"Kill Team" Photos from Afghanistan

Shoal07 wrote:
Mex wrote:

I guess as you say, maybe moral training would help, but then you'd be training soldiers to think, and I don't believe that's what the military wants...

US Soldiers actually are thinking soldiers, some of the most "thinking soldiers" in the world. The amount of training and trust to make decisions put into an Enlisted US soldier or Officer is baffeling to other countries like China and Russia. They also receive regular training on rules of war and ethical conduct. Still, some people go overboard, it's a consequence of being f'n killers. It's also a consequence of being shot/grenaded/mortered on a daily basis. It fractures the mind. You see it when incoming comes into the camp and there's certain soldiers that don't dive for cover anymore. They've been there long enough to develop a disassociation with life. Thinking things like: they could dive for cover, and the morter could come into the foxhole and kill them anyway, so why waste the effort? These aren't thoughts normal people deal with everyday.

No one can understand what it is like unless you've been through it. I'm not saying that to justify anything, but you're trying to put someone in a box that fits YOUR world, and they left your world and the box a Looooong time ago. These people should be redeployed home and sent to an institution for help, not imprisioned. Society broke them, Society should fix them, not punish them. The blame is on us, WE should own the blame, as much as you don't like it, it's YOUR military which is a tool of YOUR country. When it's soldiers make mistakes, WE should feel the shame, and WE should help them and the people they hurt. Throwing them in prision is the easy way out, and a shrugging off of our responsibility.

This is 110% true. Our military is almost forcing the enlisted soldiers to earn bachelor and higher degrees. In my last unit that I was in while on active duty, out of the 50 or so enlisted soldiers we had roughly 10 with Bachelor's degrees, 1 with a Master's and 1 with a Juris Doctorate. And the leadership (enlisted and officer) not only encouraged the soldiers to be attending college, but gave large incentives to those that were enrolled.

I'd agree with Grubber. And I'd also add that while yes, soldiers are trained to kill (which takes a certain amount of psychological breakdown anyway. Killing strangers does not, as a rule, come naturally to humans) they are not trained to then take pictures of it and gloat. And also, part of being trained to kill is being trained to kill the right target. Generally, civilians are not the right target. While of course mistakes happen, this does not seem to fall in that category.

Bear wrote:

Our desire to sanitize "WAR" and make it something palatable is truly astounding to me.

This is no reason to adopt the methodology of your enemies . There are legal ways to get things done without intentionally killing civilians or desecrating corpses.

Were these civilians or enemy combatants? I couldn't tell because it's in German.

Grubber788 wrote:

Right, but if they're civilians, we're not exactly doing much to spread a positive image of ourselves abroad. There are couple of reasons why the US spends billions on turning the military into a faceless, surgical force.

One, marines or any other soldiers can't be trusted to be policeman. If we were fighting Nazis again, sure, let 'em go wild. We don't live in that world any more, and our military requires finesse or else we'll be seeing soldiers drinking blood from the skulls of our enemies. I don't see religious fanatics and loyal tribesman being cowed by that.

Two, the US public doesn't have the stomach for this kind of nonsense. We're supposed to be spreading freedom and democracy, not Pax Americana via the tip of a spear.

Three, it will inflame passions in the Muslim world again. Hell, it will inflame passions throughout the rest of the world too. Every time this happens, the U.S. loses credibility. This war isn't about winning battles or that hoo-rah bullsh*t. It's about winning a war with ideas, money and stability. The generals and officers understand this; they need to keep a tighter leash on their soldiers.

I agree with you! If it's shown that these were civilians then the soldiers should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Nothing demonstrates a commitment to the cause more than holding your own soldiers to a higher standard. However, we're talking about an area where the lines between civilian and insurgent are no longer defined by a uniform and a line on a map. The "civilian" walking down the road during the day can also be the "insurgent" who buries an IED at night that takes out half of your squad. There's ample footage of civilians who have mini armories hidden in their hovel.

Seemingly everything inflames passion in the Muslim world. Everything except for the other Muslims who blow sh*t up in the name of their religion. Muslim outrage is a constant.

I used to believe this was a war that could be won by capturing hearts and minds but I'm starting to wonder if that's even possible. How many lives, how many billions and how much effort can we put into changing the ideology of a culture? Maybe they just don't want the American idea of democracy but we seem incapable of accepting that. No amount of commitment seems to matter.

