Thursday, May 05, 2005

And the correct answer is:

I've seen more than a few strong opinions on the Maynulet "mercy killing" case, some of them in the comments on this blog - and that makes me curious. What is the "right" moral stance on mercy killing in combat? Which direction should the moral compass point in that situation?

So I'll ask my readers- what would you do? Let me lay out a scenario for you - perhaps not identical in detail to the Maynulet case. I'll try to set it up with no room to equivocate about the grey areas:

You're the leader of a movement through Indian Country, and you engage a Toyota Corolla trying to penetrate your convoy at a high rate of speed. After it's stopped, you send out a patrol and they report that the inside of the Corolla is wired for detonation - you've just stopped a suicide bombing attack on your men.

The driver of the Toyota, however, is seriously wounded, aware but unable to communicate - and he is in agony. He was eviscerated by a Mk-19 round that hit his door, and has a head injury. Your medic (who is a distinguished trauma surgeon in civilian life - you trust his medical judgment completely) attempts to treat him and comes up to you a few minutes later, seriously agitated. He tells you that there is nothing that can be done: the driver will die, but he may linger for minutes or hours in great pain before he does. The tactical situation does not allow you to evacuate the casualty. What do you do? Why? Do you base your decision on your understanding of the law? On what you think is the moral thing to do regardless of the law? What is the reasoning you followed to make your decision? (I could tell you that you have 30 seconds to make the decision under conditions of great stress, but I won't - I'm not trying to generate sympathy for Cpt. Maynulet here, I want to understand what course of action people would take and how they arrive at their justification for it.) Is there ever a time when obeying "objective law" about killing is evil - or does that law exist to mark the boundaries of a slippery slope too dangerous to ever traverse?

A caveat: If your response was "I'd tell the medic to give him an overdose of morphine," what would you do if the medic gave you a straight-up "Fuck you, sir. The morphine is for us. I have a limited supply. What do I do if one of us gets hit and I need it to treat him?"

OK, now that you've answered that question, let's look at a different scenario - same deal, except instead of a suicide bomber, it's one of your own men - but the tactical situation still doesn't permit evacuation. Does that change your response? If it does, does it make you reconsider the morality of the decision you made earlier?

And another situation - back to the suicide bomber, but now you have an embedded reporter from CNN with the convoy - you know him well enough to know that whatever happens will be seen around the world - either a video of you shooting a helpless, injured man, or a long panning shot of you driving away as he writhes in the street screaming. Does that change your response? If so, is it fear of personal consequences or an appreciation of the impact the video will have?

If it makes you more comfortable, my blog is set up to accept anonymous comments. Also, if you do choose to frame a reply to the hypothetical situation, please let me know if you're a veteran of close combat, or if you've trained for a job that is oriented to close combat (infantry, Ranger, SF, etc.) (NOTE: I'm not at all trying to set up a "if you haven't been there, you aren't entitled to an opinion" line of discussion, but I'm curious to see if there's a distinctly different point of view among people who have seen, or have been in jobs that made it likely to see, close combat.)

Answers will be graded for clarity, originality of thought, grammer and spelling - no, I don't think there is a right answer, and I'll reserve my own thoughts for now. What do you think?

59 Comments:

Blogger Mike said...

Wow...this is a tough one. I can't honestly say what I would do, having never been in combat or remotely in a situation like that. Having said that, I can't fathom mercy shooting anyone; least of all, some terrorist SOB that just tried to kill mr and my men.

As far as my own soldier goes, giving a dose of morphine is one thing. If he's unrecoverable, with absolutely no chance of evac, and in pain, I don't think I'd have a problem with ordering it. Mercy shooting him is quite another, and I'm not sure I could do it. The only way I'm relatively sure I could is in a "left-behind" situation, where there was no evac possible, and I would be forced to leave the seriously wounded behind. (For more on this, see the decisions made by Chindit commanders at Blackpool and Moguang. At both places, Calvert and Masters, respectively, were forced to issue the horrific orders to "'give morphine to those who's eyes are open. I don't want them to see any Japanese.' As he walked down the trail, the sound of single rifle shots echoed behind him. Holding his head in his hands, Calvert muttered, 'I'm sorry, please forgive me.'"

As far as CNN goes, there's no way I would shoot someone with the cameras rolling. Not because of fear of personal repercussions, but because I don't want that video clip being played over and over and over. The footage of the Marine shooting the "harmless" insurgent was bad enough.

My background is an 18 year old high school senior with a severe addiction to military history, entering Air Force ROTC in the fall. Obviously, no combat, and no training as infantry or SF.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Yankee Tech in Germany said...

Soldier for ~6 years, non-Inf, non-sf, non-ranger, but not a LEGs. (Signal Geek).

1> if my medic ever refused to give a living person pain killer, I would remove him from his position with cause. I would understand his point of view, might even share it to some extent, but I would no ever allow a person to just writhe in pain.

2> my reaction to both people would be the same, the bad guy, and my soldier. I would never be in a position where I would leave one of my men behind, just to die a pain full death. You just dont do that, I would either abort the mission, or take him with us. Leaving another soldier behind to die slowly for massive wounds say from a Mk-19 or from a RPG is not an option. I would do everything I could to take the dead with us, and then more to keep the living with us.

3> the CNN reporter is just a red herring, they are not there as far as I am conserved, I would do everything the same way if they were there or not. We as Soldiers (former in my case) can not allow the Anti-American bias of the Media to make Us less effective.

just my 2 cents (or euros as the case my be)

7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am going to wimp out... and use anonymous. The reason will be clear at the end.

There are more than endough problems proposed in this hypothetical. But we are Americans, we don't differentiate between the enemy and our own wounded once the fighting is over. Maybe I live in an ideal world, but I have that luxury.

I am a veteran but by the grace of God have never seen combat. I was enlisted so thankfully I would have most likely had many people over me that would have had to make such a decision, unless all hell had broken loose. In that case all bets are off. The worst thing you can have is a specialist with no one to slow him down.

I would have to say that if available I would have to order the medic to use morphine on the mortally wounded. If he refused a direct that is for him to deal with when the mission is over.


I don't know what an overdose level of morphine is, but I am reasonably sure I can find it though trial an error if the medic won't help.


As to my own soldier, he will never be left behind. You can't do it. Not with the animals we are fighting today. Images of blackhawn down come to mind. You have vehicles, there is space for a body.

Shooting, only if all other options are exhausted or not available. The given scenario does not lend it self to the most drastic.

You did create an interesting easy out in all of this. It was a head wound. Presumably the injured cannot communicate of make any decisions. None of that classic movie line, "Kill me please."

I know I am all over the map with this response, but here is the reason for anonymous...

The reporter, is not of consequence. If you you were forced to shoot the injured you can look at the cameraman and say, turn it off. Only an absolute asshole will not. If you have one of those with you, you are in trouble already. This situration will not be the last thing they try to hang you with.

