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RAMPAGE: ‘Isolated incident’ becoming too common

Letter by Ardine Martinelli, Tacoma on March 14, 2012 at 2:34 pm with 39 Comments »
March 14, 2012 4:12 pm

The Pentagon insists the tragic killings in Afghanistan were an “isolated incident” (TNT, 3-13). This was the fourth deployment for the suspect. On top of that, he had experienced a brain injury on his last tour of duty. With this background he was still assessed to be ready and able to serve a fourth deployment in a war zone.

Yes, he apparently pulled the trigger, but clearly he snapped under the increased pressure of war.

This is tragic on so many levels. Tragic for the Afghan people, especially those who lost family; tragic for the soldier who snapped under a fourth deployment; tragic for his wife and two children, who will always wonder what happened to their loved one; and tragic to our country as we once again try to apologize for “isolated” or “rogue” incidents that are becoming increasingly common.

It is time that we take a serious look at our deployment policies and our assessment instruments for post-traumatic stress syndrome and brain-related injury. I implore the Pentagon to accept that this is more than an “isolated” or “rogue” incident and take appropriate action to support our troops.


Leave a comment Comments → 39
  1. menopaws says:

    We need to bring back the draft. The all volunteer military has done it’s job, but it is stretched toooo thin. The multiple deployments are killing the soldiers, placing unbelievable stress on their families, and causing increasing dangerous incidents on the battlefield. We can make all the appropriate excuses–but, we are, as a nation, destroying our own military with these excessive deployments. The National Guard has been utilized and they, too have had extra deployments. Enough!!!! This is our reality check. National service—no deferments, except for medical, and we include women. Two years of service. The pride of citizenship and service to one’s nation is a good thing. Saving our military is essential and I cannot think of another way to bring in fresh troops to handle these situations. We have run dry here. We are failing our own military and it needs to stop.

  2. the3rdpigshouse says:

    Bring the draft back, increase the size of our Navy, Marines, & Army – stop using the National Guard and Reserves for temporary active duty stints rather than maintaining an adequately sized active duty force!! The Navy has civ-subbed crew members on many ships with a sales pitch that it has been a cheaper method to man vessels – never proven to be cheaper and less reliable for combat operations!

    The strain on families and the personnel created by too many deployments in too short a period of time is excessive!

    P.S. Enter wars where we intend to kill people and destroy things before we start the nation-building process!!

  3. If one won a war by killing and destroying things we would already have won in Afghanstan and Iraq.

  4. concernedtacoma7 says:

    I love to hear calls for a draft by people not affected.

    The service does not want it.

  5. Frankenchrist says:

    If Chimpy “AWOL” McBush and “WHAT A DICK” Cheney hadn’t dropped the ball on Afghanistan to start their illegal (and colossally screwed-up) war in Iraq we wouldn’t still be in Afghanistan.

    Bush/Cheney = draft-dodging chickenhawks.

  6. concernedtacoma7 says:

    And BHO served? Did I miss that part in his books?

    Get over it, neither of them are in office or running for office. 3+ years later and this is all BHO/Biden.

    Deflection and excuses. No pride, patriotism, or responsibility from the left.

  7. Frankenchrist says:

    It’s interesting that Congress has more veterans who are Democrats than are Republicans.

    Romney = Vietnam draft-dodger
    Gingrich = Vietnam draft-dodger
    Sanitorium = Holy Taliban Warrior (who never served his country.)

    Wotta a flock of chickenhawks!

  8. Dave98373 says:

    The only thing more disturbing than these killings are some of the comments posted here.

  9. CT7 – after giving us ten years of war the conservacon chicken hawks want to start new wars against two other muslim nations.

    Ture pride, patriotism, and responsibility is to end the unnecessary war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, and focus on rebuilding the nation that the conservatons have been trying to destroy.

  10. You know, you want these guys to be a LITTLE bit unstable. In a large population, there is always one guy that is just nuts. In Afghanistan, that one guy went nuts and population died. You can’t blame the entire military for the unauthorized actions of one. In parity, the U.S. could blame all of Afghanistan for the 911 attacks.

