We had ourselves a little class on ethics, morality, and right and wrong. Subjects that came up included Abu Ghraib prison, where those incredibly ingenius MPs abused and embarassed detainees. Things that sound like common sense to most people, but when one is actually in the situation, odds are its a lot more complicated.
We talked about the massacre of a Vietnamese village, Mi Lai (or some similar name). That was where soldiers had lost a man and pretty much wanted vengeance. They were briefed that their next mission would be against a 'crack battalion' of VC. Long story short, the platoon leader ended up ordering everyone in the village killed, an order that may or may not have been suggested to him from the company commander, who later claimed he had no idea what was going on. In that case, he would be guilty of ATLEAST derilection of duty, because he should know what's going down on a mission with his men.
Another example was a recent event in Iraq where the marines lost a Lance Corporal to an IED I believe, and responded with an asston of force. Supposedly there's an investigation going on now to determine if non-combatants were killed. Ugly business.
We then watched a scene from "Platoon" when the men lose a guy to the VC, and hit a village for revenge. Sound familiar? We were told to take notes and write down any immoral actions we saw, and they weren't too hard to pick out naturally. We discussed all of that, and then went outside for a few practical exercises.
One Staff Sergeant was playing the part of an individual-not-of-the-U.S.-military (since we don't know for sure who the 'bad guy' is). He ended up grabbing one of our guys from behind in a chokehold. Pop quiz, what do you do? Quite a few of us instantly remembered the first ten minutes of "Speed" and were quoting, "Shoot the hostage!!!" We ran through a few exercises and then decided it was time for lunch.
This stuff seems like common sense on paper, but we're not always thinking the way we should be. That's why these classes are there to reinforce that. Because of Abu Ghraib and now the killings at Haditha, a lot of work that's been done by the guys who've been over so far has been set back quite a bit. Kill a man's family, and he's not going to tell you what you need to know. Instead, he's going to turn around and start believing what the other guys are saying. And now that guy is easy as hell to recruit. Along with everyone inside his sphere of influence. This operation is always ringing with the catch phrase "hearts and minds". The following three days after the Haditha episode were extremely bloody. Imagine trying to rectify this whole situation, with how insanely sensitive it all is.