Does that mean we should allow our troops to run wild? Absolutely not, but my point still remains, it's dangerous to make snap judgments from the comfort of a sofa.

Everyone is talking macro picture, these guys don't live that, and expecting them to be able to pull back and go "big picture" is asking a lot. We say these people are civilians, based on what? The enemy doesn't have a uniform, they come and go, change their appearance, blend in with the "true" civilians. If this guy was popping off AK rounds at them a week earlier, are they not going to be in that mindset that he is the enemy, even if he's working his farm at the moment? We made this situation, and it will happen again, and it's happening right now.

Killing strangers does not, as a rule, come naturally to humans) they are not trained to then take pictures of it and gloat.

Their trained to cope with it, their culture allows them to be macho and alpha about it. This is what soldiers do in war. They want to own the enemy, they want to take everything from them, cutting off a part of them and displaying it isn't absurd at all. Again, we talk about macro level, but on a micro level, fear is a very powerful motivator.

I think the best solution to our war in Afghanistan is the same as what the Soviets decided to do in the '80s: leave. The Taliban aren't our enemies anymore than the North Vietnamese were our enemies during the Vietnam war. They fight us because we are in their country fighting their relatives and their fellow clansmen. The Taliban want stability there as much as we do (although their concept of stability is different than ours), except they want their own regions/country without interference from western powers.

KrazyTacoFO wrote:

I think the best solution to our war in Afghanistan is the same as what the Soviets decided to do in the '80s: leave. The Taliban aren't our enemies anymore than the North Vietnamese were our enemies during the Vietnam war. They fight us because we are in their country fighting their relatives and their fellow clansmen. The Taliban want stability there as much as we do, except they want their own regions/country without interference from western powers.

The difference between a Communist regeme and an Islamic one is that the Communists don't knowingly allow powerful non-government organizations to seek safe haven, gather funds, and train from within their borders. Walking away from Vietnam had a predictable consequence. Afghanistan...?

KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Were these civilians or enemy combatants? I couldn't tell because it's in German.

Civilians. These guys are accused of premeditated murder of Afghan civilians, and at there is at least one confession on the record.

Podunk wrote:
KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Were these civilians or enemy combatants? I couldn't tell because it's in German.

Civilians. These guys are accused of premeditated murder of Afghan civilians, and at there is at least one confession on the record.

In that case I'm sure they will enjoy Ft. Leavenworth.

Shoal07 wrote:
KrazyTacoFO wrote:

I think the best solution to our war in Afghanistan is the same as what the Soviets decided to do in the '80s: leave. The Taliban aren't our enemies anymore than the North Vietnamese were our enemies during the Vietnam war. They fight us because we are in their country fighting their relatives and their fellow clansmen. The Taliban want stability there as much as we do, except they want their own regions/country without interference from western powers.

The difference between a Communist regeme and an Islamic one is that the Communists don't knowingly allow powerful non-government organizations to seek safe haven, gather funds, and train from within their borders. Walking away from Vietnam had a predictable consequence. Afghanistan...?

That's a good question that I don't think me or anyone could answer with full confidence. But if we broker a peace or treaty with the major Taliban leaders/factions it would be a better end than wasting billions/trillions of American taxes on an endless campaign there with no clear "win scenario". Especially since we are at war with Al-Qaeda, and they have for the most part left for Pakistan, I see brokering an arms agreement or some sort of treaty with local tribes as a superior solution. Although I could be convinced otherwise if there is a better plan shown to me.

edit:
Possibly offering millions a year in infrastructure to tribes by using third party countries such as Saudi Arabia or some other Muslim country in return for full or at least partial access by international regulatory committees similar to how we handle Nuclear programs could be a possibility as well.

Edit #2:

The difference between a Communist regeme and an Islamic one is that the Communists don't knowingly allow powerful non-government organizations to seek safe haven, gather funds, and train from within their borders.

Of course we have done the same with Central American rebels/insurgents with the School of Americas. But like I said before, it's all about national interests. If we could somehow broker an agreement where we feel at least mostly secure in the knowledge that it is not a hotbed of terrorist cell building than I would be all about it.

That's pretty much what I'm thinking too.

Rallick wrote:

I'd agree with Grubber. And I'd also add that while yes, soldiers are trained to kill (which takes a certain amount of psychological breakdown anyway. Killing strangers does not, as a rule, come naturally to humans) they are not trained to then take pictures of it and gloat. And also, part of being trained to kill is being trained to kill the right target. Generally, civilians are not the right target. While of course mistakes happen, this does not seem to fall in that category.

