Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Col Steele's in trouble 
Yep...it's the same Mike Steele from Black Hawk Down, who commanded the company of Rangers that got bloodied in Mogadishu.

Col. Michael Steele, whose heroics were portrayed in the movie "Black Hawk Down," is under investigation for allegedly encouraging his men to go on a killing spree. The investigation begins just as the Army has started to make its case against four soldiers who are charged with murdering three Iraqi civilians while under Steele's command, ABC News has learned.

The soldiers' defense is that they were under orders to kill all military-age males.

ABC News has learned that Steele has already been reprimanded for the incident.

The hearing for the four soldiers that began today will determine if they should stand trial on murder charges. The killings took place as part of Operation Iron Triangle, which targeted a suspected al Qaeda training facility northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, in the city of Samarra.

I'm skeptical.

For one thing, there isn't a commander in the Army who would give such a stupid order, in my opinion. "Kill all military age males?" Ridiculous.

Second, commanders get reprimanded all the time for stuff that happens under their command, when they only have tangental involvement in the incident. Something about "setting the command climate," which is what they hang you with when they can't think of anything to hang you with.

No soldier is required to obey such an order - and all soldiers would recognize such an order for what it was - an illegal and immoral order.

Which is why I don't believe that they were under any such order. I suspect it's a desperate move by desperate defendants.

Splash, out



You're skeptical? I wish you had served with COL (then LTC) Steele as I had at Ft. Drum when he commanded the 2-22 Infantry. The most mildly I can describe his command personality is: egomaniacal, fundamentalist and brash.

It's not just me. An officer that posts at www.armyocs.com served with him as an LT in the Berlin Brigade in the mid-80s - he says the same thing.

Steele is a loose cannon that rode Moghadishu through battalion and brigade command. the jig is up. He's finished ... the "Peter Principle" at work. Just like Nate Sassaman of 1-8 IN "fame", his ineptitude finally manifested itself and his 13 year old tales of "derring-do" can't save him now.
I saw the story this evening: there is little or no evidence that Steele ever advanced such an order... but the soldiers are claiming that they believed they were under such an order. But again, why any soldier(s) would follow such a general and blatantly illegal order is highly questionable... and is belied by the fact that there appear to be no other soldiers under the same misconception... presumably just these 3? And finally, their first line of defense is that they were acting in self-defense... the "we were under orders" part has come very late in the game...
I should note that "Soldier's Mom" is a regular poster on every far right-wing military blog under the sun. There's no American atrocity she won't bless, and no "official line" she won't go along with.

That said, I don't think anything will come of this. The U.S. military is determined to cover it ass at all costs.
Anon -- I post on military blogs because I am a milblogger (duh)...

and I don't "bless" any atrocities -- American or otherwise -- I believe anyone that commits a crime (in or out of uniform) ought to be tried and IF FOUND GUILTY punished appropriately.

just goes to show how biased some people can be...
Mom, I'm the last person that would attack the troops, you've read my blog, but I know Col. Steele also, and he is batshit crazy. I would not be surprised if this is true.

IRR, I know you too, you post crap on my blog whenever I actually post and I don't like you much, but for once we agree. I also know Steele from my last trip in Iraq and from my active duty time, I believe he is capable of issuing such an order.

We'll see if it is true or not, but let's just say I'd say it just might be true.
I'm only a civilian but have read enough of IRR Soldier BS that whatever he says must by BS.

That said, in civilian life the boss is always perceived the bad guy by those who work beneath him I have no doubt this happens in military life as well.

As for Steele, I have no doubt he'll have his day in military court and justice will be served becasue the military has shown to me that it does serve law and order by punishing it's own who violate military law.

Also, I believe in innocent until proven guilty not Murtha-style witch-hunt.
Well, I've wondered what the hell was up with the command climate in a couple of the units over there.

It wouldn't surprise me, as I've seen scary officers before, but let's see what the investigation finds out.
And here I thought Jason would jump on the MSM using the words "heroics" and "Steele" in the same sentence.

IIRC, Steele was not treated well (and perhaps deservedly so) by Bowden in the BHD book. Then again the shet was hot that day, and Steele got most of his Rangers out alive. This despite the fact that the movie focuses a great deal of attention on Steele ordering the Rangers to hold their defensive positions while the wounded kid bled out for lack of medevac.

