Friday, June 02, 2006

"Guest Post" : This is a copy of an online letter written by an Amry Warrant Officer,who flies helicopters in Iraq,and who faces combat nearly every day.
It contains some "rough" language-which I've left untouched.

I just finished reading most of the thread titled "Civilians Likely Killed Without Provocation." It really pissed me off to see that some people have already tried, convicted and condemned these Marines... even though the investigation hasn't been completed, let alone any trials held. Some people even seemed to be elated about the news... as though they've finally been vindicated in their claims that the war is corrupt and the troops are doing nothing but terrorizing Iraq.

I wasn't there with the Marines. I don't know what happened. And while the initial reports are disturbing, it's wrong to draw all of these grand conclusions without even waiting for the investigatory findings!

Like I said - I wasn't in Haditha with those Marines. But I am in Iraq, and I see similar shit all the time. Every freakin' engagement the Americans get into... we some how manage to "murder innocent women and children." I swear to god, I am starting to wonder if we've unknowingly been using secret bullets that ignore the bad guys and only hit little babies, old women and cute little puppy dogs!!! Because, if you listen to the Iraqis, we never kill any bad guys... we only kill Joe-Haji, who was innocently out on his morning walk!

Some of the same idiots who are so quick to condemn these marines are just like same desk weenies that are writing our ROEs (rules of engagement.) We're talking about people who haven't stepped one foot outside the wire, who haven't had a single bullet fired at them, and who haven't the slightest god damn clue what the REAL war is like.

Haji isn't stupid. Haji dresses like civilians. Haji takes pop shots at us while standing among civilians. When you're driving down the road in a HMMWV, and an Iraqi cuts out in front of you and blocks traffic... and seconds later mortars and RPGs rain in on you... that car didn't stop because he saw a good sale at the local bazaar!! He's a fucking BAD GUY, who's job was to bring the convoy to a halt!! But he didn't fire at me... so I can't touch him? WHAT THE FUCK!?!?!

When someone has sworn to make it his life's goal to kill me... I can't keep him locked up, powerless, in prison? Because if I did, it would be an insult to the muslim community? And oh by the way... when in two weeks after he is released, he shoots my buddy in the head, I've got to simply live with it? "That's war."

Isn't it funny. If I die - people say, "That's war. It's hell." But if Haji dies - people say it was cold blooded murder and we're nothing but evil Americans.

You know, I can't even talk about my exact ROEs because it would be a clear OPSEC violation... but it's obvious the people writing them have no idea what it is like out here. Back home in the states... you've got all the time you want to second guess every decision you make in your life. Over here... you don't have the luxury. And sometimes, just because they are not shooting a bullet at your head, doesn't mean they are innocent.

And it pisses me off when people just refer to these Marines as a bunch of blood thirsty killers. We're talking kids here. We are talking 17-25 yr old guys who lived childhood very much like you. Knowing that you partook in the taking of human life is something that weighs on your conscious very heavily and tears at you. It's nothing like you thought it would be and it's nothing you ever learn to "enjoy" to "crave." But you keep yourself sane with the knowledge that they were evil people with evil motives. They were trying to kill your buddies and you, and they chose their own fate. You take comfort in knowing that, in the long run, you saved more lives than you took. We rationalize it and hope to god we were right.

I wonder about the people who so quickly pass judgement on these Marines. I wonder how you would react in Iraq. Would you cower in a corner and become combat ineffective? Or would you snap and wildly fire at anything that moved? Or would you, in the span of mere seconds, attempt to maintain control, delineate the difference between the good and the bad guys, and take the appropriate actions to neutralize the bad guys?

Like I said... how many professions back home in the states subject you to, day-in day-out, the stress of knowing everyone around you could be a threat? How many professions subject you to the constant ebb and flow of combat stress and battle? How many professions subject their employees with the demand of "kill or be killed?"

Not only do we not yet know the facts of the story... many of us can't even relate to very experience those Marines endured. If they are guilty, then they deserve a stiff punishment. If they are innocent, they deserve quite a few apologies. But how can you so easily pass judgment?

Gotta a lot of IEDs, RPGs, snipers and suicide bombers on your drive to work every morning, do ya?

No? Huh... well, maybe you should stop and think about that.


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