Discussing war is never an easy topic, since most people have very strong views. Personally – and I don’t speak for SFTT on this issue – I tend to agree with Marcus Tullius Cicero who said that “An unjust peace is better than a just war.” Now, one can read whatever they want to into that quotation, but Cicero was the ultimate politician scheming to keep his head in the Roman Senate while far more powerful political and military leaders circled like vultures. Some may interpret this as weakness or the lack of moral fiber, but I consider Cicero to be the ultimate pragmatist.
Regardless of one’s position on the war in Afghanistan, it is clear that many brave young men and women have served under dangerous and very difficult conditions with remarkable courage. In many cases, service members have had multiple rotations in a war zone where the US has had a military presence for over 10 years.
The shocking story of Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales who allegedly murdered 16 Afghan civilians, has caused great distress within the ranks of active duty personnel. We reported earlier that senior military officers have tried to calm service members claiming that the situation is “under control,” but clearly the situation is not under control.
Staff Sergeant Bales’ attorney, John Henry Browne, claims that he questions the evidence and suggests that Sgt Bales is being using as a scapegoat by the US military. In other words, Attorney Browne may prosecute the conduct of the military in Afghanistan to defend his client. Whether he will succeed or not is a matter of conjecture, but clearly Attorney Browne can certainly question the obvious shortcomings of the Chain of Command.
How is possible that a warrior as troubled as Staff Sergeant Bales received the “green light” for deployment?
Who in Staff Sergeant Bales immediate chain of command is accountable for his actions? If so, what sort of disciplinary action can be expected and how far will it go up the chain of command?
Are veterans properly screened for PTSD and other ailments prior to deployment to war zones?
Who is responsible for such testing procedures and what percentage of combatants are deemed ineligible for deployment?
Of those veterans deemed ineligible for further deployments, what percentage are remanded into the care of physicians?
Did Staff Sergeant Bales receive counseling for his apparent financial problems and anger management issues? What sort of follow-up occurred prior to his deployment?
Will any senior officer stand up and say under oath “We let this brave warrior down?”
Will any senior officer stand up and say under oath “Our screening and counseling services are defective and we are placing young men and women in situations which can be harmful to themselves and others?”
Only time will tell how the military chain of command will react as Sgt. Bales goes to trial. Nevertheless, I doubt very seriously whether anyone in his immediate chain of command is prepared to say “I’ve got your back!” or “I’ve let you down!” The chain of command is about responsibility – not hypocrisy!
Richard W. May
P.S. Please let me know if you have any idea why the Washington Times pulled their article entitled: Troops Stressed to Breaking Point