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  1. fastlane says

    I have to think the military itself is at least partly to blame.

    You dehumanize ‘the enemy’ enough, send people into that kind of a situation, and then prevent a lot of them from getting out when they were promised, you’re going to wind up with these sorts of incidences.

    I’m actually surprised this is the first one like this we’ve heard about.

    • says

      While I think that the military has its fare share of blame, i.e. letting a guy roll out the gate with a full load of ammo by his damned self… (someone needs to get WAAAYYY fired for that) I think the true blame is on war itself for the aforementioned dehumanizing.

      Yet most Soldiers I talked to today have the sentament, “Hey, I can put up with the random attacks, the Afghan/Iraqi doublespeak, and the waves of Rockets without going all nutballs.”

      I think their may be a problem with Combat Stress counseling / Mental Health services at this Soldier’s home station. This is not the first war crime to come out of there and it makes me thankfull that there is little to no stigma about seeking help on my base. Many of my NCOs have taken a few weeks to get right and its never held against them for “not being manly”. This is not true for many BCTs though.

  2. julian says

    So glad this guy wasn’t a Marine. Not after the last group of fucksticks deciding they’d reenact Generation Kill.

    Jesus, this guy was a Staff NCO. He probably had more means to deal with stress than any of his subordinates (assuming from dealing with Marine SNCOs) and no doubt with through a fair bit of vetting before picking up his rank. What the fuck went wrong?

  3. Yoritomo says

    What will happen to this guy? He committed a crime in Afghanistan, which would usually mean that Afghan criminal law should be applied. But I expect as part of the US-Afghan treaties US military law will be applied instead? (Besides, the guy is in US custody, and I doubt they’ll turn him over to the Afghans no matter what.)

  4. Makoto says

    Any time I hear of a specific person committing a specific act of violence, someone tries to tie it to something else. Military person in Afghanistan? It’s the military’s fault. OWS protester? It’s because they were protesting. School shooter? Video games, maybe, or liberal agenda or something. Abortion doctor? Yeah, you get the idea. Blame anyone but the person who actually committed the violence.

    It’s possible to be trained to fight the enemy without becoming something less than human, who can kill anyone because they can kill. People like this need to be taken out of service and given help, and hopefully we can use cases like this to identify them before they perform such acts in the future.

    • Binjabreel says

      Don’t be obtuse.

      Asking why a person does something isn’t the same as denying they were responsible for it, and to suggest otherwise is to just stick your head in the sand and pretend that problems are mysterious and ineffable. Criminals don’t commit crimes because they’re criminals; they commit crimes for money and power and status. They ARE criminals, but only because they committed a crime. Nothing more, nothing less, and saying, “Gee, maybe he wouldn’t have become a bank robber if he’d been able to get a decent job” doesn’t erase the initial act.

      Unless of course your brain explodes when confronted with complexities and nuance, in which case I guess invest in a good helmet.

      • says

        I agree with the gist of your statement. On helmets, the problem with TBIs is that the helmets are so good. Events that would have out right killed a Soldier in the past are now survivable with the ACH (Army Combat Helmet), but the overpressure wave, SMT effect, and other physical effects of close exposure to high explosives can cause damage to brain function.

    • sisu says

      I heard a radio story about this incident that said the soldier suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2010. Apparently he was evaluated after that and determined to be fit to return to duty. I have to wonder, though, if there may turn out to be lingering effects from the TBI that contributed to his snapping and committing this horrible act.

      • says

        Dang it, I just lost my well thought out comment.

        The B.L. is that if the army wants to blame this on a TBI, then there are offical records which document the physical effects of that event. (prior base line, less than 12 hours after event, 48 hour follow up, return to the states follow up). There are also at least two mental health checks after deployment but, they rely on self reported information and often the process is conducted in view of peers. Which can lead to inaccurate assessments. Some bases are better than others at encouraging Soldiers to report all mental issues. There is currently a study being conducted to access what are the bariers to self reporting and what bases have the best system to facilitate mental health.

        The base the Soldier came from has a history of providing poor mental health assesments.

        • Barry says

          “The B.L. is that if the army wants to blame this on a TBI, then there are offical records which document the physical effects of that event. (prior base line, less than 12 hours after event, 48 hour follow up, return to the states follow up).”

          Is this ‘there are’, or should it be ‘there should have been’?

          After all, if one wants to cut costs, not diagnosing in the first place is a good (and evil) start.

  5. StevoR says

    Three tours of duty in Iraq and then this one of Afghanistan apparently. Wonder how many commenters here can boast similar records and have seen and done and endured what this individual has? (Before he snapped.)

    Shades of Vietnam?

