More than 40 percent of soldiers and Marines who recently served in the war zone believe torture should be allowed if it would save the life of a comrade, according to a 2006 military mental health assessment. Only about one-third of Marines surveyed anonymously in Iraq from August to October 2006, told members of the Mental Health Advisory Team IV they believe all noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.
The study also found 36% of soldiers and 39% of Marines believe torture should be allowed to gather information about insurgents, and 17% said all noncombatants should be treated as insurgents. About 4% of surveyed soldiers admitted to hitting or kicking noncombatants, and 7% of Marines acknowledged such behavior.
More soldiers than Marines would report a fellow unit member for injuring or killing a noncombatant, 55% to 40%. Colonel Castro, one of the study’s authors, recommended shorter tours and at least 18 to 36 months downtime, but this apparently does not jell with troop requirements created by the Bush “surge.” Among those surveyed, 29% of soldiers and 31% of Marines had been deployed to Iraq two or more times. According to retired General Robert Scales, issues raised reflect that “not enough that’s being done for mental conditioning” going into combat. He added, “If you read through the lines, you will see the crucible of battle. When you fight the long war, regenerating that crucible of courage and morale has to be done more and more. Every soldier and Marine knows what is right, but once combat fatigue sets in, that starts to fall away.”
I was disturbed that nothing in the report deals with higher level leadership, that of the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense. Men and women serving in combat have been publicly told by their commander-in-chief that it is OK to use torture techniques, and their Attorney General attempts to find justification for brutality against noncombatants. National leadership should establish a moral tone for those fighting; instead the Bush administration finds cute words and loopholes to justify brutality. An army reflects its leadership.
Information from Marine Corps Times