Wednesday, September 15, 2010

He left something out

I'm certain that the CBC or any other legitimate investigative news outlet tries to get the best background commentary for their stories. And that will leave them wanting when attempting to report on the inner workings of JTF2.

For any number of reasons, some of them official, no one from that unit will speak to them. So this is going to swirl the drain for some time.
A complaint from a soldier inside JTF2 – Canada’s elite special forces unit – was the trigger behind a series of secret military probes into the handling of Afghan prisoners that only came to light this week.

The investigations have probed the alleged improper killing of Afghans, sources say.

The accusation of misconduct levelled by one member of Joint Task Force 2 against another came from an unusually tight knit group that considers itself a descendant of such units as the famed Devil’s Brigade commandos of the Second World War.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, an expert in military law, said it would be tremendously daunting for a JTF2 soldier to break ranks from such an elite unit and launch a complaint.

“The missions on which they are deployed [are] unseen, unheard and unsupervised in many respects,” Mr. Drapeau said. “It’s a brotherhood, the bonds of which are unparalleled any place else for somebody to make allegations.”

Well, Colonel Drapeau, your expertise in military law notwithstanding, you missed something. Every single assaulter on a special forces team knows the limits of their behaviour. Life in a SF unit can be particularly tough. Sometimes the only thing one has to remind oneself of one's purpose is to maintain a sense of humanity. Special Forces units are not death squads. They have a singularly ugly job and they do not kill indiscriminately. Undetected they observe, report back, destroy enemy assets and, if ordered to engage, take prisoners. A dead man gives you nothing but leaves evidence of your presence.

Above all, special forces personnel have a strong sense of personal discipline. That's why they can operate unsupervised. And for what it's worth, they are held to a considerably higher standard of accounts for individual action than many in general service. The "brotherhood" cannot withstand a breakdown of discipline. The "bonds" will provide cover for many things, but not a loss of humanity.

I may be a lone voice in the wilderness but I see no good in the calls to make this investigation public. Any allegations should be thoroughly investigated and any suspected offender should not be named or otherwise identified until there is a case to be brought to trial.

We do the same for impaired drivers.

It is only the environment of the Harper government engaging in obfuscation on broader issues which has created a mistrust in the military investigative process. I hope the hang-downs in the PMO are proud of how they have jeopardized military law through their infantile conduct.

No comments: