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Serious and/or informed opinion requested about USMC killing

#1
I've had a quick search and it seems that this hasn't been discussed (although I'm surprised at this, so I think I may have missed it). So forgive me if this is old ground that people don't want to re-visit.

I watched Battle For Haditha last night. At the end, I was left feeling thoroughly angry at either of the two possible conclusions:

1. Someone felt the need to make a left wing propaganda film to portray the USMC as baby killing, oo-ra crazy, psychopaths.

2. The USMC are baby killing, oo-ra crazy, psychopaths that are let loose to kill civilians.

My girlfriend was understandably upset about it also but she is particularly soft and naive to what warfare is actually about. However, whereas normally I can offer some explanation as to what/why something has happened, this time I found it very hard to find the moral high ground.

So I looked into the "facts" this morning and as I expected, they were upheld by various internet sites (so nothing too credible). Following from this I read about the Shinwar massacre in Afghanistan.

Now I fully understand that isolated incidents do occur and normally by-no-means reflect the standard of a regiment/army/country but is there something in the USMC training/doctrine that makes it more likely to occur? Am I very naive in thinking that this sort of thing is entirely unacceptable and avoidable? Have there been any similar cases involving the British Army (except Bloody Sunday)?


This is a very brief and somewhat shallow exploration of this sensitive issue but I wanted to know what those of you with experience of operating with the USMC think of their discipline/ethos/performance? IN NO WAY is this a mission to slander or defame the USMC.

I'm well aware that there is a big difference in the way American forces behave and decorum that the British Army displays as a whole but are they really "like the movies"?



links for basic information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haditha_killings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinwar_Massacre

(Please excuse the use of wiki as a source)
 
#2
For a start, whats written in a wiki entry isn't always FACTS or even close to the truth.

For example one of the wiki entries you use has the sentence "Ace Rimmer done it"
 
#3
Ace_Rimmer said:
I'm well aware that there is a big difference in the way American forces behave and decorum that the British Army displays as a whole but are they really "like the movies"?

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

WAH.
 
#4
Ace_Rimmer said:
Have there been any similar cases involving the British Army (except Bloody Sunday)?
The action you are talking about makes bloody sunday look like a humanitatrian aid mission. I mean, charging around into buildings brassing up covering civilians is one thing, reacting to a percieved threat in a very stressful situation heavy handedly is another.

I can't comment much on the USMC's conduct, but their track record in 'nam doesn't inspire much confidence.
 
#5
TwentyBandH said:
For a start, whats written in a wiki entry isn't always FACTS or even close to the truth.

For example one of the wiki entries you use has the sentence "Ace Rimmer done it"
Good one! Yes, I agree wiki is shameful but in this case I think the facts are established.

The action you are talking about makes bloody sunday look like a humanitatrian aid mission. I mean, charging around into buildings brassing up covering civilians is one thing, reacting to a percieved threat in a very stressful situation heavy handedly is another.
Absolutely! I would never compare the two incidents other than Bloody Sunday is the one British incident that lead to investigation and accusations of a similar nature.


The reason for my original post was to see what people with real experience of the USMC (or US Army for that matter) really think of their conduct. I find it very hard to accept that the manner in which Battle For Haditha portrayed the Marines could be even close to the truth but then the facts would imply that the perpertrators must have been some pretty cold blooded evil *******!

Basically, I want to go back to the girlfriend and say "I've looked into it and that film was a load of lefty-pinko garbage" but I've got an uneasy feeling that I'd be wrong!!
 
#7
My Lai is another shameful US Army event
I agree. I actually didn't bring that one up as it was a long time ago and I'd like to think that we've learnt from experiences such as that.

Basically, given the same circumstances, would another USMC unit have behaved in the same way? That's the point I'm getting at. Is is a case of very bad judgement and heat of the moment behaviour or is that the way they opperate?

I'd like to think that the British Army are equally (if not more) skilled in FIBUA etc. but our doctrine would preclude lobbing granades blindly into residential houses without identifying targets! Or am I being to naive?

