Tuesday, June 13, 2006

What Happened in Haditha?

Here's a great read about the investigation of the conduct of the Marines at Haditha, posted at Power and Control: Blood Money . And more at blonde sagacity .

I guess it's time that I weighed in, too. I don't know what happened at Haditha, but I'm sure that we'll all find out eventually. I do know that those Marines deserve the benefit of the doubt until the investigation and trial, if there is one, are over. We sent them over there, and damnit, we need to support them. If they murdered innocent civilians, then they should stand trial and pay. But is that really what happened?

The number one rule of warfare is this: people die. Soldiers and citizens; the innocent and the guilty; the young and the old, all die. That's the reality of war, unfortunately. War cannot be waged in a vacuum. Our troops cannot go into urban areas and fight the enemy without causing some "collateral damage", especially when the enemy hides among the populace, doesn't wear uniforms and uses the innocent as shields. All the restraint in the world looks great on paper, but too much of a good thing gets men killed.

According to an attorney for one of the men being investigated, the Marines took fire from a house in an urban area. One of their number had already been killed. The Marines approached the house, tossed in grenades, and stormed the building, firing at whatever moved. Wouldn't you? Anyone who says they would have acted differently has never gone through a door into an unknown room in search of an enemy. This type of house-to-house fighting has been taught to the military for fifty-plus years. Does it benefit the troops making the assault? Yes. Do innocent civilians sometimes get killed as a result of it? Yes. Sad, but true.

And is there proof that these people were innocent? Kids and women can plant I.E.D.'s, too. And they can know that the devices are there and not warn approaching troops. And they can squeeze triggers. Is that what happened here?

So let's wait for the facts on this one, and give the benefit of the doubt to our Marines. They've certainly earned it.

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