Saturday, April 26, 2014

An important Article 32 hearing

According to this Reuters article, the Army is conducting an Article 32 investigation at Joint Base Lewis-McChord into the 2007 shooting deaths of two unarmed Iraqi teenage boys. The accused is Sgt. 1st Class Michael Barbera.

Two questions that come to mind are why it took two years for word of the incident to surface and why an Article 32 hearing was not conducted when it did. On the first, it is worth recalling that the May 30, 2013 report of the Defense Legal Policy Board’s (recently disbanded) Subcommittee on Military Justice in Combat Zones lists a variety of obstacles to reporting (pp. 57-59). “One survey of Marines and soldiers in Iraq reported that . . . only 40% of Marines and 55% of soldiers indicated they would report a unit member for injuring or killing an innocent non-combatant.” These are shocking data. It is unlikely that non-reporting can be eliminated entirety, but training and “redundant operational oversight” (p. 59) can help drive up reporting.

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