Monday, October 24, 2005

Ranting with you

Every branch of my family tree has sacrificed or bled in one branch or another of the military. I have found soldiers to be infinitely smarter than their leadership on too many occasions. This leads to soldiers doing what they are told, even when they don't agree with it - the politics of avoiding retaliatory friendly fire or a field execution in a war or 'conflict' are VERY real.
I was in a National Guard unit, but it was a Combat MP unit. ALL we ever did was train for recon, escorts, riot response, capture and detaining. Roughly 85% of my unit was also involved in some level of civilian law enforcement, and over 20% were Vietnam vets. We also had an internal MI squad. When soldiers are given an order to do one thing, very often there is either a purposeful, unspoken order that goes with it, or when there is no sense of consequences, there are explicit orders that go with it. What happens in the bush, stays in the bush. Period.
That’s why it is SO dangerous for the US Government to refuse to allow American soldiers to be prosecuted for war crimes. It sends the message that we are above the law. From the top down it gives the impression that "by any means necessary" is fine as long as the job is done. I have been in trainings where the rules and regulations of the Geneva Convention are skimmed over or paraphrased, and then we move on. And then the public finds out and the soldiers take the brunt of the public beating, while the leadership skates by.
It's for the President, the Department of Defense, and the Pentagon to know the proper procedures and create a culture in which they will be followed. But since THE CLOSEST THE PEOPLE WHO ARE MAKING THESE DECISIONS HAVE EVER BEEN TO WAR IS PLAYING WITH TOY SOLDIERS AND VIDEO GAMES, HOW CAN WE EXPECT THEM TO KNOW HOW TO CREATE THAT KIND OF 'CULTURE OF RESPECT'?
You can't blame the machinist if the owner wants something built, but doesn't invest in proper training, tools, or raw materials. In management, we call that a lack of leadership. Unfortunately, when your President is the class clown/jock/drunk/party boy, who needs something big and flashy to keep his attention, what else can you expect?
It's the leadership stupid.

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