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04 July 2006

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jonst

Well, I predict that the fallout will be, huge. And this episode, as its components are confirmed, or rejected, will reveal a great deal about the entire effort in Iraq. And to the extent someone reminds me that ‘this shit happens in war’, a truism I am too familiar with, I respond in anticipation: ‘yes, they do happen. All the time. In all conflicts. And often, when they do happen, they come with long lasting, multifaceted, complex, negative, consequences for the side of the deed doers. Fair or not. I fear that will be the case here although if it leads to Americans getting out of that hell hole faster some good will have come of it. They can’t get the troops out of there fast enough for me.


On an entirely different note, could someone tell me (I was in different branch than the Army and in any event it was long ago) how a person could be a member of airborne unit, being in the service less than 11 months? Some of which was obviously spent in Iraq. So…what, you get in your wings in 8 months or so? How long is boot camp (basic training, as the army calls it) these days? And how long is what once called ITR training? Airborne training? Just curious.

Vigilante

Steven D. Green is the poster boy of our broken military.

jonst

Vigilante,

Well, I suspect there are many poster boys (and girls) for the broken military. Some of them are tremendous human beings, staying sane, humane, and disciplined soldiers in the face of chaos, exhaustion, poor leadership, and an omnipresent nagging doubt regarding the mission.

And then there are other types.

In any event, it looks like Green WAS, literally, a poster boy for our military once. Here, from the ‘good news’ Express.

http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=8316

Which may my earlier question more interesting, if only to myself. Because if this picture is THEE Green, and he was in Iraq in Dec, and he was in the airborne, and he was in the Army for a total of 11 months, something does not add up. Or I must be seriously overestimating the training to become airborne. I’m wondering what, if anything, is going to come out of the investigation into why, and when, this guy was recommend for discharge. Something stinks here.

Green Zone Cafe

I agree with Colonel Lang, I don't understand why he was not charged under the UCMJ provisions which allow court martial for offenses committed while on active duty and reactivated for trial.

There could be a horror show of some civilian jury being manipulated into acquiting Green by a combination of a defense lawyer appealing to hatred of Arabs and sympathy for "our boys."
The victims will be absent, only Green and other soldiers will be present, with possibly a few of the (hated) Iraqis testifying in Arabic through an interpreter and being cross-examined for "bias" on their attitudes on the USA, Christianity, etc.

Like jonst, I also wonder how and why he was discharged for "personality disorder." What were the symptoms of the "personality disorder" which Green manifested and did they include (unwritten) knowledge of the massacre, known to NCOs and officers. They don't easily discharge people for "personality disorder," think of Klinger on M*A*S*H, and you get the picture there. In 11 years active duty, I never saw a servicemember discharged for "personality disorder" despite encountering many servicemembers who were quite crazy.

jonst, the 101st Airborne is no longer an "airborne" unit, Basic Airborne is not required, and that is only 3 weeks. Training for an infantryman is about 2 months basic training and 2 months infantry AIT, combined into one course now (OSUT) at Ft. Benning.

Richard Armstrong

COL Lang,

I respectfully disagree with your desire to see this young man tried under the UCMJ. Although the United States doesn't have a Status of Forces agreement with the "sovreign" Iraqi government, I would prefer this individual be tried by an Iraqi court and if guilty punished according to their laws. It's time for this country to put it's money where it's mouth is.

W. Patrick Lang

Richard

I understand your feelings about this but I don't thnik we can afford to have anyone other than the military try this/these men. the troops have to know that the Army itself rejects this behavior. pl

Richard Armstrong

Good point, sir. I stand corrected. Thank you.

Green Zone Cafe

Richard, it's also not legally possible, because CPA Order 17 provides for immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law for coalition troops. This has been implicity endorsed by the UN Security Council resolutions and probably a secret status-of-forces agreement between the US and Iraqi governments.

jonst

Thanks Green Zone, for clearing that up. Given the seriousness of the subject matter these questions may seem a bit off tone, but, Green Zone, or anyone else; how did it come about that 'airborne' is no longer an airborne unit? What replaced it? And how did the old timers in the 101st take that?

I agree with PL, Green should be tried, by the army, in Iraq.

But I still can't get over the fact that someone could feel confident enough to discuss, and/or plan, this kind of horrible crime with numerous members of his platoon. Something is very, very wrong. Or the service has changed a great deal since my days in uniform.