(btw, I'm Ex-TA so not 100% ignorant but with 0 operational experience)
 
#8
vampireuk said:
However, people always seem to ignore the fact that some people involved in My Lai actually had the courage to stop it.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1998/03/98/mylai/62924.stm
That's what I'm getting at. In that case, soldiers recognised that it was wrong and purely an explosion of emotion driving the slaughter. In the film, it makes out that the marines were very calculating and operating as if it was SOP.
 
#9
Ace_Rimmer said:
I've had a quick search and it seems that this hasn't been discussed (although I'm surprised at this, so I think I may have missed it). So forgive me if this is old ground that people don't want to re-visit.

I watched Battle For Haditha last night. At the end, I was left feeling thoroughly angry at either of the two possible conclusions:

1. Someone felt the need to make a left wing propaganda film to portray the USMC as baby killing, oo-ra crazy, psychopaths.

2. The USMC are baby killing, oo-ra crazy, psychopaths that are let loose to kill civilians.


My girlfriend was understandably upset about it also but she is particularly soft and naive to what warfare is actually about. However, whereas normally I can offer some explanation as to what/why something has happened, this time I found it very hard to find the moral high ground.

So I looked into the "facts" this morning and as I expected, they were upheld by various internet sites (so nothing too credible). Following from this I read about the Shinwar massacre in Afghanistan.

Now I fully understand that isolated incidents do occur and normally by-no-means reflect the standard of a regiment/army/country but is there something in the USMC training/doctrine that makes it more likely to occur? Am I very naive in thinking that this sort of thing is entirely unacceptable and avoidable? Have there been any similar cases involving the British Army (except Bloody Sunday)?


This is a very brief and somewhat shallow exploration of this sensitive issue but I wanted to know what those of you with experience of operating with the USMC think of their discipline/ethos/performance? IN NO WAY is this a mission to slander or defame the USMC.

I'm well aware that there is a big difference in the way American forces behave and decorum that the British Army displays as a whole but are they really "like the movies"?



links for basic information:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haditha_killings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinwar_Massacre

(Please excuse the use of wiki as a source)
My bold the truth is probably somewhere in the middle both side's will distort the fact's to suit thier own argument
 
#10
My bold the truth is probably somewhere in the middle both side's will distort the fact's to suit thier own argument
That would be the norm for most arguments but in this case, if that were true, then the truth is quite disturbing!
 
#11
It may be of note that as the investigation and process continued, charges were steadily dropped. It's now down to just one man, implying that the problem is not as systemic as some would have had you believe a couple of years ago.

NTM
 
#12
Ace_Rimmer said:
vampireuk said:
However, people always seem to ignore the fact that some people involved in My Lai actually had the courage to stop it.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/special_report/1998/03/98/mylai/62924.stm
That's what I'm getting at. In that case, soldiers recognised that it was wrong and purely an explosion of emotion driving the slaughter. In the film, it makes out that the marines were very calculating and operating as if it was SOP.


IMHO.

Regards the house clearance. They WERE operating as if it was SOP. Unfortunately the SOP was only really any good if it was used in a FULL war scenario. ie no civpop.

British Infantry Troops (as an Army, the RGR aside can you name a Regt-bn that has not deployed to NI? Even a few Engr, Arty and Signals have) have routinely deployed to NI, Cyprus, Bosnia and Kosovo which has meant teaching soldiers to respond with almost Police style tactics and the utmost restraint in often chaotic and highly one sided events.

This has been often in teh Interventional or Peace Enforcement/Protection phases where such contacts (ie IED followed by harrasing fire) were used.

The same can not be said for the US forces. They have such a large Armed Forces in comparison, up until recently it wasn´t uncommon to have soldiers who hadn´t seen combat.

I made a post many moons ago reference a BBC(?) documentary "Virgin Soldiers", which followed the fortunes of a WHOLE COMPANY of American Infantry who had never seen combat/Ops prior to Iraqi Freedom. They were Reg not National Guard.

Basically, in the British Army in 2003, could you have found a Coy, Plt, Sect in the same circumstances? I reckon a Fire Team would have been good going!

With this in mind, I don´t think many of the USMC lads involved were doing anything wrong. They were following their drills (note not orders) in a very stressful situation. A tradgic act, yes, but not neccesarily one that the lads involved would require further punishment, than bearing the mark of cain.

The darkside of the scenario appears to be the dragging out of acar and execution of four men.
 
