Thursday 27th October 2016

Soldiers as police

I keep hearing in the news that soldiers have abused yet another detainee that was in their custody and I find myself wondering why people are surprised at this. Lets take a moment to think about the situation without letting the old emotions get in the way.

We train soldiers to kill without hesitation. This training requires that a soldier overrides his natural restraint to achieve goals by resorting to violence. A soldiers training also teaches him to be less risk averse than a normal person, shall we say less mindful of consequences. We then take these trained soldiers and ask them to serve as restrained police and jail wardens for (often) the very same people (at least in the soldiers mind) that we have encouraged them to de-humanise and kill? We also ask them to be mindful of the legality and consequences of their actions while they're doing this duty.

Our military is not a police force, soldiers are not trained to regard "the enemy" as innocent until proven guilty, indeed it would be stupid if they did because they'd be killed in droves while they gave any real enemy the benefit of the doubt.

Surely we're asking too much of our soldiers when we require these policing duties of them. Perhaps we should consider deploying non-combat "police officers" and wardens to run detention centres and investigations. Surely soldiers are the wrong people for this job?

I personally find the idea of using physical violence to achieve control over some other nations actions abhorrent. But as long as politicians, war and soldiers exist, we should not fool ourselves into thinking that soldiers can be both effective combatants and able to function in a normal non-combat society without a great deal of help to re-adjust to a normal non-violent way of life. Prosecuting soldiers for so-called war crimes seems hypocritical to me when we've deliberately trained them to be capable of these "crimes" in the first place. Perhaps the prosecution should be directed to the politician who declared war?