Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just The First of Many

A little more is coming out about the tragic murder of civilians in Afghanistan by an American serviceman. It turns out the guy is on his 4th rotation only this time it was Afghanistan and he was not happy about the deployment. The military/government are trying to hype this as a soldier becoming deranged and the rampage the result. The probable truth is that the guy was frustrated, mentally exhausted and lashing out. If he was actually "deranged" then he would have probably turned his weapon on his buddies. It happened in Vietnam and even after deployment to Vietnam was over in places like Hawaii. I know because I was there and witnessed it first hand. It is just one of the symptoms of "battle fatigue".

The thing is, it doesn't matter how professional, elite, or well-disciplined your army is, if you put them in theaters like Iraq, Afghanistan and yes, Vietnam for 10 years with an open ended and undefined  mission  mixed with an indigenous population where you can't tell the good guys from the bad you're going to have trouble. Add rotations of four, five, or six tours to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.  Afghanistan is not materially different from Vietnam in this respect and until the generals and chicken hawks admit it, this kind of thing will continue to happen and even escalate.

In case I wasn't clear...this guy wasn't "deranged" or just all of a sudden went off the deep end. His actions were a product of this environment and completely the result of his repeated deployment into what I am sure he realized was a "no win" situation. Frustration, anger, resentment and a sense of powerlessness to control his own destiny were the triggers. It is tragic that a bunch of civilians got in his way of venting his anger. Just as tragic, however, is for us to buy into the military/government hype that this guy was "deranged" thereby removing any responsibility for the soldier's actions. They will try very hard to distance themselves from the reality that this whole tragic affair is because of their poor or nonexistent management of this whole Afghanistan thing and the terrible burdens that they are putting on our men and women in uniform.

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