So why anonymous... I work in the media. The SFAlphaGeek should easily be able to figure out who this is.

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Tomas said...

I'd shoot the bomber and not feel bad or remorseful about it. he's the enemy and he just tried to kill us. I'd put him out of his misery but not feel bad about it. If the camera was there i'd have one of our guys make sure it was off and proceed. As for our soldier...Jesus Christ, God help any one who has to make that decision. One thing's for sure - i wouldn't leave him there, dead or alive.
A more interesting question, perhaps, would be what if your medic, the expert surgeon in civilian life, wasn't so sure as to whether this wannabe bomber was going to die a slow, painful death. what do you do then? I guess if he's still a threat you take him out...but what if he's not? what if he's not a threat, he' in great pain, may not die and yet you can't get to him because the car's wired and may go off at any second....what do you do then?

12:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Camera or no camera, I would leave him and hope he suffered for awhile before he expired. Why waste a bullet. I have been in SF for 13 years, 11 on teams.

12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In 1966, I was with a montagnard strike force company in bad guy land when we ran across a trail watcher. The point man shot the trail watcher who was in agony from a compound fractured tibia.

If we called in a med-evac, it would have taken a half-hour and more bad guys would know we were around; besides, the wounded guy wouldn't have survived. We shot the bad guy and moved on.

I'm retired SF and this is a no-brainer. Read the history of our troops in WWII and understand that war is brutal and cruel. It seems that it is a recent phenomenon that soldiers have to be PC sensitive.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Because of our pc society and the prevalence of the media and it's bias'here's how I think I'd handle the situation. Now obviously I'm not military, never have been.

For the terrorist, I'd leave him to die in agony. He deserves it. I don't want to hear how we are better than them blah blah. There is only so much room in vehicles and in my thinking I wouldn't take valuable space for a dying terrorist who we can't glean any info from. Heartless? Cruel? Whatever.

The preference would be to shoot the dying terrorist but that's not possible in todays environment. I wouldn't waste any pain killer on the terrorist either since it could be used to help maybe another Iraqi child or adult whom the terrorist attacked. I have no sympathy for these animals. I'd treat a non-human animal better than the human terrorist animal.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Shoot the CNN guy and empty the camera.
2. Leave the bad guy in agony. Fuck him.
3. Get your guy out, alive if possible. If not bring the body back.

Former E-6 (40 years ago)

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say...LMAO at the former E-6 Anon.....oh my gosh!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Interesting senario you provide us with. In the first point, I'd like to say that Cpt. Maynulet most likely had other options available to him but the stress of combat and the fog of war (are they the same thing?) most likely clouded his judgement and he did the most humane thing he could.

As for your senario...given all that you provided I believe the only option is to GPS the location of the VBIED with the fatally wounded enemey, contact command and ask them to send a medivac out for the victim, but move on and continue with your mission.

The reason for GPSing the location is two-fold. To identify the hazard for follow on troops and to provide a location of the victim for medivac.

If its one of my men....I bring him along with me...we can continue to treat him as time and situation permits and if he dies,then we have his body for the family...we leave no one behind.

If the CNN camera man asks why I did what I did to the enemy, I tell him as calmly that I can that the tactical situation does not allow for the immediate medivac of the wounded and neither does it allow us to sit around and doctor him until medivac is available as there are thousands of other US troops depending on us to complete our mission. If I stay here, it is very likely that other US troops will be injured or killed because I am not where I am supposed to be. War is hell, but a soldiers job is to move in and close with the enemy as quickly and as deadly as possible in the effort to limit the amount of injury or death that is done yourself. Your first concern must be for the safety of yourself and your fellow soldiers.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Snake Eater said...

A real poser. I'm impressed by Mike's answer and the fact that an 18-year old has read Calvert and Masters. I searched briefly and in vain for my copy of "The Road Past Mandalay" (Masters' book). I know we live in a large house, but I'm continually baffled by the way things disappear.

We, as a society, try to pretty things up too much. Capital punishment has gone from an ugly spectacle (which it should be) to a sterile process in which great care is taken to make sure that the condemned feels no pain. In the event of multiple executions they even clean up in between. So the next guy doesn't get an infection?

In the end, I'd shoot the bad guy (or maybe not...) and give the good guy an OD of morphine. But the reporter makes things tough, doesn't he? Especially when it seems, rightly or not, that the media are out to demonize the military.

It's a situation in which there will be no winners. Only those who do what they feel is the right thing.

For the record, I'm firmly in the corner with CPT Maynulet and 1LT Pantano. And what will the impact of these cases, both which are more a matter of the military turning on its own rather than addressing wrongdoing, on recruiting?

For accounting purposes I'm a FAG--Former Action Guy--with team time in 10th and 20th SF Groups.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Snake Eater said...

I've changed my mind. I'm with the former E-6...

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wanted to say that i am so impressed with the opinions expressed here. most are extremely well thought out, even agonized over...no matter which direction they take. it makes me very proud of you who are in the military (or were) to know that your moral values are very much intact.

2:52 PM  
Blogger gibson said...

I'm a poser, I make no qualms about it. Physical ailments prohibit me from entering the military, though it hasn't dissipated my love for the institution and our troops. My experiences are lived through a sibling, who is an S-2 serving near Baghdad, and my best friend, current Capt. in the 82nd, back home after his second tour.

That being said if given the situation I'd put the guy out of his misery, camera or no camera, and saddle up. Being that the mission is far from over I'd be hesistant to use morphine. With regards to my own, you just can't leave him no matter how bad off he is. I'd ask the medic to try his best to stablize and have my team pick up and go. I'd only OD if down the road it became apparent that my last ditch effort was in vain. Better off having a body to bury than an excuse, even if it would operationally be percieved as valid.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Uncle Jimbo said...

The right thing to do as a human being is shoot the poor bastard. The sad thing is you would have to contrive to lie or cover it up to avoid recriminations.

In any situation where my humanity and any rule collide I follow my heart and F*** the rule.

I hammered the press today for hatin' on the military you gave me some thoughts for a related piece tomorrow . Very challenging piece AG, thanks.

Cordially,

Uncle J

Military Matters

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Kristy said...

Geez...I’ve taken three-hour blue-book finals at UCLA that had fewer component parts than your question.

Oh, and a quick comment before I jump into my attempt at a response: Usually militaryspeak baffles, confuses and annoys me because I can’t follow it, but there are a few phrases that I just love for their clarity and simplicity and perfection. Every time I see "Indian country" it makes me laugh – it’s so politically incorrect but so perfectly expressive.

For the record, in my previous comment, I wasn’t thinking of an overdose of morphine. I’m no expert on it, but does it take an overdose to control pain? I was thinking of giving enough to sedate the person, not to kill him. I have strong feelings against euthanasia, not for legal but for religious reasons. I guess that I also may have idealized expectations about the way that American troops behave, and perhaps that's why I had such a strong visceral reaction to reading about what Captain Maynulet did. I have this mental image of his actions in my head, and it continues to bother me horribly.