I have nothing but a hunch but i feel we are going to look back and see this incident as a tipping point. There is something horribly symbolic about it.And its just starting. I think this thing (the investigation) is going to expand.

Green Zone Cafe

jonst, Col. Lang probably knows more about this, but the 101st was converted from an "airborne" unit where all members were on jump status to an "air assault" unit which was built around helicopter-borne assault.

The "Airborne" tab and the designation were kept for historical purposes.

This happened a long time ago, in the 70s or early 80s, I think.

The Army thought that mass parachute assaults were pretty much a thing of the past, but kept the 82nd and the airborne battalion in Italy (now expanded into the reactivated 173rd Airborne Brigade) as jump status units, apart from special operations forces and some recon and pathfinder companies and platoons. I guess the intervening years have ratified their judgment - only the Rangers in Grenada and Afghanistan and the 173rd in Iraq (the latter in friendly Kurdish regions) have been inserted by parachute. This is apart from small HALO or HAHO operations by SF that we don't know about.

Airborne is most useful as a recruiting tool and means to develop esprit de corps. That plus its continued value in seizing an airfield keeps it around.

Returning to the issue of Green's discharge for "personality disorder," the more I think of it, the more it stinks. The Army usually reacts to soldiers with personality disorders by punishing the symptoms - AWOL, substance abuse, refusal to obey orders.

Contrast the way the Army treated Green with the way they treated Pvt. Dwayne Turner. Turner was a Combat Medic who got a Silver Star and Purple Heart in Iraq . When he got home, he went AWOL and smoked some pot. They busted him (OK) and kicked him out of the Army with a General Discharge, stripping him of his GI Bill benefits (not OK).

From what I've heard, lots of combat veterans are getting kicked out with general and other-than-honorable discharges for things like smoking pot after they get back from Hell, "Zero tolerance."

When I was a unit clerk in Germany in the late 70s, we had a soldier that started pacing the hallway of the barracks at all hours. He'd be up at night walking around and smoking cigarettes. He was in his 30s and was prior service Air Force, honorably discharged.

After awhile of this strange and isolating behavior, he refused to get up and put on a uniform. He swung a broom at a lieutenant who came to order him.

It was pretty obvious that he was mentally ill, had slipped into some psychosis or other mental disorder.

He was court martialed and given six months and a bad conduct discharge. Man, that defense lawyer must not have been too good.

A year later, we got this pathetic letter from his mother to the CO, who wrote "Now my boy is home, he's crazy, what am I going to do with him?"

Muslihoon

All I can say is that I agree with your post, Pat Lang. Although I also appreciate Green Zone Cafe's explanation why the soldier may not be tried in Iraq.

Richard Armstrong

Thanks to Green Zone Cafe for that information.

And a general all around "thanks" to COL Lang for this wonderful site.

W. Patrick Lang

Mussy

Yes, but he should be tried there. Yo not do so is to contribute to the disiintegration of discipline and the integrity of units and the authority of commanders. pl

W. Patrick Lang

Greenie

I think some may have missed the point that nothing in the citation prevents a trial by court-martial in Iraq. pl

Green Zone Cafe

Colonel,

Yes, to clarify: Green could be tried by court-martial in Iraq by the Army. There have been court martials in Iraq - I once met a soldier on his way out with a bad conduct discharge for an offense committed before deployment after he had served 7 months in Iraq.

What CPA Order 17 says is that he could not be tried by the Iraqi courts.

One thing about trying him in a civilian court: no public Article 32 hearing, and no pre-election public revelation of the the evidence.

Chris Bray

Very recently, two soldiers were kidnapped (and a third killed) while apparently alone and unsupported in the same area; if I remember correctly, the QRF got to the place they had been about ten minutes after they were attacked.

Here we have a story about a young PFC who led a group of other young soldiers -- apparently all lower enlisted, if they were willing to follow a PFC -- off his FOB, out into an Iraqi town, where they changed clothes, raped and killed, and then went home. Unnoticed! Until months later, when the story spilled out during some unrelated discussion.

Is there some sort of structure or leadership in place in this area, or is it Lord of the Flies up there?

If the Army hopes to send a message about its values and expectations, it will have to better than putting an E-3 on trial.

b

Green Zone Cafe wrote:
"Richard, it's also not legally possible, because CPA Order 17 provides for immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law for coalition troops. This has been implicity endorsed by the UN Security Council resolutions and probably a secret status-of-forces agreement between the US and Iraqi governments."

