The Stryker Brigade was deployed to Afghanistan last July and has been fighting in Kandahar province which contains large numbers of Taliban insurgents. During the past year thirty three men were killed in action and dozens of others physically wounded, but it is unclear how many suffered mental illnesses. Five soldiers serving with the Brigade have been charged with premeditated murder of Afghan civilians early this year. They shot three Afghan men and used hand grenades to kill the other two. One solider not only kicked his victim but spit in his face before the killing. One of the men in this group faces additional charges of tampering with evidence because he asked a fellow soldier to destroy a computer hard drive containing information about the incident.
We will not cite the names of these soldiers nor do we intend to defend or excuse their murder of innocent civilians. However, it is necessary to pose other questions as to what occurs in fighting in Afghanistan to the minds of normal Americans? How does fighting in a war in which leaders of Afghanistan are corrupt and have lost the confidence of their people impact the capacity of American and NATO forces to fulfill their mission? Any civilian they pass in the street could be a Taliban who simply switched uniforms. Does this excuse killing the innocent? Of course not. But, why aren’t we charging those in the American government who placed these men in harm’s way with crimes?