A couple of days ago, Wired magazine published what seems to me the first account of a soldier on the ground following the Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed two Reuters journalists and a number of civilians.
In July 2007, [Ethan] McCord, a 33-year-old Army specialist, was engaged in a firefight with insurgents in an Iraqi suburb when his platoon, part of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, got orders to investigate a nearby street. When they arrived, they found a scene of fresh carnage – the scattered remains of a group of men, believed to be armed, who had just been gunned down by Apache attack helicopters. They also found 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his five-year-old sister Doaha covered in blood in a van. Their 43-year-old father, Saleh, had been driving them to a class when he spotted one of the wounded men moving in the street and drove over to help him, only to become a victim of the Apache guns.
McCord left the service last year. Wired reached him in Kansas.
He makes it clear that those who said people in the video had no weapons are just wrong.
In the video, you can clearly see that they did have weapons … to the trained eye. You can make out in the video [someone] carrying an AK-47, swinging it down by his legs….
The most moving part of the interview, however, is McCord’s description of what he saw when he arrived at the scene of the shooting, the wounded families and the aftermath, including the reaction of McCord’s sergeant.
When McCord said the injuries to the children caught in the attack affected him and he wanted to see a mental health professional.
I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.
Later that same night the sergeant told McCord the children would survive.
I didn’t know if he was telling me that just to get me to shut up and to do my job or if he really found something out. I always questioned it in the back of my mind.
I raise this because reaction of the sergeant goes against what the Pentagon mandates.
I get the Armed Forces Network here in Brazil. AFN shows current television programs (including all the news programs). Instead of having commercials about soap and cars, the breaks are filled with PSAs from the services. One of the most common themes in these PSAs is the need — the importance — of getting proper mental treatment.
And the reasoning behind those ads is clear: Last year 334 members of the US military committed suicide. Compare that to the 297 who died in action in Afghanistan and the 150 killed in Iraq and one can see what is greater threat to the troops.
There have been occasional stories about the toll service in Iraq and Afghanistan is taking on our military. Yet, it strikes me that there have not been enough. (GBT seems to be doing a pretty good job with his series the past couple of weeks.)