_Sixty-two percent of soldiers and 66 percent of Marines said that they knew someone seriously injured or killed, or that a member of their team had become a casualty.Much of this isn't surprising, especially the soldiers' attitudes towards torture. First, soldiers, of course, will want to do whatever is in their power to do in order to save the lives of their comrades. That's what makes them fight in the first place. And, as there is a legitimate debate over the use of torture, I'm not so sure this should been as disturbing as some of the other revelations.
_The 2006 adjusted rate of suicides per 100,000 soldiers was 17.3 soldiers, lower than the 19.9 rate reported in 2005.
_Only 47 percent of the soldiers and 38 percent of Marines said noncombatants should be treated with dignity and respect.
_About a third of troops said they had insulted or cursed at civilians in their presence.
_About 10 percent of soldiers and Marines reported mistreating civilians or damaging property when it was not necessary. Mistreatment includes hitting or kicking a civilian.
_Forty-four percent of Marines and 41 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to save the life of a soldier or Marine.
_Thirty-nine percent of Marines and 36 percent of soldiers said torture should be allowed to gather important information from insurgents._Less than half of Marines and a little more than half of Army soldiers said they would report a member of their unit for killing or wounding an innocent civilian.
But the responses indicating widespread tolerance of abusive behavior towards non-combatants is highly problematic, particularly in a war where the battle for the "hearts and minds" is just as important as the gun battles. One certain lesson of Vietnam was that brutality towards the peasantry made the people more willing to tolerate, or even collaborate with, the enemy. This is perhaps even more true in Iraq, where the only hope for success rests on Iraqi citizens choosing to side with the government rather than the militias or al Qaeda, and if they fear the US military or have been brutalized by it, that choice becomes an easier one to make.
Not to sound like a broken record, but this again points up the need for a new type of US soldier. It may be problematic, but it shouldn't be surprising that a soldier trained to kill his enemy will, particularly in a urban/insurgent type of conflict, not be tolerant or kindly to those he may suspect of cooperating with the enemy. Soldiering is a business that those (myself included) who haven't done it cannot begin to comprehend, and the stress that must come with combat is even more unimaginable. It is unfair to take soldiers trained to kill or be killed and ask them to act like policemen. The rules of engagement are different. The jobs are different. And the training is different.
The Defense Department will hopefully be spurred into action by this report. Soldiers are of course still necessary to conduct combat operations. But many of the tasks that our soldiers are asked to do are not those for which they are trained. Our military needs to recognize this fact and begin training troops to be peacekeepers, policemen, and nation builders. This report is just one indication of the damage that may occur if our armed forces cannot adapt to the new missions expected of them.