I do differentiate between our own wounded and enemy wounded to the extent that I think the medic should treat our own first, and if supplies are limited they should be expended on our own before being made available to others. I'm less sure about having a medic refuse to treat a wounded enemy because he MIGHT need supplies later for an American soldier.

The media angle is interesting. I didn't start out with positive emotions regarding the media, but even I have been shocked at their ridiculously slanted coverage of the War on Terror and of our military. I don't know that it would have occurred to me out there in the field, but I think the previous commentators who suggested forcing him to stop filming in either case were pretty inspired. The reporter's written account of the same actions wouldn't have the same negative impact as a video clip.

I perfectly understand you wanting people to identify whether or not they've been under combat conditions. It's the reason that I was hesitant to offer a follow up to your original post. I know that my ability to sit here in comfort at my desk with a laptop and a cup of coffee is guaranteed by men who don't always have the luxury of making philosophical and theoretical responses to tough questions. My normal instinct truly is to support soldiers who are doing their best in horrendous circumstances. I still can't support what Captain Maynulet did, but I have a lot of respect for the opinions offered by the military people who commented before me.

So...how was my spelling? :-)

4:48 PM  
Anonymous 11thacr said...

Very Good test Of Judgements...I'm a Vet...Cobra Mechanic in Nam... Didn't have to go into the Bush....But do understand the mind set of being in War. To answer your scenerio properly I would have had to have been in country for at least six months. By that time you have seen and heard War. You will have probably have lost a friend or two and would be harden to the fact of Death. With that said. First My outfit would never let the media come along for the ride....and if for some political pressure the media would never have any film in his Camera....Second ...The enemy I would leave in agony...You would have to see what the enemy had done to your Friends up close and personal to understand. A Fellow soldier in Front of Death...I would have the medic make him as comfortable as possible and take him with me....Just in the case that if there was a chance he would get Help that he may need...He may die in my efforts to get him to safety and a Mash Unit...But I would give him every chance to survive.

6:01 PM  
Blogger CL said...

First off I want to say two things: (a) a good question, with all of the trappings that are more than just "theoretical"...very reminiscent of those wonderful Delta Force questions and (b) a nice turn out in the responses...a little bit of everything.

On question 1: I believe that if there is no way to get intel off the enemy, and he is going to die anyway...then he should be put out of his misery. There is no reason for a human to suffer...regardless of his motivations minutes before. In our culture we shoot horses that can't walk...it’s a compassionate death regardless of the life in question.

The only issue I have is with the CNN camera man. And the only amount of time I "believe" I would spend on the situation is what to do about the camera man. Not for my sake but for my command and the larger strategic media picture that sadly has been thrust upon the tactical situations too many times. It is not an issue of preserving my career...but one of sheltering my men from undue hassle and an attempt at keeping the global strategy clear and not providing more ammo to the media.

I do not know how I would deal with CNN guy...not being there and not having all of the options for that problem in front of me I can't answer. But I do know I would deal with that in some manner while putting the enemy combatant out of his misery in the most expedient way, utilizing the fewest resources available to me.

On to question 2: If there is no chance of survival, no way to communicate his intentions, I am going to hope as his comrade or commander that I would know him well enough to know his thoughts and wishes or know someone there who does.

Absent of any other information I would do the same thing with one of my own as I did with the enemy fighter, but with a different resource. Morphine to make the pain go away, and try to make sure that the soldiers passing is as painless, comfortable, and dignified as possible as we moved on to the objective…or exit Indian Country.

In the end I think it's not about laws...it's about your morals and ethics. I feel that if there is no chance for survival...and nothing but pain in the future as death comes...it's a no brainier.

Spent my 3.5 years in the 82nd Airborne DIVARTY...whether luck or not (depends on my mood and feelings at the time) I served between wars so all I have is my training in artillery and basic infantry skills used for advanced party work while emplacing the battery.

CL

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former 82nd, Just Cause/Desert Storm

Leave the enemy there to die in pain. Take your own with you.

Don't have the media with you because they are going to nail you no matter what you do.

7:52 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Obviously you can't shoot the guy, with CNN nearby filming. Doesn't arterial bleeding bring death in only a few minutes? Couldn't someone sever a fermoral artery quickly, quietly, and efficiently without notice... seems that would do the trick with no shots fired and CNN none the wiser. The terrorist would already have shrapnel wounds, so this wouldn't be so noticeable - as long as he was not conscious enough to raise a fuss. What do you boys carry those big knives around for anyway? ;)

But my opinion won't count for much: former Air Force high-heels/little-blue-skirt-type and wife of a 2x sandbox combat vet. Daddy was an infantry platoon sgt in Vietnam, and I wonder what he would say. Something along the lines of the SPC above, I suppose.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Froggy said...

Choke the terrorist out. Now that he "died", take a claymore, a standard charge, or maybe a grenade (with time fuse of course) and put it next to the suicide bomb and hope for a high order secondary. If possible, call CAS down on it to "disable the bomb." If you don't have medevac available then you don't have EOD support available either I would expect.

If it's your guy, set up a perimeter and let the medic and the other EMTs in the Team go to work for an hour or until the medic calls it if you cannot medevac. OD on morphine is a no brainer here. Depending upon where you are at in the mission there are many options with respect to the body. You can't leave the Teammate permanently, but you might have to cache him for a while to finish your op.

With the CNN guy nearby, you have to keep him from the vehicle for "his safety" and choke out the terrorist and dispose of the vehicle according to SOP with undetonated ordinance.

To me, morals in a combat situation are a luxury. If you can avail yourself of them that's great, but as a leader of men you have a responsibility to get your boys home and preserve your resources for an unknown future. Making decisions in combat based on what CNN might think is very dangerous. I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

I have been a SEAL for 13 years

8:55 PM  
Blogger remoteman said...

I am not military, but do work with them in my job (and regret never serving).

I'm glad that Froggy brought up the EOD angle. The car is a threat to everyone around it. If you feel confident about getting close to the car (ie don't suspect the possibility of a nearby remote detonation), then I think you end the guy's life as quickly and quietly as possible. If shooting is the only option, then that is what you do. After that, call in vehicle's location for EOD/airstrike to neutralize it. That will take care of any evidence should that be a concern.

The car is the reason that the CNN reporter should be at least 100 yards back. He should never have a chance to film.

I don't know if I could shoot one of my own guys. If morphine were available, I would dope him up until he passed, then make sure I did everything possible to get his body out.

I can't express my admiration adequately for those of you who put yourselves in the position where decisions like this may be required. And, again, I wish I had been more mature when I was at the age where joining the military was an option.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous GORDON said...

Former Marine, here.