  11. menopaws says:

    We need to , as a nation, start recognizing we are running our own military into the ground. More suicides, more PYSD, more divorces and domestic abuse. Soldiers going on rampages both on the battlefield and here at home. The Israeli model of 2 years of service is a good one. My husband served in the Mrine corps in vietnam—and he was not drafted…….But, we cannot continue to put our own military at risk because we don’t want our own young people to serve. My Father served—most of the “Greatest Generation” did their service. Maybe they are singled out because of both their service and their responsible citizenship.Learning to give back to society through any kind of service is a valuable lesson we all should learn again. Now, noise is being made about Iran–when does it stop???

  12. bobbysangelwife says:

    Sorry, but a draft will do nothing but make our military WEAKER….have you seen the mettle of these young people today?? Good Christ they’re selfish, self-center, “what about me and what I feel I deserve” self-entitlement attitudes, and just plain WEAK. I sure as hell don’t want that kind of kid watching my 40 year old husband’s back in battle, thank you but no thanks!!! It’s bad enough that he has to babysit these people when he’s home, but to have to watch them while he’s deployed as well?? Noooooo….

  13. Spiderweb says:

    Maybe we should fix what is wrong here before invading more oil rich nations.

    The same morons are beating the war drums for Iran, I guess they didn’t learn anything from the Iraq debacle.

    War = failure.

  14. In parity, the U.S. could blame all of Afghanistan for the 911 attacks.

    That is exactly what the U.S. did, that was the rationalization provided for invading the country. And for extra measure, we blamed Iraq and some have blamed all of Islam.

  15. bobbysangelwife – Great Post Hun – Loved Every Word – it’s is SO TRUE !!!

  16. We dare not forget all the good that’s been done in Afghanistan by the troops, but of course we will ignore all of that in lieu of the horribly tragic breakdown of this soldier.

    I don’t know what the answer is here; will not presume to know if the draft is the right answer, but it seems that this guy was stretched to way beyond reasonable.

    As for your comment, bBoy, I don’t know who you think blamed all of Afghanistan for 911, but I do not think it was the majority of U.S.citizenss, nor can you truthfully say that it was “the U.S.”
    From the get-go, our leaders were working in cooperation with the people of Afghanistan who, if you will recall, cheered at the sight of U.S. planes overhead following the events of 911.

    How quickly we forget.

  17. sozo – please link anything that shows the Afghanis cheering an invasion of their country.

    I fully understand that the fall of the Taliban was welcomed by many in that country but I must have “forgot” where the majority of the citizens of Afghanistan cheered at the sight of U.S. planes overhead.

  18. concer — reminds me of my schizophrenic cousin who picks up the phone already in mid-conversation on some random subject that has no context or rational…

    bobbysangle – your point is that all young people are “weak”, among other ridiculous accusations? anyone younger than you is just a joke then? so you mean that our enlisted troops, fighting for your foul mouth are trash? what is your point exactly? you surely seem a sad and angry person; insecure, resentful and trite.

  19. To those of you saying that today’s youth is not capable of being drafted because they are self centered, selfish, too weak or need constant supervision, maybe you should have raised your kids better.

  20. Explain to me why the all-volunteer army is superior to one that is supported by the draft.

    Never mind that conscription was used for WWI and WWII.

    How does that square with the frequently stated opinion that the (draft-based) military won in Vietnam, it was the politicians that “lost” that conflict?

  21. SandHills says:

    An historical look back at our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may offer better insights than anyone can today. However, we did fight this war on credit, and on the backs of the few who served multiple tours in hell while most of their peers were going gaga over American Idol or Lady Ga Ga. The military takes its orders from elected officials, who decided use of an all volunteer military (whether Guard or Active Duty)would be more palatable than some sort of universal conscription (although in the long run the trillion dollar cost added to our debt will be paid by all).

    And within this strategy we over extended our military by multiple tours – then failed to insure than many of those troops were broken by PTSD. In fact, with the recruitment rules relaxed to take in 40+ in age, and even waivers to felons – would it be any wonder that some recruits may have been somewhat lacking in mental capacity before they were ever deployed?

