A few weeks ago, when the capture and subsequent deaths of Pfcs. Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were reported, Americans were horrified. The brutality of this incident seemed particularly out-of-place, even in such a vacuum of morality that Iraq has become.
But, like a leaky faucet, more information trickled out of Iraq and, somehow, there are answers to certain (unspoken) questions.
Tucker and Menchaca were members of the 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky. And when members of that unit were involved in post-incident sessions concerning possible stress from the soldiers’ death, the other shoe might have fallen.
Suddenly, U.S. military leaders began an investigation into an alleged rape and murder of an Iraqi family in the town of Mahmudiyah in March, possibly by members of the same Army unit. Such revelations did not come from the victims or townspeople, it came from the soldiers. Apparently, most of them knew about the incident but not the Army brass.
So could this attack, capture and murders of the two Army soldiers been something out of the ordinary? If one puts 1+1 together, the answer is quite disturbing. By Army accounts, the soldiers were ambushed by luring them into doing something out of the norm. An ambush lured two of the three trucks in the escort away from the scene – which went against training. That left the one truck and three occupants, one of whom was killed at the scene and the other two were captured and taken in a civilian car away from the firefight.
Why? Why capture instead of just kill? Could this have been an act of revenge instead of random terrorism and insurgency?
If the answer is “yes,” then the incident moves into an entirely different context. Too many Americans have assumed that the enemy in Iraq is stupid – for having challenged the might U.S. in the first place. And most of the damage has been done randomly, using IEDs simply to kill as many Americans as possible without regard to identification.
But what if these two soldiers were targeted … to send a message? That means the insurgents know who exactly they are fighting and are willing to wait to get their results. Not good for our soldiers and whatever eventual outcome you believe will take place.
It is a shame that the actions of a few criminals, dressed in U.S. military uniforms, will cause more hardship and death to others simply trying to follow the orders given to them. A broad brush to tarnish should not be used.
But imagine your own rage and desire for revenge if what has been alleged is true. How far would you go against the perpetrators? We have used the same broad brush to paint everyone in Iraq as possessing the same motives against Americans. If an open mind would allow it, we’d know that statement not to be true as well.