You said:
"(NOTE: I'm not at all trying to set up a "if you haven't been there, you aren't entitled to an opinion" line of discussion, but I'm curious to see if there's a distinctly different point of view among people who have seen, or have been in jobs that made it likely to see, close combat.)"

But, that's just it - if you WEREN'T there, then you DON'T know. The whole world got to see a 30 second video of an event taken out of context. It meant nothing, and yet it almost meant everything.

If that makes sense.

10:25 PM  
Blogger FinnCanuck said...

Interesting comments.

I am leaning towards the mercy shooting.

I as well do not know how much morphine it would take to send one off to the next realm. That unknown ammount may very well be needed for your own guys.

For the terrorist the end result in any event is death. I think it would haunt me less knowing that an end was put to his agony.

While thinking of my own response to the question posed, I was reminded of a book I read.
Dilemma elsewhere.Viet Nam era book: "Home Before Morning" by Lynda Van Devanter, a Nurse. After having been in surgery for hours, she was called upon again to assist, upon seeing that the patient was a NV officer, whom she felt could very well be responsible for the onslaught. She refused. Upon being counseled by her senior, she did indeed assist, but prepped by using her own saliva.

My military background: retired Army Reserve. Never been in harm's way. I did volunteer for Afghanistan in 2003. Local Civil Affairs unit was being deployed. I was still in IRR at the time. Being an E grade, I needed a grade waiver to attend the MOS course, the higher HQ declined the request.

Most recent attempt LOL, since having my second Honorable Discharge in hand, I spent 11 1/2 hrs at the local MEPS on April 11th. 4 hrs waiting for a med waiver on hypertension. Thought about lieing about the meds for the hypertension ,I would have been back in uniform by now.

Large number of personnel from my old Division are slated for Afghanistan later this year.

Take care.

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Media cuts both ways in this situation. There's a lot of distrust of media coverage (and rightly so, for they tend to show things out of context and screw up the facts)... nevertheless, a question to ponder:

If you were an insurgent and you believed that the satanic enemy shot all wounded and prisoners on sight, would you be more or less willing to surrender? If you believed that the enemy was someone who was humane and felt pity and would treat you fairly, would you be more or less willing to surrender?

That being said, using the CNN crew to project an image of your medic feverishly trying to "save" the wounded bad guy (or otherwise show humane treatment) might be a psychological point in our favor.

Considering that short clips get repeated on tv over and over again, trying to set up the CNN coverage for a better looking video might not be too bad a thing.


Anyway, my background is an engineer working in the defense industry. No military service other than trying to invent new solutions to help our side. I've been reading the book "On Killing" by Dave Grossman, which has made me wonder what trauma would be induced in a shooter acting ruthlessly with respect to a helpless enemy.

12:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trust me, this is not to bring on a flame war, but inside of CNN there are pictures of coworkers who are servering their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also pictures of employees children who are serving in a war zone.

I know that CNN gets a bad wrap and sometimes it is deserved, but that is the nature of the beast. I noticed that only one person mentioned using the media to an advantage.

The fact is that in todays world the media is anyone with a camera and an internet connection.

Mass media gets the blame for bias but I remember seeing terrorist created video all over the news.

Just as we were or are soldiers and know and react to certain situations by using force before trying to think it out, the reporter or camera man's first reaction is to record the story.

On more than one occasion video that is unflattering has landed in the archive. As long as nothing bad happens nothing is done with it, but if it becomes a court case or other event it can come to light.

The hard truth is that joe six pack is uncomfortable watching what soldiers do in combat. He enjoys seeing Rambo like actions in movies, but the reality of war brought to his televison while he is eating pizza and waiting for Survivor to start is not comfortable. He knows it goes on but doesn't want to be confronted with it.

Also, Fox who give postive coverage far more often is just as likely to roll film while a soldier does something necessary but morally questionable. They are reporters too.

The most damage done to the military with a camera was done by soldiers, if you can call them that. I am not sure but in my time in the Army we were never taught to have prisioners do naked pyramids.

Sorry to take the focus from the topic at hand.

I will wimp out and stay anonymous.

2:29 AM  
Blogger Snake Eater said...

Some interesting answers.

Gordon looks for a fight where there is none. And no, it doesn't make sense.

Froggy has a good lock on doing what needs to be done.

We've all seen some movie in which a good guy is fatally hurt--usually he's given a grenade or pistol and provided with a situation in which he can "take some of them with him". Last thing they do is light his cigarette. Doesn't work with modern medical care. Someone too far gone isn't going to be able to grasp or operate any sort of weapon.

I can stomach the idea of mercy shooting a terrorist. At the same time I can stomach leaving him to die in agony.

Excepting certain cases where I might make a shot from a distance to prevent some horrible event from ocurring, if things were utterly hopeless--my team was about to be overrun and there was no hope--it would have to be something like a morphine OD.

Beyond that I would do anything possible, without compromising the safety of my team, to bring him home.

3:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Situation:

one:
Steal the explosives,if the enemy gives you a weapon take it.
Knife the tango,and continue the mission.

two:
{with CNN reporter}
Steal the explosives,if the enemy gives you a weapon take it.
Give the "combatant" just one dose to reduce the pain, leave the CNN geek behind to aid/report.(Hearts&Minds thing.)
Continue mission.

three&four -four in brackets []
{one of our own & with CNN}
Steal the explosives,if the enemy gives you a weapon take it.
Have the medic dose the wounded,[then instruct the CNN geek how to re-dose,leave them both(wounded and CNN guy) behind with a few doses.]Continue mission.

I would have IED victom/car, but this would result in a non-combatant death or deaths.
(NOT Hearts&Minds)
Yes, I know but; sooner or later you have to work with locals,and word WILL get around, it always does.

The mission isn't primary, it is the ONLY concern.

I was a "leg" grunt in '84.
I wanted to go SF, ended up cheering from the sidelines.

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Situation 1. We bandage the terrorist, tie his hands, search and silence, and drag to the side of the road, away from the car. We back off to a covered and concealed position and call it in. If the bad guy has friends who come to get him we'll shoot them too. After a little while we'll move out.

2. We casevac him. If not, leave a squad behind with him, do the mission, and come back for him. But I'd rather casevac.

3. This guy is an EIB training dummy for a junior PFC. We'll go through the motions for the camera but I'm not going to shoot the bad guy.

4. This is, oddly, the toughest call. If the camera is there then we're calling in a casevac. I really dont see a choice. The rationale is that I dont want the homefront to see one of my guys die on TV while we do nothing about it. Perception is reality.
There is a teaching point here for me in that I would not allow a cameraman on a time dependent mission where casevac capability is uncertain.

5:07 AM  
Anonymous AHS MilBlogger said...

My answer first, then on to my rant...

