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The Unethical Nature Of Operation Iron Triangle

1062 words - 5 pages

The 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, a unit known as the Rakkasans, were conducting Operation Iron Triangle in 2006 in Iraq when soldiers killed eight unarmed Iraqi men. The US military severely reprimanded the Commander of the Rakkasans, COL Michael Steele, for the unethical command climate his leadership allowed to exist within the unit at that time. This unit will need a new commander that can set and maintain an effective, ethical command climate through his leadership. That new commander should resolve the issues that led to the reported war crime in order to establish a culture that perpetuates an ethical command climate.
According to MCRP 4-11.8B, War Crimes, there are a number ...view middle of the document...

Second, COL Steele designed fighting tournaments that led to a platoon on platoon brawl with some soldiers sustaining injuries. This action is not good for unit cohesion and order and represents a breakdown of proper discipline. Third, COL Steele offered trophy knives as a reward for killing insurgents or exemplary service. Offering an award for exemplar service is a good idea but a reward based on insurgent kills is not. It further dehumanizes Iraqis and places an emphasis on killing over other mission objectives. Fourth, COL Steele did not communicate the Rules of Engagement (ROE) very well with his unit. His speeches emphasized his core principles of “be precise; be lethal; be safe,” but that caused his soldiers to believe that COL Steele wanted them to shoot instead of capture potential insurgents. Fifth, at the company headquarters, soldiers had posted a kill board that tracked the number of Iraqis killed during operations. This kill board represents the degree to which COL Steele’s soldiers were dehumanized the Iraqis and were confused over the ROE. These issues would eventually lead to the war crime being committed during Operation Iron Triangle.
A new commander taking over the unit following COL Steele’s departure will have to establish a command climate that overcomes the current culture within the Rakkasans. The new commander must confer with his leadership team to determine what the issues are within the culture that leads to the unethical command. The first step should be to disseminate command climate surveys. The results of the command climate survey would help judge the extent to which soldiers assess the ethical situation within the command and further help to identify any other problems that may exist. This paper will focus on the five issues identified in the article as if the leadership team discussion and the command climate survey had identified them.
In order to overcome the negative effect on the command climate resulting from the first issue, the dehumanization of the Iraqis; the new commander must immediately institute Arab cultural awareness and place an emphasis on ethical interactions with the local population. This will help the commander lay out a vision and strategy that defines success for the...

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