A Sequel to "Black Hearts"?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by rampant, Sep 9, 2010.

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  1. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

  2. I'll be honest, I don't care.
  3. I do. Every time something like this hits the media, it makes life that little bit harder for the guys still out there.
  4. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Yep it undermines the efforts of everyone out there and gives ammunition to the propangandists. The question remains what is a the root of this behaviour: is it a failure of leadership, the result of a drop in recruitment standards or the psycholgical effects of a prolonged exposure to combat?
  5. There is a good chance that it's all 3 of the above.

    I think that this sort of thing has always gone on from the beginning of time and no matter what war/country. Whats happened now is it's more likely to get to the media.
  6. Given that it appears to be a Sgt who instigated the thing, I'd say leadership failure as a direct result of a too easy promotion system for NCOs, particularly at the lower levels, in the US Army.
  7. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    That doesn't really work on face value only as their Sgts don't equate to ours.

    A US team leader should be a Sgt. A team of 4 or 5 men means he has the equivalent reponsibility level of a UK LCpl fire team commander. The Squad leader would be a Staff Sgt, commanding a squad just bigger than a section - so roughly a UK Corporal.

    I don't have a great deal of info about their equivalent of D&Ds for promotion to team leader (UK section 2IC) or Junior Brecon for SSgt (UK section commander) so can't compare like for like - that is where any real concerns about easy promotion systems should lie, not 3 stripes on a US soldier.

    The NCO in question is a SSGT, so the same equivalent responsibility as a UK Corporal - like Cpl Donald Payne

    Baha Mousa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  8. Surely this kind of thing is always down to a failure in leadership at one level or another (or perhaps several)? It is down to the CoC to recruit, train and lead their soldiers effectively, no matter what the soldiers' background. If recruitment standards have been dropped, someone or some people (presumably quite high up) signed off on that. Regarding your third point though it is well known that PTSD rates in the US Army are higher than in the British, presumably mainly due to their longer tours.
  9. Poor leadership and weak Officers.

    Some of the Lessons Identified from the My Lai Massacre of 1968 - Lt William Calley would not normally have made the cut, but standards were dropped and the result was lots of dead people. Lessons here for us as well - sound familiar?, especially the first line.

    As the Vietnam conflict dragged on, the number of well trained and experienced career soldiers on the front lines dropped sharply as casualties and combat rotation took their toll. These observers claimed the absence of the many bright young men who avoided military service through college attendance or homeland service caused the talent pool for new officers to become very shallow. They pointed to Calley, a young, unemployed college dropout, as an example of the raw and inexperienced recruits being rushed through officer training. Others pointed out problems with the military's insistence on unconditional obedience to orders while at the same time limiting the doctrine of "command responsibility" to the lowest ranks.

    Those of us that have worked with the Yanks may also recognise the culture in the last line. I was amazed that thier SNCOs, whilst generally quite competent, have little or no authority to deviate from the plan and zero flexibility. Seems that no one under the rank of Major is trusted with mission command in the US Army.
  10. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    The Officers seem to absent altogether in this case, though we may learn more in due course, the use of hash and alcohol is a symptomatic indication that there was a complete absence of leadership and discipline however as opposed to a causative issue in the killings. That the issues came to light after they turned on "one of their own" seems to indicate that this is the case.
  11. Not entirely absent as one of them claims that he informed "Officers" that the others had beaten him and slotted the civies, but they took no immediate action, in fact it seems it took "days" for anything to happen. I would hope, that if it can be proven that he did inform the CoC, that the "Officers" are chucked out of the service.

    Moral cowardice.
  12. Duke, you are correct that a US Sgt is not an equivalent to a UK Sgt. As you say the individual in question is approximately equivalent to a UK Cpl but, even so, would you not expect at least some leadership, common sense and moral courage from an Infantry Cpl. I would.

    Actually, he did display leadership - it would seem the rest of the team bar one were happy to follow him!

    He simply shows that the selection for promotion process failed to weed him out on grounds of the other qualities expected. The US Army is very heavy on "military ethos" at (least talking the talk). But the promotion process, to the best of my recollection, is now a largely points-based process rather than a deliberate selection based on a suitability of character assessment.
  13. Another factor is the combination of long tours and inadequate time off afterwards to recover, coupled with widespread use of prescribed drugs on ops to keep soldiers functioning. The culture is to produce results, that is generate troop numbers for deployment rather than keep soldiers in the US to receive therapy to actually cure them. I'm only surprised they have so few incidents, which speaks well of the quality of most of their soldiers.
  14. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Excellent points OOTS, and mercifully incidents like this have been few and far between, yet it leaves one wondering, and deeply concerned, about the long term effects upon US service personnel and whether they recieve the treatment they need. Papering over the cracks can only go on so long, it is entirlely plausible to suggest that there is going to be a mahoosive problem for US vets over the coming years.
  15. All these "factors" are just that--parts of the larger whole BUT I hasten to add they can never excuse crimes by our troops. I heard this in Vietnam and saw the travesty of justice that followed to the over 400 victims of the stalwart psychopath "Rusty Calley. We need to remember that in spite of our own self-criticism as to motives for going to war etc., the reality is we are as nations "better" (in the sense of our collective adherence to the rule of law etc.) than those who we fight. Accordingly we are alwyas going to fight enemies who recognize the rule of war etc. only in their breach.

    While, at least in my view based on my faith, we all are flawed in terms of our "nature," and thus there will always be those relative few in our forces who commit crimes in combat (just as they do back home), leaders have an affirmative (and IMHO imperative) duty to be on constant lookout for those indicators that have been identified in almost all cases of crimes in combat settings.

    If leaders are doing this (and this also means leaders have to be present constantly among the troops), much of the risk can be minimiz(s)ed but never wholly eliminated. This is simply the fact and it transcends every unit (no matter how elite, well trained etc.), service or nation--it can happen ANYWHERE. As soon as we as leaders begin to take this for granted or ascribe such things to others (our boys would never do such a thing etc.) we set the stage for it to occur.

    As I have said before, all combat, and especially the close sort inherent in counterinsurgencies, is "centrifugal" in that it tends to spin those involved toward the outer limits of humanity and right and wrong and without the timely and forceful involvement and when needed intervention by leaders, very bad things will happen.