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Shoot first, ask questions later?

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POSTED: March 17, 2007 5:12 a.m.
Eight Marines were recently charged at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in the deaths of 24 Iraqi “civilians.” 
Human Rights groups are alleging the soldiers went on a rampage after one of their comrades perished by an insurgency roadside bomb. The incident incited a door-to-door sweep to clear Haditha of the blood-thirsty souls hell bent on destruction and chaos. These cowardly militants hope to achieve supreme tyrannical power over others while hiding in the shadows.
We ask our soldiers to fight these mostly faceless enemy combatants and ask the impossible: “Who exactly is the enemy?” 
Suicide bombers have been found to be children and elderly grandmothers. Sound familiar? Ask any Vietnam Veteran and they are sure to share their disbelief at this type of unconventional warfare.
Everyone knows who represents the United States on the battlefield — they are in uniform. Certainly, they do not blend in with the indigenous people. On the other hand, our troops can never determine with any degree of certainty who the enemy is amongst the civilian population.
When asked to clear a town of insurgents, this seems to be virtually an impossible task without certifiable Iraqi intelligence. After several years into the conflict, we can not even count on the Iraqi soldiers to stand and fight consistently on the battlefield, much less rat out the insurgents. It is well known the Iraqi army has been infiltrated by its own insurgency. Yet our troops are to complete the seemingly impossible mission with honor.
When our soldiers make a mistake under extreme life-and-death circumstances, the human rights advocates cry out for retribution. Where are they when the bullets are flying?
Armchair lectures simply don’t fly with me. When you are in the trenches, then you can judge a soldier’s action if he did indeed lose his military bearing in the AO (area of operation for those not versed in the military lingo).
I am really tired of anti-war activists rushing to judgment, using our proud military service members as scapegoats to defend against impossible predicaments facing them in the Iraqi theater.
If you were in their boots, would you do the same thing?  Would you shoot first and ask questions later?’
 When your life and the life of your comrades are on the line, you may want to think about that? This is not a conventional war and the only army that is trying to play by the rules of the Geneva Convention is our’s.  It’s tough anyway you dice it.
War is hell. Any soldier who has been in combat knows that, especially when you are up against a vigilant mindset that insists upon a “take no prisoner” (unless you can behead them first) philosophy.

Bezanson is a regular blogger on the Courier web site. Leave her a comment there or by emailing columnist@coastalcourier.com
 

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