I was shocked today to learn that there is a petition for the immediate release of “Marine A”. It appeared on my Twitter feed as
— Dennis Goodinson (@DGoodinson) October 11, 2014
I see things differently and I imagine differently than a proportion of my fellow ex/current servicemen/women. Instead of it being “For 15 yrs he stood up front for you” I read “He had 15 years to learn the Geneva Convention but didn’t bother”; let me re-phrase that – After 15 years I can guarantee you that he knew the constraints placed on him by the Geneva Convention but took a concious decision to ignore them.
Before anybody tries to argue that I would have done the same in his position I shall give you a little of my military background.
I have been in charge of specialist small teams with no backup for tens of miles in either direction, I have taken P.O.Ws myself and I have seen much action in my 3 Tours of Iraq and 1 Tour of Afghanistan and I am extremely proud if the fact that I have abided by the Geneva Convention constraints.
As the commander on the ground (usually in charge of 3 other people in a role I cannot and will not disclose) I often had to make snap decisions while under enemy fire and I never did anything less than what was expected of me.
Marine A made a concious decision to shoot a person. When he did this he had that very person under his protection. That’s right, you read that correctly the first time. He was under the protection of Marine A. The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War sets out clear guidelines on how injured combatants should be treated. Once he found the Taliban member injured he had a duty to dress his wounds and protect him from further harm. It may indeed be argued that the person in question was a civilian and not a combatant.
The recorded audio was quite damning. Marine A was not under enemy fire when he shot his Taliban prisoner. He was calmly in conversation with 2 sub-ordinate marines. As part of Marine A’s duties he was in charge of showing a good example to his 2 younger marines.
In my opinion Marine A not only committed murder he disgraced his uniform and his country. Now the Taliban are able to say “It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us” when they executed British hostages. No longer are able to hold the moral high ground and we now look like a 2-bit army with no discipline.
The conviction was the correct one under the circumstances and is to serve as a lesson to those in the Armed Forces who think that they can take the law into their own hands.
It is a real shame that a Marine who devoted 15 outstanding years of his life to the protection of his, Queen, Country, Brigade and fellow Royal Marine Commandos made such a poor decision. Perhaps he was suffering from the effects of war and was lead by them. I know that part of war only too well as I myself suffer from P.T.S.D. Indeed this is one area where the British Military needs to change. On the face of it The British Army is trying to offer mental health help but I have been informed by many of my ex-colleagues that in reality the fear that many Service personnel still have about P.T.S.D being a career killer is in fact still the norm.
Which ever side of the fence you sit on I would welcome your thoughts on this subject. Am I being harsh or have I hit the nail on the head? Please let me know in the comments section below.