Since I am perhaps the least qualified around here to comment on tactics and other AAR-type stuff, I will simply point out -- tongue in cheek -- that the same actor who played Steele in the movie also plays Malfoy's dad in the Potter series, and he played the treacherous British Army officer in Mel Gibson's Patriot.
Your link is broken
Don't know Mike Steel, he would have been a very young officer when I was in. However, I know of Battalion and Brigade Commanders that will get the troops in formation and say goofy things that can be interpretted wrong by the soldiers on the back rank. Some were well meaning professionals and others knew that what they were going to say would be controversial. John Petraca and Bob Stack were both Brigade Commanders that I worked for that were relieved from command before it was due to be over for abject stupidity.
1. Giving Steele (or anyone else accused of atrocity) the benefit of the doubt is only fair. If you go to the left-blogs, they've convicted him already. That's just as wrong as "Mom"'s allegedly reflexive defense... ("But *our* prejudice is 'reality-based'.")

2. "right-wing military blog" - isn't this redundant? If not, please direct me to a "left-wing military blog". (PS: *Current* or *recent* military, not somebody who babysat an MRLS in Germany twenty years ago and then purchased a graduate-level helping of academic-left Kool-Aid...)

3. I didn't think Bowden was especially hard on Steele, he just made Steele seem a little rigid and, um, limited.

4. Jason Isaacs? Really? I don't remember that. Terrible casting. Isaacs is too thin and too feral to be the bland, rigid, Bible-thumping former college ballplayer Bowden describes. (Correction: I went to IMdb and he's buff-er than I remember, and a nice smile, too.)
he played the treacherous British Army officer in Mel Gibson's Patriot.

He wasn't "treacherous"! Mel Gibson and the other rebels were "treacherous". Tavington was evil and vicious, yes, but not treacherous. His loyalty remained constant.

Time and time again these accusations have flown. True or false, the accused's career is over.
There are lots of comments on the matter of Steele perhaps giving an order or not.

To imagine for a moment that he did. There has still been precious little explanation why his soldiers would feel any obligation to follow such a blatantly illegal command.

It sounds like he may have been more likely than most to give such an order. . .but it still doesn't do much to explain the parts of this case that really mattter.
Left-wing military blog:

He wasn't "treacherous"

I stand corrected. Indeed the character was evil, vicious and loyal. It was King George who was treacherous. The Americans weren't treacherous by definition, IMHO, but I suppose that is more a matter of perspective.

Speaking of which, is it not a little surprising that so many actors in BHD playing Rangers and SF aren't American? Orlando Bloom, Ewan MacGregor, Isaacs, Eric Bana...and those are the ones off the top of my head. An IMDb check turns up a few more.
Someone wrote that the boss is always perceived as the bad guy by those who work for him. He must have a grim job. I have been the subordinate and I've been the boss, and can say that that most of my bosses were good. As for me as the boss, who knows? Maybe they just smiled in my face.

As for the topic at hand, there is an interesting article in which a private who didn't take part in the killings says he was threatened by those who did. One of those issuing the alleged threat was a staff sergeant. Imagine being a private threatened by a staff sergeant; took a lot of courage for that kid to stick to his guns.
I know Col Steele. An investigation such as this one was inevitable.

On the other hand, even if he gave an order exactly as claimed by the accused soldiers, it was an illegal order they were duty-bound to ignore.

This situation will get uglier long before it goes away.

BTW, I also know LTC Daniel, the Article 32 officer. Those soldiers are going to get a fair hearing.
Yup, they should have ignored the order. Let's hope this doesn't wind up being one more case of the military coming down hard on the enlisted personnel while letting the officers off with a reprimand or end of career.

If those soldiers go to jail -- and if the allegations are true, they should -- then the colonel should go there right along with them, and with a greater punishment, for having issued those orders.
http://polybius.blogs.com/left_of_way/ didn't babysit an MLRS in Germany 20 years ago. It was armour, and he quit doing that over a dozen years ago.
It is hard to get a leadership slot in the Regiment. If you do and screw it up your career is over. I know one CPT that was there as a PL no seriuos screw up but below center mass. Commanded a BCT company at Sill. Done! A lot of good NCOs missed deployments because of schools, emer, PCS, unable to get back as 1SG or CSM because of lack of continuity. If you screw up or let down the home team in any perceived way you are done. If Steele stayed in the Army and commanded at a higher level it was not thought by his highers that he screwed up MOG. I know a lot of guys who knew him when they were E5 or E6 they thought that he was okay but too strait laced.
Amazing the folks who seem to think that soldiers are automatons, and that an 0-6 who maybe says gruff stuff has a big effect on what a couple junior NCO's and privates do, basically a world away from the place the colonel inhabits.

