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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Fri Jan 18, 2013, 03:36 PM

2. I didn't even make 20% down when I found a quote that got my attention

"If one man and his tiny team could claim more KIAs [killed in action] than an entire battalion without raising red flags among superiors; if a brigade commander could up the body count by picking off civilians from his helicopter with impunity; if a top general could institutionalize atrocities through the profligate use of heavy firepower in areas packed with civilians - then what could be expected down the line, especially among heavily armed young infantrymen operating in the field for weeks, angry, tired, and scared, often unable to locate the enemy and yet relentlessly pressed for kills?"

I hate to say it, but much of Vietnam sounds like my experience in Iraq. In many cases I think the comparison is over used as Iraq is unique in its own right, but some of the similarities are startling. I don't intend to elaborate on this thought right now, but I know that the US says that it learned a lot of lessons from Vietnam, but it appears that it learned the wrong ones.

I wasn't stressed to get more "kills" than anyone else by my chain of command, but there was a bit of competition between units over stuff like that. My platoon was golden in terms of our combat experiences when I was in Iraq until Falujah kicked off in November 2004. Between March 2004 and Nov 2004 (just prior to Falujah) my platoon fired more main gun tank rounds than any other platoon in our division - and I had a platoon that was made up of 2x tanks and 2x Bradley Fighting Vehicles (a normal armor platoon has 4 tanks). In one of our firefights, my platoon was credited with killing 26 (presumably) enemy personnel. Nobody in the battalion of combat engineers that my platoon was attached to could touch us in terms of combat power, experience, or kills. In many ways, I held a special position of prestige in the unit based on what my platoon did in combat and my officer evaluation report reflected that.

This unsaid competition between units gives us ruinous results in both wars. Local civilian populations pay the price and react with anger and continue to view the American military as ruthless occupiers and the goals of these wars are never able to be realized as a result.

Training, exercises, and the general culture within the Army stresses force protection before any other objective. When in doubt, shoot it. We are trained to kill and reminded of that constantly. When I was in basic training I remember having to sound off with "one shot, one kill" at the Drill Sergeants command. The "kill" mentality and do whatever you have to do in order to protect yourself and your unit is exactly the reason there have been an estimated 100,000-1,000,000 dead Iraqi civilians during the war. I remember hearing in briefings in 2004 that they estimated that only about 5,000 enemy/insurgent personnel were operating in Iraq at the time. Did we really need to kill that many civilians to get 5,000 "enemy"?

I don't know if I'm making any sort of a coherent point here, but writing about the war is extremely draining on me and I don't have the will to re-read what I wrote to proof read it.

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unhappycamper Jan 2013 OP
xchrom Jan 2013 #1
LineNew Reply I didn't even make 20% down when I found a quote that got my attention
Victor_c3 Jan 2013 #2
unhappycamper Jan 2013 #4
Victor_c3 Jan 2013 #3
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