As the volunteer squadron made its way through a series of missions, the results were often shocking.
One mission was to establish a relationship with an Islamic religious leader in a local village. The squad hiked through the woods, crossing shallow creeks and trudging through mud. They eventually came across a mosque where the religious leader greeted them with open arms. He was preparing to conduct a marriage ceremony.
“I’m so happy you could come today for the wedding,” he said, hugging each squad member.
The female squad leader spotted a sobbing young woman in a long white gown tied up behind the mosque.
“Why is that woman tied up?” the squad leader said. “She doesn’t look too happy.”
“Oh, she is about to consummate the marriage,” the religious leader said, escorting the squad leader into a tent where the bride was now in hysterics. “She will learn to accept it.”
The bride suddenly broke free from her captors and ran toward the group, screaming that she would be raped. Some of the students tried to protect her, but the squad leader instructed them to let her go. The religious leader dragged her, kicking and screaming, back to the tent.
That encounter sparked tensions among the squad.
“The rules of engagement say we can use force. She’s going to be raped,” a male student said, taking out his guide for proof.
“No, she just doesn’t want to be married,” the squad leader said.
“I don’t agree, but this is on you,” the male student responded as he walked away in frustration.
Sounds of the bride screaming and being beaten echoed in the still air.
Even though the “villagers” were other Marines, the squad of students and executives learned a lesson in how to deal with their own responses.
“They’d never imagine they would let an American aid worker die, or let a woman be raped and not only that, they actually justify it afterward,” Mr. Olson said.
He said students taking the course tend to defer to the squad leader’s judgment or another authority figure instead of doing what they think is right.