- The Washington Times - Friday, June 2, 2006

Military’s values will prevail

Reports concerning the purported massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of U.S. Marines have created a firestorm in the media and in Congress as well (“Bush seeks truth in Iraq probe,” Nation, Thursday). Most of the headlines I have read have convicted the Marine unit in question while official investigations are still incomplete.

Many people have the inclination to be skeptical initially of the U.S. military’s ability to police itself, but I am not one of them. As a member of the U.S. military, I believe the investigation will be conducted fairly and completely and that those guilty of crimes will be punished while those who are innocent will be exonerated. I believe this because all members of our armed forces live their lives as professionals committed to specific core values and ethical standards that guide us to do what is right, both legally and morally.

Of course, there are incidents of atrocities in virtually every conflict involving American military forces. However, these are isolated incidents and are not representative of the quality of character found in the vast majority of uniformed personnel. We may find out that the claims of murder and coverup are substantiated, but we have to have faith in the magnificent men and women of our armed forces, who will ensure that we ultimately will do what is right. We have to have faith that our values will prevail.

In the Army, we use the acronym LDRSHIP for our core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. These values influence every action we take, both in peace and in war. Violations of these values are not acceptable and thus not tolerated. The Marines have a similar set of core values: honor, courage and commitment. A quick scan of the Web site www.usmcpress.com provides insightful details on these values and reinforces the high standards the American people expect.

The first Marine value, honor, “requires each Marine to exemplify the ultimate standard in ethical and moral conduct.” Further, “Each Marine must cling to an uncompromising code of personal integrity, accountable for his actions and holding others accountable for theirs.” For courage, the Web site states, “Courage is moral strength, the will to heed the inner voice of conscience, the will to do what is right regardless of the conduct of others.” These values define the character of each individual Marine, even if some may have failed to follow them.

In some cases, our military justice system may have been slow to respond, but ultimately it does respond. From the conviction of Army Lt. William Calley of premeditated murder in the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to the convictions resulting from the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq and the conviction of Army Staff Sgt. Frank J. Ronghi for the rape and murder of a child in Kosovo, and from the exoneration of Marine Lt. Ilario Pantano for the murder of two Iraqis to the support of the Marine corporal who shot a wounded insurgent in a mosque in Fallujah, there has been justice.

In this case, as well, there will be justice. There will be justice because those of us who serve, almost without exception, believe that the people and the nation we protect are more important than any one of us individually and more important than any group of us collectively. We have dedicated ourselves to protect and serve this nation and its people, often at the cost of our lives. We will continue to do so and will only tolerate those among us who are willing to live by our values.



Fort Lee, Va.

A homeland security corps

In his column “Rethinking homeland security II” (Op-Ed, Wednesday), Harlan Ullman makes passing reference to the creation of a homeland security corps to professionalize the operations of the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is an idea that deserves further investigation, as it meshes well with one of the major ideas from Thomas P.M. Barnett’s book “The Pentagon’s New Map,” which proposes splitting the military into a traditional war-fighting force and a civil-affairs force for postwar reconstruction.

Mr. Ullman speculates that Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld’s “transformation” ideas probably met with a lot of resistance, and one of the people who probably knows that best is Mr. Barnett. Mr. Barnett’s “Pentagon’s New Map” presentation, which started out as a PowerPoint presentation and only later became a book (a strange progression, but such are the ways of Washington), created widespread turbulence within the defense establishment.

A central premise of this presentation was that the United States was unique in our military capability to wage full-scale war, using what he called our “Leviathan” force. Mr. Barnett did not advocate dissolving this leviathan force — quite the opposite — but he pointed out that the deterrent nature of this force meant we did not often have cause to use it. What we did need was a separate civil-affairs force that could clean up after the leviathan force, conduct peacekeeping operations and render humanitarian assistance, as these were the missions in which the military was engaging often.

This civil-affairs force would draw several of its constituent parts from the existing military structure, but as Mr. Barnett envisioned it before Hurricane Katrina, it also would incorporate many civilian specialties and agencies, such as the Coast Guard and local civil defense. He also advocated that this civil-affairs force be more of an executive agent that could manage these operations with a diverse work force. He pointed out that it often is difficult for allies to bring enough military capability to the fight to contribute to leviathan-style warfare but that civil-affairs operations often require only raw manpower, which even less-developed nations can contribute. Americans would provide logistics and management without putting a large force in harm’s way for an extended period of time, and allies could contribute to restructuring efforts that are more politically acceptable to their own populace. This would open the door to populous nations such as India and China contributing to worldwide stability operations while allowing developing nations to train civil-affairs specialists who could bring back the knowledge to work on their own countries.

It occurs to me that this executive agent civil-affairs force sounds an awful lot like Mr. Ullman’s homeland security corps. They could be assisting earthquake survivors in Indonesia, building on their experience from last fall’s earthquake in Pakistan and all the while preparing for the next major hurricane to hit the United States.


Ashburn, Va.

Think like a columnist

In William Rusher’s most recent column (“Democrats’ debility,” Commentary, Tuesday), he falls into a trap that befalls many a columnist: He thinks like a politician.

Mr. Rusher asserts that “it is strategically wise for the Democrats to leave their responses in ambiguity” when asked to propose their own solutions to issues such as Iran’s nuclear ambitions or illegal immigration. He makes excuses for the Democrats, wondering why they should be asked to propose solutions when Republicans control the executive and legislative branches.

While it is no secret that politicians and their strategists think this way, why should this be acceptable to either the taxpayers or to commentators?

Democrats in Congress were elected and are paid for their work by the taxpayers. Is it asking too much that, in return, we expect that if they do not agree with the opposition’s proposed solutions that they advance their own proposals — in this session — rather than simply naysaying their way to November?

If Mr. Rusher wants to think like a politician, perhaps he should run for office, and we can look for a responsible columnist to criticize his do-nothing attitude.



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