Skip to main content

By now all of us have seen the horrible video that was released from wikileaks yesterday.

This video is now rightfully in the public sphere so that we can debate things such as: what happens when you start a war, rules of engagement, PTSD, military cover ups, etc...

This video affects me deeply on a personal level because it conjures up many painful emotions. I am writing this diary, in part, to give a perspective to those who are looking to understand, but also as a form of therapy for myself.

First, I want to explain some of the emotions and feeling that I went through in my tour in Afghanistan, and how they still affect me today. Then, I want to talk a little more about the video and the tendency to cover up these things.

If you are interested, follow below.

UPDATE: Thank you all very much for your comments. I welcome all perspectives. The discussion is needed.

When I went to Afghanistan, I was assigned to train, mentor, and advise a company of Afghan National Army troops. At the time, I believed in the mission, and supported the idea of helping Afghanistan return to a state of stability and peace that they had  ca. 1940-1974. I learned to speak, read, and write Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian/Farsi, and I made a serious effort to be sensitive to Afghan and Muslim culture.

We spent the first 6 weeks in and around Kabul, which was very safe at the time, and I actually enjoyed it. I was learning a lot about Afghanistan history and culture. Then, they sent us to Kunar province along the Pakistan border.

In Kunar, my Afghan company and I were assigned to a Marine Battalion. Our mission tempo was very high, meaning the Marines used us like crazy, and we had enemy contact almost on a daily basis.

IEDs were the most dangerous threat, and they were a common occurrence. Several had killed ANA in my company, as well as Afghan Police and Marines on the roads that I used daily. They were impossible to spot, and this made driving a very nerve wracking process. The tension built up over time. Once I was driving in the front of a convoy, and drove right over an IED and never noticed it, nor did the 8-10 vehicles who went over it behind me. Luckily for me, the people firing the device wanted to hit a bigger target, a Marine vehicle farther along in the convoy--not so lucky for them, 4 were seriously injured, and 1 later died of his wounds.

When you are hit by an IED there is no fight. There is no opportunity to get the people who caused you this harm. Along with the constant feeling of fear, comes a deep seated hatred for those that are the cause of the stress. My mind went to very dark places, I wanted those people dead. I wanted to do it myself, up close. You may not understand these emotions, and I have difficulty today with them. Writing these words makes me very emotional. Even today I have violent visions for conflict resolution, both in my dreams and waking thoughts. I have envisioned doing horrible things to people--I have to deal with that constantly.

When we actually got into shooting engagements, this fear and hatred took control. I fired my machine gun, grenade launcher, or M4 with an anger that later horrified me. I became completely desensitized when several of my close Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded recovering the body of a Marine. After that, I felt euphoric in a fight, especially when we killed the enemy.

Once, when we were delivering a MEDCAP, which is a mission that involves medics treating people in a small village, we were attacked by a sniper. We had to abandon the mission, and many people wished we would just bomb the village. I have to admit that for a brief moment, I shared this feeling. Then, I began to think about it, and became horrified at what I was becoming. Luckily, I controlled these emotions and always chose my targets. I never fired on innocent people, but the urge was there. I wondered if they weren't pretending and in some way helping the other side.

So, when I look at this video, all of these emotions come out. In the initial engagement, I see the reporter round the corner with his camera and point it in the direction of the helicopter. With hindsight, we know that it is a camera, but 2 weapons can be clearly identified beforehand, an AK and an RPG, and the camera does look like a weapon, especially the way the cameraman manipulates it around the corner. It is probably safe to say that he was manipulating it to get a good "shot" in cameraman language, which is pretty hard to distinguish from getting a good shot in military language. The overall body language of the group was not aggressive, but in an insurgency that is not uncommon. I explain their callous comments afterwards to the euphoric feeling I expressed earlier.

So, I view that first part of the film as a tragic sequence that can only be avoided by not starting wars. Especially unnecessary wars. As long as there is war, there will be this kind of incident.

However, what happens when the van shows up is just damning. There is no excuse for lighting up the van the way they did. There are no two ways about it. There were no visible weapons or aggressive maneuvers by the people involved. This part sickens me and is just so depressing. I think of the emotions that I felt, and wonder how people, especially very young men and women, who have had more than one tour, feel. Through this war we have created a monster, but that is not what bothers me the most.

What bothers me the most is that the military tried to cover it up. These types of things need to be out in the open and addressed immediately by the people in charge. We MUST have a collective conscience, our entire society. We have to show everyone that this is unacceptable, and make efforts to prevent such things from happening again.

