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What Happens in Afghanistan Stays in Afghanistan

January 13, 2012

By now the frenzy over a video of a group of U.S. Marines urinating on the dead bodies of several Talaban insurgents has reached fever pitch. News anchors and pundits are harshly criticizing the actions; watching the international press is even worse. Even Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has spoken out, calling the actions “utterly deplorable.”

The fact of the matter is, it was a dumb thing to do. It was a dumber thing to do because in today’s internet age you can’t guarantee that some idiot isn’t going to post what you just did on You Tube for all the world to see. I’m under the absolute belief that sometimes, what happens in combat stays in combat.

The thing that I can’t get over is how every time our service members make one tiny mistake (which is how I’d categorize this – in the scheme of war, a minor, small, should-be insignificant mistake), a bunch of pansy-faced, pastel shirt wearing academics and journalists are the first ones on the offensive, denouncing the action. The kind of folks who have absolutely no clue what it’s like to serve overseas, the pressure of combat or what it takes to be a Marine. You want to criticize the actions of our troops so bad? Pick up an M16 and join them on the Pakistan border for few months. I’m sure you’ll deal with the pressures splendidly.

It’s almost laughable to hear folks talking about the “horrific” “dishonorable” conduct our service members displayed. Clearly the people making those statements never went to a state college where nearly every fraternity party ends with someone getting peed on (give those You Tube videos a try if you want to lament the state of America today). I don’t think those Marines were making a political statement in what they did (if they were, I couldn’t read what they were trying to spell). They were Marines, at the end of what had likely been a tense few hours or days, letting off steam.

When I used to give training at the Army’s Pre Command Course for incoming battalion commanders, there was always at least one guy in the room who would talk about how he didn’t like it, didn’t want it, didn’t see the use of any of it in the field. I never discredited that opinion but the fact always was the forces of social media were in rapid dissemination for troops at every level. You couldn’t just put it back in the box.

Seeing things like this event, how like so many military “scandals” these days the information was first released via social media, I can more easily relate to where he’s coming from. It still doesn’t mean you can put the social media Pandora back in her box, but it sure would make it easier for some commanders if you could.

I want our troops to be warriors. I want them to be willing to do the things I know I’m incapable of to protect America’s freedom and way of life.  Deebow over at Blackfive summed it up well:

The nature of warriors is something that only warriors will ever know.  Those that have never experienced this will never know why these men felt the need to do what they did.  But if our military is going to be effective in the long run, our enemies must fear us.  They must believe that we are capable of unspeakable evil and every now and then, we have to pull back the curtain a little and let them see a smidgen of what we are holding the lid on while we bomb them further into the stone age.  That fear of what those warriors are capable of will save lives.

It was a dumb thing, not a deplorable thing, not a despicable thing, not a thing of lasting consequence outside our new political correct military which will use it for every ounce it’s worth. Our relationship with Afghanistan and Karzai has been poor and getting worse for a long time. Folks who want to use this as an excuse for strained relationships and backlash need to look elsewhere in our foreign policy decisions.

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