Fire Fight
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SERE torture techniques training facility

Anyone who wonders about the ideological diversity of our military should read some of the work of David J. Morris, former Marine officer who now is a journalist and author. He is a classic born-again liberal whose service and subsequent stints as an embedded reporter convinced him that the military and especially W's use of it is evidence of man's inhumanity to man. He parrots all the agit-prop about how Abu Ghraib was an example of US policy, that Haditha and other incidents are systemic and how all in all our efforts to replace dictators and liberate people from oppression are having the opposite effect.

It is not difficult to look at the horrors of war incident by incident and feel they cannot be justified, especially if you ignore the larger context. Or even more so if you buy into the left's view that any collateral damage in war causes so much bad will, that even freeing 50 M people does not justify it. Mr. Morris has already made up his mind that our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and our use of the military overall is a bad thing. He views events through a prism of bad intent causing bad actions and that we need a kinder, gentler approach to war.

He has a piece now in Slate bemoaning the SERE course (Survival, Evasion, Resistance & Escape). He attended and describes accurately the training there. But then he hops on the evil intentions train and decides that the course actually teaches our troops how to torture, not how to survive captivity. He even goes so far as to posit that the course ought to teach sweetness and light and how to make friends with your captors.

In fact, our soldiers need training from SERE based on an entirely different premise, as illustrated by the experience of Michael Durant, the helicopter pilot who spent several weeks in captivity when he was captured by Somali fighters during the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" raid. Durant survived by befriending his captors and forcing them to see him as a fellow human being. SERE conditions servicemen to expect nothing but the worst from their captors; Durant's life depended on his ability to understand his captors and find ways to manipulate them psychologically.

While it is fortunate that CW4 Durant was able to make this happen, the more likely scenario for captured US troops is to face harsh treatment. And to the extent that making friends helps, I hardly think we need a course to teach that. SERE is designed to help them prepare for the worst case scenario, Morris would have us ignore that, perhaps if John McCain had simply tried to find common ground with the barbarians that tortured him for years, they would have become buddies.

He also claims our enemies don't have the resources to conduct the kinds of hell SERE replicates.

Nor do they have the resources to mount a program of systematic sensory deprivation and humiliation, as we did in Guantanamo and in the American prison at Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base.

Yeah I guess it would be tough to find a closet to stuff someone in, and a boom box playing Michael Bolton and some cold water, WTF?

He believes that SERE serves as a guide for how our guys should treat captives in the field, as if they are not creative enough to come up with their own torture techniques if they were so inclined.

The unit, the "20th Special Force Group," forced prisoners to kneel outside in wet clothing and repeatedly kicked and punched prisoners in the kidneys, knees, and nose if they moved, resulting in the death of one detainee, according to Mayer's book.

WOW that is some creative torture right there. They got them wet and beat the shit out of them. Good thing they learned that at SERE, these knuckle-draggers never could have come up with that on their own. If it even happened that way.

I surely didn't need to be waterboarded to know I was scared shitless of drowning. like most people. And since my teachers in elementary school had me holding a dictionary out at arms length for being a smart ass, I had a decent idea of stress positions. Everyone on the field knows what the rules are, and if they break them they know that as well. Even Jack Bauer in the opening of this season's 24 said he knew he broke laws and was willing to take his punishment. Morris' contention that abuses in the field are a result of a command environment that leads people to believe they are authorized to do horrible things is BS.

Morris is a born-again liberal as I mentioned and as such sees only "the horror". He finds a welcoming audience on the left and they applaud his exposes of the dark side of our military. It fits their narrative so much better than the "respect" and "support" for the troops they are forced to mouth. Our military is the most humane and just ever to bestride this crappy planet. Do awful things happen? Of course, but look what happens in the aftermath. The Abu Ghraib scum were punished after an investigation started by the military, the Haditha Marines had their days in court and were found to be acting in good faith in a bad situation. Every instance people like Morris want to cite ends up proving my point not his. We do not tolerate torture, murder or violations of the Law of Land Warfare. Morris and the crowd he now runs with refuse to allow their delicate sensibilities to digest that.