AN Security

Part II Destroying our Heroes: Lowering military readiness and troop morale

In admiral's mast, blackwater killings, Iraq war, KSM trial, michael behenna, moving courts martial to iraq, navy seals, navy seals iraq, US Navy Seals on January 14, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Mr. Obama’s speech at West Point; enough said.

Someone's got an actual war plan

The indecisiveness in giving the go for the troop surge in Afghanistan as badly needed has reinforced the foundation of weakness in our military capability or at least the perception of weakness. One thing that previous presidents did not practice as much was transparency. Of course transparency means many things to many people however transparency ends when it comes to the process of sharing information and in telegraphing our every move to the enemy. Transparency can sometimes shed light on what needs to remain quiet and cover what needs to be public. The U.S. military services are under the political gun in that after the Abu Ghraib scandal and CIA rendition programs were made public that everything the military does must be heavily scrutinized and overall the price for doing what troops were trained for but instead their service could be considered at some point to be a liability and not an asset.

It doesn’t help that members of Congress such as Jack Murtha or Harry Reid can make claims of misconduct of our troops and that the war on terror is lost. The Tokyo Roses are alive and well. Here is the trend: if you are a bad guy and get caught, complain about being abused and possibly avoid harsh punishment. The lone survivor gunman of the Mumbai terrorist attacks is an apt pupil of the Abu Ghraib scandal. After engaging in histrionics and affirming he was ready to go to the gallows and face his punishment, he recanted his story. Obviously, his confession must have been obtained through torture. This is the same guy who was captured on video smiling like a kid at a candy store after slaughtering innocent people. Given this example, every bad guy who wants to have an easier time in prison and perhaps avoid harsher punishment will use the abuse strategy and shift blame on their captors. A different fate awaits the heroes who capture them.

A good example of what happens when strategic information is publicized is the situation with the Taliban. In Afghanistan the Taliban is taking the lead in using the proposed troop build-up as propaganda to encourage Afghans to turn against foreign troops; so much for winning hearts and minds. Two things that should be of great concern must be examined here; the role of the combat troops on the ground and their handling of prisoners and the troop movement and pull-out timelines. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), the Senate Republican Majority Leader, recently visited troops in Afghanistan and met with military leadership. Though morale and professionalism are high amongst our troops commanders are concerned about the disparity in treatment of enemy combatants. The FBI has been known for reading prisoners Miranda Warnings prior to interrogation, further confusing those who are entrusted with conducting interrogations or even taking custody of these prisoners.

In spite of all this negative treachery back home, the good guys scored a big win this week with the dismissal of the Blackwater shooting case, angering Iraqis. Well, Iraqi forces are guilty of committing plenty of abuses of the Iraqi people but no one wants to showcase their faults. Rules of engagement for troops have changed, endangering their lives and limiting their tactical and strategic effectiveness. The Iraqi police are better armed and trained and ready to go join insurgent groups for part-time and kill American troops. Before long no one in the military will know what their purpose is and may cause breakdowns in discipline. It happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan and so this is an important issue to tackle before we create thousands of living casualties in disease or mental illness or in their treatment when they return home. Many military personnel go home and change uniforms just to come back and continue to fight in private industry. So they make more money, so what? They fight in support of uniformed troops and augment our forces and their time in service and training are actually invaluable so yes, they are paid more. At least their skills are kept on our side of the fence. Attacking the reputation and role of contractors is unwarranted and only meant to lower our expectations and damage the reputation of the armed forces. Their companies make the investment to re-train, house, and transport these individuals into combat and they are worth it.

Here is the trend: if you are a bad guy and get caught, complain about being abused and possibly avoid harsh punishment. The lone survivor gunman of the Mumbai terrorist attacks is an apt pupil of the Abu Ghraib scandal. After engaging in histrionics and affirming he was ready to go to the gallows and face his punishment, he recanted his story. Obviously, his confession must have been obtained through torture. This is the same guy who was captured on video smiling like a kid at a candy store after slaughtering innocent people. Given this example, every bad guy who wants to have an easier time in prison and perhaps avoid harsher punishment will use the abuse strategy and shift blame on their captors. A different fate awaits the heroes who capture them.

