Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Army hit by MSM attacks!

It appears that the MSM and allied liberal organizations are launching a full on campaign against the Army now. There’s the continued inaccurate and misrepresented story of recruiting shortfalls, which can’t seem to explain that the Army was only short of about 1000 recruits this year. We fell seven thousand short of a goal that was higher by 8,000 than last year. Re-enlistment more than made up the difference to keep the Army numbers the same. We are only short of our goal to grow the Army.

Worse yet is the campaign by the GI Right’s Hotline. This group, like a military oriented ACLU from hell, provides information about how to back out of your military commitment, at any stage. But now they have taken to advocating AWOLs. A USA Today story describes how the Army has mostly not chosen to prosecute IRR soldiers who have ignored last year’s activation orders. The folks at GIRH have taken to counseling IRR soldiers that it’s okay to be AWOL to the point of desertion, SINCE THE Army is not pursuing cases. This is akin to the ACLU encouraging violent hate speech because no one is prosecuting it.

The Army is not charging these people for a variety of reasons. I saw the list of billets that the IRR call up was meant to fill, and I remember seeing they needed one Army band soldier. Many of the billets should have been filled from other resources. And the Army is looking to avoid the negative publicity that the MSM will bring to bear if it chases down a few civilian soldiers for this crime. But a crime it is. And the crime of being AWOL, now a year later can be charged to these soldiers as desertion. No statute of limitations here. This “rights” group is encouraging these soldiers to break the law in a way that can land them long stretches in military or federal prisons, if the Army suddenly finds its interest served by a prosecution. Not very good legal advice.

The subject of Army prosecution, is at the heart of this week’s most egregiously anti-Army stories. On Sunday Dayton Daily News ran a group of Articles about military prosecutions in Iraq. Three reporters, not soldiers, not lawyers and not statisticians or social scientists, reported on what they see as inequities in the military system. The articles explore the facts that the military has pursued cases of misconduct against Soldiers more often when other soldiers are victimized, than when Iraqis were. Well duh!

We are at war in Iraq. And while most Iraqis are not insurgents most insurgents are Iraqis. An army at war does not investigate every act of violence that its soldiers commit, that would be institutional suicide. The articles make some strong statistical claims:

“A Daily News analysis of records from the Army Court-Martial Management Information System database found that 226 soldiers were charged with offenses between the first deployments and Jan. 1, 2005. Of the 1,038 separate charges, fewer than one in 10 involved crimes against Iraqis. Virtually all of the rest, more than 900 charges, involved crimes against other soldiers, property, drug or alcohol offenses and violations of military rules.
Charges involving Iraqi victims were three times more likely to be dismissed or withdrawn by the Army than cases in which the victims were soldiers or civilian military employees, the examination found.”

“The Dayton Daily News found many examples in which soldiers were punished more severely for property crimes than for violent crimes that involved foreign victims.”


One Article goes on to label this a pattern. These are reporters doing the analysis. What was there methodology? What are the margins of error? And most importantly do they understand conditions on the ground? Soldiers in a war zone NEED to able to apply violence! They need to be able to apply it in an instant. Without hesitation! Any thing less and people can die. This of course opens the door for abuses, but that is what the chain of command is there for.
What these Reporters can’t know is that allegations of crime follow soldiers wherever they go. On my fifth night in Iraq, I found myself on my first raid. As we approached a village identified by an intelligence source as a meeting place and rocket launching site, we came under fire from three sides. A few 40mm HE grenades chased off the shooters. And then we proceeded to take down the hamlet of seven buildings. The only occupied building had two women and a dozen or so kids. But all were thoroughly searched.

When we returned in daylight, we were told that we had been mistaken for cattle thieves, and we were accused of stealing a large quantity of gold. Should the Army have investigated these claims? They didn’t! And interestingly similar claims followed us around our area for our tour. We were always “mistaken for thieves” when we took fire. We always stole something when we left.
Counter-insurgency warfare is one of the most difficult missions the military has. The balance between aggressiveness and compassion must be found. Yes there probably are some abuses. But there are no blanket panaceas, and many of the allegations of abuse are hollow and pro forma.

I am proud of the soldiers I served with. I can’t imagine anyone in my company stealing from civilians. We used violence on people sure. That was the job. And at times soldiers were tempted to cross the line on violence, but my chain of command was always there supervising. And soldiers did monitor themselves.

I remember one pesky teenager last November. He wouldn’t move on when instructed. After repeated and increasingly angry “IMSHEE!”s, I finally gave him a shove. In my annoyance momentarily forgetting I outweighed him by 100 lbs. and was several times stronger I launched him a dozen feet or more. He was angry and his pride was hurt, I was sheepish about it. I had violated no policy, no order. I had used appropriate force, but in stretching it to the limit I had embarrassed myself. But I knew to tone it down henceforth. That happens a lot to soldiers. We police ourselves.

Worth a good look: No oil for Pacifists

1 Comments:

Blogger Carl said...

John:

You might be interested in my most recent post on reenlistment/retention, which also cites a relatively new GAO Report (05-952) with final FY04 recruiting data.

Wed Oct 05, 01:39:00 AM 2005  

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