In the end that's why I think the American people are responsible. If the families want to sue they should sue the country. The culpable parties aren't the soldiers on the ground, but rather the pols who sent them there and the people who voted for those pols.

Shoal07 wrote:

But, it's not. It's OUR failure to ignore history and keep repeating it. Military's are NOT good police forces, even our own, who we try really hard to train and put in that role. We keep ignoring that every time we do it we have signifigant problems. If we want to keep doing this (which, it appears, we do) then we need to develop a real international police type force that goes in after the soldiers and does what we're trying to make trained killers do - police the people and keep the peace. Cops are called "peace keepers" - Soldiers are not. Even "military police" are "soldier's first".

Conducing counterinsurgency operations (what happened both in Iraq and Afghanistan) is not the same as being cops. If our military is failing to produce troops that have the adequate training to do that job then that's an institutional failure. The days of the military preparing to do nothing but fighting endless columns of Soviet armor rolling across Germany is long gone. The new reality is, especially for the Army and Marines, is low intensity conflicts in close contact with civilians (some of which might actually want to kill them).

Shoal07 wrote:

US Soldiers actually are thinking soldiers, some of the most "thinking soldiers" in the world. The amount of training and trust to make decisions put into an Enlisted US soldier or Officer is baffeling to other countries like China and Russia. They also receive regular training on rules of war and ethical conduct. Still, some people go overboard, it's a consequence of being f'n killers. It's also a consequence of being shot/grenaded/mortered on a daily basis. It fractures the mind. You see it when incoming comes into the camp and there's certain soldiers that don't dive for cover anymore. They've been there long enough to develop a disassociation with life. Thinking things like: they could dive for cover, and the morter could come into the foxhole and kill them anyway, so why waste the effort? These aren't thoughts normal people deal with everyday.

No one can understand what it is like unless you've been through it. I'm not saying that to justify anything, but you're trying to put someone in a box that fits YOUR world, and they left your world and the box a Looooong time ago. These people should be redeployed home and sent to an institution for help, not imprisioned. Society broke them, Society should fix them, not punish them. The blame is on us, WE should own the blame, as much as you don't like it, it's YOUR military which is a tool of YOUR country. When it's soldiers make mistakes, WE should feel the shame, and WE should help them and the people they hurt. Throwing them in prision is the easy way out, and a shrugging off of our responsibility.

Again, you're just pointing out another institutional failure of the military for not being able to recognize and help people that are losing it. Instead, seeking a therapist or talking about what you're feeling is considered career suicide. It's not a sign of a health organization when people rotated home increasingly abuse drugs, alcohol, and even their loved ones at rates that are much, much higher than the rest of the population.

Society didn't break these people. The military did. It failed to adequately train and prepare soldiers for what they would be doing and then ignored the resulting issues.

I haven't heard the military saying they needed more money for substance abuse programs, counseling, and therapy for soldiers. I haven't heard the military saying it would slash equipment programs to shift the dollars to training or convalescent programs. And I certainly haven't heard the military saying it would slash the size of the Air Force and Navy so it could put more boots on the ground and cut down on the strain of multiple deployments for soldiers.

All of this isn't society's fault. The military can't complain society isn't adequately funding it when nearly a quarter of every tax dollar Uncle Sam collects goes to it. They have money and resources coming out their collective asses. The military can't complain that it didn't know it would be asked to do these things when that's exactly what it was being asked to do as far back as 1993 with operations in Somalia and they ignored the advice of their own officers, like Shinseki, who knew exactly what he was talking about from his NATO experience in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

That means that the military was simply too arthritic and slow to adapt to the new realities. I could maybe give the military a pass for the first couple years, but we've been in these conflicts for nearly a decade now.

It's a drop in the bucket but at least it's something.

Eleven research institutions in 11 states will receive more than $6 million in federal funding from fiscal year 2011 to support research on substance abuse and associated problems among U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, is collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to award grants that will examine substance abuse related to deployment and combat related trauma. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are also NIH partners in this endeavor. NIH is awarding more than $4 million in grant funding; the VA, around $2 million.

and

Funding Now Available for Military Spouses Seeking a Career in Counseling

ICDS is approved under this program to offer chemical dependency/substance abuse counselor training to military spouses through the U.S. Department of Defense. Funds are available right now to cover educational expenses for this rapidly growing field of counseling. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, substance abuse and behavioral disorder counseling is one of the fastest growing professions, projected to grow 21 percent in the next ten years.
KrazyTacoFO wrote:
Podunk wrote:
KrazyTacoFO wrote:

Were these civilians or enemy combatants? I couldn't tell because it's in German.

