How our troops try to avoid civilian casualties
The media relishes painting our military as a bunch of heartless thugs who don’t care about civilians in Iraq, but people who aren’t blinded by anti-war biases know otherwise. Examples follow.
Via Michael Yon:
We are facing a savage, savage enemy. I have seen with my own eyes how they have murdered children. I have seen our soldiers risking their own lives to safeguard Iraqi children and adults many times. Two occasions leap to mind.
The enemy rammed a car bomb into a Deuce Four Stryker in Mosul while kids were all around. They could have just as easily attacked our men a few blocks away from the kids. Instead, they cruelly wounded 15 children and killed two of them. I saw American soldiers furiously trying to save one little girl named Farah. One American officer, Major Mark Bieger, actually took Farah and her family in his Stryker and raced them all to the hospital. We needed that firepower at the scene in case of follow-on attack — we were in fact attacked there the next day — yet Major Bieger and his section, with permission from LTC Erik Kurilla who was on the scene, raced through the streets of Mosul to the hospital. Unfortunately, Farah died, and on that day some of our soldiers cried.
Much later one of our soldiers, SGT Ben Morton, who was there that day, died because his platoon was controlling their fire. On many missions when I tagged along, the commander would say things like, “Be careful about throwing flash-bangs [grenades without fragments] into rooms. Don’t throw them unless you really have to. Practically every Iraqi house has children, and flash-bangs can kill the small kids.”
There was hot intelligence that some terrorists were in a certain location. I watched part of the mission unfold from the TOC, but had left before Recon platoon hit the house. SGT Ben Morton from Wright, Kansas, who lived just next to me in Mosul, was a fine soldier, a highly respected young man who earned two Bronze Stars with V (for valor) and a purple heart. Ben’s Recon platoon was conducting the hasty raid in Mosul. The intelligence was correct.
Ben was the first up the stairs, and he took four bullets. Only then did his buddies throw flash-bangs and eventually shot down the terrorist who killed Ben. All the Iraqi kids were fine. But Ben Morton died. Soldiers cried that night.
Via USA Today:
RAMADI, Iraq — Allegations that Marines killed civilians in the western Iraqi town of Hadithah last year could undo efforts to win the cooperation of locals in the volatile Anbar province, some Marines say.
“All it does is make our jobs harder out here,” said Capt. Andrew Del Gaudio, commander of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. “Every Iraqi will assume Marines will act like that. It’s a perception that in this part of the world is hard to overcome.”
Del Gaudio said he made a tough call after a roadside bomb killed four of his men in April. While securing the scene, he was shot at by a machine gun in a follow-up attack. When he aimed his weapon to return fire, he saw that the gunmen had a line of children standing in front of them and two men filming with video cameras. He held fire until the children moved out of the way but was shot in his hand, which was only inches from his face.
“Restraint almost cost me my life,” he said.
These links were contained in prior threads on Haditha but I felt they needed more emphasis with a post all their own.
If you have similar stories and/or links that talk about how our military have gone out of their way to minimize civilian casualties, please post them in the comments section.
The MSM isn’t interested in focusing on this side of our troops for obvious reasons (read ABC News’ Terry Moran’s admission of anti-military bias in the MSM for more) so it’s the alternative media who have to get the word out. I’m more than willing to do my part as a member of the ‘alternative media’ to help do just that.
PM Update I: Here’s a prime example of how the media tries to paint our troops in the worst light possible (emphasis added):
And it is not that Marines like those under suspicion at Haditha do not like fighting. They are trained to kill and, usually within the bounds of discipline, seem to relish combat.
“C’mon captain, Kilo’s getting all my kills!” a Reuters reporter heard one lament to his commander in Karabila last year as another unit stormed house-to-house in what an officer described with relish as “old school, door-to-door fighting.” [Note from ST: Kilo is the Marine company in question regarding what allegedly happened in Haditha.]
Marines take a perverse [“Perverse?” –ST] pride in a sense of themselves as the Army’s poor relation in terms of budget, equipment and manpower. Many exude a bravado about taking greater risks than an Army with whom inter-service rivalry borders on hostility.
The martial spirit is instilled from the top down — one colonel told men before battle in Karabila: “There’s a lot of knuckleheads here who have to get dead. I’m going to help them.”
Indeed for many Marines, who love their guns, what they hate most about the war in Iraq is not fighting — and especially not being able to fight back when their friends are killed.
November’s killings at Haditha, where militants had imposed Taliban-style Islamic rule last summer before Marines stormed the fearful city of 90,000, followed the death of a popular 20-year-old lance corporal from Texas in a roadside bomb blast. [Note from ST: Notice how the presumption is made here that our military killed innocent civilians in Haditha on purpose? What happened to waiting for the Haditha investigation to be completed?]
In late 2004, this reporter observed a similar 12-man squad deal with the deaths of two comrades in such an attack. Without rest for six months, and some still wounded from the bombing, they raided home after home along the Euphrates, meeting stares and silence as they sought the hidden killers of their friends.
“It’s the unseen enemy. … It’s very frustrating,” one said.
“Why won’t he come out and fight?” asked another as the squad chafed under their sergeant’s discipline and his demands they treat Iraqis whose homes they were searching with respect.
“… Iraqis, they’re so … ungrateful,” one young Marine said, peppering his speech with expletives. “I … hate them.”
Another man snapped: “He killed my best friend,” he yelled. “It’s not fair. I’m not playing this game any more.” The Marine opened fire. Everyone froze. The dog that was his target lived.
No one died that day. The bonding of men at war is vital to any army and Marines place great stress on it. But their commander General Michael Hagee was recently in Iraq to remind them to keep emotions in check as Iraq continues to test the limits of the U.S. military.
“We use lethal force only when justified,” Hagee said.
“This is the American way of war.”
Hat tip: Smantix at Six Meat Buffet