Approximately 10 percent of all Army and Marine Corps troops surveyed last September in Iraq acknowledged mistreating civilians (troops “damaged/destroyed Iraqi property … or hit/kicked a non-combatant”). The report found that soldiers who’d experienced the most combat were “nearly twice as likely to mistreat non-combatants.” Nearly half of the Army troops and 60 percent of the Marines told researchers that if someone in their unit were to kill an innocent civilian, they would not report it.
Shocked by these dismal findings, Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, sent an open letter (see below) sternly admonishing the troops to “respect human dignity, maintain our integrity and do what is right.” Although “[w]e train to kill our enemies,” Petraeus wrote, [w]hat sets us apart from our enemies … is how we behave.”
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