Monday, December 13, 2004

Soldiers accused of War Crimes

This Washington Post article is horrifying. I sincerely hope the soldiers accused are innocent of any misconduct; but it seems unlikely. As a longtime fan of the US military, I'm extremely depressed by this turn of events.

Interestingly enough, I was thinking about the U.S. Army a couple of days ago. I read an article which casually mentioned 'Col. McMaster' as commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I was curious to see if this was (then Capt.) H. R. McMaster, who commanded Eagle Troop at the Battle of 73 Easting in the first Gulf War. He was then in the 2d ACR, and I distinctly remember that when I first read about the battle a few years ago, I wondered if he would ever command the regiment. I checked, and it's the same McMaster; I was nearly right, but he's commanding the 3rd ACR instead of the 2nd. For some strange reason, reading about his promotion made my day.

The mind is a remarkable thing; there was no reason that I should have remembered McMaster's name, still less that I should be so pleased about his promotion. What's even more strange is that I have a terrible memory for names in general, but I remember from an interview I read (years ago) that his wife's name is Katie! And yet I often struggle to remember the names of authors of papers I read months ago.

For everyone surprised by my interest in things military: Several years ago, I developed an interest in first small-unit tactics and then the intellectual challenge of developing strategy for larger units in wartime, when information is often unreliable or incomplete. In particular, Armored Cavalry fascinated me because of their emphasis on combined arms at all levels. I've always been impressed by U.S. equipment, training and doctrine.

And for the curious, the Battle of 73 Easting was one of the key actions in the Gulf War of 1991. Eagle Troop of the 2nd ACR, led by Capt. McMaster, made contact with the Iraqi forces and began an assault. With the support of two other troops, they destroyed an entire brigade of the Tawakalna division of the crack Republican Guards. U.S. losses to Iraqi fire amounted to one vehicle and one soldier. The battle is regarded as almost a textbook example of small-unit operations, and has been re-constructed in almost every detail by DARPA for use in simulations.

1 comment:

Deepak said...

sounds like you're the kind of guy who'd really enjoy
Map Kriegspiel~ditch