Thursday, May 25, 2006

General Michael W. Hagee stands up

I was surprised and delighted to see that Marine Corps Commandant General Michael W. Hagee released a very strongly worded memo today outlining what the Marines stand for. This was done as an attempt to bolster the Corps which has recently been shaken by allegations of the killing of civilians in Iraq. Some important extracts follow. The entire text can be read here “On Marine Virtue”.

To a Marine, honor is more than just honesty; it means having uncompromising personal integrity and being accountable for all actions. To most Marines, the most difficult part of courage is not the raw physical courage that we have seen so often on today’s battlefield. It is rather the moral courage to do the “right thing” in the face of danger or pressure from other Marines. Finally, commitment is that focus on caring for one another and upholding the great ideals of our Corps and Country.

We have all been educated in the Law of Armed Conflict. We continue to reinforce that training, even when deployed to combat zones. We do not employ force just for the sake of employing force. We use lethal force only when justified, proportional and, most importantly, lawful. We follow the laws and regulations, Geneva Convention and Rules of Engagement. This is the American way of war. We must regulate force and violence, we only damage property that must be damaged, and we protect the non-combatants we find on the battlefield.

When engaged in combat, particularly in the kind of counterinsurgency operations we’re involved in now, we have to be doubly on guard. Many of our Marines have been involved in life or death combat or have witnessed the loss of their fellow Marines, and the effects of these events can be numbing. There is the risk of becoming indifferent to the loss of a human life, as well as bringing dishonor upon ourselves. Leaders of all grades need to reinforce continually that Marines care for one another and do what is right.

Of course it will be all for not if there no changes to the actions of the Marines and if harsh punishment is not meet out to the guilty parties. It will be interesting to see.

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