The orders and directives of the immediate chain of command up through platoon and company level are much, much more relevant; the battalion commmander likely has much more influence on the ground, and when you get right down to it, the NCO's, from platoon sergeant downward, have actual control of the situation, and their paygrade is such that they are expected to exercise independent judgment, never mind the effect that commmissioned officers - commanders, XO's and -3 shops up and down the chain. They all have an impact too.

Yeah, maybe Steel gave an order to go massacre people, but from his lips to some private's trigger finger, doesn't sound like a realistic description of the chain of command to me. I guess you can float that "command atmosphere" theory if you want. That only works if you sincerely believe that George Bush's bad attitude is responsible for every private who slaps an EPW. If that's your theory of how causation works, then the idea that a colonel's rah-rah speech was a direct order to a private to commit murder makes sense. It does seem a lot like blaming the Johnstown flood on a leaky faucet in Altoona.
Al Maviva,

I generally agree with what you say about the influence of a brigade commander on a private's actions. In this case, however, the testimony seems to indicate Steele was personally involved in briefing the soldiers prior to execution. When that happens, your rules of thumb get turned on their head and what a senior leader says can end up overcoming instructions provided by subordinate leaders. Think teenagers. Think "well dad said we COULD, so who cares that mom says we can't."
I could see this working as follows:

1. The trigger-pullers are acquitted because they were following orders.

2. The order-giver is never prosecuted because the military protects its officers.

3. The so-called "milblogosphere" declares the charges to be a left-wing conspiracy.
I guess Maj D. That's pretty unusual to have an 0-6 "personally" briefing E-4s through E-6. If it's giving rah-rah and oooh-ahhh to a company, I can understand that. Personal though? That's weird and might make it a colorable defense. Most COL's I ever dealt with had more important things to do than to brief privates and sergeants on tactical ops. It still doesn't relieve the officers, NCO's and enlisted men of their duty to exercise independent judgment, and "kill everybody you find there" would be a pretty easily recognized illegal order, except in the context of an order to storm a bunker or trenchline or other purely military position.

Oh, and WW, why don't you accuse everybody you disagree with, with singing U.S.-land Ueber Alles. I give you a D- for a particularly inartful invocation of Godwin's Law. Next time, might I suggest you say, "Perhaps he personally briefed them over a Schnitzel and an Augustiner."
I haven't called anyone a Nazi. Not on this blog, anyway. As for Deutchland Uber Alles, most people don't know that this was an anthem of the German liberals in the mid-1800s. Like so much of German history and tradition, it was perverted by Hitler and his crew.

As for my prior comments, we have already seen something very similar happen in the Abu Ghraib trials. Enlisted have been acquitted or given the lightest of punishments by military juries sympathetic to their positions as subordinates following orders, while the officers and civilians who gave the orders have been protected.

That's a fact, and if you don't want to see it then the blindness is yours. But remember: Nations that lie to themselves lose their wars, just like the U.S. is doing in Iraq.
Congratulations, Jason. Willysnout has brought his festing hole onto your comments section. You've hit the big times apparently. Let's see how closely he adheres to his worn out script at his new haunt.
I dare say that the only "worn out script" is the one that Bush and his bootlicking generals and politican supporters repeat day in and day out in the face of a mountain of obvious contrary evidence.

If you think anything in Iraq is "obvious," you don't know anything about Iraq.
A lot is mysterious, such as the location of all those WMDs and the accomplishment of the mission. But some things are painfully obvious. One is that it's a fiasco and a quagmire. Another is that it was fought (and continues to be fought) for a lie.

Another is that the far right-wing in America will never, even admit their mistakes. This is because, from their point of view, "personal responsibility" and "accountability" are for everyone other than themselves.

You really need to get the new Thomas E. Ricks book, Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. It is getting quite a bit of praise from within the military, including people who are in Iraq right now. The rules forbid them from going public, but they've been making their opinions known.

Holy Repetition, Batman! We used torture in Vietnam and lost, and we used torture in Iraq and ...

Oh, and now that the Army's own documents show that John Kerry was telling the truth in his congressional testimony, will anyone apologize to him?

Nah. Being a right-wing crazy means never having to admit your lies much less apologize for them. "Personal responsibility" and "accountability?" Those are for OTHER people!



