July 27, 2010

Winning Hearts And Minds? What About Half-Credit?

A squad of soldiers is given orders to go out and capture a high-value terrorist target in the mountains of Afghanistan. During a firefight, the target is killed, but the combat rages around them, and they are unable to retrieve the body for identification.

One of the soldiers improvises... and may now face charges. I don't see why.

After all, he kept his head:

Just picture the scene as a soldier returns from hunting an arch-enemy. Commanding officer: 'Did you get him?' Soldier: 'Yes, sir.' Commanding officer: 'Are you sure?' Soldier: 'Yes, sir.' Soldier reaches into rucksack and places severed head on table.

Commanding officer: ' ****!' If it happened in a Hollywood movie, the audience would either laugh or applaud. But there was no laughter the other day when this happened for real in Babaji, Afghanistan, current posting for the 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles.

The precise circumstances will not be determined until an official report has been completed, but reliable military sources have confirmed that a Gurkha patrol was sent out with orders to track down a Taliban warlord described as a 'high-value target'.

Having identified their target, a fierce battle ensued during which the warlord was killed. To prove that they had got their man, the Gurkhas attempted to remove the body for identification. Further enemy fire necessitated a fast exit minus corpse. So, an unnamed soldier drew his kukri - the standard-issue Gurkha knife - removed the man's head and legged it.

The Afghans are horrified, and the spineless British, of course, seem intent on punishing the soldier for doing his job to the best of his ability.

Was the beheading barbaric? Did it horrify the Afghans, and strike fear into the hearts of the Taliban and al Qaeda?


The idea of "winning their hearts and minds" is wonderful, in theory, but striking fear into the hearts of your enemy and those who would aide them is a tactic that has been just as effective throughout history.

Let the Taliban sweat.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 27, 2010 10:18 PM

"Gurkha's Rule" Having learned only a little of the history of the Gurkha, I am please to hear that they are keeping up the proud warrior tradition.

Posted by: Ron at July 27, 2010 10:25 PM

It's not like the target was using it anymore.

Posted by: MikeM at July 28, 2010 07:21 AM

Would we be as similarly understanding if an Afghan did it to a US soldier?

Please know, I'm not necessarily disagreeing with your assertion. I'm just wondering if we'd have the same "just doing his job" attitude if it was one of ours beheaded.

We had a different attitude when the beheadings of our hostages were going on a few years ago - though presumably the intention was the same as the one you stated - to strike fear into our hearts.

I usually come down on the side of respect and not torturing simply because I don't want it done to ours and I believe that as Americans, we should hold ourselves to more decent standards than third-world thugs.

Posted by: Bob at July 28, 2010 10:49 AM

bob your conflating two different things.

first the removal of a dead enemy combatants head to facilitate ID is quite a different animal then the removal of an innocent hostages head who is screaming in pain and begging for mercy while they feel the dull knife work its way through thier larynx.

second your calling it torture, torture?? a dead man can not be tortured. I do not think the word means what you think it means....

Posted by: rumcrook¾ at July 28, 2010 11:13 AM

If this is an indication of the quality of the people who are volunteering for our military, it's no wonder we're losing in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Lou Vuoto at July 28, 2010 02:05 PM

@Lou - clearly you know little about the Gurkhas and if they are a part of your military, i.e., if you are British, I'm surprised by your lack of knowledge.

@rumcrook - you are correct, but there is a bit of merit to Bob's comment that most Americans would not be so understanding if it was an American soldier who was also already dead and beheaded for identification purposes. We are always much more understanding of the actions of those who are on our side.

Posted by: Sol at July 28, 2010 02:22 PM

Having some personal aquaintance with gurkhas I can tell you one thing with certainty: this guy is totally amazed at what all the fuss is about.

Posted by: megapotamus at July 28, 2010 03:17 PM

Muslims have absolutely NO qualms about desecrating the bodies of kufir, alive or dead.

Ask the IDF.

I was in Iraq when they grabbed two two soldiers form the 82nd Airborne. Once we found their bodies, it took our EOD techs several days to disarm the boobytraps. Needless to say, those were closed casket funerals.

Good on this Gurkha.

Posted by: butch at July 28, 2010 08:26 PM

Good call, Lou. You could try upgrading the quality of volunteers yourself, maybe gather some of your no doubt superior friends to come along. Enlisting would be a lark after all the hard time you spend sneering from a Starbucks.

Really, how long are you people going to push that long discredited slander of our troops? No matter how many times your leftist talking points about ignorant racist last chancers dragooned into service is exploded, you keep going back to it.

Oh, and the Gurkhas are part of the British military. Maybe you could explain it to them instead of being sniping from here.

Posted by: Steve Skubinna at July 28, 2010 11:48 PM

People have been taking heads for thousands of years. It is the definition of "Old School".

Posted by: libarbarian at July 29, 2010 06:31 PM

The Gurkhas have been scaring the bleep out of the enemy for centuries; look up some of the things they pulled on German troops in WWII. Compared to those, taking the head of a dead enemy to confirm ID? Big deal.

Posted by: Firehand at July 29, 2010 08:25 PM

Rum, play semantics if you want, but you know what I meant.

1) I never called it torture - that's a new paragraph that contains a different thought, that I think we need to be better than they are. Just because they do it doesn't mean it's OK for us to do it.

2) Sol echoes my point... would be as excited about this tactic if it was our guys they did it to? Is what happened to our two sailors last week OK?

Posted by: Bob at July 30, 2010 05:39 PM

To answer Bob and Sol, no I wouldn't have a single problem with them doing that, just as with the Japanese in WWII... and I would equally have no problem with burning those responsible, their families, friends, cities, etc. to the ground, as we did with the Japanese in WWII.

"War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it." William T. Sherman, who had no problem with encouraging Union troops to commit the same kinds of atrocities that got people hung at Nuremberg.

Posted by: SDN at July 31, 2010 09:15 AM