    In the atmosphere of Madigan medical personnel being a bit stingy in determining PTSD – albeit in order to keep the ranks full for those deployments (as well as any budgeting costs that might have to come out of military hardware cost)- this particular soldier was sent on another tour when it was documented he was having problems at home as well as a head injury.

    Before we are casting stones simply on the end result of innocent deaths in Afghanistan, we should be looking closer at home – even ourselves. Because the war in Afghanistan is ours, and the policies for how this war was conducted is ours, and the treatment of our military having to bear the brunt of this war is our responsibility.

    I will go so far as to state the soldier who committed these atrocities are of our own creation – certainly moreso than many who are now in mental institutions rather than prison or death row for the murders they committed.

    To clamber for a death penalty for a sick soldier would belie the height of hypocrisy in why this soldier was in Afghanistan in the first place.

  22. S2E,
    The last person you want in combat is the unstable one.

    The SSgt in question suffered a traumatic brain injury in his last tour in Iraq (2010), but was pronounced fit for duty by the Army Medical Corps.

    History shows that when citizens no longer serve the military, the military will turn to foreign manpower sources.

  23. Well, bBoy, I googled a bit and found no archives that show what I am remembering, but I know my memory is not faulty. I did not say the majority of Afghanistan citizens cheered, but I vividly remember a story with pictures that showed people rejoicing at the sight of U.S. planes overhead. This shouldn’t surprise anyone given the nature of The Taliban, though. Surely it is not hard to imagine people happy to imagine being out from under Taliban rule?

  24. fbergford says:

    Sozo you are refering to the Northern Alliance…

    I don’t know why I read all these comments cause all I see is a bunch of chiefs and not enough indians! Everyone willing to put their two cents in, but when it comes time for action there is no one around! OIF 2 Vet

  25. Sozo,
    Had Bush ended the war when the Northern Alliance swept into Kabul, the Afghans would still be cheering us.

    Instead, Bush decided to occupy and rebuild the country as a western democracy.

    Not only did he lose the war, he turned all muslins states against us.

  26. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Doctors are not mind readers. If a Soldier downplays an injury or mental issue (how hard is to answer questions to avoid a diagnosis?), there is nothing the medical community can do.

    There is a balance in determining who has PTSD and requires treatment/discharge vs those claiming they have an issue just for the benefits. Most people in WTUs are there from non-battle injuries and an incredible amount have not even deployed.

    These docs tried to be the honest broker and it is now another scandal, thanks to a hypersentative public out of touch with the military. No one was acting with malice or against the interest of the service (intentionally).

    There is a lesson to be learned for sure, but the conclusions being made here are in left field and are politically/emotionally based.

    Multiple deployers are vital to military. The lessons learned carry forward and save lives. This a volunteer Army, and anyone deploying today does so out of choice (after 11 years of war, no one is still obligated to a contract signed before this all started).

    Last, how many of you actually know the pre and post deployment medical process? You are screened for mental fitness numerous times and throughout a deployment.

  27. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Xring, whose picture are they burning today? It is not Bush. Even the Afghans know where the responsibility lies today

  28. “he turned all muslins states against us.”

    Sorry, this made me laugh on two levels. The first was when I imagined states made of muslin, and the second was that you would imply that “muslin states” were “for” us until post 9/11 actions in Afghanistan.

  29. SandHills says:

    So commonsents, you jumping onboard to put this soldier to death because it is it is politically expedient – both for elected officials as well as their senior military lapdogs?

    I believe enough has been uncovered out at Madigan about their constraints to identify PTSD. It certainly didn’t take one G.I. going wacko in Afghanistan to see that there are quite a few more suffering out there who have not made the PTSD threshold – and one can much more easily rationalize that it is more about treatment costs and keeping full muster rosters than it is about docs trying to be honest brokers.

    But if you are willing to sweep it all under the rug, and satisfy Afghans need for blood revenge, then just come out and say it. That this G.I. went crazy, there is no doubt. The doubt is in the system so quick to overlook obvious signs of being unstable, yet keep him on the line – and a quick execution for the benefit of Afghanistan just adds to the travesty.