This is not so. While the US did try to get the Tranisitional Administrative Law and with it the CPA orders mentionend and endorsed in UN resolution 1546 (June 8, 2004) the TAL was not mentioned and not endorsed.

(source: http://www.mees.com/postedarticles/politics/PoliticalScene/a47n24c01.htm )

"Ayatollah 'Ali al-Sitani, weighed in on 7 June with a warning that the TAL “was created by an unelected council in the shadow of occupation and under its direct impact. The matter is illegal and is rejected by most of the Iraqi people. Therefore any attempt to bestow legitimacy on this law by mentioning it in the international resolution…will have dangerous consequences.” The upshot of this confrontation was a clear win for the ayatollah, since the TAL is not mentioned at all in the resolution"

To construct this as an impicit UN endorsement is quite a strech.

Babak Makkinejad

There are about a million criminals behind bars in US out of a population of 280 million.

This ratio, for the 135000 US troops in Iraq, yields about 500 criminals.

So, perhaps, one should expect as many criminal incidents; regardless of the War itself.

W. Patrick Lang

Babak

Neither group is a random sample of the US population and membership in the armed forces is denied to those who have backgrounds of criminal behsvior. pl

jonst

Babak,

I think most combat vets, or students of history, or watchers of movies, are aware that horrible atrocities occur during conflicts. 99.9% in the heat of battle, or in its immediate wake. But, if reports can be believed, to have, at least, 5, I repeat, FIVE men, feel free to plan, and execute this kind of horrendous attack and rape of a child, at the very moment she is most likely aware that her parents, and sibling, have been murdered, is, excuse my language, F—king incredible! American soldiers?!

And then to think that, perhaps, big “perhaps”, but perhaps just the same, an officer/s may have conspired to expedite a discharge in order to cover this up is, almost, as incredible. Knowing the facts of this case. The entire incident, including the subsequent murder, and beheading (god knows what else) of the soldiers, sickens and saddens me. I fear for my country. I read on a blog today the sentence, referring to this matter, “Colonial regimes have collapsed over incidents like this.” I buy that and more.

Babak Makkinejad

jonst:

Thank you for your reply.

I was trying to suggest that given the number of troops, one should expect a certain number of criminal incidents.

Green Zone Cafe

b,

I agree that the basis for immunity from prosecution under Iraqi law for coalition forces is ambiguous under international law.

My assertion is based on a consent by silence and thus implicit endorsement of CPA Order 17 by both the UN Security Council and the Iraqi government so far.

UN SC Res 1546 says

the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the letters annexed to this resolution.

The letters annexed to the resolution limit this authority only by "the law of armed conflict" and not by any provision of Iraqi law.

The Iraqi government has not passed any enactment rejecting, adopting or modifying CPA Order 17. Some CPA Orders and provisions of the TAL have been expressly included or adopted in the new consitution, by other enactments or by implementing ministerial orders.

Interestingly, SC Council Resolution 1546 and its successor Res 1637 were supposed to have been renewed by 15 June 2006.

The Security Council Resolutions have not been renewed, and Iraqi PM Nuri al-Maliki
is in the news today questioning the immunity of coalition forces, which he seems to accept was "granted."

We do not accept the violation of Iraqi people's honor as happened in this case. We believe that the immunity granted to international forces has emboldened them to commit such crimes and ... there must be a review of this immunity, he said.

john

Besides the allegations of the crimes committed, the post also speaks to an apparent lack of situation awareness in coalition ranks or, in many ways worse, they have awareness but disregard Iraqi humanity. Indeed, if pl's conjecture over who was taking revenge is accurate, the Iraqis appear to have a better handle on ground truth and have grown impatient with coalition justice or just don't believe it exists. The wizards are going to have to work overtime to get out of this mess.

markm

To my mind, this incident, if true, is far worse than Haditha. At least in that case, the marines in question were under stress and facing continuous attacks.

But tracking down and raping a girl ? That sounds more like a thuggish third world army than the US army ? And actually killing everyone in the family including the girl ? Even thuggish third world army soldiers don't often go that far.

Green Zone Cafe

Today's news that Green was discharged for an "antisocial personality disorder" according to unnamed Army spokesmen, raises more questions about the reasons for that discharge.

"Antisocial personality disorder" is a synonym for psychopath or sociopath.

I'm sure it's not a label the Army can slap on someone without evidence.

Evidence of antisocial personality disorder would seem to include the kind of misconduct which would usually get a soldier in trouble, but Green gets an honorable discharge.

It stinks.

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