    Course it’s not like the Taliban are ever going around massacring innocent civilians and imposing the brutalities, injustices and cruelties inherent in their seriously messed up Sharia law rubbish ever right? Not like the tribal warfare culture of Aghanistan hasn’t stuffed up the whole country for centuries .. Oh wait.

    The Taliban strike me as much more evil and ugly bunch than the VietCong ever were.

    • StevoR says

      Of course from the bio here :

      Assassin Actual is a Cavalry Officer in the U.S. Army and veteran of Operation New Dawn in good old Iraq.

      You have my respect and thanks & what I noted about the commenters does NOT apply to you. For Whatever Little Its Worth.

      It does, however, seem to me that a lot of people who haven’t been there (& ok I’m one of them) are being very eager to pass rapid judgemnet on stuff they know sod all about in this case.

      • StevoR says

        Did I ever actually say I thought that “others do it too” was the defence or made that man’s actions okay?

        Noting the taliban is worse is NOT the same thing.

        • Yoritomo says

          Indeed the Taliban are worse. But how is that relevant if it’s not to imply that this man’s actions are not such a big deal?

          • StevoR says

            Context.

            Also comparison. Neither action is right or justified but why is all the focus on the one US soldiers atrocity when teh Taliban have killed far more of their own people in far worse ways?

            There are such things as lesser and greater evils – whilst these are still evils. Sometimes, horribly & sadly, its all we have to choose between.

          • Yoritomo says

            Because we hold US soldiers to a higher standard? Are you saying we shouldn’t?

            I am enough of a consequentialist to believe that sometimes you have to choose the lesser evil to avoid a greater evil. But unless you want to argue that we have to turn soldiers into killers and then have to accept the risk of one of them going nuts and murdering civilians, the very people he was supposed to protect from violence, I don’t see how this event was a necessary consequence of the US anti-Taliban efforts. We should be able to fight the Taliban without murdering random innocents in the process.

            The focus now should be on three efforts: Prevent repetition, provide justice to the victims and their families, and get the perpetrator the help he obviously needs. Unfortunately the US military has an exceptionally bad record at the “provide justice” portion.

  6. says

    heard on Radio Australia:

    the difference in framing undertaken by the western media between this incident and the one where an Afghan soldier killed two Americans is palpable.

    While at first media reports were employing cautious language such as “American soldier said to …”, later they were also emphasising the stress of war and being away from home etc. All ultimately to disassociate the actions of the perpetrator from those of the American military.

    Compare this to the coverage of the earlier incident. (The researcher interviewed: http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/blogs/southasiamasala/contributors/shakira-hussein/ )

  7. kraut says

    I am sorry, but as an Ex private in the German army all I can say is: what kind of fucking war are you fighting there?
    What the fuck, no raping of women, no pillage and plunder, no torturing of old men and children, no pinning babies on spears? no going out and hunting some civis? That is no war man, no wonder that guy went out to show how the fuck a real was is fought.
    And to top it off, probably no free alcohol after a few nice bloodbaths to show the ragheads who is king.

    No man, you should read up on history how real wars are fought…the mongol invasions, the thirty year war under esp. Wallenstein, the First world war with the trench war fare, the campaigns against Poland and Russia and the lively response and behaviour of the Russian army in the occupied germany.
    Those are wars that make the heart grow fonder.

    Unless we really show the ragheads that we mean it by having a couple of thousand or so killed in the center of Kabul by the judicious application of machine gun fire in unison with some well placed mortar rounds, there ain’t no respect for the American soldier.

    Second best option: get out fast during the night and drop a few big ‘uns…that’ll teach the buggers.

  8. kraut says

    But seriously – war is won by terror, by showing that you are willing to sacrifice your own and especially your enemies live, brutally and unequivocally.
    You show mercy, especially against a people who by their tradition equate mercy with weakness, you have lost.

    The more you act brutally in the beginning, to show that the will of your army will dominate, that there will be swift and overwhelming response to enemy attack – the faster you achieve that goal. Being absolutely dominant from the start will in the end save lives; and the faster you get out again.

    If a nation going to war is not willing to do that – don’t do it in the first place.

    This swift and decisive action happened in the first few years, with the full compliment of the US and Nato. The shit hit the fan when troops were pulled out to invade Iraq,, and the long siege of Neverland began, with the Taliban regaining strength ever since 2005 or 2006.

    But the overall question is: Was this war really the appropriate response to the Talibanan government’s hosting of Al Qaeda?

    BTW – I find the guy’s response completely understandable, and I just fear on him the wrath of a war gone wrong will be unleashed.
    He makes such a beautiful easy scapegoat. I would give him a medal to have shown the unending idiocy this conflict has become.

  9. Paul Burnett says

    Sgt. Bales is a self-sacrificing hero and a military genius: Somebody finally figured out how to get the US kicked out of Afghanistan and end the stupid war.

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