Posts Tagged ‘police’

Rapes in the Military, Added Observations

June 17, 2013

I think that perhaps the central thing of what I wrote yesterday is the different expectations from military and civilian populations.
As to assaults and brutality: it wasn’t common in the kind of unit I served it. There may well be more of that in other branches. But having been in that position, responsible for making the initial decisions, I can only say that there’s no checklist. At best, you don’t know what to do but you expect that if you do your best, your superiors up the chain of command will support you. I had that. But at worst, there may be pressure to suppress. Career-ending pressure, for officers. The pressure that will negate the investment in time and money and past decisions such that suddenly, through no fault of your own, you incur a black mark that will blight years of your remaining life. You go in one second from respected member of a profession to pariah.
The usual presumption you make, at least initially, is that your troops are innocent. You live with them, work with them in a closer environment than civilians know, and if it’s a close-combat unit such as infantry the bonds become as great or greater than family.
And you have no choice, none at all, in who the members of that family are. The great father in Washington puts the machinery in motion and it spits out a soldier. The rest of the people in the unit must then try to integrate that soldier into a profession where even in peacetime you must depend on the person next to you.
And if that soldier is a junior officer, say a lieutenant, they get tossed in to sink or swim. The people they now have ultimate responsibility for are likely not people they would have ever associated with before entering the military.
Rapes do happen in families; it’s not surprising that they can happen in military units. And it’s not surprising that a soldier might not know how to handle the closeness of a member of the opposite sex or even someone who might be homosexual. Or if a homosexual, being surrounded by a population that’s still mostly male. Or if lesbian, female.
Society tends to foster separation, even alienation. Military society insists on tight integration. Men have an association of like-minded men. You golf together. Play poker. Chase women (or men). Derive support from others who are basically like you are. Women do the same. OK, they may not be fans of playing poker.
The bully and the prospective victim now can’t escape each other. The pressures mount.
And so all the tensions of society get played out under physical and emotional pressures. By people who are young and untested and uneducated and inexperienced.
And untested officers, learning the job themselves, become the authority figure, the ‘parent’ in a sense. But not the parent of an infant. The parent of someone who might well be as old or even older than they are.
You may not, as an officer, closely associate with your troops. You are expected to associate only with your own kind, other officers. That breaks down in isolated units, but that’s still the ideal. And yet, you’re expected to know everything and to solve all the problems for a platoon of 30 people or perhaps a company or battery of perhaps 150. You have a staff of assistants, of course, but even so, it’s an impossible task. It’s a remnant of the days when nobles raised their own armies and commanded them in battle, and when soldiers were literally cannon-fodder.
But none of this can be taken into account, even though it should. Officers must always make the correct choice. Must decide if that ‘brother in arms’ is a rapist. Or a bully who’s bullying his own comrades to the point that they commit suicide. Or who will form a gang or similar loose association to do the same thing. Must decide if that complainant was innocent or somewhat complicit, and what that degree of innocence might be. As men work out society’s tensions, so do women. They work our their place in their tiny society, the pecking order if you will. Dominance, submission, the degrees of those things that will define their relationship. Soldiers, at bottom, are just people. Soldiers don’t have a checklist to follow either.
So the commander has to decide, how bad was the incident. A one man or woman jury, they decide who to believe and what to believe. There may be evidence, or not.
And a single misjudgment means that the judge and jury and prosecutor and evidence-gatherer can suddenly be the accused.
For officers up the chain, the lieutenant colonels and higher, they have much less of an excuse. They have the experience and education to make better decisions. But even generals can make misjudgments…or for that matter, even presidents.
The standard is perfection. For better or worse.
It might be better for society if our own civilian officials were held to the same standard.

Advertisements

Suicide by Drone

March 7, 2013

I hate to waffle on a comment; as a general rule, I don’t believe that there’s a valid excuse to target an American citizen in America. If law enforcement knows the location of the person, then arrest him/her and take them in for trial. But…
That said, I can foresee circumstances. Suppose the person is involved in attempting assassination of a political leader or other criminal acts; and normal means of apprehending him/her are not available. Say this person is surrounded by a militia or other armed group, AKA David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, which is prepared to resist legal efforts to arrest their leader.
How many law enforcement persons are to be sacrificed in the attempt to arrest this person? Or put another way, at what point does law enforcement effort become military effort?
And how much right does an accused person have to resist arrest?
Once an accused is notified that he is being sought by law enforcement, if he refuses to submit to arrest then I consider that anything that results from this are his own fault. An accused person is often permitted to surrender at some nearby facility and to be accompanied by their lawyer when they do so; happens all the time.
Failure to comply with the law, for example when police tell someone to drop their weapon, is likely to get you killed. It’s called “suicide by cop.” Add “suicide by drone” to that label.
If an accused refuses the surrender option, then I would see no blame for a president or even a sheriff or police chief or FBI supervisory agent in applying whatever force is necessary to carry out the neutralization. “Neutralization” means, in this context, arrest if that’s reasonably possible, or targeted killing if that option isn’t present.
I’m much more prepared to see the accused killed than I am to see law enforcement agents killed. It’s not uncommon nowadays to see cops targeted by accused individuals, or as happened in California, to be the object of revenge killings. Once the accused was located in a cabin (as happened), why send in cops to winkle him out? Notify him that he must come out with his hands in the air, with no weapons on his person, and if he refuses, send in the machines. In California that meant machines to begin dismantling the cabin. A drone strike does the same thing. If it saves the life of a cop, I’m for it.