Often, people invoke, what I call the "Few Good Men Defense". They say things like "How dare you question the methods I use to protect this country". Well, I have been there too, and I not only question the methods, but the system in general. It is amazing to me that this video had to be leaked. If the military had just been open and addressed the issue publicly and definitively, they wouldn't create the feelings of anger toward all members of the military. Many who chose to do the right thing, and not fire on innocent people.

Many of the comments that I have read concerning service members here on Dkos over the last couple of days have been very painful to me. Partly because I know deep inside that we are somewhat deserving of them, but also because of all the people who signed up to serve their country, and will come home with so much emotional damage. Many of them do not share our values, and truly believed that they were going to fight to protect our freedom.

I just wish people would have mentioned that in the run up to our war. It is true that our casualties have been relatively low in these wars, but what about the emotional effects. No one mentioned that many of these young kids were going to have to deal with the after effects of killing.

In the end, those pilots and their command will have to come to grips with what they have done, hopefully through a fair court martial, and treatment. More importantly, the military and our society are going to have to come to grips with who we are.

Thanks for reading. I have to go out, but I will be back to respond later.

Originally posted to ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:25 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Meteor Blades, DrFrankLives, Lee, Bob Johnson, Mike S, racerx, Sidhe, seamus, nitpicker, maxomai, Julia Grey, JekyllnHyde, Alumbrados, davej, Ed in Montana, MichaelPH, Angie in WA State, Joe Bob, Mimikatz, Sylv, boydog, DeminNewJ, vicki, Marek, CJB, Linnaeus, hannah, Phoenix Woman, itsbenj, grollen, ogre, SeanF, Rayne, DawnG, Trendar, zonk, Liberal Thinking, Linda Wood, Christin, folgers, Detlef, native, daninoah, Geenius at Wrok, Pandora, TrueBlueMajority, Dvd Avins, Danno11, tiponeill, SeltzerDuke, mimi, BigOkie, mattman, janinsanfran, Emerson, tommurphy, michael in chicago, Shockwave, Fishgrease, Wintermute, Andrew C White, tacet, genethefiend, hyperstation, lysias, Blue Shark, LEP, adkay, KateG, Selenops, Free Radical, Mnemosyne, saluda, Pompatus, xynz, sersan, Sandy on Signal, commanda, WI Deadhead, tithonia, frisco, lawnorder, dash888, marjo, FreedomFighter, AustinCynic, SallyCat, EVale, object16, Poika, niemann, Creosote, RevJoe, silence, Birdman, regis, abbysomething, rasbobbo, scribe, NoisyGong, opinionated, bronte17, davechen, missLotus, Dr Know, conchita, TracieLynn, sponson, BlackGriffen, cyberKosFan, BlackSheep1, elveta, estamm, evilrick, ScrewySquirrel, Agathena, bluesteel, SlowNomad, boadicea, chuckvw, mrblifil, barath, Aquarius40, farmerhunt, pedrito, JuliaAnn, someRaven, Larry Bailey, skwimmer, jbeach, Fe, Torta, Spud1, dchill, Swordsmith, jalbert, jjhalpin, frightwig, fumie, bustacap, bewert, antirove, Cardinal96, OutOfManyOne, delphil, Wamsutta, wader, Texknight, recontext, nicta, hhex65, Dube, psnyder, Moody Loner, danthrax, mwk, SadTexan, jlynne, DeadB0y, 2laneIA, smg225, elmo, Virago, MA Liberal, gmb, grannyhelen, dmsmith, Nina, Guinho, moltar, Science and Art, NYFM, Steven Payne, defluxion10, Catte Nappe, Greg in