Life gets cheap in any war. Whether you are one of the alleged good guys or part of the baddies this senseless saga keeps being re-enacted every time some politician and the armchair warriors get enough clout to convince everyone that we need to assist some armed conflict, invasion, regime change or just plain dirty tricks campaign. Those sent to die of course have no say. That is unless they want to incur the effect of every tribunal, court or gaol those in power can enlist to fight against such wayward sentiments. For the first time since 1945 this country by applying withering military logic decided to send Reservists to fight in Afghanistan. There is an excellent article in the Age at link on this topic.(George Ikners ikners.com Joomla)
Military logic never raises itself above how to kill more efficiently and how if possible to avoid being killed, and continue the fight for whatever purpose those in power say has to be fought for. Recently in Afghanistan the 1st Command Regiment arrived. It was winter and it was expected that the fighting would be extremely limited by weather conditions. Most of the soldiers were reservists, albeit claimed to be highly trained and of course completely willing to be over there to obey the command to fight.
It was as the article says,” Too cold to fight, even for the Taliban”. However the planning of the military lacked the precision required so that,” for the men of Australia’s 1st Commando Regiment, most of them part-time reservists, the killing started just three weeks after they arrived. This was a winter deployment and the “
Unfortunately the first to die was an Australian soldier and the last to die were,” were six Afghan civilians: a man named Amrullah, his 10-year-old son, and his relatives – a boy aged 11, a teenage girl, a one-year-old boy and a girl aged two. They were killed by the commandos. Again, the soldiers were on a night-time raid when their target was a Taliban leader.” The death of the civilians is an very familiar story being told over and over again in Afghanistan, as the slaughter to find the Taliban reaches into the local population. We are there is some glorious (substitute vain glorious) attempt we are told to assist the local population against the Taliban.
However, the locals always seem to be getting the way and die as a result of our ‘very best intentions’. What is usually done is to give those left widowed, orphaned and grieving a little cash to help them through their sorrows. All this organized by those in power and in control of the lives of those sent to die and kill. Now the soldiers involved are in a sort of limbo. The commander has been sacked and there is a waiting period to see if there will be any charges over the deaths.
There are all sorts of issues arising and being debated, no doubt by the same group of armchair warriors and politicians who stay at home while other do the dirty work. These are special forces being used, actions are often if not always in secret and the commands have those wonderful mottos like “Strike Swiftly” (substitute “Kill Immediately”). If the results were not a tragedy and the actions not an insane use of power it would all make a good theme for a Monty Python type comedy. But this is very very serious stuff. The deaths are real. No one gets up after being raked by automatic weapons fire, wipes off the red sauce and jokes with the fellow actors here. You can look as hard as you like but you will not find John Wayne, Rambo or even concerned politicians like Rudd et ors standing nearby ready to offer assistance.
This article is a very good reading you should take the opportunity to go to the link and read it in full. Even if you are a complete believer in what is taking place in Afghanistan you may find that it takes a little extra inventiveness to dismiss what is being said, or more importantly what is not being said. There is a great amount of detail about the nature of the various exercises and operations where people were killed and the mistakes were made.
It all gets a bit technical in discussing how you ‘use’ troops ‘properly’ in any given situation. Sounds good to those interested in reading military history and the like but to those left to grieve the losses it is just nonsense designed to paper over the gigantic cracks in any policy that involves killing people for any reason.
There is all the usual talk about inquiries and how things can be improved. As usual air Chief Marshall (“we don’t have a problem”) Houston is seen to be releasing censored reports and doing whatever is necessary to provide adequate cover to those in the firing line.
There must be more to human life than the mindless meanderings of the military and political thought and logic that leads to the death of so many for no real reason, apart from the use of force as a means to an end.