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Author Topic: We need to look at our soldiers actions more closely
JoshuaD
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I've got two friends who were in Iraq recently. They bot have told me horrifying stories about how they acted over there. From what it sounds like, this was pretty standard behavior for our soldiers over there.

After hearing what I heard, if I was an Iraqi, I would hate America too.

We need to stop "supporting the troops" and start making sure they're doing the job they're supposed to do.

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javelin
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What did you hear?
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FiredrakeRAGE
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JoshuaD -

From what I've heard any errors in judgment stem from being in the desert, far from home, in the heat, with little companionship and nothing at all to do. This is not to mention that a bunch of natives keep shooting at them. Natives they'd probably sorely like to frag, but cannot because the enemy is very hard to find.

We should do what we do - we should ignore the small stuff, and let standard military discipline handle it. We should shine light on the big stuff, and still let standard military discipline handle it. We should support the troops rather than attempting to inflate small mistakes into larger issues.

--Firedrake

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Jesse
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We should also hold accountable those who have failed to provide the mental health care needed (see-soldier *accused* of rape and murder suffering from personality disorder), consider reasonable systematic changes that will help to prevent agregious misconduct, and understand that our military is drawn from our society, isn't made up of saints, and never will be.
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Cytania
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Check out Chris Hedge's book 'War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning' and you'll get an inkling of what your friends have experienced Joshua.

"War for those who enter into combat has a dark beauty, filled with the monstrous and the grotesque. The Bible calls it the lust of the eye and warns believers against it. War gives us a distorted sense of self; it gives us meaning."

"Once in war, the conflict obliterates the past and the future all is one heady intoxicating present. You feel every heartbeat in war, colors are brighter, your mind races ahead of itself. We feel in wartime comradeship. We confuse this with friendship, with love. There are those who will insist that the comradeship of war is love -- the exotic glow that makes us in war feel as one people, one entity, is real, but this is part of war's intoxication."

http://www.rrstar.com/localnews/your_community/rockford/0521hedgesspeech.shtml

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winkey151
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I not only know a lot of guys over there but I talk to some of them regularly on the Internet. I have never heard one story that made me feel like our men are doing anything other than being good examples. I am sure that there are a few over there who are not right in the head but hey... that is humanity. I can go down the street here in my neighborhood and find a few.
People who paint with a broad brush, to me, are either ignorant or conniving.

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Eric
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Joshua --

Your friends are making serious claims, and you're repeating them here with no detail or anything to back them up.

A guy named Jesse Macbeth tried that and got eviscerated.

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Koner
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Maybe your friends are just poor examples of what a good soldier is supposed to be. Its possible that your friends are the exception, rather than the rule.
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Everard
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Even if they are exceptions, any of these examples... and we know there are soldiers behaving badly... are a serious problem when we're engaged in the sort of war we are in Iraq.
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rightleft22
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quote:
we should ignore the small stuff
It’s the “small stuff” that left unchecked becomes the big stuff.
I won’t pretend to know what the soldiers are feeling/doing - that said it bothers me that true or not we are so quick with the excuses. (Especially the "it’s hot and I’m bored" excuses)
I agree with JoshuaD “supporting our troops” should include holding them to the standard/discipline that we as a society require of them.
I fear it’s going to come down to the “small stuff”…. what is it they say, praise someone 99 times but berate them once and it’s the once they are going to remember/respond to.

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Automath
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Well Australian soldiers don't seem to be having such stupidity problems. And yet, last time I checked, they're in the same dessert.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by winkey151:
I not only know a lot of guys over there but I talk to some of them regularly on the Internet. I have never heard one story that made me feel like our men are doing anything other than being good examples. I am sure that there are a few over there who are not right in the head but hey... that is humanity. I can go down the street here in my neighborhood and find a few.

That's good to hear.


quote:
Originally posted by winkey151:
People who paint with a broad brush, to me, are either ignorant or conniving.

I don't see why you feel the need to vilify me. I posted my experience with Iraq Vets, and said "maybe we should take a closer look at the soldiers actions". This is painting a picture with a wide brush? Please.
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javelin
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What stupidity problems are you talking about, Automath? As usual, this thread is absent of detail, but full of judgement.
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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
What did you hear?

