Monday, January 14, 2008

How To Kill Someone, Lesson One.

Matthew Sepi's AK-47 & 180 rounds of ammo. He instinctively "engaged the targets."
photo Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

Visualize Your Target. Eliminate Hesitancy. Act Reflexively.

Killing is a matter of training and intent.

If you train properly, you'll kill reflexively and automatically when the time comes. If you don't train properly, you'll likely die to someone who did train well.

Want to live? Train exactly how you intend to fight.

As medics, we ran countless simulations, all designed to have us act reflexively, precisely the way we were expected to, in the event of.

After each run and shift, we hot-washed the run, debriefing precisely what worked and what didn't, visualizing the runs over and over again, replaying them till we had the run working perfectly, down to stepping around the obstacle instead of bumping into it, asking the correct question at the perfect moment instead of missing the point, or blocking the punch instead of getting clocked in the ribs.

As paramedics, we trained to act with force on automatic pilot, totally on reflex, just as we train to swerve to avoid a car glimpsed out of the corner of our eye -- as the costs of thinking even for a moment could cause injury to our partner, patient or ourselves.

Troops are coming back deadly dangerous from the wars.

Even most Veteran's Associations won't talk, says The New York Times. The Associations hate the idea of vets who might be so out of control, regardless of what the statistics may show, fearing all vets will be viewed in the same light.

The Pentagon absolutely doesn't want to talk and has lame-ass excuses as to why -- even though they're not talking -- they're certain none of the results of The Times' study are valid.

Bullshit they're not valid.

The New York Times

The Times used the same methods to research homicides involving all active-duty military personnel and new veterans for the six years before and after the present wartime period began with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

This showed an 89 percent increase during the present wartime period, to 349 cases from 184, about three-quarters of which involved Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The increase occurred even though there have been fewer troops stationed in the United States in the last six years and the American homicide rate has been, on average, lower.

The Pentagon was given The Times’s roster of homicides. It declined to comment because, a spokesman, Lt. Col. Les Melnyk, said, the Department of Defense could not duplicate the newspaper’s research.

The Times’s analysis showed that the overwhelming majority of these young men, unlike most civilian homicide offenders, had no criminal history.

“He came back different” is the shared refrain of the defendants’ family members, who mention irritability, detachment, volatility, sleeplessness, excessive drinking or drug use, and keeping a gun at hand.

“You are unleashing certain things in a human being we don’t allow in civic society, and getting it all back in the box can be difficult for some people,” said William C. Gentry, an Army reservist and Iraq veteran who works as a prosecutor in San Diego County.

In earlier eras, various labels attached to the psychological injuries of war: soldier’s heart, shell shock, Vietnam disorder. Today the focus is on PTSD, but military health care officials are seeing a spectrum of psychological issues, with an estimated half of the returning National Guard members, 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of marines reporting mental health problems, according to a Pentagon task force.

The National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, considered the most thorough analysis of this population, found that 15 percent of the male veterans still suffered from full-blown post-traumatic stress disorder more than a decade after the war ended. Half of the veterans with active PTSD had been arrested or in jail at least once, and 34.2 percent more than once. Some 11.5 percent of them had been convicted of felonies, and veterans are more likely to have committed violent crimes than nonveterans, according to government studies. In the mid-1980s, with so many Vietnam veterans behind bars that Vietnam Veterans of America created chapters in prisons, veterans made up a fifth of the nation’s inmate population.

There's more...
This is a fraction of The Times' article. The full article breaks your heart.
The New York Times - The Cases

The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.
It has been 19 years since my last patient as a paramedic. I didn't see combat during my military tour with the 101st Airborne, though I saw more than enough death as a civilian paramedic. No one put IEDs out for our rigs, thank you, and we didn't take sniper fire. Patient care in South Tucson and Oakland ghettos is still safer than being a medic in Iraq.

Yet even 19 years later, there are days I want to take my walking stick and beat someone to death, no kidding. I smile at them sweetly, until the moment passes. Maybe excuse myself, go for a brief walk. Not that I can walk very far.

And this is nothing, compared to how I was immediately after I retired as a medic. I don't remember having a full night's sleep for years. And by years, I mean maybe the first 8-10 years. With the drugs available now, this is freaking heaven.

People who haven't walked (or crawled or limped) through the Valley of the Shadow of Death themselves, or watched as family did so, have no clue how desperate it gets.

The Times' reports an under-age (for drinking) kid back from the war trying to self-medicate with booze, reacted on instinct in Las Vegas and cut down two gang members, killing one, wounding other, by firing his AK-47 when startled.

Why is anyone surprised?

After ruining our military, the Bush Administration has yet again failed to take care of our troops. It's just so much easier simply to not count them as war casualties when they get triggered back in the world, then kill and maim. After all, then it isn't the service's fault; they just couldn't handle it. These screwed-up wack-jobs (whose stability was good enough while they were on active duty) end up in the criminal justice system. The DOD ends up not having to pay active duty pay, mental health benefits or VA benefits.

Now that's a win-win-win.

The thing is, if you're a combat troop, you are trained to run scenarios obsessively. Visualizing a scenario, over and over, honing it down, fine-tuning it, making it better and better, till you have the perfect mission.

And if now you're back in the States, running a kill scenario?

You just better hope no one accidentally hits your trigger.