the company commanders, and the battalion commanders?
    http://www.military.com/news/article...ml?ESRC=dod.nl

    It's a long article, but an interesting read. A few days old, but I didn't see it in the forum search results.

    What do you guys think? This sort of stuff acceptable? If not, is it the fault of the leadership or the boots on the ground? How can this sort of stuff even be prevented, if it should?

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    Making Canadians look bad sepheronx's Avatar
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    The more people you have in one area or another, the more likely something stupid and irresponsible will happen. As well, especially the people that are enlisted and their habits, etc.

    This will never stop. Stupid **** will always happen anywhere and anytime in any circumstance. War or not.

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    No Good Bloody Seppo California Joe's Avatar
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    Frankly, all of those things listed at the beginning of the article are unfortunate, callous, retarded, and acting against the interest of the mission, but I would not remotely call them "atrocities".

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    Member Moechtegern's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by California Joe View Post
    Frankly, all of those things listed at the beginning of the article are unfortunate, callous, retarded, and acting against the interest of the mission, but I would not remotely call them "atrocities".
    Very much one of the ironies they pointed out in the article; we (the nation) tell soldiers killing is good, but when they do something like urinate on the bodies, that's unacceptable.

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    Assumption is that everyone can be controlled 100% of the time. There is this thing called the human character. Partially defined by the bell shape curve of human behavior. Saying we can control lawlessness is inane at best. Even our best societies have lawlessness happening. War with it's promotion of violence will only exacerbate that lawlessness that already exists in society. The average soldiers training is not sufficient to retrain people with the propensity of violence or make major character changes in all of those people being trained. In times of great upheaval there is rush to get the citizen on the battleline as quickly as possible. There is barely time to teach them to be soldiers that is no time to prepare them for the horrors that they will witness. Those horrors that they will witness will effect the soldiers in various ways and in variable degree of intensity.

    The extremes are not acceptable, but is to be expected. It is part of the cost of fighting a war. The mental damage that will happen to the good person and the already ****e for violence person acting out.

    Can it be prevented. As much as our society can prevent violence with in our own borders.

    Some fault can be placed on the leadership shoulder. To what extent, depends on the situation.

    Some fault can be placed on the boots on the ground and to what extent also depends on situation.

    War can, to some degree, bring out great humanity in a person, a murderous beast, or both.

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    Senior Member Connaught Ranger's Avatar
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    I agree with C.J's comment, interestingly enough, there is no mention in the article of the true atrocities, those being performed by the enemy, on captives, regardless of
    whether military or civil.

    Connaught Ranger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moechtegern View Post
    Very much one of the ironies they pointed out in the article; we (the nation) tell soldiers killing is good, but when they do something like urinate on the bodies, that's unacceptable.
    I believe the problem many had with the urinating was the stupidity of it and that it could be counterproductive to the war effort and endanger American lives.

    Also, to keep a certain respect for your enemy and lives in general even if you have to kill might help you to preserve your humanity as far as possible

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    Member Moechtegern's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hollis View Post
    Assumption is that everyone can be controlled 100% of the time. There is this thing called the human character. Partially defined by the bell shape curve of human behavior. Saying we can control lawlessness is inane at best. Even our best societies have lawlessness happening. War with it's promotion of violence will only exacerbate that lawlessness that already exists in society. The average soldiers training is not sufficient to retrain people with the propensity of violence or make major character changes in all of those people being trained. In times of great upheaval there is rush to get the citizen on the battleline as quickly as possible. There is barely time to teach them to be soldiers that is no time to prepare them for the horrors that they will witness. Those horrors that they will witness will effect the soldiers in various ways and in variable degree of intensity.
    Though part of the issue here is that the military as an institution is held to a higher standard then the society that criticizes it. Since there are tests involved in being accepted, training, and given the nature of it (an institution of killing people and destroying things), people expect these to create a sort of "superior" mentality and physiology in its members.

    They did only mention the highly publicized and politicized "extremes", but if these are common (or accepted as such), then one has to wonder what's the norm that we never hear about, beacuse nobody who knows about it considers it "wrong"?

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moechtegern View Post
    but if these are common (or accepted as such), then one has to wonder what's the norm that we never hear about, beacuse nobody who knows about it considers it "wrong"?
    IMHO, I think for the grunt often the consideration of something being wrong is not the issue or considered. Anger sees to that. Kind of like what you said two post back. People are told to kill, often in horrible manners that do nasty things to a person body along with creating a tremendous amount of suffering, then the next moment to be humane. That is after the enemy has done similar to their own comrades. That is a lot to ask from a person.

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    It was actually a reasoned article. It was the headline that was misleading. During the course of the article I think a rather clear line was drawn between actual atrocities and the perception of atrocities.

    I think all those interviewed brought experienced perspectives as well as historical references dating back to World War II. I think the general consensus was stupid, immature, possibly even amoral behavior is far more common than personnel committing actual acts of atrocity. It was pointed in the article the incidents tied to Afghanistan were considered by those interviewed to be examples of immature behavior.

    I'm not sure I completely agree with Colonel Jacobs that poor behavior signals a leadership void. While I agree it might speak to poor leadership, as suggested in the article the speed with which visual proof is transmitted can make corrective action almost impossible until the incident has already gone public.

    Anyone who has been in a position to lead young Marines, Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen understands there will always be a knucklehead. We always referred to him as a "Smitty". He wasn't necessarily a non-hacker. He was just the kid who could locate trouble and he often had accomplices. "Smitty" could be a thorn in the side of junior NCO's, because "Smitty" created problems for junior officers, which created problems for Staff NCO's, who created problems for junior NCO's. I know. I was on both ends.

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    Senior Member wicked_hind's Avatar
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    Urinating on a dead insurgent, burning Korans, throwing a puppy over a cliff ledge are unfortunate acts of stupidity that could have been avoided. However, calling them atrocities is a bit much. Machine gunning POWs, using chemical weapons on civilians, and using a civilian for bayonet practice fit into the category.

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    what constitutes an 'atrocity' is entirely relative. An act of aggression, eg a car bomb in a market-place, or taking out a village near where your troops were ambushed - which the gentle scholars of Sandhurst think of as 'atrocity', is normal strategy to most of history's guerillas. Which, perhaps, is one of the reasons why the civilised West has always found irregular conflicts difficult. It's all about values, isn't it? And how badly you need to win? Unfortunately, part of winning for a Western democracy usually requires not upsetting Mr & Mrs Naive back home with nasty pictures of dead people

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