I don't wanna go into too many details.

An example: One was driving along in a truck, and had to go to the bathroom. He pissed into a glass bottle.

He then saw an Iraqi riding his bike down the street along side the truck. Aimed and threw it at him.

Teaching the Iraqi Kids curses.

Identifying themselves as "number 32" when the Iraqi's talked to them.

Killing Iraqi's pet animals.

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javelin
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That's a good level of detail, Joshua. I appreciate it. Now we've got some details, feel free to bring on the judgments! [Big Grin]
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Automath
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
What stupidity problems are you talking about, Automath? As usual, this thread is absent of detail, but full of judgement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abu_Ghraib_torture_and_prisoner_abuse

There's oh so much more, which I'll post when I'm finished watching a Neal Boortz debate clip.

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javelin
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So, Australian soldiers never torture or rape? Or are we confining ourselves to Iraq?

[ July 06, 2006, 12:31 PM: Message edited by: javelin ]

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Lloyd Perna
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Sounds like pretty standard behavior for many 17-25 year olds here in the US. What makes it special because it happened in Iraq?
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Koner
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quote:
One was driving along in a truck, and had to go to the bathroom. He pissed into a glass bottle.
When you gotta go you gotta go. This is no big deal. You simply can't ask an entire convoy to stop at the next gas station when you are driving in "hostile" teritory.

quote:
He then saw an Iraqi riding his bike down the street along side the truck. Aimed and threw it at him.
Your friend is a childish twit. His sergant should have kicked the **** out of him for this act of stupidity. As a Divisional LPO onboard ship if one of my junior Petty Officers or Seamen did something like this you can bet that he would be cleaning heads (latrines), bilges and any other discusting nasty **** job I could come up with for a month.

quote:
Teaching the Iraqi Kids curses
Childish, but so what?

quote:
Identifying themselves as "number 32" when the Iraqi's talked to them
I have no clue if this has some hidden meaning but it seems to be not a big deal and just more childishness. Your friend really needs to grow up.

quote:
Killing Iraqi's pet animals.
Killing a dog which was a danger to them or another soldier? Thats fine. Killing some random Iraqi's pet goat just because he could do it? Again your friend is a childish twit. If this were the case his sergant should unquestionably have written him up. Its not a "court martial" offense but there is something called "non-judicial punishment". In the Navy it takes the form of Captains Mast, where a sailor who is written up stands in front of the Commanding Officer and is dealt punishment for his actions. Its usually something like reduction in rank, a fine of half a months pay for two months, restriction to the ship/base, confinement of up to 45 days, and extra duty.

As a First Class Petty Officer in the Navy (E-6 or equivalent to a Staff Sergant) I would certainly not allow anyone who I'm responsible for act in the way your friends did. But perhaps their sergant had no idea they were being such idiots either. Regardless, your friends are nothing more than children who need to grow up.

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Paladine
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quote:
I don't see why you feel the need to vilify me. I posted my experience with Iraq Vets, and said "maybe we should take a closer look at the soldiers actions". This is painting a picture with a wide brush? Please.
Attempting to make ANY generalizations about many tens of thousands of people based upon your experiences with two bad apples certainly is painting with a broad brush. Given the fact that "atrocities" like a few asinine pictures taken at Abu Ghraib bring on a media feeding frenzy and demands for Rumsfeld's head on a pike from the Left, such conduct is almost certainly the remote exception rather than the common rule. If such behavior were more common, we'd certainly hear about it more often.

As a supporter of this war, I'm surprised that you, who feel similarly on the issue, would suggest that we shouldn't support men and women who are fighting and dying in a distant land for a cause in which we believe simply because you happen to know an asshat or two.

These soldiers aren't saints, as another poster pointed out; they're common people in an uncommon situation. If I were a commanding officer, I wouldn't spend much time making sure my subordinates didn't teach Iraqi kids dirty words or throw bottles of urine at people. If I were to somehow find out that a soldier were engaging in such behavior, I'd make it clear that it wasn't acceptable and punish repeat offenders. In the case of killing a pet, I'd cut the guy's pay or throw him in the brig for awhile.

