“I was immediately impressed
with the sincerity, the depth of feeling, the sense of wanting to right wrong. What they had to say jibes with reports I’ve received from lieutenants who returned to West Point where I taught. My former students come back and tell me the same thing.” - Gary Solis, Retired Marine Lieutenant Colonel
“The rules of engagement for Marines serving in Iraq have remained very consistent since 2003. If these veterans truly believe they have witnessed violations of the law of armed conflict, it is their duty to provide military investigators with specific details concerning the alleged incidents, to include their own level of involvement, if any.” - U.S. Marines Statement
“If they feel that strongly about it, for the sake of their consciences, then they should name the names. Otherwise, what they’re indicating is that something was widespread and it wasn’t widespread. “- Bing West, Former Marine Corps Captain
The Congressional Progressive Caucus recently heard presentations from returning troops alleging widespread misconduct they personally witnessed or participated in during their time in Iraq. They have dubbed themselves “Winter Soldiers,” the same name used by Vietnam veterans who reported similar alleged abuses during that war. Their personal stories include accounts of unwarranted killings of Iraqi civilians and mistreatment of detainees that were met with indifference or encouragement by commanding officers. In this video report NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman analyzes this situation with the help of two military experts with divergent views.
Questions for your class could include: If you were the witnessing or participating soldier, what factors might discourage you from immediately complaining to your superior officer? Research or speculate on why this group calls themselves ‘winter soldiers’. Should any soldier alleging another soldier encouraged or rewarded misconduct be required to “name names?”Compare the “Iraq Veterans Against the War” to the “Vietnam Veterans Against the War.” Do you believe the stories being told by these veterans? What do you think will happen as a result of these soldiers telling their stories? Why?
Below are web links related to this story
Public Broadcasting Links
NewsHour Report: Soldiers Recount Concerns Over Rules of Engagement in Iraq
NewsHour In-Depth Coverage: Iraq in Transition
NPR: ‘Winter Soldiers’ Tell Stories of War
KPFA Radio: Winter Soldier 2008 Audio, Photo Archives from Pacifica Radio
Iraq Veterans Against the War
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
WarComesHome.org: Winter Soldiers 2008
Wikipedia: Winter Soldier Investigation