If the guy is the enemy, then I don't care about how much suffering he is going through. My duty under the Law of Land Warfare is to treat him, once he is no longer a threat, and it is good training for my medic to treat someone with severe trauma. If the medic tells me, "sorry sir, I can't do anything but sit here and watch him suffer" then I hand him a Snickers bar (not going anywhere for a while?).

If it were one of my soldiers critically wounded, no I would not do a mercy killing. I have seen medics do too many incredible things to give up on a guy. Even if I had no faith in the medics, I'm not God. I just attempt to impersonate him when the enemy is in sight.

And now the rant...

What pissed me off about this trial was that the Major who prosecuted this guy actually said something to the effect of "he did not call higher for guidance" as if this were something damning. The good Captain was a company commander. What do we have company commanders for, if they need to call higher to make a simple decision? How far does the Major think that line of reasoning should be carried?

Admin data: 11A5S, headlong into my 2nd tour in tax-free Iraq

6:16 AM  
Anonymous MKL said...

The correct military answer in all cases is contact chain of command first so the "bad" news in those examples can be spun properly and higher ups can commence their own CYA OPs.

If terrorist is twitching, shoot because he's a threat still. I think the Brit/US/Canadian reaction to SS troops is the example I'd use.

If non-twitching then flex cuff and leave.

Mortally wounded US servicemember, made comfortable as possible, call for evac, priority being safety of the evac unit. If firefight/time constraints prohibit that then bring the casualty along with you.

Technically, couldn't the Geneva Convention against filming of prisoners could be used to keep the CNN camera from filming?

I'm a civvy but I did play a soldier a few times on TV and stayed at a Holiday Inn once back in 1978.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"That being said, using the CNN crew to project an image of your medic feverishly trying to "save" the wounded bad guy (or otherwise show humane treatment) might be a psychological point in our favor." No offense to the poster of this comment but that piece of tape would never make the news. I have never served in the military but I am a strong supporter of our troops and I am extremely upset with the media's slanted coverage.
That being said, I will take a shot at the question posed. Our guy-easy call.Do what you can to make him comfortable and take him with you always. He is some Mother's son and she deserves to get her boy back. The terrorist is another story of course.Is there anyway he could possbily find the strength to detonate the car? If so,take him out. If not leave him,save the morphine. Call in for the strike and move on. He would slit your throat or mine in a NY minute. Not very PC now am I?

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish I had saved the answer I was working on earlier when my power went out. Oh well, such is life with electronics.

You pose an interesting series of questions, none of them with easy answers. To be honest, I think the hardest part of the answer is the injury you describe  Evisceration in of it self is not necessarily fatal; normally you just pack the eviscerated organs in wet/sterile gauze and transport. Even with the compromise of a head injury, you’re still not looking at a fatal wound at that point.

But anyways, for the sake of the hypothetical, I’ll play. Assuming the driver is not of any intel value and has been extricated from the vehicle, if he is alert, oriented and able to communicate, make his situation known to him, make him comfortable if possible, contact command with his location and request a dustoff when/if possible. If he’s not A&O, give him enough morph to take him under the pain. It’s only going to take a couple of mL’s at that point.

As for your own soldier, load and go, treat enroute. If there was no way humanly possible to get him out to definitive care, put him under with Morphine, all the way under if there is no other option.

As for the camera crew, with the exception of a traditional coup de grace, they would have no bearing really. *Laugh* It would have been so much easier if you had said the guy had 3rd degree burns of the torso/head/neck, the decisions you’re asking for would be much easier to snap off.

There are times when the humane answer does not coincide with the legal, or accepted moral answer. Some say that the person making the judgment call is playing god, but in the end, how is it different than the way we triage a MasCal? You help the most severely wounded that you think you can save first, the ones you think you can’t save are made comfortable and if they are still hanging in after the first round, then they are seen to. The decision is still the same one, you are deciding who is getting the immediate chance to live or die. In the triage situation, the decisions are accepted without question, in the field in the right situation, you find yourself blasted on every news station as the days murderer.

“veteran of close combat, or if you've trained for a job that is oriented to close combat infantry, Ranger, SF, etc.”

In the civilian world, I’m a paramedic. In the Army I was a medic and later in aero-medivac, have done time in DS and OIF II.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Froggy makes a good point.

After I posted my answer and thought about it for a few hours, I came to the same conclusion...the veicle is too dangerous to leave as is. If given the opportunity to rethink my answer (which I won't have in a time sensitive situation) I'd have to blow the vehicle also...regardless if the enemy driver is dead or almost dead. It's too dangerous to leave there. Of course, maybe someone at command would come to teh same conclusion and using my GPS of the hazard would have called in a gunship to do just that.

2:22 PM  
Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

Never been in the military, and regret that a lot.

Situation 1:

How do you know the guy doesn't have a detonator. Shoot him if he's still moving, he's a threat. Leave him if he's not, you don't know if approaching him will cause him to set the car off. Follow the SOP for dealing with the VBIED, I assume cordone and call for an EOD team.

Same applies if there is a cameraman with you. We can't approach the VBIED or the driver for safety reasons.

Situation 2:

Do everything you can to make the soldier comfortable. Give him the proper dose of morphine to deal with the pain. Do everything you can to save him.

In todays wired world, shouldn't you always assume that you'll be on video, whether from a representative of the media, a fellow soldier, a stray civilian with a camera, your enemy filming an ambush, or a Predator/satellite overhead.

Now, make the situation slightly different, one that has been in movies continually (more so in WWII movies.) Instead of being severly injured from a grenade blast, the insurgent or fellow soldier is completely engulfed in flame, and staggering around in agony. I'd have far less trouble administering the coup de grace, as the person is a danger not only to themselves but to everyone around them.

The case that the retired SF soldier brought up when he was with the montagnard strike force, is different as taking the enemy injured with you is not an option, neither is calling in a medevac. Leaving the injured enemy could compromise the unit.

Compromising the unit in this situation was not an option.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Major Mike said...

Leave the suffering terrorist...unless his wailing jeopardizes the mission in some way...then morph him. The medic does not own his kit, the US gov does, so he'll give it up or get a GCM.

The only mercy killing I would do, it to about three or four other officers who our my best friends...I would do it for them, and suffer the consequences. No superiors, no troops...regardless of circumstances. Both could eventually lead to impossible situations within the unit...on that mission and out into the future. Do your best if it is your troop, only positive things can come out of it. I'd take responsibility for the failure of the tactical mission at that point...caveat...if the rest of my unit was in any increased danger while trying to retrograde or medevac, I'd press on, taking the troop, while providing the best (now diminished) care possible. If he died, I could live with that.

Up to this point, I'd let the CNN guy shoot away. He sticks his camera in my face, I take off my oak leaves and pin them on his shoulder and put him in charge...then shoot his camera. I think I'd get my oak leaves back in short order.

Great question.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous 11thacr said...

