Lt Col Dave Grossman wrote in his book On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society wrote
The good news is that the vast majority of soldiers are loath to kill in battle. Unfortunately, modern armies, using Pavlovian and operant conditioning, have developed sophisticated ways of overcoming this instinctive aversion. The psychological cost for soldiers, as witnessed by the increase in post-traumatic stress, is devastating. The psychological cost for the rest of us is even more so…
Mark Boal, screenwriter for The Hurt Locker has written a painful piece in Rolling Stone The Kill Team
How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them. Plus: An exclusive look at the war crime photos censored by the Pentagon the story of Army Spc Jeremy Morlock, sentenced to 24 years for killing unarmed Afghan civilians for sport and the rest of the ‘kill team’ who joined him.
Specialist Jeremy N. Morlock, one of five soldiers from an Army Stryker brigade based here who are accused of staging combat situations to kill three civilians in Afghanistan last year, told the military judge presiding over the case, Lt. Col. Kwasi L. Hawks, that the deaths were neither justified nor accidental.
“The plan was to kill people, sir,” Specialist Morlock told the judge at the start of a court-martial.
The sentence, plea and agreement to testify followed a deal Specialist Morlock and his lawyers negotiated with prosecutors in January. The military sentencing guidelines for the charges to which he pleaded guilty — including three counts of premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit murder and assault — recommend life in prison, with or without the possibility of parole. His lawyers say he could be eligible for parole in about seven years.
Specialist Morlock, 22, of Wasilla, Alaska, is the first of the five to face a court-martial.
Between them they took over 4,000 trophy photos most banned by the Pentagon but some are published in the RS piece (warning! very graphic). The military, without a draft are now willing to accept enlistees with violent histories, as is the case of Morlock who hails from Sarah Palin’s Wasilla, Alaska. One photo shows Morlock holding the head of one of his victims, a mere boy, up by the hair and smiling with the same expression Palin had posing with her dead caribou.
These men are by no means representative of the US military and their actions seriously endanger the lives of their fellow soldiers. At the same time I cannot help but harken back to a mother’s lament… “I gave the military a good boy and they made him a murderer”.