  30. What we need to do is stop electing idiot republican cowboys to high office.
    That way we won’t start wars for no reason then screw them up so they take 10 years or more to stall and our finest men and women end up in the grave yard,rehab or the mental wards!

    Conservatism, that’s whats wrong with the country.

  31. I imagined states made of muslin,

    I made some costume pieces out of muslin for a recent video shoot and had to repair them every day. States made out of muslin would be equally fragile.

  32. CT7 –
    Had Bush not invaded Iraq the SSGT wound not have suffered a traumatic bran injury.

    Had Bush not occupied Afghanistan the SSGT would not have been there.

    Sozo – you would rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic,

    SandHills – Afghanis believe in, and adhere to the fine old Muslim tradition of Blood Money.

    Let he who has never had a misspelled word cast the first stone.

  33. Xring: By unstable, I don’t mean rubbing crap in you hair and howling at the moon. I mean that trait which drives one to do the things which are not natural to most. For instance, laying on your belly and crawling across a field. Ants eating you, can’t eat or drink, going to the john in your pants, all the while trying to hide from everyone trying to find and kill you. Realizing this is a snipers job, it sounds crazy to me.If you did that in Tacoma, you’d get evaluated to be sure.

    Beerboy: Most people understand that Afghanistan provided safe haven for the group which was responsible for the 911 attacks. AlQueda was the group responsible. AlQueda, wherever and in whatever form they are in will be held accountable, not every citizen of the country.We didn’t hold all the citizens of Pakistan for harboring BinLaden, but we did kill anyone that tried to stop us from going in to get him without consulting the Pakistani government.

  34. We didn’t hold all the citizens of Pakistan for harboring BinLaden, but we did kill anyone that tried to stop us from going in to get him without consulting the Pakistani government.

    Our drones are killing more than a few Pakistanis who are guilty of nothing more than being in the vicinity.

    On 14 July 2009, Daniel L. Byman of the Brookings Institution stated that although accurate data on the results of drone strikes is difficult to obtain, it seemed that ten civilians had died in the drone attacks for every militant killed. He suggested that drone strikes may kill “10 or so civilians” for every militant killed, which would represent a civilian to combatant casualty ratio of 10:1.

  35. Beerboy: “our drones are killing more than a few Pakistanis who are guilty of nothing more than being in the vicinity”
    To a certain extent, the willingness of the people to allow the enemy to hide among them is what is causing them to be collateral damage. Notice in every case you cite, an enemy combatant was killed. The cowards who shoot and run into a house full of people are ultimately responsible for getting them killed.
    Think about it, we are prosecuting all those who rendered assistance to Maurice Clemmons and the guy who killed Trooper Redulescu last month. Although they actually didn’t pull the trigger, they enabled the actions whether they knew it or not.
    Why aren’t the Pakistanis giving up the bad guys? They must believe in what they are doing if they say nothing. In this case, does silence imply guilt?

  36. Dave98373 syas, “The only thing more disturbing than these killings are some of the comments posted here.”

    No kidding! I couldnt have said it better.

    Welcome to Tacoma, where childish left and right armchair politicians cultivate hate for each other simply on ideology! And sorry to say it, but reading the comments here on a daily basis, it becomes obvious that if you want intelligent, productive conversations on issues, you simply cannot include the local liberal lunatics. Dang people behave like little kids!

  37. Dave98373 syas, “The only thing more disturbing than these killings are some of the comments posted here.”

    No kidding! I couldnt have said it better.

    Ummm….could we say that youse guys are indulging in a bit of hyperbole here?

    Cuz, if you are being literal about this, what you are saying is that you find the comments on this page more disturbing than a mass murderer blowing away 9 children and 7 adults – all innocent civilians…..and the idea that you are more upset about a some keyboard braggadocio in cyberspace worse than someone putting our mission in jeopardy by slaughtering civilians is more than a little disturbing.

  38. c’mon now Dale…I was just pulling your string.

  39. Haaaa Beerboy,
    I knew that of course!!

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