I have to Agree Fully with Major Mike....
Which is just about what I said.....
Thanks Major,,,,

12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My info: civilian, former journalist, no combat experience (but thanks to this blog I now know how to pretend to be a Green Beret :-)
Kill badly wounded enemy, yes or no? My reasoning here: how would I want to be treated if I were in the same position (dying, at the mercy of the enemy)? I would want to be put out of my misery if there was no chance of recovery. I would have the doc administer the overdose of morphine (seems easier & more humane than shooting the man).
Kill badly wounded comrade: Same decision, same reasoning. The only difference would be that I would feel a stronger obligation to recover the body of one of my soldiers and return it to base. That isn't really fair, of course. Some old grey-haired mother is going to be wailing over the dead body of that enemy soldier, too, and if time and circumstances allowed, the body should really be extricated from the car and put by the side of the road in hopes that someone would eventually be able to identify him.
Doc refuses to treat enemy: I would override the medic here and administer the dose myself if necessary. Holding back morphine for future possible casualties is a not a convincing arguement in my book. You've gotta treat the wounded you've got as opposed to the ones that may or may not show up at some future date.
At the heart of both of the above scenarios is the question of what it means to be a professional. The abrasive nature of war gradually takes off layers of your humanity as time goes on. The question for me--and I think the question for anyone is the same situation--is can you put aside your fear, your anger, your exhaustion, your desire to strike back at anyone handy and treat a wounded enemy fairly, justly, mercifully? That's professionalism as I define it.
Presence of CNN reporter with videocam: I'm a veteran of 10 plus years in a large bureaucracy (and the military is nothing if not a large bureaucracy) and if that experience has taught me anything, it's this: if you are making a decision that you know is going to be controversial (or second-guessed by Higher Up), DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. I would first thank my lucky stars that there was a video camera present. I would make it point to bring the camera operator in so he/she could get a clear shot of what was going on. I would explain what I was about to do and why and take full responsibility, on camera, for the decision. If the medic was refusing to administer the morphine, I would make a point of noting that I was overriding him. I would ask the camera operator to save the raw footage (not the edited footage) and --this is critical--I would ask him/her to make two copies--one for me and one for any military authorities that might be interested.
I would NOT, under any circumstances, either stage something for the media's benefit or conceal my actions from them. Both are lies and lies will come back and bite you in the behind sooner or later.
Why I would encourage the filming: First, I'm covering my own backside. If Higher Up is planning on throwing me under the bus, I'm going down fighting and I'm going to need all the help I can get. I've often thought it a shame, incidentally, that soldiers don't routinely tape record/videotape their patrols/actions like the cops do. It would save a lot of "shots fired" paperwork at the very least.
Second, I'm aware that this footage is going to be seen by civilians, both American and foreign, who may not understand why I'm making this decision. Taking the time to educate the public will save a lot of grief later.
--RLR

1:05 AM  
Blogger Major Mike said...

SFAG...great tickler...this is why I blog, and read blogs.
RLR...thanks for the relevant insight. MM

5:47 AM  
Blogger Lennie Briscoe said...

English Ex-Reserve Infantry (PWRR).

As a soldier I would give him a soldiers death.

As a man I would treat his wounds as if he was my own.

.."if you are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory"

11:07 PM  
Anonymous DDO said...

Sgt. Delta 2/12 25th Inf Div Sept67/Sept.68


I would be PO'd at my patrol leader for not shooting the insurgent as soon as he saw the car was wired to detonate. Depending on what material was available (C-4 w/fuse, LAW, Claymore Mine, direct fire, etc) the vehicle and insurgent would be blown in place to destroy the potential danger it poses.

Since I don't trust the CNN reporter or his editors he would only be allowed to go, see, and hear what I would allow.

My own man would receive enough morphine to relieve his pain. The medic would tend to him until he dies or can be evacuated. I would lie to him telling him he would be ok, etc.

What the law says is allowed doesn't matter much to me. The surpreme law is to do what will protect your men and still accomplish your mission.

5:01 AM  
Anonymous Noah said...

Pertinent info: Never served, can't.

Okay, the bad guy is in a VBIED, and in bad shape. Back off, back the camera way off, and take the guy out/end his suffering, single round if reasonalbe, otherwise blast him again. Why? First, simple humanity. Second, as long as he's in that VBIED and conscious, he's a threat, and might decide to take us out when enough approach. Or the VBIED could be rigged in all sorts of nasty ways. Call someone who can take care of it properly, once the bad guy is out for good.

Now, as for one of my own...treat as much as possible. If medevac is impossible, keep treating him until the medic calls it, while loading him up and moving on. If the medic can't do anymore, give enough morphine to ease the pain. We don't leave him behind if he's alive. If he's my trooper, I stay with him, if at all reasonable. I might be overly sentimental here, but if he's going to die on my watch, I should be the one to walk him to the edge and pray for his soul.

This, of course, is all thought out from the comfort of my home.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Non-military civvie here... FWIW

First, I don't think that a soldier, much less an officer, can view this situation in a vacuum. You are there to do a job; you are a representative of your nation; if the locals (who may be watching from a distance or may be watching via CNN or Al Jazeera, and have NO idea what your personal situation or moral impulse is) get the idea that American soldiers shoot helpless locals for kicks (as far as they know), your mission just got harder. If the enemy is afraid that he'll be shot if he surrenders, he will fight to the end; if he believes that he'll recieve no mercy he'll be less inclined to show any. If the local civilians believe that Yankees are no better than the "resistance", they'll be more on-side with the people trying to kill you. Do what you can for the enemy's wounded, not just for your own ethics or the UCMJ but because it's the smart thing to do... but that's "what you can", not "what you feel like". If there's no way to save him than make him comfortable (morphine, shade, et cetera as far as possible without endangering your mission or your troops) and let him die on his own. There's nothing 'soft' or weak about this position; after all, dead is dead and even if he DID shoot at your people five minutes ago he's not going to get any deader if you shoot him now. The only person harmed by "mercy-killing" an enemy, as Maynulet shows, will be YOU... and your mission.

No, I've never been in that position myself and don't know what I'd do personally... but I'm pretty sure that whatever course of action I took wouldn't lead me to pointing a rifle at an injured man no threat to me or mine and good-as-dead already and pulling the trigger. (note: if the situation is still 'hot' or there's reason to believe he's shamming that's a different story; I have no qualms about 'insurance' rounds, just with 'mercy' ones.)

The final rule of warfare is not to do what you wouldn't want done to you, and the FIRST rule of justice is that it has to apply to you, too. We executed a LOT of Germans and Japanese after World War Two, for doing exactly what CPT Maynulet did. The only difference was that they were doing it to Americans.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Dar said...

Headshot for the VBIED driver, plain and simple--it is humane to end his suffering, and I wouldn't trust him to have another weapon or detonator and turn my back on him anyway.

Morphine for the mortally wounded comrade--not to OD, because that effectively makes the medic the one who killed him, but enough to ease his pain.

