Sunday, March 11, 2012
'Rogue' US soldier kills Afghans
A close friend of mine, who I met back in 2004 when we were both in Qatar, is deploying again. This makes her fifth rotation over to the AOR since 2004. Think about that for a moment, she has basically go over almost once every 18 month since 2004.
Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom military members serve a 6-12 month rotation (depending on the branch of service) unlike counterparts from WWII or Vietnam. The good part is you get to stay connected to home. The bad part is going back, again and again. I've met Marines and soldiers who have deployed 10 times since 2002. These brave men and women have sacrificed a good part of their lives being away from loved ones. Yes they get to back for a while, but inevitably they go back missing important birthdays, graduations, or just family vacations.
The Department of Defense and Veterans Administration have been trying to deal with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as something that happens after your return home. What isn't as widely addressed is the stress of going back. Imagine an infantrymen, combat engineer, Marine, or security forces who has lived through an attack. Now you come home, try to become the person you can never be again only to be sent back over again. Ground Hog Day but without Bill Murray. Imagine the dread and anger many of our troops must dealing with as the face yet another deployment.
A warning came last year after another "rogue" soldier was convicted of leading a "kill team" in Afghanistan. The overtones of the case show a complete dehumanization of the Afghani people in the minds of the "kill team" members. Then just last month, apathy lead to soldiers burning Qurans from a detention center. Analyst suspected the holy books had secret messages written in them by the detainees. Rather then store them, it was thought the most holy book of Islam should be incinerated. The soldiers apparently never thought to ask, isn't this going to piss of the locals?
Now another soldier has murdered 16 Afghanis. He went outside his base and methodically executed innocent civilians. While this is still being investigated, I suspect we will see the same level of detachment from his crime as the previous kill team leader.
Our service men and women have fought valiantly for nearly 10 years but the strain is beginning to show. PTSD is not waiting to manifest at home, now we are beginning to see it in theater. I fear more cases will occur unless troops are brought home. The Afghani people are furious with the very troops who fought so hard to provide them a safe and secure country.