“Five Royal Marines have been charged with murder in relation to an alleged incident in Afghanistan in 2011.
The service personnel remain in custody pending court proceedings.
Seven marines had been arrested on suspicion of murder on Thursday, with a further two arrests on Friday and Saturday.
Of the nine that were arrested in total, four marines have been released without charge, pending further inquiries.” Source – http://www.itv.com/news/2012-10-14/five-royal-marines-charge-with-murder/
Congratulations MOD on single-handedly destroying morale in all combat theatres, as i predicted would happen here: http://voiceinthecrowd.org/2012/10/01/natos-rules-of-engagement-and-tactics-are-endangering-soldiers-lives/ and here: http://voiceinthecrowd.org/2012/10/12/natos-rules-of-engagement-cause-seven-royal-marines-to-be-arrested-on-murder-charges/
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Everybody serving in theatre knows the rules of engagement, they carry cards in their uniforms with the rules on them in case they should need to remind themselves.
“I can’t comment on the specifics of this case.
“We are very determined that rules of engagement will be followed, that any abuse will be dealt with through the normal processes of service justice and that is happening now.”
Which to me reads: “we’ve taken away your right to self-defence under article 51 of the Geneva convention, and now are going to charge you with murder and war crimes under the self-same Geneva convention” way to contradict yourselves MOD.
And that, i will unashamedly say that that, is complete bollocks.
The MOD want the rules of engagement to be strictly adhered to, but the pen pushing suits who make these rules and have probably never seen combat in their life should realise one thing. The first thing to go out of the window in a contact is the plan. When your’e trying to identify an insurgent and nothing is happening around you, that’s one thing, when you are trying to identify an insurgent whilst returning fire and trying to control a firefight is a very different thing indeed.
The difference between life and death of you or your comrades could be as little as a fraction of a second, and decisions affecting you and those around you have to be made instantaneously. It could be a slight pause between firing that gets your oppo injured or killed. That’s the reality here.
And yet, through pursuing this course of action so publicly, the MOD have now put ALL soldiers in the front line in a position where they must stop and think before opening fire. A decision will will most likely cause soldiers to be injured or worse.
Whilst i agree that every contingency should be taken to ensure civilians are protected as much as is humanly possible, i also think there needs to be some protection for the soldiers on the front line, who lets face it, do a hoofin’ job under difficult circumstances. Whilst murder is not acceptable in any walk of life, a degree of common sense has to be applied when applying that term.
If in civvie street, you are attacked and you hit back in self-defence, it is just that. If that person dies, it isn’t murder, it is involuntary manslaughter. A charge which will very likely be dropped because of the circumstances. A soldier returning fire on someone who means to harm them is no different. Especially if that person firing upon said soldiers is an insurgent, who has PRE-MEDITATED murder on his/her mind.
That is the key to the term MURDER. PRE-MEDITATION. Did those soldiers go out INTENTIONALLY to kill that insurgent, or were they merely defending themselves? If the answer to that is no, then these charges are nothing more than a public witch-hunt to keep Britain in the “good lads club” and so the MOD can be seen to be doing the right thing.
In essence, hang five Royal Marines out to dry to avoid an international incident in a country where Britain is hardly topping the popularity polls anyway. Aye, good one that.
If what the news has been filtering is to be believed, and i’m not sure for a minute it is to be believed, then the Royals opened up on surrendering insurgents. I don’t believe for one second that if that’s what happened, (and i’m not saying it IS what happened) it was deliberate. I just cannot fathom professional soldiers, much less Royal Marines Commando’s doing that. Clearly though, the MOD believe something different.
That is of course, if they do believe something different, or if they’re just going through the motions to be seen to maintain order and save face.
Either way, whether guilty or not, the Marines in question are going to get fucked. Right royally fucked. In my opinion, the decision has already been made that they are guilty, and i have a feeling their punishment will be overly harsh due to the nature of the crime and the fact there is no precedent in British military law, or even British criminal or civil law for that matter.
The upshot of all of this is not that this will make soldiers follow the rules of engagement and closer, but that it will make them hesitate and endanger more of our service personnel’s lives.
If the MOD wants to save lives, like it is making out, then these charges need to be dropped NOW. More protection needs implementing to protect our personnel from stupid charges like these. You either want them to do their job, or give them a blue beret and send them on a peace-keeping mission.
I suggest these incidents occur not because of the soldiers not following the rules of engagement, but because of the ambiguity of said rules. I also suggest instead of blaming the soldiers struggling to interpret said rules of engagement, NATO, who made the rules should be blamed. NATO needs to look at these rules and re-assess who they are protecting, the civilians? or the insurgents? they certainly do NOT protect the front line troops and make their job almost impossible to carry out with any degree of certainty.
And this case will do nothing to re-assure those still serving out there, or those due to serve out there in future that these rules are anything but detrimental to the soldiers who have to stick to them.
Unfortunately, i fear that for the five Royals, the damage has already been done. The MOD seem certain to try these men as criminals whether the deserve to be or not.
Such an emotive subject has hit the nation hard and support groups have sprung up all over the internet. Protests have been organised both in Plymouth and at downing street and online petitions have been organised, such is the strength of feeling from the public. I urge you to sign the petition and pass it on to all of your friends so they may also do the same.