the Marines and Army point out that officers and enlisted personnel
could face punishments up to and including courts martial depending on
the results of the various probes into the incidents.
investigations into the Marine video have been completed, and a senior
Marine general in Quantico is currently weighing if any troops should be
disciplined, and how harshly. Col. Sean Gibson, a spokesman for the
Marines, said there was no timetable for a final determination.
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two services' refusal to more quickly take action contrasts sharply
with the Navy, which has relieved dozens of senior officers of command
over the past 16 months for far smaller offenses. Last summer, for
example, Navy Capt. Eric Merrill was relieved of command after his ship
hit a buoy in the waters off Bahrain. At least 28 Navy officers have
lost their posts since January 2011, many while the investigations into
their behavior were still under way.
The U.S.-led military command
in Kabul has also fired some officers for comparatively minor missteps.
Last fall, Army Maj. Gen. Peter Fuller was removed from his post after
he criticized Afghan President Hamid Karzai and told Politico that the Karzai administration was "isolated from reality."
lost his post almost immediately, with Gen. John Allen, the top Afghan
war commander, slamming him on the way out the door for making
"inappropriate public comments."
Navy Capt. John Kirby, a
spokesman for the U.S. command in Kabul, said the investigation into the
pictures published on Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times
was just getting under way and that "it would be premature to get ahead
of that process." The probes into the Kandahar shootings and Koran
burnings are also ongoing, military officials said, though the Koran
probe should be completed soon.
Speaking via e-mail, Kirby also
emphasized said that such gaffes have been carried by only a tiny
fraction of the U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan. Those troops, Kirby
said via e-mail, are notable for "the respect they show daily for Islam
and for the Afghan people, the courage under the fire they take almost
every day, and the humility with which they do it."
declined to answer questions about why no soldiers or Marines had yet
been disciplined for the Kandahar shootings, Taliban urination videos,
or Koran burnings, referring those queries to the individual military
Spokesmen for the Army and Marines said no discplinary
measures would be taken until the internal probes had been completed.
The Navy, for its part, routinely removes officers from command while
such investigations are ongoing; in March, Cmdr. Jon Haydel was relieved
for "personal misconduct" even though the probe into his behavior
hadn't been completed.