In today’s edition of Stars and Stripes and the LA Times is an article about a combat engineer facing charges for actions he took in combat in Afghanistan last year. The gist of the story is that the soldier involved shot an unarmed female in the middle of a firefight who was moving towards the rear of her vehicle. The description of the incident from the article is here:
His convoy was reeling from a roadside bomb, his fellow soldiers were engaged in combat with insurgents and a mysterious black car had just screeched to a stop in the middle of the firefight. Some nine minutes later, a black door opens.
Second 1: A figure dressed in dark, bulky clothing emerges.
Second 2: The figure begins walking toward the trunk.
Second 3: Taylor, with five wounded comrades behind him, sees a thin trigger wire seeming to snake directly toward the black car. Could there be a second bomb in the trunk?
Second 4: Taylor squeezes the trigger on his M-4 carbine. The figure crumples to the dirt.
The figure was not an insurgent, but Dr. Aqilah Hikmat, a 49-year-old mother of four who headed the obstetrics department at the nearby Ghazni provincial hospital. Also dead inside the car were Hikmat’s 18-year-old son and her 16-year-old niece. Hikmat’s husband, in the front seat, was wounded.
SFC Taylor now faces charges of negligent homicide in the woman’s death. If the facts as presented in the article are correct then I got out of the army just in time. This is an example of the worst kind of second guessing of combat decisions. Prosecutions such as this are likely to lead to more of our soldiers hesitating in combat and will probably lead to more GIs getting killed because of hesitation in combat. It would be one thing if he had just shot the woman out of hand but to prosecute him for a combat decision is unconscionable, something I never thought I would see coming out of the US military. Apparently I was wrong, the forces of idiocy are getting stronger every day. Policies like this will go far towards making the US military just as toothless as are most European militaries.
Being a combat vet myself I think it is a crying shame that they are making an example out of SFC Taylor. Based on the circumstances in the article, I would have killed her too. The bottom line is that in the middle of a firefight you don’t always have the luxury of waiting to find out if someone is hostile or not. If she had a weapon, should he wait until she starts firing before engaging, I think not. He made the right cal and now he is getting the shaft. Shame on the Army for even bringing charges.
Hopefully the panel at his court-martial sees sense and rightfully acquits him. Something like this just calls out for our support of the soldier. I highly encourage everybody reading this article to write the secretary of the Army directly and protest this armchair quarterbacking of a combat leaders decision made in the heat of battle.
The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101