While the military often utters "we take of our own" they don't. In fact they seem much more likely to eat their own more than any other social unit. Staff Sergeant Bales has been thrown under the bus with a military driver now in the process of backing up over him.
The military bowing to political pressure will find it necessary to single this person out as acting alone and in a criminal manner with no responsibility to be taken by the military or its waging of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They will do what it takes to deny any causal effect from the four tours in 10 years, three in Iraq and one just started in Afghanistan. There must be at all costs no dissent about the righteousness of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan from the military and the political administrations of Bush and Obama.
Two excellent reads on the staff sergeant are from the New York Times and Military.com. Both publications are straining to present a picture from which maybe we can determine what went wrong? Was it one thing or just one more thing that caused him to snap. There are no easy answers.
He snapped though. It is plain and simple. There is nothing disclosed thus far that would indicate that this individual would be ordinarily capable of committing such actions. Isn't it somewhat ironic that firefighters, and police for that matter, often retire on disability because of stress? Yet the military keeps recycling its personnel much like a water bottle. How many cycles can its personnel stand before they break down and become unusable?
From the NYTimes. "Dr. Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired brigadier general who was an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, [one suspects that this person never saw a minute of actual combat] said that after a decade of combat, where hundreds of thousands of troops have sustained traumatic brain injury and P.T.S.D., those syndromes by themselves seem inadequate to explain how a seemingly normal and widely admired sergeant might have single-handedly committed one of the worst war crimes of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts."
This from a person defending his turf. A Google or Bing search on PTSD demonstrates the causal connection (although seemingly ignored by the military) of combat experiences on mental instability. However, even an Army study - their first as reported by the AP - "of the mental health of troops who fought in Iraq found that about one in eight reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder."
Yet this staff sergeant will seemingly not be permitted (by those responsible for the wars) to have this "excuse" His worse failing might well be patriotism. He joined the Army at the age of 27 shortly after 911. From all accounts he saw a need to be one of the good guys. He had repeated tours all from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State which the Washington Post, March 13, 12, notes that "the strain of multiple deployments may be pushing some there to commit violent acts."
According to the Post, the police SWAT members and other officers are being "trained to recognize combat veterans that might have post-traumatic stress disorder." The rationale: “We are having more and more issues with the military — suicides, domestic violence, DUIs, malicious mischief,” Bulman [Pierce County Sheriff’s Department's chaplain] said. “They are trying to deal with issues unsuccessfully, and so they end up getting into trouble. But the situation can escalate if they are not treated properly.”
The military eats people like the staff sergeant for snacks. They know they can count on "patriotism" to cause him and those like him to look the other way on the shortcomings of military life. Military life is never great for those in combat - you know the ones carrying the brunt of the wars that result from poor American policies.
You can call the military force in Afghanistan NATO, but it is in fact the US military that ponies up the men and women as cannon fodder and wastes the American taxpayers dollars to keep us in fear and dependent on the federal government. It matters not that they could care less for its citizens except to offer the masses at election time pabulum that is intellectually and morally bereft.
This is the situation of an ordinarily decent person continually placed in a situation where even common sense dictates unwise finally breaks. But rather than breaking at home and maybe killing his family like the Iraq veteran that killed his 11 year old sister then killed himself - he killed in Afghanistan. [See my earlier post.]
Here is the issue as seen from the perspective of a retired Navy captain Amerson in an email to the Associated Pressas as quoted in the Military.com article: "Too often, he argued, Americans absolve the leaders who start the wars and "invest the full responsibility in the combatants themselves and the families that support them." "These actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been more than a clash of combatants; they have been a clash of cultures, ideologies, and religions that has blurred the lines of right and wrong."