Now, nearly 40 years later, declassified Army files show that Henry was telling the truth — about the Feb. 8 killings and a series of other atrocities by the men of B Company.

The files are part of a once-secret archive, assembled by a Pentagon task force in the early 1970s, that shows that confirmed atrocities by U.S. forces in Vietnam were more extensive than was previously known.

The documents detail 320 alleged incidents that were substantiated by Army investigators — not including the most notorious U.S. atrocity, the 1968 My Lai massacre.

Though not a complete accounting of Vietnam war crimes, the archive is the largest such collection to surface to date. About 9,000 pages, it includes investigative files, sworn statements by witnesses and status reports for top military brass.

The records describe recurrent attacks on ordinary Vietnamese — families in their homes, farmers in rice paddies, teenagers out fishing. Hundreds of soldiers, in interviews with investigators and letters to commanders, described a violent minority who murdered, raped and tortured with impunity.

Torture is for LOSERS! As soon as the United States military decided to use torture in Iraq, it gave up.
Well, WW only the enlisted guys at Abu Gharib got punished except for that general and a CPT or two who were relieved. See here in the US if you actually have pictures of dumbasses committing crimes they get punished but not the guys that they try to blame after getting busted. Okay, so maybe some O skated but the guilty got caught.
I'm not a blogger. This site popped up when I searched on the Steele story. I served under him as a BDE CDR in the 101st. I resinged my commission after 8 years just before this current deployment. I believe that I can attest to COL Steele's leadership style. I have heard him talk about his intent to dominate and kill. He has stated that "we" would be the top of the food chain and that the Iraqis would look to us as predators. During the first few months of command, he put several hundred Rakkasans in the TMC and hospital with a run, no water and hours of uncontrolled group on group brawls. Several were medically discharged. Many were unable to train for months, robbing them of important prep time for the next deployment.

This man carried himself in such a way that he tried to personally bully his soldiers and officers into compliance. He had to be babysat on a BDE run by a one star because of his last run and the all of the injuries.

I saw him lose it and scream at a 90 pound Iraqi female roll player because she was playing her part as a grieving wife. COL Steele was an observer during this exercise. This makes it difficult to train Joe when the personally witness counterproductive behavior.
As a mother of two young children I am more than indebted to Col. Steel and the rest of our military for their efforts in keeping our country and our families safe. I guess you think we should just stop all violence and let the world work its own way to peace....So the next plane that explodes will hopefully be vacant with no innocent people being killed. The bleeding heart liberals would only be so wishful.
alright... i'm not even going to bother responding to the last post. it doesn't deserve any of my time.

the post before that, though... i got to this page exactly the same way as you. i was searching for the story on steele, 'cause i'd heard that he got himself in trouble.

i used to drive for him in the 82nd airborne, after he got "promoted" out of the ranger regiment, and got to know him pretty well.

i believe the charges against him, because he is not your regular officer. he micromanages missions to such an extent, that i've seen the most respected officers give up, because he insists on doing things "his way," despite the fact that everybody is telling him it'll screw things up. then once things got screwed up, he'd yell at the guy that told him not to do it that way.

because of his insane micromanagement it does make sense that he would personally brief, and give 'rah rah' speeches, to PVTs and spec-4's.

i never served with this man in any sort of combat situation, but i saw him ruin many-a-training mission, by his insistence on controlling every aspect of its execution.

he kept his college football pictures on the walls, and used weak O-line/D-line metaphors (i can't remember which one he was) to apply to military theory.

one of my good friends was in 10th mountain when they went into 'the mog' after the rangers. according to him, the rangers he spoke with, and writings i've seen from people there, this dude (steele) got a lot of guys killed there by his insistence on not doing what the delta guys wanted to do. given -- this is heresay on my part, but the sources are pretty close to what happened, so i feel (at the very least) comfortable enough to repeat them here.

you know -- the guy wasn't all bad. as long as you responded to him in the manner that he liked (strongly/gruffy, & to the point), then he would be cool with you. as long as you never asked a nuanced question (or question him), you were cool. i mean -- he believes very strongly in his outlook on life, and sticks up for it.

i was just not in the LEAST bit surprised to hear that his unit was involved in something like this debacle. it's easy for a young man to look up to someone like steele. especially in a situation where his kind of 'bulldog' look and approach would be quite comforting for a young soldier. i'm sure it'd make you feel more invincible.