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rightleft22
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quote:
These soldiers aren't saints, as another poster pointed out; they're common people in an uncommon situation.
True enough, however that’s not an excuse for childish behaviour. It’s the small stuff, the do big deals that add up when you’re trying to win the hearts and minds...
There is a reason the military first requirement is for discipline. If the difference between the Australian forces and the American forces is discipline then the American training needs to be looked at hard.
If I was the commander I would be spending a lot of my time insuring my men new were I stood on that type of behaviour.

Suggesting that “We need to stop "supporting the troops" and start making sure they're doing the job they're supposed to do” is not painting all the soldiers with the same brush. It would be insuring that the commanders enforce the discipline that we expect as you point out you would do.

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EDanaII
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quote:
True enough, however that’s not an excuse for childish behaviour. It’s the small stuff, the do big deals that add up when you’re trying to win the hearts and minds...
This is so naive, I don't even know where to begin.

The military is not in the business of winning hearts and minds, that's the job of politicians and ambassadors. The military's job is to destroy the enemy's will to fight.

Second, you truly do not understand the emotional stress that comes with the job. They aren't out there playing a video game where "game over" means you put another quarter in the machine. For them, game over can mean GAME OVER! Period! No more games, 'cause yer outta quarters. Forever! Do not discount the amount of emotional stress we ask the people of the military to go under.

quote:
There is a reason the military first requirement is for discipline. If the difference between the Australian forces and the American forces is discipline then the American training needs to be looked at hard.
Again, this is naive. Military discipline exists in order to ensure that this or that soldier will charge this or that enemy line under fire. It exists to ensure that orders will be followed under dangerous circumstances. It exists to ensure that soldiers _do things that ordinary civilians would not._ It has been thus since the ancient Romans. And the American army is the MOST disciplined and well trained of any army since the history of the war.

quote:
If I was the commander I would be spending a lot of my time insuring my men new were I stood on that type of behaviour.
If you were a commander, you'd know that there are some things beyond your ability to control, and that to micro manage the army by attempting to eliminate every possible bad behavior is about as effective as eliminating crime within the civilian populace.

quote:
Suggesting that We need to stop "supporting the troops" and start making sure they're doing the job they're supposed to do” is not painting all the soldiers with the same brush. It would be insuring that the commanders enforce the discipline that we expect as you point out you would do.
It IS painting them with a broad brush if you use the behavior of a non represetative sample to judge the behavior of all. A sample of one (or two) does not a good statistic make and any statistician will tell you that you cannot infer that the army needs to be micromananged based on the behavior of a few. The only thing that can be inferred here is that one or two soldiers are behaving badly.

It's much like taking the behavior of the few criminals in our society and using that to assume that all of society is corrupt. It ain't good analysis.

Javelin is exactly right, the behavior of military personnel is the responsibility of the military and no one else. They are the ones in the best position to judge whether or not a soldier crossed the bounds of good behavior given the emotional duress they are expected to fight under. Civilian oversite of any kind can only hurt the military's effectiveness. This is exactly why military courts are separate from civilian one's and have been for a very long time.

Ed.

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rightleft22
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quote:
The military is not in the business of winning hearts and minds, that's the job of politicians and ambassadors. The military's job is to destroy the enemy's will to fight.
Perhaps you missed it; the WAR is over, the army defeated. A different kind of “war” is happening and the current operational strategy does not appear to be working.

quote:
Second, you truly do not understand the emotional stress that comes with the job.
I served in the first Gulf war.

quote:
Again, this is naive. Military discipline exists in order to ensure that this or that soldier will charge this or that enemy line under fire. It exists to ensure that orders will be followed under dangerous circumstances.
Exactly and what are those orders, to act childishly, (if they are), if they are acting childishly and disobeying orders where is the discipline…


quote:
If you were a commander, you'd know that there are some things beyond your ability to control
expect little get little, if your leaders do not lead... your #$@%$

quote:
It IS painting them with a broad brush if you use the behaviour of a non representative sample to judge the behavior of all.
Disagree, it paints no one, it accuses no one, it only suggests that we take a closer look at what the solders are doing, and require our them to act professionally as they were trained to be, if they were not trained better then we really do have to take a closer look at everything from the top down.
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KnightEnder
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Winkey,

I don't cuss in front of my grandma.

