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Friday, July 31, 2009

And these are the troops we will be fighting with in Afghanistan

'The Army pounds it into your head: kill everybody'
COLORADO SPRINGS - Soldiers from an Army unit that had 10 infantrymen accused of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter after returning to civilian life described a breakdown in discipline during their Iraq deployment in which troops murdered civilians. Some Fort Carson, Colorado-based soldiers have had trouble adjusting to life back in the United States, saying they refused to seek help, or were belittled or punished for seeking help. Others say they were ignored by their commanders, or coped through drug and alcohol abuse before they allegedly committed crimes, the Gazette of Colorado Springs said. The Gazette based its report on months of interviews with soldiers and their families, medical and military records, court documents and photographs. Several soldiers said discipline in the 3500-soldier unit deteriorated while in Iraq. "Toward the end, we were so mad and tired and frustrated," said Daniel Freeman. "You came too close, we lit you up. You didn't stop, we ran your car over with the Bradley" - an armoured fighting vehicle. Taxi drivers got shot for no reason, and others were dropped off bridges after interrogations, said Marcus Mifflin, who was eventually discharged with post traumatic stress syndrome. "You didn't get blamed unless someone could be absolutely sure you did something wrong," he said. Soldiers interviewed by the Gazette cited lengthy deployments, engaging in some of the bloodiest combat in Iraq. Since 2005, brigade soldiers also have been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. The unit was deployed for a year to Iraq's Sunni Triangle in September 2004. Sixty-four unit soldiers were killed and more than 400 wounded - about double the average for Army brigades in Iraq, according to Fort Carson. In 2007, the unit served a bloody 15-month mission in Baghdad. It's currently deployed to the Khyber Pass region in Afghanistan.

And these are the soldiers NZ will be fighting alongside are they? Burnt out, emotionally damaged US soldiers who have moved from a kill everything zone, stretched even thinner to be redeployed into Afghanistan? Are NZers going to be happy for the SAS to turn a blind eye to American atrocities witnessed in Afghanistan? Will these burnt out US troops win hearts and minds?


At 31/7/09 10:12 am, Anonymous Chris said...

This was a Colorado National Guard unit, and the troops reinforcing Afghanistan are full time soldiers.

But your point is still valid. US troops are horrible at winning hearts and minds and military leadership is well aware of this, but it takes time to a change an institution with a million people in it.

You can see the US moving towards a more counterinsurgency focus with the appointment of McChrystal, and his immediate orders to limit the use of airpower. He has also changed rules of engagement.

As Kilcullen says, the mission in Afghanistan is about "co-opting the moderates and killing the irreconcilables." The SAS will be deployed to kill the irreconcilables, not to do counterinsurgency work.

At 31/7/09 1:00 pm, Blogger Luke said...

A US soldier talking about why they are what they are:


At 31/7/09 4:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the War Of terror Continues...

At 1/8/09 12:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Afghanistan war started in 2001 after its Taleban rulers allowed al Qaeda to plan the September 11 attacks


At 1/8/09 9:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Shock and Awe' at Home and Abroad: The Ravages of Neoliberalism
The war on Iraq is, arguably, the definitive narrative of our time. Amidst the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and the ruins of one of the planets oldest civilizations, there is the story of a war waged not against terrorism but in its service. A war waged against the poor and the vulnerable in the service of American imperialism and the interests of unfettered "free market" capitalism.

In the draconian atmosphere of the U.S.-led "war on terror," the authors offer a necessary and scathing critique of the war and the larger American capitalist/imperialist project of which it is a part. Their critical assessment unravels against the backdrop of a layered and unabashedly Marxist/historical materialist critique of American hegemony that documents the links between neoliberal globalization and aggressive U.S. military posturing. As they put it, "the current situation in Iraq" and the "events which led up to it" are in many ways a "metaphor for globalized capitalism worldwide" (p. 32). For example, McLaren and Jaramillo reveal that the war in Iraq is but one of the many manifestations of a hyper-militarized form of capitalism - a scheme undertaken to secure resources, markets, and profits rather than to combat terrorism:

The drive to obtain 'free markets' and to open up investment for U.S. corporations is now accompanied by the most formidable military presence ever known to humankind, one that is fundamentally unopposed. Iraq is now 'liberated' for U.S. corporate investment and control, having been officially 'pacified' as a client state. Judging from recent U.S. history, the future will no doubt require that millions more will die in the oil-rich Middle East and elsewhere around the planet on behalf of the U.S. empire (p.25).

The authors concur with India's Research Unit for Political Economy (2003), that the "supposed suppression of terrorism worldwide merely offers 'opportunities' for the U.S. to pursue its strategic agenda without geographic or temporal limits" (p. 29). However, they note that while American empire is, undoubtedly, being aggressively pursued at the current historical juncture, the quest and growth of empire is neither the particular province of the United States nor a mere consequence of the policies of George W. Bush whom McLaren and Jaramillo mockingly refer to as "God's Cowboy Warrior." Rather, they remind us that it is the systematic and logical result of capitalism and therefore unflinchingly shine the spotlight on what should be the focus of substantive left criticism - the very system of capitalism itself.


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