TN, onemadson, razajac, RebeccaG, lecsmith, alizard, Bluebirder, cevad, frostieb, Mark Warner is God, TomB, econlibVA, AllisonInSeattle, green917, zerelda, Curt Matlock, MrFrost, mungley, randallt, WisVoter, Divertedone, lonespark, Lefty Mama, CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream, Mosquito Pilot, Hollowdweller, d to the f, lyvwyr101, rickeagle, Sybil Liberty, llellet, thereisnospoon, Armand451, environmentalist, oortdust, Big Tex, p a roberson, vcmvo2, joanneleon, G2geek, chumley, tovan, jrooth, DianeNYS, Jeffersonian Democrat, JanetT in MD, subtropolis, SherwoodB, newfie, DarlingtonD, Cook, OpherGopher, Technowitch, PBen, Jersey Girl, bagman, ccasas, panicbean, DocGonzo, kefauver, truong son traveler, ChemBob, Mahler3, juliesie, Hugo Estrada, drewfromct, YucatanMan, EJP in Maine, trinityfly, Gary Norton, reflectionsv37, ratzo, owlbear1, Annalize5, Bill White, jacob222, GreenPA, teknofyl, jimstaro, jimreyn, LABobsterofAnaheim, Gordon20024, Burned, Ice Blue, Little Lulu, gerardbellavita, Phil S 33, blue jersey mom, ivorybill, evilpenguin, onanyes, Yamara, aaronbs, woobie, SBandini, nyseer, al23, lone star liberal, Shotput8, pacotrey, FindingMyVoice, MindRayge, Tex Kosmaniac Dem Lady, Cory Bantic, JanL, Ekaterin, Arsenic, dancewater, Snud, DivaBabe, kathny, ThatBritGuy, noweasels, begone, lgmcp, reddbierd, Nowhere Man, martini, pmc1970, third Party please, cre8fire, LeftOverAmerica, Showman, pico, SoniaS, buddabelly, L Boom, BachFan, danmac, BalanceSeeker, blizek, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Mahnkenstein, Clytemnestra, BlueInARedState, quotemstr, SciFiGuy, Kimball Cross, Arclite, tonyahky, Starseer, duckhunter, Dvalkure, martyc35, mrobinson, fromer, arlene, Junior Bug, fou, luckydog, kck, hideinplainsight, blueoasis, Blue Wind, TalkieToaster, MJ via Chicago, global citizen, jasonbl, nonnie9999, Glorfindel, gatorcog, Libby Shaw, Crashing Vor, parallax, SadieSue, justalittlebitcrazy, tapestry, Derfel, NearlyNormal, CTLiberal, Preston S, sceptical observer, Unitary Moonbat, Andy30tx, MBNYC, buckinfuzzard, llbear, Turbonerd, Articulating Arm, dirkster42, nother lurker, sully18, profh, zeke7237, agent, cherryXXX69, frankzappatista, kurt, Nebraska Outsider, kurious, bstotts, CharlieHipHop, Picot verde, Johnathan Ivan, HGM MA, blueintheface, AllanTBG, mariachi mama, Little, Eryk, Nulwee, seabos84, tegrat, bigchin, One Pissed Off Liberal, beaukitty, Noor B, out of left field, DorothyT, Lummoxia, asilomar, C Barr, Loudoun County Dem, dmh44, tgypsy, Deadicated Marxist, possum, grelinda, LV Pol Girl, DocbytheBay, suburi, gloriana, VClib, terryhallinan, threegoal, Alfonso Nevarez, yoduuuh do or do not, jds1978, Outrider, noofsh, operculum, terabytes, Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle, AppleP, Unbozo, Democrat, Strabo, bnasley, gatorbot, RosyFinch, Swill to Power, HCKAD, akdude6016, chicago jeff, vbdietz, letsgetreal, Ken in Tex, jnhobbs, millwood, Bridge Master, jhop7, hopi13, OIL GUY, ValleyForger, pioneer111, uciguy30, Chico David RN, noaccuser, JML9999, tj iowa, A Person, cloudbustingkid, zorp, cacamp, Jahiz, Mulkum, Ralphdog, craiger, South Park Democrat, vet, Terra Mystica, chicago minx, rmonroe, pidge not midge, 123man, MKinTN, kafkananda, rebeleyeball, GANJA, alkalinesky, skymutt, Corporate Dog, revm3up, gzodik, VelvetElvis, Clio2, lisastar, gimmeshelter, condorcet, gfv6800, Boisepoet, ms scarlett leadpipe, ScottyUrb, zerone, mamamedusa, geez53, Tchrldy, SMWalt, Mr Stagger Lee, Involuntary Exile, roadlion, ajr111240, lineatus, Sharon