That said, While I agree that these guys should have there butts kicked, I doubt/hope that they are indicative of the entire US army.

KE

[ July 06, 2006, 05:42 PM: Message edited by: KnightEnder ]

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Jesse
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Depends.

Teaching kids to cuss? Ummm... I don't have a hard time seeing that as wide spread, I know a guy who was stationed in South Korea who tells the same story. Still, that's far from a major issue.

Shooting peoples pets for target practice? Yeah, I kind of doubt that's hugely wide spread, and while killing critters for kicks is sort of sick, it's important to remember that Muslims in general don't have the same sort of fuzzy feelings for dogs that we do. There are a LOT of strays in Iraq.

Chuckin pee at people? Pretty stupid. Also, not suprising for a young guy who thought (apparently rightly) that he could get away with it.

EDanall-

See, a lot of us have this wierd idea that it might be possible to avoid the kind of Blowback Roman Soliders got for doing stuff like raping little girls and flogging Queens.

The Military enforces the UCMJ, but they don't write it. The Supreme Court is still the highest appelate court of military justice. Officers are still required to produce and enforce disciplinary policy under the orders of their CIC.

Military Justice is not now, nor has it ever been, nor was it ever intended to be, purely under military jurisdiction.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
quote:
I don't see why you feel the need to vilify me. I posted my experience with Iraq Vets, and said "maybe we should take a closer look at the soldiers actions". This is painting a picture with a wide brush? Please.
Attempting to make ANY generalizations about many tens of thousands of people based upon your experiences with two bad apples certainly is painting with a broad brush. Given the fact that "atrocities" like a few asinine pictures taken at Abu Ghraib bring on a media feeding frenzy and demands for Rumsfeld's head on a pike from the Left, such conduct is almost certainly the remote exception rather than the common rule. If such behavior were more common, we'd certainly hear about it more often.

As a supporter of this war, I'm surprised that you, who feel similarly on the issue, would suggest that we shouldn't support men and women who are fighting and dying in a distant land for a cause in which we believe simply because you happen to know an asshat or two.

These soldiers aren't saints, as another poster pointed out; they're common people in an uncommon situation. If I were a commanding officer, I wouldn't spend much time making sure my subordinates didn't teach Iraqi kids dirty words or throw bottles of urine at people. If I were to somehow find out that a soldier were engaging in such behavior, I'd make it clear that it wasn't acceptable and punish repeat offenders. In the case of killing a pet, I'd cut the guy's pay or throw him in the brig for awhile.

Whoa. My first post must not have been very clear.

quote:

We need to stop "supporting the troops" and start making sure they're doing the job they're supposed to do.

I should have said that we need to stop blindly supporting the troops. This is certainly what I meant.

I don't doubt there are alot of good men over there, but I also don't doubt that there are hundreds, if not thousands, acting like childish pricks over there.

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Jesse
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There are also, suprising as this may seem, hundreds of thousands of good men who have served in Iraq, the majority of whom have probably behaved like childish pricks a time or two.

People do that. Degree matters.

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hobsen
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First I served in the Army for a couple of years just before Vietnam, and then I stayed on the fringes of the military for thirty years after. So I have heard a lot of war stories from soldiers and former soldiers who trusted me.

One difference is that the draft used to catch Americans who were fairly representative of our general population. Our present volunteer Army is another matter; my guess is that the average soldier in Iraq now would have ranked in the bottom quarter in Vietnam, both in terms of intelligence and civility. Most soldiers still may be good guys - I know several I really like - but a greatly increased proportion are scum.

Beyond that a lot of soldiers in Korea and in Vietnam remained fairly happy because they had an abundance of booze and a girl on every corner. (Obviously this did not apply to those on the very front lines.) In Iraq I understand such amenities are in very short supply, and that makes these very young men edgy.

Anyway the incidents reported by JoshuaD are pretty much mischief, although they will encourage Iraqi civilians to kill Americans. But my guess is that the coming decade will bring more and more such stories, and much worse. The accusation of rape and mass murder against Steven D. Green and his buddies is only the first of them.

