In January 2012 TEK and other media sources reported on a video which had gone viral. It purported to feature a group of US soldiers in Afghanistan urinating on the corspes of Afghans. The bodies were reportedly those of insurgents.
Saturday SkyNews reports that two more US Marines will face criminal charges over the 2011 video. "Sergeant Robert W Richards will face charges including dereliction of duty and violating orders. Captain James V Clement will face charges that include conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman for failing to properly supervise junior Marines, and for making false statements to investigators. Staff Sergeants Edward Deptola and Joseph Chamblin pleaded guilty in earlier courts martial to their roles in the incident and were sentenced to reductions in rank. In the video, one Marine looks down at the bodies and jokes, "Have a good day, buddy""
Edward Deptola, at his trial, told a judge: "I have no excuse, no reason, ma'am… it was not the correct way to handle a human casualty." Does that sound like a man who was truly sorry or one that was sorry he was caught? Calling corpses a human casulaty is similar to calling a bloody battle the theatre of war. It sounds better but it shows no compassion. Armies cannot utilise compassion we know but it also shows a misguided view.
2012 was a bad year for US forces and other foreign forces in Afghanistan. The death toll and number of injured was too high. That is sadly a fact of war. The civilian death toll was also hight. Incidents which should not happen, involvimng, foreign military, were also too high.
There has been little recent press regarding any outcome following the Koran burning by some members of the military; the murder of 17 civilians in a village allegedly by one rogue soldier SSG Bales; plus the video of US soldiers urinating on corpses.
There is no doubt that armed forces are pushed to the limit. If these forces cannot, however, remain professional and focused there is no hope of peace.
Initially the video was derided as a set-up. In time it was shown to be true. This is at least one case were some action has been taken but is it enough? A demotion in rak? Whilst it is understandable that such investigations take time the lack of haste and meagre sentences will lead some to believe that there was no will to hold any person or persons responsible.
There was certainly a great deal of haste on the part of the US to apprehend Bradley Manning. THis proves that they can act fast when they 'want to'
If the US had acted sooner in the case of these urinating soldiers it would have been better. It would have sent out a stark message to soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. Instead it is one of a long line of offences that has been allowed to fester in minds of locals.
These sort of incidents breed a new generation of terrorists. They also lead people to question if they are the tip of the iceberg or regular occurences. This incident was videoed by one participant. Had it not been who would have known it had happened?
Will such incidents simply carry on but not be videoed in the future.
War is horrific. Terrible deeds happen. The problem is that if you allow such acts to go unchecked they set a precedent. The rules of engagement are clear. Do loved ones of members of our armed forces want to see or hear that our soldiers have been disrespected in such a way? No we do not. With this is mind the appropriate actiion must be taken.