Wraight, Akonitum, Its any one guess, mikeconwell, monkeybrainpolitics, LarsThorwald, Lujane, tofumagoo, senilebiker, Cassandra Waites, Wek, smartdemmg, geomoo, home solar, sierrak9s, SaMx, Seamus D, PJ Jefferson, kyril, meldroc, winterbanyan, makettle, tlemon, luckylizard, a night owl, nzanne, ConnDadFrank, Raumfahrer, psilocynic, sargoth, mtosner, Quilldriver, rodentrancher, duoseraphim, dmhlt 66, ludwig van brickoven, angelino, rhutcheson, watercarrier4diogenes, lissablack, statsone, CIndyCasella, squarewheel, GrouchoKossak, legendmn, LaFeminista, 207wickedgood, R Rhino from CT4, maggiejean, cameoanne, Rei, dinsea, Ran3dy, Florene, weaponsofmassdeception, denisegreenbay, MTmarilyn, LA rupert, Dirtandiron, divineorder, deMemedeMedia, BigAlinWashSt, An Affirming Flame, dharmasyd, cantelow, bsmechanic, Carol in San Antonio, RustyCannon, Mislead, Nebraskablue, Partisan Progressive, Zotz, Carey A, jacurtz, tr GW, pvmuse, mkor7, JesseCW, shalca, LibrErica, Daily Activist, Mercuriousss, John Shade, Perry the Imp, Liam3851, virginwoolf, just some lurker guy, dRefractor, zbbrox, RageKage, Beekeeper, elziax, MKSinSA, TheOpinionGuy, asym, MooseHB, jazzence, Riyaz Guerra, obscuresportsquarterly, allep10, kevinpdx, Mom in Maine, sfarkash, louisprandtl, maxzj05, DaNang65, sherijr, fernan47, northernlights, jfromga, Sleepwalkr, jan0080, Bene Gesserit1, Enzo Valenzetti, ohmyheck, etara, Livvy5, deviant24x, Leftcandid, porchdog1961, catilinus, Larsstephens, Hunter Huxley, kfd313, Sarbec, NCrissieB, lompe, Norbrook, appletree, choochmac, parse this, Mark B, confitesprit, bglv, KroneckerD, GBC, Obamican08, stegro, roadbear, Captain Marty, skeezixwolfnagle, gramofsam1, The Free Agent, Jess27, jethrock, SeattleTammy, fidellio, LeanneB, Crabby Abbey, angelajean, felix qui cautus, newlymintedjerseygirl, LeftyAce, Lost and Found, Jersey Jon, BonnieSchlitz, Klick2con10ue, ctlrick, gulfgal98, sullivanst, pixxer, elginblt, Goingallout, HartfordTycoon, Mariken, wisco kid, DailyDrew, Cure7802, DrFitz, David L, ramara, sharonsz, Surly Cracker, Earth Ling, kalika, JRandomPoster, sluggahjells, Pay It Forward, rja, Betty Pinson, alethea, elengul, MsGrin, Otteray Scribe, Floande, quityurkidding, science nerd, nosleep4u, alexa100, cany, Its a New Day, wrpereir, Actbriniel, JanG, JClarkPDX, mechboots, gobears2000, the dogs sockpuppet, Colorado is the Shiznit, yellow cosmic seed, Front Toward Enemy, I love OCD, subject2change, Lost Left Coaster, Rio Bravo, coquiero, Old Jay, vinny67, DoubleT, slowbutsure, AbnLefty, implicate order, Wolf Of Aquarius, AuroraDawn, gbinwc, jbplum, BlueJessamine, m00finsan, ardyess, BlackQueen40, UtahLibrul, QuestionAuthority, Situational Lefty, deeproots, Alice Olson, Haf2Read, Veeajera, marleycat, Shes a Riot, Lorikeet, grannysally, Icarus Diving, CaseStreet, Muskegon Critic, Santa Susanna Kid, theone718, beka, KVoimakas, floridablue, dakinishir, unfortunate son, MRA NY, UtopianPablo, Wide Awake in KY, JayFromPA, BCO, Prophet Soul, CorinaR, dibsa, Andrew F Cockburn, Marihilda, Wom Bat, Sarsaparilla, agoner, husl piper 11, skeptiq, SteelerGrrl, NoVa Boy, Jimbo47, Sunspots, RLMiller, StepLeftStepForward, TheFaithfulStone, ChiTownDenny, MichaelNY, Davui, PrometheusUnbound, Monsieur Georges, azguyrn, AnnetteK, lightshine, wrb1, MNGlasnant, jxf011, miles2go, Flying Goat, FireBird1, oblios arrow, efraker, IndieGuy, wordfiddler, mojada, Eric Nelson, pineapple head joe, drgonzoo, Green Sauce, l3m0n, dannyboy1

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site