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winkey151
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Winkey,

I don't cuss in front of my grandma.

KE

I am not sure why you are telling me this... but I am glad that you don't. (and your Grandma is probably glad too.)
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by Automath:
Well Australian soldiers don't seem to be having such stupidity problems. And yet, last time I checked, they're in the same dessert.

Australian soldiers aren't stationed in Iraq in large numbers, and until recently our boys' main job was to provide security to the Japanese contingent (who due to international treaty obligations aren't allowed to deploy combat troops abroad except in the defense of Japan). Statistically it's hardly a surprise that we haven't had any of the scandals that've hit British and US troops.
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EDanaII
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@ rightleft22:
quote:
Perhaps you missed it; the WAR is over, the army defeated. A different kind of war is happening and the current operational strategy does not appear to be working.
So, they're under no kind of stress whatsoever? No one's being shot at or killed? They aren't scanning the surrounding buildings for snipers or the road for IEDs? There's no "game over" for anyone?

quote:
Exactly and what are those orders, to act childishly, (if they are), if they are acting childishly and disobeying orders where is the discipline
And this still ignores my main point: you cannot control everything. Military discipline is best left to military courts, not civilian oversite. That is the main gist of this thread.

quote:
expect little get little, if your leaders do not lead... your #$@%$
All well and good, but there are still things that are clearly NOT within anyone's ability to control, hence my point about trying to control crime among the civilian populace. You can no more legislate that than you can control the exact behavior of your troops, hence the point: military oversite is best left to the military and not to civilians. Which, once again, is the gist of this thread.

quote:
Disagree, it paints no one, it accuses no one, it only suggests that we take a closer look at what the solders are doing, and require our them to act professionally as they were trained to be, if they were not trained better then we really do have to take a closer look at everything from the top down.
And, yet, we have no numbers whatsoever on exactly how many of these soldiers are behaving badly. Is it 10%? 1%? 0.1% or 0.01%? Until you have a number, you are painting with a VERY BROAD (hypothetical) brush.


@ Jesse:
quote:
See, a lot of us have this wierd idea that it might be possible to avoid the kind of Blowback Roman Soliders got for doing stuff like raping little girls and flogging Queens.
Nice, Jesse. [Smile]

I point out the nature of discipline and cite the Romans and you use that to infer that our troops are acting on the same level. You got numbers? [Smile] Let's say, for the sake of argument, that 50% of the Roman army raped, pillaged and plundered after conquest. What's our percentage? C'mon. Gimme a number.

quote:
The Military enforces the UCMJ, but they don't write it. The Supreme Court is still the highest appelate court of military justice. Officers are still required to produce and enforce disciplinary policy under the orders of their CIC.
They don't? That's news to me.

The UCMJ is the ultimate "jury of his peers." Soldiers sit in judgement of other soldiers and, as with all legal procedures, the outcome determines the law. So, as far as I know, they DO write it. You know something I don't? Then, by all means, show me where I'm wrong.

quote:
Military Justice is not now, nor has it ever been, nor was it ever intended to be, purely under military jurisdiction.
I have, as yet, to ever hear of any military legal ruling being appealed all the way to the supreme court. Once again, if know otherwise, PLEASE enlighten me. [Smile]

All that said, this still does not change one simple fact, military discipline is best managed by the military, NOT by civilian oversite.


@ hobson:
quote:
One difference is that the draft used to catch Americans who were fairly representative of our general population. Our present volunteer Army is another matter; my guess is that the average soldier in Iraq now would have ranked in the bottom quarter in Vietnam, both in terms of intelligence and civility. Most soldiers still may be good guys - I know several I really like - but a greatly increased proportion are scum.
That's an interesting point, and one that I think has some validity.

I, personally, would like to see the military as an alternative for the jail sentences of some criminals. Mind you, for the one's that lack discipline and need direction in life and are not guilty of major crimes such as rape or murder. Of course, as you point out, that would mean a greater increase in discipline problems for the military, but I still think it's a good idea.

Ed.