Navy SEALS and other cases of prisoner abuse

Our enemies are getting a nice break from their evil deeds plus a good dose of justice. The case of the US Navy Seals sucker punch heard around the world has the trappings of upper leadership selling out. The fact that the Seals successfully captured the animal is not being recognized and the case to prosecute them is moving quickly enough now that Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe, of Yorktown, Va., and Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas, of Blue Island, Ill will be tried in Iraq after all. The killer mastermind of the Blackwater ambush Ahmed Hashim Abed will get the unfair chance to play his game at home. In contrast, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammad will be tried in our judicial system – and projected to cost millions of dollars and stretch over the next five years – and play his game on our turf but with more advantages.

What a spectacle that will be in the Iraqi press! Even though this is a military Courts Martial the current Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) may end up working against the SEALS because any alleged crime committed by either military or civilian foreigners can be prosecuted by the Iraqis. This trial may not give the media enough access as the KSM trial will which should raise many questions about the fairness of their treatment. Before the U.S. handed over sovereignty to the Iraqi government the SOFA at least offered legal shelter and a liaison for anyone accused of a crime or any other offense; not designed to forgive bad behavior but to prevent a U. S. citizen from being tried under a foreign power’s constitution. Why? Without the SOFA in place that means an American could suffer unusual or extreme punishment, torture or incarceration without a trial and perhaps be denied representation. Justice does not mean the same thing in Iraq as it does at home.  Come to think of it, this is an election year in Iraq (December) and the troop pullout in progress is even more politically charged. Like many political campaigns Iraqis will have many expectations and an anti-American sentiment can only fan popular opinion on whether they want a U.S. presence there.  

A Lone Ranger

The case of the Navy Seals and many others such as the Lt. Michael Behenna (US Army) are examples that armed forces at war are impacted by events and news from home, poor foreign policy and the restrictions placed on field commanders to show restraint in engaging the enemy unless the right elements are present. This is a war, not a police action. The choices available to these soldiers and sailors are limited and must be assessed on the spot which is something most people could never relate to let alone the amount of stress that places on troop performance. Lt. Behenna was convicted of premeditated murder of a known Al Qaeda operative in Iraq. The Lt.’s mistake was to value his own life over that of a known terrorist. The prisoner attempted to kill Behenna who instead killed him in self defense. Behenna is serving a 20 year sentence and his case was again reviewed by a military clemency hearing held on January 7th in Arlington Virginia. His parents and girlfriend managed to get some quality time with the panel to request a reduction of his sentence. The man should go back to combat, not prison. There are many other service members going through similar situations. Terrorism is been rewarded while punishing valor. This has to have a great impact on morale and performance but somehow we have enjoyed the blessing of the pride and professionalism of the all-volunteer force to fight for our freedoms. However true, one must wonder just how long before that too breaks down.

Part III: Keystone Cops and Harvard Robbers

Sources:

Blackwater dismissals risks hurting Iraq relations

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126229226969112429.html

Mumbai Gunman says he’s ready for gallows

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534342,00.html

Mumbai Gunman recants confession: alleges torture

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,580524,00.html?test=latestnews

Rules of engagement changes affect military effectiveness

Penalizing military for doing their jobs. There will be a clemency hearing held on January 7 2010.

http://www.chandlerswatch.com/2009/12/07/new-information-on-the-lt-michael-behenna-case/

Visit Michael Behenna’s defense page

http://defendmichael.wordpress.com/

Lt Behenna’s parents attend his January 7th army clemency  board

http://newsok.com/edmond-parents-urge-clemency-for-lt.-michael-behenna/article/3430356  

Obama’s Iraq Plan has December elections as turning point for pullout

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/26/washington/26troops.html?_r=1

Referendum on SOFA could boot U.S. from Iraq in 2010

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=63314

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  1. I am doing a movie about the incidents that occurred on this day and the Easter ambush.

    • Is your aim to clear the record? There seems to be a proliferation of stories released in the media with the express objective to paint troops as violent marauders and not a professional fighting force.

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