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GNN Users Interview Iraq War Combat Veteran: Part I

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Buck Turgidson Donating Member (434 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-23-06 07:50 AM
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GNN Users Interview Iraq War Combat Veteran: Part I

During your service did you hear many rumors of indiscriminate civilian killing by U.S. soldiers or U.S.-trained Iraqis?

If you feel that what I have to say is ugly, you should talk to some of my colleagues.

At my level there was no basis for discrimination. We regarded all Iraqis as the enemy. Most of us would have eagerly killed any one of them who ventured too close to our convoy. The underlying consensus among Marines in our AO (Area of Operation) was that Iraqis were either actively plotting attacks against us, or abetting those who were. The sight of a dead Iraqi on the roadside would usually induce cheering.

Early last year, we were passing through a small, but densely populated town en route to Al Qaim. This particular town was assumed, by most of us, to be home to the same guys planting the multitude of IEDs we would encounter on this route. As we were driving through the village, I noticed a vehicle idling in an alleyway. As soon as the truck in front of me passed him, the driver sped out of the alley and crossed the street. Our rules of engagement state specifically that no vehicles may be allowed to cut though the convoy. Use of deadly force is authorized to uphold this. I began barking at my gunner to shoot the guy. He froze, and did nothing. The car parked. The driver got, out and walked into a nearby house.

Even though the driver turned out to be nothing more than an innocent man on his way home, my gunner was fiercely rebuked for his inaction. From that day forward, nobody wanted to ride with him. He was condemned as a coward. There was even talk of charging him with Dereliction of Duty. He defended his decision not to shoot, claiming he didnt want to risk hitting other civilians in the area. It didnt matter to us. He never regained our trust after that.

I have to be extremely careful what I say when addressing your question directly. This is the type of thing that could trigger a JAG investigation, and jeopardize the careers of some good Marines. I can safely tell you that there were a lot of rumors, some more credible than others. As I have already said, we regarded all Iraqis as potential enemies. The alleged killing of any Iraqi, civilian or combatant, was good news. A Marine who was rumored to have killed civilians was the type of Marine you would want to have watching your back once you exited that wire. A Marine with a conscience, like my gunner, was a liability.

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