Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Battlefield Ethics

The pictures below are jpegs made from power point slides, taken from a presentation on mental health and battlefield ethics, given at the Pentagon by General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, on the 18 April 2007. The results are based on surveys of 1350 soldiers and 450 marines. You can download the full presentation here and read the related article in the Army Times here. The first slide (ROEs stands for "rules of engagement") shows what respondents have admitted to doing themselves, and the second - and in some ways more worrying slide - shows what the respondents would or wouldn't report their comrades for. Most worryingly, around half wouldn't report their fellow marines or soldiers for killing an innocent non-combatant. This gives context to the cover-up around the Haditha killings. What General Conway's presentation shows is that soldiers and marines who have been deployed to Iraq before have increased mental health difficulties and that, in turn, leads to lower standards of ethical behaivour than with first timers.

1 comment:

KGS said...

General Petraeus:

"Our values and the laws governing warfare teach us to respect human dignity, maintain our integrity, and do what is right. Adherence to our values distinguishes us from our enemy. This fight depends on securing the population, which must understand that we—not our enemies—occupy the moral high ground. This strategy has shown results in recent months. Al Qaeda’s indiscriminate attacks, for example, have finally started to turn a substantial proportion ofthe Iraqi population against it.

In view of this, I was concerned by the results of a recently released survey conducted last fall in Iraq that revealed an apparent unwillingness on the part of some US personnel to report illegal actions taken by fellow members of their units. The study also indicated that a small percentage of those surveyed may have mistreated noncombatants. This survey should spur reflection on our conduct in combat.

I fully appreciate the emotions that one experiences in Iraq. I also know first hand the bonds between members of the ” brotherhood of the close fight. ” Seeing a fellow trooper killed by a barbaric enemy can spark frustration, anger, and a desire for immediate revenge. As hard as it might be, however, we must not let these emotions lead us—or our comrades in arrns—to commit hasty, illegal actions. In the event that we witness or hear of such actions, we must not let our bonds prevent us from speaking up."