I could only imagine shooting a comrade if he were in danger of roasting alive in a fire, or if there were no morphine and he begged to be put out of his misery--but it'd be the toughest decision of my life.

7:38 PM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Easy to think about and answer from my chair. I like the idea of a 30 second thought response. Your brain just doesn't work the same when you are wearing a 25 pound IBA, 20 pounds of other junk, and a kevlar in the 100+ iraqi sunshine. Couple that with the stress of leading troops, and not knowing which bullet/IED has your name on it, and then this easy decision making process gets ten times more complicated.

As for my answer.

I'm the insensitive type. If an insurgent has attempted to harm myself or any of my companions, he will die. End of story. I don't care if he is wearing a pink tu-tu and singing mary poppins. That's like saying that an attempted murderer in the US shouldn't be tried because he works with children. Sensitivity dies when combat starts. If it was my own troop, I would give my life to save him. It's amazing how fast you can move with a bleeding friend in the back of your humvee. As with your scenario, no I wouldn't shoot my comrade. (Morphine works) And yes, I would shoot the insurgent.

As for my experience, I'm typing on my computer in northern Iraq, putting up with shoddy internet, after returning an hour ago from a combat patrol. I leave the wire daily, and I hope to be home for Christmas.

Out

1:00 PM  
Blogger KeithM, Indy said...

For a not theoretical at all situation see the following post...

http://michaelyon.blogspot.com/2005/05/rounding-up-bombers.html

3:40 PM  
Blogger armynurseboy said...

Army Trauma Nurse here. 9 years in and served in OIF I. I've taken care of bad guys that were brought in right on the heels of the guys they shot and/or killed. Those was a pretty touchy situations. On one hand, many of us wanted to bring them out behind the aid station and finish the job, but on the other, I'm also obligated to help the injured, regardless of who they are (now I often tell the line dogs to make seure they shoot straight so we don't have to worry about this). Medical ethics won out.

As for this situation, it's a toughie. I don't like seeing people suffer, but I also don't want to waste valuable assests like Morphine or be barbaric like using a knife. If there was no hope at all, I'd probably shoot him. I've seen guys die of nasty wounds. No one needs to go out like that.

Point of information. It takes A LOT of morphine to OD someone. More than a medic normally carries (if they carry any at all). There are other drugs you could give to kill quickly and painlessly. One option is to shoot them up with Potassium Chloride. It will stop the heart instantly. Only problem is this usually isn't carried by a medic. Another is using a paralytic (succnylcholine or vecuronium). This will paralyze their breathing, but won't do anything about pain or knock them out. So they are fully conscious while they suffocate! If you are nice, you can always use a sedative like versed which will put them to sleep. These last drugs are used for intubation, so if the PA or Doc trusts that medic, he may carry it in his aidbag (I know 18D's and Flight Medics carry them)

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He gets nothing. Let him sit until his brainstem swells, and he stops breathing. He ain't heavy, and he ain't my brother.

11:24 AM  
Blogger NOTR said...

I wrote about this in early April. The Captain Maynulet's conviction took me back to Benning School for boys patrolling training....I find the responses you got here fascinating.

http://rofasix.blogspot.com/2005/04/us-soldier-convicted-in-court-martial.html

7:34 PM  
Blogger Dunerati said...

Not sure you can decide this without the heat of battle, because I'm tempted to say fuck the aif and just leave his ass, tuff shit bozo. Yes you can say racism or elitism or whateverism you want but even the iraqis would agree: me and my brother against my cousin, my and my cousin against... so its not necesarily a moral failing to weigh the life of a close friend higher than an enemy. I mean you can respect your enemy while still keeping in mind they are the enemy.

Son of poster-child for "once a marine, always a marine", Brother of current marine:
AIF:
a) Drop him like lead weight
b)attempt to flag down vehicle, order to take to nearest hospital, forget about it. If no vehicle, oh well.
ISF/Coalation:
any and everything possible: can you accomplish mission and get him somewhere to help?never leave him/her behind
CAmeraman:
SHOOT HIM, he's AIF anyway

would it make a difference if your wounded was a female?
anyone who said they'd still leave them, want to touch it?

9:02 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

This isn't a no-brainer, but some of the circumstances given are.

1. AIF is dying, could be minutes or hours till he's dead, and he's sitting on a bomb. At this point in time, THAT'S THE MISSION. If you leave, there's always the chance some other AIF will detonate the bomb on the next patrol than ambles by. You never leave the IED until you are relieved of the scene. So the sense of urgency to leave is gone. If there is still a firefight going on at the time, then get under some cover, fight the fight, and worry about the car bomber when its over. You won't be ordered to leave for aother mission, unless other troops are in contact. If that's the case, kick it higher. Let someone above you make the call (someone sitting in a TOC not getting shot at and weighing the ifs, as it were.)
2. Your medic refuses to give him a "push" because the medecine is for your men. Exactly the right answer. Give him enough so he won't be in abject pain, control the situation, and wait for medevac/EOD. After all, in ten seconds YOU might need that medecine.
3. One of your soldiers is the guy who is hurt. If you choose to leave a dying soldier because of necessity (and they just aren't going to happen in this particular little war) then there is a special place in hell for you. And you deserve it. No soldier deserves to die alone, and to leave a fallen comrade is so anathema to our ethos that that it does not merit discussion. Ask Gordon/Shugart what they think. You've got wounded, secure the area and wait on the birds/medevac. Period.
4. What if it was a female soldier. Same answer as #3. There is no differentiation.
5. CNN Guy? If it's AIF, let him take all the pictures he wants. Be the evil American who lets the brave insurgent whither and die. It would do more for our cause to show the Iraqis that we hate these guys as much as your average Iraqi does. If it's one of your soldiers who is hurt, tell the cameraman if he takes one picture of that soldier, you will cuff him to the nearest immovable object, put a uniform on him, and leave him there for the Terrorists.

I may not be the right guy to comment, Just a company commander in Iraq.

6:23 PM  
Blogger exMI said...

Hmmm, I have a different take on this. I just recently got out of the army corrections system for a case of terminal stupidity. One of the fellows in there with is currently servinhg a three year term for a mercy killing. A copy of this thread was mailed to my by a friend. He asked me to post his stroy hear when I got out and if it is ok with the alphageek I will.

11:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These things (blogs) are great, and I wish everyone could have sat through the entire week long trial to understand the complexity of the situation facing CPT Maynulet on that dusty road outside of Kufa.

It was the defense theory that CPT Maynulet was entitled to an instruction on the mistake of law defense -- which means that if he had an honest and reasonable mistake of law regarding the law of war (LOW) governing his actions, then the military panel MUST acquit him of all charges. This theory was based on several things, including the briefing the troops, including CPT Maynulet received before deploying to Iraq. In that briefing, the soldiers were told to minimize human suffering and act in a manner to respect humanity. At the same time, they were taught not to engage the enemy who are out of the battle due to sickness or wounds. There was no teaching that mercy killing was wrong, or permitted. The defense theory was that this briefing (that lasted about an hour) was confusing at best. The military judge denied the defense requested instruction, therefore the defense was denied the only legal defense to the conduct of CPT Maynulet.

