June 8, 2015
by Lorra B.
Former Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, marked as being the man, among many, who committed the worst atrocities during the Afghanistan War, is asking for mercy.
In 2012 Bales lost all compassion for Afghans and Iraqis. In fact, over the course of his four deployments, he hardly saw then as human anymore. It was then that the murders of 16 Afghan villagers began.
Bales, in a letter written to the senior Army Officer at JBLM, stated that “My mind was consumed by war. I Planted war and hate for the better part of 10 years and harvested violence. After being in prison two years, I understood that what I thought was normal was the farthest thing from being normal.”
According to The News Tribune, “Bales was sentenced in August 2013 to life in prison for the killings of 16 Afghan civilians, including seven children…”
Bales, however, is not alone on the war atrocities billboard. Take 21 year-old Cpl. Jeremy Morlock, and 19 year-old Pfc. Andrew Holmes, for example. Morlock and Holmes were among the soldiers of Bravo Company, a team who had talked at length about the idea of murdering an Afghan civilian. Now, some of the soldiers were not to keen on the idea while others were enthusiastic and all for it. It wasn’t long until “they agreed to stop talking and actually pull the trigger,” according to an account of the incident in Rolling Stone.
It was January 15, 2010 when the company’s 3rd Platoon set out to start the killings. That morning they came across an isolated farming community that was surrounded by poppy fields. The spot was just what they were looking for. Two of the soldiers wondered off looking for someone to kill while the rest of the platoon talked to a village elder. “The general consensus was, if we are going to do something that…crazy, no one wanted anybody around to witness it,” one of the soldiers stated to Army investigators.
The young boy of about 15, who smiled and complied when he had been asked to halt, was violently gunned down without so much as even a shovel in his hand. The boy’s name was Gul Mudin.
In a shooting spree over the following four months, the platoon murdered at least three more civilians. The killings were portrayed as “a front-line culture among U.S. Troops in which killing Afghan civilians is less a reason for concern than a cause for celebration,” according to Rolling Stone.
“Most people within the unit disliked the Afghan people, whether it was the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army or Local’s…Everyone would say they’re savages,” explained a soldier.
Morlock was sentenced to 24 years in prison while Holmes received 7 years in jail.
Seemingly, Bales was not alone in his distaste for the Afghan people nor was he alone in stepping over the edge of reason as he shot his 22 victims, including 17 women and children in March 2012.
According to the Huffington Post, “Bales pleaded guilty in a deal to avoid the death penalty, and he apologized in a statement at his sentencing in 2013. He described the perpetual rage he felt, his heavy drinking and reliance on sleeping pills, and his steroid use. He also said he couldn’t explain what he did, a sentiment he repeated in the letter.”
“I became callous to them even being human; they were all enemy. Guilt and fear are with you day and night. Over time your experiences solidify your prejudice.”
Every human is said to have their breaking point and a soldier is no exception. Major Nidal Malik Hasan, an army psychiatrist who gunned down dozens of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas had worried about braking points well before he hit his own. He talked about “how much fear and tedium soldiers [undergo]; how long they can slog through deserts over mountains; how much blood they can see; how many comrades they can lose.”
Even Hasan, a man who set out to comfort the soldier’s ‘psychic wounds and keep them fighting’ managed to step over the edge.
War is hell. War changes people. Bale, Morlock, and Holmes are but a few examples of the war atrocity billboards.
by Lorra B.