Civilians. These guys are accused of premeditated murder of Afghan civilians, and at there is at least one confession on the record.

In that case I'm sure they will enjoy Ft. Leavenworth.

And that's how it should be.

What I want to know is who the heck was running OpSec for that unit!? Those guys took 4000 pictures during maneuvers, much less that a German newspaper ended up with them.

Society didn't break these people. The military did.

That's an interesting assumption. I would argue that better induction screening is needed. Most guys I met in Iraq that I had concerns about were f*cked up long before they ever set foot in the Mideast.

Reaper81 wrote:
Society didn't break these people. The military did.

That's an interesting assumption. I would argue that better induction screening is needed. Most guys I met in Iraq that I had concerns about were f*cked up long before they ever set foot in the Mideast.

This is why it's the military's fault - It's not supposed to recruit people who are not fit for duty and if a person becomes mentally unfit for duty he/she should either be rehabilitated or discharged. The US military got burned in the past for recruiting the "wrong" people.

Subscribed to keep abreast of things.

Niseg wrote:

This is why it's the military's fault - It's not supposed to recruit people who are not fit for duty and if a person becomes mentally unfit for duty he/she should either be rehabilitated or discharged. The US military got burned in the past for recruiting the "wrong" people.

I think there is a backward cause and effect relationship now though. The reason the military is recruiting the "wrong" people is because they've been in a state of combat for ten years now. You can only stop-loss people so many times and the recruitment standards have dropped lower and lower to compensate.

Personally, I think it's time we give our military a rest and bring them home.

24 years.

For murder, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, illegal drug use, and general heinousness. I guess they really gave him a great deal for testifying against his squad-mates, but honestly, even if he did, 24 years, with parole in seven is a joke. There are gang members doing less who wouldn't get deals that good.

24 years, with parole in seven is a joke. There are gang members doing less who wouldn't get deals that good.

We don't give gang members guns, teach them to kill then unleash them into a world they aren't prepared for. We don't make gang members live in combat zones for a year at a time and try to get them to make split second decisions that cost lives.

MaverickDago wrote:
24 years, with parole in seven is a joke. There are gang members doing less who wouldn't get deals that good.

We don't give gang members guns, teach them to kill then unleash them into a world they aren't prepared for. We don't make gang members live in combat zones for a year at a time and try to get them to make split second decisions that cost lives.

Well that point could be argued somewhat.

boogle wrote:
MaverickDago wrote:
24 years, with parole in seven is a joke. There are gang members doing less who wouldn't get deals that good.

We don't give gang members guns, teach them to kill then unleash them into a world they aren't prepared for. We don't make gang members live in combat zones for a year at a time and try to get them to make split second decisions that cost lives.

Well that point could be argued somewhat.

Considering the amount of pictures I've seen of tags in Afghanistan and Iraq, I'd say it's very arguable. I don't think MS-13, Bloods, or Crips members go there on vacation.

We don't make gang members live in combat zones for a year at a time and try to get them to make split second decisions that cost lives.

Planting weapons on civilians is hardly a split-second decision.

Just so we're clear: We're an invading army, right? Because you can justify this as part of the training, the fog of war, the bad apples, or whatever the hell you like. The fact is that our elected representatives have sent these people into someone else's country and they've murdered civilians and taken goddamn trophy photos.

When they make movies of these times, rest assured we're the bad guys here. This is just straight up evil.

SpacePPoliceman wrote:

>Snicker<

Just out of interest, what's an OMG gang? While it's amusing to picture some Justice Department employee freaking out every time they write the names of those gangs ("OMG Hell's Angels!!!!") I doubt that's what they meant in this case.

Rallick wrote:
SpacePPoliceman wrote:

>Snicker<

Just out of interest, what's an OMG gang? While it's amusing to picture some Justice Department employee freaking out every time they write the names of those gangs ("OMG Hell's Angels!!!!") I doubt that's what they meant in this case.

Outlaw Motorcycle Gang