'Morals training' gives warfighter real-world tests
June 3, 2006
ARLINGTON, Va. — You’re on patrol when a roadside bomb kills four members of your platoon and wounds another three.
You spot a man in a heavily populated area who the squad leader believes is the trigger man, and are ordered to take him out.
What do you do?
This is one of the questions posed in the Core Warrior Values training that all troops in Iraq will have to complete over the next 30 days.
The refresher course in military values comes in the wake of recent allegations of U.S. troop misconduct.
Military investigators are looking into whether Marines killed 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha and then tried to cover it up, while a separate investigation is looking into whether Marines killed an Iraqi civilian near Hamandiyah.
Presented in a PowerPoint format, the values training is not meant to serve as a substitute for rules of engagement, according to training materials released Friday.
In the above scenario, U.S. troops are reminded that the law of war dictates that soldiers only fight combatants and “destroy no more than the mission requires.”
“At a minimum, the soldiers involved should think through possible consequences of engaging a questionable target in an area heavily populated by a noncombatants,” the presentation says.
The training will take two to four hours to complete, and commanders will have leeway to expand upon the scenarios it covers, said Army Brig Gen. Donald Campbell, chief of staff for Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
“You can’t, obviously, script or train for every incident that would occur on the battlefield, but we do our best to prepare our soldiers with the packages we’ve given them,” said Campbell, speaking to reporters on Friday.
Campbell said the values training reinforces training that troops received before they deployed. He also said the number of U.S. troops who violate military values is minuscule.
“While the bulk of our forces, 99.9 percent, serve with honor, there are a small number of individuals who sometimes choose the wrong path,” he said.
Campbell said the confusing battlefield in Iraq, in which it is hard to distinguish civilians from combatants, combined with an enemy that does not play by the rules of war, can breed a small number of renegade troops.
“I would say it’s stress, fear, isolation and, in some cases, they’re just upset. They see their buddies get blown up on occasion and they could snap,” Campbell said.