Army Gen. George W. Casey ordered all U.S. and allied troops to undergo training in battlefield ethics and values. The order follows allegations that U.S. Marines murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha last November.
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All coalition troops in Iraq — 150,000 soldiers, Marines, Air Force and Navy personnel — will get new training in battlefield ethics and values.
The order follows allegations that U.S. Marines murdered 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha last November.
In a statement today, Commanding General Peter Chiarelli, said the training would emphasize "the importance of disciplined, professional conduct in combat and Iraqi cultural expectations." Chiarelli added, "As military professionals, it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies."
For more on this, we turn to Retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary Solis, a former Marine Corps lawyer and judge who served two tours in Vietnam. He taught the law of war at West Point and now teaches that at Georgetown University Law School.
And Paul Rieckhoff, an Army National Guard lieutenant who led a platoon in Iraq in 2003 to 2004. He's now executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, an organization that advocates on behalf of troops still serving.
And welcome to you both.
Colonel Solis, how big a deal, how serious is this, for the commanding general of all forces in Iraq to issue an order like this?
LT. COL. GARY SOLIS, Marine Corps:
It's extremely serious, and it's also extremely unusual. Stand-downs from aviation units are not as unusual, but for ground units like this, it's extremely unusual, because they come up only in the most extreme circumstances.
During the Vietnam War, for example, you had stand-downs to stress racial relations, to stress things like drug prevention programs. But there hasn't been a stand-down for ground units for a long time, many years.
Lieutenant Rieckhoff, would you agree this is serious? And do you think it's warranted?
LT. PAUL RIECKHOFF, U.S. Army National Guard:
I think it's very serious, and I think it is warranted. It definitely can't hurt.
The military is constantly retraining and updating training, and they're under increased pressure everyday, and I think we all understand the gravity of the potential of what's happening on the ground in Haditha.
And it definitely would do us some good to take some time to retrain, to emphasize the Army values and the Marine Corps values, and just remind soldiers about the rules of engagement, the proper use of the escalation of force, and how to minimize civilian casualties. I think it is appropriate.