Soldier pleads guilty in Afghan killing case
Joint Base Lewis-Mcchord, Washington (CNN) --"The plan was to kill people."
That's what Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock said Wednesday during a court-martial proceeding against him, moments after pleading guilty to killing Afghan civilians in 2010.
Lt. Col. Kwasi Hawks, the military judge in the case, had asked Morlock if he and fellow soldiers just meant to scare civilians with grenades and gunfire and it "got out of hand."
Morlock and four other soldiers face murder charges, accused of killing Afghan citizens for sport. Seven more soldiers are accused of helping cover up the killings.
Morlock also pleaded guilty to charges alleging that he used drugs, as the court-martial opened at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he hit another soldier and that he photographed and possessed photos of dead Afghans.
Morlock was charged with three counts of murder. He was accused of killing one Afghan civilian in January 2010 with a grenade and rifle; killing another in May 2010 in a similar manner; and shooting a third to death in February 2010.
Another soldier, Pfc. Andrew Holmes, also faces charges in the case, but a start date for his court-martial has not been publicly announced.
Morlock was the first of the five to face an Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Holmes is charged with the premeditated deaths of three civilians, possessing a dismembered human finger, wrongfully possessing photographs of human casualties, and smoking hashish
He is also accused of conspiring with Morlock to shoot at a civilian and then toss a grenade so it would appear that the soldiers were under attack.
All of the accused men were members of a 2nd Infantry Division brigade operating near Kandahar in southern Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.
The three others facing murder charges are Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, of Billings, Montana; Adam Winfield, of Cape Coral, Florida; and Spc. Michael Wagnon, of Las Vegas, Nevada. Authorities allege Gibbs kept finger bones, leg bones and a tooth from Afghan corpses.
Wagnon allegedly kept a skull from a corpse, according to charging documents. Several soldiers are charged with taking pictures of the corpses, and one soldier is charged with stabbing a corpse.
This week, German news outlet Der Spiegel published photographs which it said showed Morlock and Holmes posing over the bodies of dead Afghans. Two images show the soldiers kneeling by a bloody body sprawled over a patch of sand and grass. A third shows what appears to be two bodies propped up, back to back, against a post in front of a military vehicle.
The U.S. Army released a statement Monday calling the photographs "repugnant to us as human beings and contrary to the standards and values of the United States Army." "We apologize for the distress these photos cause," the statement said.
Army officials asserted in the statement that ongoing court-martial proceedings related to the alleged atrocities "speak for themselves." "The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly 10 years of sustained operations."
A: When in War, one must become War
B: There Were Ignored Signs Once Again
One thing that continue to not be discussed with respect to "War"... human beings are products of their environment, meaning, if you put a person with a pleasant background into a war scenario where killing is required as part of the job, he will adjust and learn to kill and that individual will require long periods of time apart from the war mind set in order to adjust to the "next" environment that they find themselves in.
When we ask our young or mature men to go fight for this country, we have to "expect" certain individuals will react in a specifically bad manner due to their individual thought processes. I man placed in a war environment will have to make the mental adjustment in order to survive mentally to his surroundings, and for some, the new reality does not maintain the same boundaries as others, so to expect this type of behavior ought not be a great surprise.
However, there were many signs that these specific individuals were behaving in this manner and their behavior was ignored, or condoned, nothing more and nothing less. The leaders actually need these types of personalities, because in some way, the leaders feel that their individual personalities are controllable and they truly feel that they wish that they could actually allow themselves to actually behave in such a manner, but, they can not, so, they allow others to do the things that they think about doing themselves.
The other area that does not get the degree of attention that directly affect the psyche of a person at war... "the length of time that the individual is subjected to the war environment itself". The U.S. have been engaged in war for 10 years, which means that some men have been in the "war environment and mind set" for extended periods of time on 2 to 5 tours of duty.
Placing a military man in these types of war environment for more that 3 months at a time is dangerous to the mind, and placing these military men in these war situations several times will definitely affect these men mind far long into their future lives. Some adjust better than others, but the ones that behave in the manner of these men... isn't completely their fault.
Their Leaders didn't pull these men from the war situation when they displayed signs of mental fatigue or mental degradation. Anything and everything that these men did after the fact that their leaders didn't act in a leadership manner, makes the fault, at least 50%, the leaders fault.
Now, sadly, these young men are going to pay for their crimes for the rest of their lives for "Volunteering" to serve their country.
Failed Leadership within the Military is the problem. There are no excuses for what these young men have done, but, had this country demanded that the Bush Admin provide more answers prior to the initiation of the Iraq war, we would not be in this scenario with Afghanistan and Iraq. It's interesting how a individual who avoided his duties all his life, can so callously flex the muscles of this nation.. and when it was his time to serve, he avoided it via his "Daddy".
There are more stories like the ones these, but, who will tell?
In My Opinion