Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Remember "Tiger Force" Special Operations Atrocities

With the recent controversies as to whether U.S. forces were involved in the brutal murder of eight young students in Afghanistan, it might provide some perspective to look back at the history of other crimes perpetrated in earlier wars by U.S. soldiers, as many might find the news of a possible massacre by U.S. military forces to be unthinkable.

Back in late 2003, the Toldeo Blade ran a series of articles on a U.S. special operations task force called Tiger Force, which belonged to the United States Army, 1st Battalion (Airborne) , 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade (Separate), 101st Airborne Division.

The Blade's investigation began after the newspaper obtained 22 pages of classified Army records detailing atrocities by Tiger Force.

The records of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command were just the start.

Reporters reviewed volumes of research on the Vietnam War, finding no mention of the Army's investigation of the platoon's atrocities.

They inspected thousands of declassified records of the case from the National Archives in suburban Washington and obtained hundreds of additional classified documents of the case. They also interviewed dozens of former Tiger Force soldiers.

The following is a selection from one of the Blade articles, "DAY 1: Rogue GIs unleashed wave of terror in Central Highlands," by Michael D. Sallah and Mitch Weiss. The entire series is very much worth reading.

For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians - in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public.

They dropped grenades into underground bunkers where women and children were hiding - creating mass graves - and shot unarmed civilians, in some cases as they begged for their lives.

They frequently tortured and shot prisoners, severing ears and scalps for souvenirs.

A review of thousands of classified Army documents, National Archives records, and radio logs reveals a fighting unit that carried out the longest series of atrocities in the Vietnam War - and commanders who looked the other way.

For 41/2 years, the Army investigated the platoon, finding numerous eyewitnesses and substantiating war crimes. But in the end, no one was prosecuted, the case buried in the archives for three decades.

No one knows how many unarmed men, women, and children were killed by platoon members 36 years ago.

At least 81 were fatally shot or stabbed, records show, but many others were killed in what were clear violations of U.S. military law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

For those who cannot believe that U.S. forces could ever participate in crimes as terrible as the handcuffing and killing of school-age children (never mind that the U.S. has killed hundreds of civilians in Afghanistan, many by pilotless drones and Hellfire missles), consider the tales of Tiger Force, and reflect on the terrible thing that is war without accountability.

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