Death In An Afghan Afternoon

It was just another Australian operation in Afghanistan, put together a force, enter a village and take out Taliban forces. As the Aussies entered the village they encountered enemy fire from a compound. They decided to blast away at the compound because of fear the enemy might direct fire against their position. Their guns opened up, the compound was ripped to pieces, and they entered only to discover bodies strewn around with body parts missing. Unfortunately, five children were among the dead, two others wounded as well as several adults. When questioned, an Australian officer argued, they “forced us to make split level decisions” which entailed killing the innocent. This incident occurred last year, but Australian authorities are filing charges against the soldiers.

They are charged with manslaughter, failing to comply with orders and dangerous conduct. As always, in such cases there are complex issues involved. Men and woman have been thrust into a war which has no clear set rules. They are ordinarily under-armed and lacking sufficient intelligence while fighting in a strange land without Afghan soldiers who are competent. As always, the innocent die, and authorities make judgments.

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