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Jesse
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Yeah, ED, beacuse I wasn't illustrating the obvious outcome of a military unaccountable to civilian authority, or illustrating the negative consequences of running rough shod over an occupied people. I was "Insulting the troops".

Read up, and maybe we can have an actual conversation.


http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/Military_Law/UCMJ_LHP.html

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KnightEnder
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Winkey,

I thought when you joined you said you were an older woman. My point was that people act differently arround different people. Sorry if I got your age or gender wrong.

KE

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winkey151
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quote:
Originally posted by KnightEnder:
Winkey,

I thought when you joined you said you were an older woman. My point was that people act differently arround different people. Sorry if I got your age or gender wrong.

KE

OH.. Yeah I am a 49 year old grandma.

So you think that the people I talk to wouldn't be open around me?

Hmmm... interesting thought. Maybe not, but they tell me most other stuff.

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EDanaII
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@ Jesse:
quote:
Yeah, ED, beacuse I wasn't illustrating the obvious outcome of a military unaccountable to civilian authority, or illustrating the negative consequences of running rough shod over an occupied people. I was "Insulting the troops".
I never said you were insulting the troops, I said that it was quite an inference you were making. In other words, I was questioning the validity of your inference. If I thought you were insulting anyone, I would have said "you're being insulting."

As to your link, it does nothing to disprove my assertion that military matters are best handled by the military and the actual fact of the UCMJ's creation only affirms that position.

Ed.

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Hannibal
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begining of rant

look at the difference...

american soldiers, mistreat the iraqis, and thats an understatment, but i dont see the BBC, reporting how poor and miserable the iraqis are. even though they are way poorer and more miserable then the palestinians.
infact, very surprisingly... the BBC is also very supportive of the english soldiers in iraq, and who knows what they are doing there.

but lo and behold, the evil israelis finally want to put a stop to palestinian rocket launching, and bring back a kidnapped soldier.
and we are warned by the EU of unproportionate aggression, warned by the UN of humanitarian crisis, and BBC shows how poor and miserable the palestinians are after an IDF action. why dont they show how poor and miserable the iraqis are after an american army action? or even worse a brittish army's one.

last time i checked alot less palestinian civilians died by the hands of IDF the last two weeks, then iraqi civilians by allied forces in iraq and afganistan.


end of rant

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Jesse
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Matters of Military Discipline are best handled by the Military with oversight from the Civilian Government.

That system hasn't worked out all that badly over the last 230 years. Was Lincoln wrong to provide almost blanket amnesty to deserters, many of whom came back to serve, instead of leaving the matter entirely in the hands of Military Justice?

It's our Military, it operates by the rules we set.

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EDanaII
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And one of the rules we've set -- as inferred by the existence of the UCMJ -- is that military discipline is best left to the military and not the business of oversite. Otherwise, there would be no UCMJ at all and all military matters would be decided within civilian courts.

And that's OUR rule, Jesse, we civilians made it: non intervention in military affairs.

What YOU need to demonstrate is that these small infractions in discipline are _threatening our POLICY in Iraq._

At present, I see no clear evidence of that.

Ed.

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KnightEnder
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Bill O'Reilly cut off a guy that said US military personell had killed civilian Iraqi's and said that "That guy is a liar and an idiot! No US soldier has killed Iraqi civilians!"

It was obvious to me that the guy was talking about collataral damage (100,000 last I heard), but O'Reilly assumed that he meant that US soldiers were targeting civilians. I guess it's easier to get irate if you choose to misinterprete what the caller says and cut his mike. I don't know why anybody would call his show, I like watching him but I can't stand it when he turns into a self-righteous bully.

Now apparently our soldiers have intentionally raped and killed some Iraqi's. The situation is going from bad to worse.

KE

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Everard
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"And one of the rules we've set -- as inferred by the existence of the UCMJ -- is that military discipline is best left to the military and not the business of oversite."

There's a pretty drastic error of logic here, Ed.

The UCMJ is written by Congress, so there's no inference through its existence that Congress forfeits the right to oversight. Rather, what we can infer from the existence of the UCMJ is that military justice is handled differently then civilian justice... not, as you say, that civilians have no right to oversight of military justice.

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