Also, if everyone could have sat through the trial, you would have heard conflicting testimony from the neuorsurgeons as to whether the insurgent was dead or alive at the time of the shooting. Two defense neurosurgeons concluded that you could not tell from the videotape whether the movements seen before the firing of the weapon were reflexive or voluntary. If they were reflexive, caused by the spinal cord and not the brain, the government could not prove the insurgent was alive at the time of the shooting, and hence that the insurgent was not killed by the orignial head wound.

Finally, those who did not see the trial were unable to see the parade of combat veterans who testified about CPT Maynulet's character on the battlefield -- his caring for Iraqis, risking his life and the life of soldiers for treating Iraqis -- there was no report in the press that he was the 1st responder to the UN bombing and coordinated the rescue effort -- or that when his troops were taking sniper fire from a building, he prohibited them from firing a main gun round into the building fearing that there were civilians in the building, and instead order a dismounted clearing of the building, whereupon an Iraqi family was discovered hiding.

On sentencing, the defense theory was that CPT Maynulet, in a split second, made a wrong decision that should not be criminal. Forget the fact that his battalion commander would not authorize an air MEDEVAC -- forget the fact that they were still engaged in a critical mission that lasted several more hours -- forget the fact that a ground evacuation by the unit would have compromised the mission -- forget the fact that less than 2KM away, a unit coming to assist CPT Maynulet were ambushed, and engaging main gun rounds -- forget that CPT Maynulet was trying to minimize human suffering as he was taught -- forget that he was acting humanely -- his actions were wrong, but steadfastly should not be criminal under the circumstances.

As to the original questions -- just a few comments. I have not been in combat, but defended those who have been. As slippery the slope is regarding sanctioning CPT Maynulet's actions, is to the slippery slope in questioning his actions. The strength of our combat soldiers is that they act decisively on the battlefield based on training and planning. Period. Failure to do so will result in unnecessary casualties.

Regarding use of morphine -- death is death -- whether by an overdose of morphine or a bullet to the head or decapitation. While some of the means may be more socially acceptable -- the outcome is the same, and if death eliminates human suffering, then the mode of death is irrelevant, and the only question is whether the elimination of that suffering was justified, or lawful, or not.

Regarding having CNN there. Here is the deal with CPT Maynulet. Anyone at the trial would have known that he was briefed on this mission and knew that there was a UAV in the sky. In fact, he knew that his orders were being relayed based on this video. As such, he knew that his actions were being observed when he made the decision on the ground. Knowing this, according to his testimony at trial, he did the honorable thing.

Thanks for reading our take on this very difficult issue.

A person present throughout the entire trial.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Jakob said...

Since CNN is there, give him minimum treatment (your medic has packed enough. a small ampulla of MO doesn't take space), let everyone see that even if the guy dressed in civvies (no geneva applies here) you respect your combatants - and watch the video never making it into the news, since you displayed actions not interesting to biased MSM.

Jakob
Paramedic & med student
no military experience

4:21 PM  
Anonymous phill said...

im a medic in the british army. Ive done five tours, including telic, and telic 4 in al'amarah with c coy 1pwrr. i've been in a few situations. In all honesty i'd treat the guy like i belive he's going to live, weather thats for him, or for the guys mates watching, untill he dies. i did this during danny boy with a sada malitia guy with a hand size hole in his back, he couldnt breath properly, and he had lost too much blood. i did everything possible even though i knew he was going to die. evac was not possible, he died 45 mins later. i would never have just left him.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous cambsfrog said...

Well from what I've read so far of your blog I can see two things in that situation:
1. the CNN guy is there to make you look bad and will use whatever means he can to do so - not because he dislikes you, but because shocking news = more money = better position for him.
2. The terrorist is dying and can't be taken out of the car or anything similar, whilst not having any potential for useful info.

Also similar to your story of the ill dog, the morphine should be kept for the team more than anything else.

Hence... I'd say in this situation you should go for survival rather than morals, and thus as the guy is going to die anyway, finish him off with a quick bullet (to stop the possibly recordable screams) whilst "accidentally" pushing/switching off the camera so that it doesn't film. Or even plain old destroy the tape. You can even explain to the journalist that you're doing that because the media recorded would be seen in a distorted way when back home.

Although saying that, I have a lot of respect for journalists who actually go out and accompany troops rather than stay in a comfy 4* hotel protected by legions of heavily armed personel, e.g. our very own Florence Aubenas captured for a very lengthy time (who btw rather than selling her story when she got back made a point to try and shed light on a misjudged paedophilia case where a couple of people had been jailed because kids had been made to lie by their twisted mum, even though the interviewing journalist was trying to bring the subject back to her experiences in Iraq).

Now if it's one of your own men that is in that situation, I think the morale of the team is more important than anything - I would recommend asking all of your team members what their opinions would be before deciding, whilst I'd personally give the teammate enough morphine to not endure pain until he dies naturally of his wounds.

However I know nothing about these things, being 1. an 18yo uni student 2. a "cheese-eating surrender monkey", so my opinion is probably completely worthless. May I just say I respect you enormously for doing a job I would never even be able to do.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous cambsfrog said...

Forgot something:
it's worth noting that a part of the Spetznaz (Russian SF) equipment during Soviet times was a needle and poison called "blissful death" in a syringe. If any members of the team were injured during a landing, he was to inject himself the Blissful Death or if not able to do so, another of his teammates had to (as an injured team member could possibly fail the mission). If either the person refused to inject himself whilst he could or the teammate refused to inject him, they had to be shot dead by another team member as they were deemed cowards and hence a risk for the mission (and not worthy of the Blissful Death).
Read that in some biography of an ex-spetznaz, not sure whether it's true but it seems logical enough.
But as you said in another post (regarding a village that the Soviets would have bombed to the floor and that you guys spared), this could be why you are doing well in Afghanistan when the Soviets failed.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the terrorist inside, If the Toyota would still run I woud have my men pick it up, turn it around, put a brick on the gas pedal and send it back whence it came. Whoever has such great morals to use wounded suicide bombers would obviously appreciate the moral question I would be sending them.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no right answer. I would give the suicide bomber a fentanyl lollipop, and CM! Your medic has qualified him in the catagory of soon to die. The issue that many people did not consider was the VBIED. This is a danger that cannot be left alone. Marking it, calling it in, and leaving is not an option; the VBIED would be used later on a unit not so, "on it's toes." It has to be secured. If there is a demo expert in your group, take care of; if not, EOD needs to be called to the site.

7:20 PM  

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