/*PenDragn: US army’s kill-kill ethos under fire*/

9.25.2006

US army’s kill-kill ethos under fire

Excerpt London Sunday Times article (same title as above):
THE American army should scrap the Warrior Ethos, a martial creed that urges soldiers to demonstrate their fighting spirit by destroying the enemies of the United States at close quarter rather than winning the trust of local populations, according to senior US officers and counter-insurgency experts.

Soldiers are instructed to live by the creed, which evokes the warrior spirit of the modern US army. It begins with the stirring vow, “I am an American soldier”, and goes on to affirm that “I will never accept defeat. I will never quit . . . I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat”.

Admirable though this may be in the heat of battle, the Warrior Ethos’s emphasis on annihilating the enemy is inimical to the type of patient, confidence-building counter-insurgency warfare in which America is engaged in the Middle East, according to Lieutenant-General Gregory Newbold, former director of operations to the joint chiefs of staff at the Pentagon.

“The future crises that relate to Iraq and Afghanistan will be a struggle for hearts and minds,” Newbold said. “We’re in a different environment now and that requires different techniques.”

The Warrior Ethos replaced the Soldier’s Creed drawn up in the post-Vietnam era which stated: “I am an American soldier . . . No matter what situation I am in, I will never do anything for pleasure, profit or personal safety, which will disgrace my uniform. I will use every means I have, even beyond the line of duty, to restrain my army comrades from actions disgraceful to themselves and the uniform.”

The degrading treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and atrocities such as the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl in Mahmudiya have highlighted the conduct of individual American servicemen.

“A strategic corporal can have a lot more impact on the course of the war than a general, so it’s critical that soldiers and marines appreciate the consequences of their actions,” Newbold said. “The old Soldier’s Creed came down to ‘doing the right thing’. I like that.”

Andrew Garfield, senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and former British intelligence officer, believes that the Warrior Ethos has encouraged American soldiers to respond to threats with overwhelming force, so creating new enemies, not friends.

“The United States army is phenomenal at conventional warfare, but soldiering — even in a Victorian sense — meant building roads and bridges, forging links with tribal leaders and very occasionally killing them,” said Garfield, who travelled to Iraq to canvass the views of more than 100 British officers and officials about American tactics.