#13
Don't all soldiers of all nationalities (well western or western aligned ones) divide neatly between witles imbecilic dupes and crazed baby eating monsters?

That's what Hollywood taught me (When it's not being intermittently patriotic and showing American Ubermensch taking on the evils of the lesser world)
 
#14
I saw this at a public screening at the Edinburgh FilmHouse where director Nick Broomfield took questions from the floor . I thought it was amazingly even handed since Broomfield differentiates between local Sunni militants and foreign jihadists . It also points out that coaltition aren't there on a picnic

Perhaps the most interesting thing Broomfield said that night was : " If it was up to me Bush and Blair would be up for murder and not those marines " which led me starting off a very loud round of applause
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#15
Imshi-Yallah said:
Don't all soldiers of all nationalities (well western or western aligned ones) divide neatly between witles imbecilic dupes and crazed baby eating monsters?

That's what Hollywood taught me (When it's not being intermittently patriotic and showing American Ubermensch taking on the evils of the lesser world)
As propoganda would have it, then yes. It's not the fault of the septics that many of their soldiers are witless imbecilic dupes, it's the fault of society, yes it is. Join da army, get a college degree, or join da army, stay out of jail.

THESE days, after much fighting in two different countries, and many a tragic lesson learned, they are a FAR more professional force.

The British Army always has been a FAR more professional force because, unlike their septic cousins, they've been involved in wars and 'peacekeeping' ops against hostile civvies continuously for many, many years - being such a relatively small force, it's meant everyone has had a piece of the action and thus, the experience. The policy of quickly applying lessons learned on a continuing basis has made UK forces the highly skilled and professional force it is. The downside is that the criminal negiligence of our leaders has greatly dimished the effectiveness of our professional soldiers, airmen and sailors.

As for the USMC issue - it would appear that they did drag those guys out of a car and slot them, so naughty boys for doing that - totally reprehensible and unprofessional. As for fragging civvy houses - that's down to poor FIBUA SOPS.
 
#16
chocolate_frog said:
Regards the house clearance. They WERE operating as if it was SOP. Unfortunately the SOP was only really any good if it was used in a FULL war scenario. ie no civpop.
That's the bit I found the most perplexing and hardest to justify. I know we've got history in dealing with COIN but surely it doesn't take first had experience to acknowledge that throwing grenades into civilian housing without positively identifiying legitimate targets, is going to cause some rather horrible consequences.

I guess it does highlight the different doctrines that we employ but it seems very hard to maintain a principled standing with these sorts of tactics in place.
 
#17
Biped said:
It's not the fault of the septics that many of their soldiers are witless imbecilic dupes, it's the fault of society, yes it is. Join da army, get a college degree, or join da army, stay out of jail.
Let us be very careful about casting aspersions on others shall we! we don't exactly recruit philosophical warriors ya know! I am sure the quality of recruits has increased since my day, but in the mid 90s I had a platoon at Cattrick where close to half had reading and writing difficulties, some could barely speak properly (fair enough they were from Cumbria!) and half a dozen had impressive charge sheets! I even had to let one have a few days off so he could go and give evidence in a manslaughter case (which he admitted he was lucky not to be in the dock as well). It is not the quality of the recruit but the training that makes the difference.
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
Plastic Yank said:
Biped said:
It's not the fault of the septics that many of their soldiers are witless imbecilic dupes, it's the fault of society, yes it is. Join da army, get a college degree, or join da army, stay out of jail.
Let us be very careful about casting aspersions on others shall we! we don't exactly recruit philosophical warriors ya know! I am sure the quality of recruits has increased since my day, but in the mid 90s I had a platoon at Cattrick where close to half had reading and writing difficulties, some could barely speak properly (fair enough they were from Cumbria!) and half a dozen had impressive charge sheets! I even had to let one have a few days off so he could go and give evidence in a manslaughter case (which he admitted he was lucky not to be in the dock as well). It is not the quality of the recruit but the training that makes the difference.
I cast aspersions, it's what I do!?

Anyways, that's really the point I was making in a roundabout fashion: Our training changes all the time in light of operational experience, which is continuous, and has been for 70 years. The septics have only had Vietnam (too long ago, totally different from current ops), GW1, GW2 and Afghan to learn from and thus change their doctrine, and GW1 was not fighting an insurgency, and didn't go on long enough for all units to rotate in theatre, in combat, and thus for all units to develope experience and expertise - least of all FIBUA/COIN.

I believe that when this incident took place, the doctrine/training was still based on the cold war, and not suitable for COIN. It's a VERY new skillset for the septics, and pretty much all based on our experience and their recent experience in Iraq/GW2.
 
#19
Having served on both sides of the pond, including the USMC, I can tell you that the Marines surprised me with their thorough professionalism. From the minute you are handed your Eagle, Globe and Anchor, you are expected to better your skills through Marine Corps Institute courses and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). Their standards of training and bearing are exceptional for a force that large. I compare the standards of their NCOs and officers favourably with the British Army. In fact, I rate their officers and SNCOs equally.

Biped is right that US military professionalism has massively increased since 2001. That's particularly valid for the US Army. Their TTPs have improved a great deal. And FM 3-24 was a revelation - not proof that the US can be novel but that it can get the basics right and tie them together with advanced concepts. One of the reasons Septics don't listen to their cousins anymore is because they see that HMAF has been much less dynamic in its evolution and committed in its execution (in Iraq).

Biped does get it wrong when he mentions Septic "witless imbecilic dupes". I have not seen a particularly larger number of these types in the USMC infantry than the British Army's queen of battle. It's all about standards of training. I'm sure most infantrymen among us have witnessed examples of unpolished specimens sneaking their way out of ITC. Having seen how well even the stupidest person can perform given sufficient training, I blame the bad reputation of US Army soldiers in particular on weak training and standards. These things have impressed dramatically since 2001.

That said, I am going to have to lay into the Corps a little. Ace Rimmer's comparison with Bloody Sunday is apt in one sense: the attitudes of the soldiers/Marines involved. Like other elite organizations, the USMC remains too aggressive. Too much emphasis is still placed on becoming a killing machine in both boot camp and School of Infantry. In the former's case, excessive focus on breaking down of individuality clashes with the level of individuality required of soldiers/Marines serving in COIN environments.
In the latter school's case, the infantry training is quite excellent, but they're not making the most of opportunities to temper aggression with institutional wisdom. That's left to when the new Marines get to the Fleet Marine Force, by which time these new Devil Dogs have to be essentially "de-programmed" by veterans who've learned COIN the hard way - or they end up commanded by a Staff Sergeant with equal levels of aggression at which point you have a squad that's an incident waiting to happen.
Astonishingly, almost all Marine NCOs do indeed become "strategic corporals" despite their initial training (high on standards, low on brains), because the Marines in the fleet are much more experienced and practical. But there's a clear weakness in the system that allows a sizable number of NCOs to miss out on this transformation. Their attitudes are the same taught in boot camp and SOI. You mix these NCOs with Marines straight out of training and, hey presto, powder keg.

While I reserve judgments on the incidents Ace Rimmer mentions, I do believe the Marines (and similar organizations) are asking for trouble by continuing to overemphasize aggression. That said, I'm not going to label line infantry as all good to go. We've seen the TV footage of certain British line infantry battalions stepping over the line in Iraq. Leadership and training are always key to tempering our innate desire to brass things up.

PS: The problem with aggressive organizations is that they tend to be quite emotional. The Marines can deny it all they like, but they're an emotional Corps. When you have young men who are unable to deal with their emotions, it's easy for grief to turn into blind anger and even hate, which impacts these men's judgment and execution of their mission.
 
#20
Biped said:
I cast aspersions, it's what I do!?.
:twisted:

Fair dues! I can't comment on post '01 training less from updates from those still serving and they tend to paint a pretty good picture of the general operational training that has evolved in the US Mil. The stuff I saw in the late 90's in the US was pretty basic and based upon static defenders getting the shiite kicked out of them and the lots of clearance drills (trench system fighting). good fun, but fecking useless for urban ops.

I think we are going to have to rack this one up lack of C&C by the local commanders and probably lack of moral fibre and backbone by the seniors. Oh and an actual mission of intent might have been nice as well (we are here to help these people, but some of them are very bad - try not to shoot everyone!)
 

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