(i can totally see him yelling and intimidating a small female, too. he didn't have a very kind heart for the weak.)

i'm sure you can tell that i wasn't too impressed by the guy. it doesn't help him that he was preceded by a BC that was his very opposite -- a triple-tabbed, softly-spoken guy who led by example, not by the bullhorn.

OK... so i think i've just gotten something off my chest that i needed to.

just think -- if the army's (well-known) policy of promoting officers away from their screw-ups was not in effect, this dude couldn't have gone into iraq and set the stage for this embarrassment to our country (if what they say is true about steele and his subordinates).

ok... so it's late and i'm rambling, so i'm going to sign off for now. i think a well-focused thought is kinda' out of the question now. next thing you know, i'll start regurgitating completely unrelated platitudes like the lady who posted before me.

remember, lady, every bunch of roses has a prick, and just because one puts on a uniform it doesn't make them right. it's great that people like him and many others (some of my friends included) sign up for the military, because we'd be absolutely screwed without them. but "col. steele and the rest of the military" are not one entity. it is an organism made up of individuals. some individuals have more influence then others. that influence has real power over real peoples' lives. that influence reflects directly upon our own ideals, and who we are as a country. and i'm sorry -- if someone's doing something that i feel is against our country's ideals, then i think it's right to put a stop to it. it's freakin' un-american to not debate it.

and yes, mother of two... we all know that planes blew up. and that totally justifies anything, 'cause we're America ("fuck yeah"). and your ability to procreate does give you greater insight on the complexities of international relations. thanks! you know... if you were in charge, i'm sure that there would never be more innocent people being killed.

alright... i screwed up and got off the subject of steele. basic point... the story's believable. i worked for the guy. he has power issues. he is actually easily scared when it comes to certain things (he would grab the roof of the truck if we went over 35 mph... i actually heard him squeal once), and takes this out of weaker people because he's projecting that part of himself that he doesn't like (that's my armchair psychology, anyway... take it with a pail of salt). he is such a crazy micro-manager that it makes complete sense that he would interface directly with privates that are going out on missions... he liked to think of himself as the NCO-type officer that "understands" the troops.

i believe it. i wasn't surprised in the least. i just hope that if this is all true, that those at the bottom of the totem pole don't go down by themselves, like in the past. i also hope that one day, the army looks at its policy of promoting mediocre/poor officers out of posts. it's a pretty bad idea.

g'night all.
i was wondering if anybody had ever heard of any special forces ever refusing orders on mission because of moral or legal issues?
I served with COL. Steele during this supposed order that they were given. You all who are comdemning this warrior do not have the privledge of reading the intel on the mission that the incident took place on. I was on that mission and have first hand knowledge of what happened and what took place. The soldiers who are being charged are guilty as hell. They deserve to be punished to the furthest extent possible. Col. Steele gives his heart and soul to his men. He demands that they be the most professional soldiers on Fort Campbell. I am proud to have served under him during our last deployment to Iraq. Sadly he had his change of command ceremony on 30 Nov 2006 and is no longer apart of the 3rd Brigade Combat team 187th Infantry. He was an up front leader and strongly believed in his men. He is tired of burying soldiers as all commanders should be. He gave us the power to protect ourselves and maintain strict composure under pressure. If all leaders were as straight with there soldiers as he is. The war in Iraq would be over. I was not until the 187th left Iraq that things went to hell over there. Send us back with him in charge and we the men and women of the "RAKKASANS" Brigade will once again restore order to the Iraqi people.
I realize this is an old thread but if I might point out, if Col Steele issued this order, why was it only the four soldiers on trial for murder (which they did considering one of them admitted they did it), why didn't the rest of the soldiers there do the same thing? If he ordered it, why is it just these four that are saying so? Because they need mitigating circumstances for their defense. This is a pretty easy one to figure out. Steel's personality aside, this accusation is ludicrous. And by the way, I cant stand bible-thumpers, but that doesn't make them murderers.
Bro's Sorry to keep this one going but I have to throw my hand in with SGT Rakkasan, I was in 2/22 INF under COL Steele when he was the BC. I did three JRTC's under his command, and one SFOR. I know exactly how Ranger Steele leads, and let me swear to all of you, that if COL Steele gave an order to take out a village, it simply wouldn't exist anymore. He's a killer through and through, but his actions are all tempered by the highest level of professionalism I've ever seen. Some of you legs that have posted earlier must be too thin skinned to handle true warrior leadership. I've been in the Army a long time, and I've never been more willing to follow or support an officer as much as COL Steele.

PS: Warn your FO's, if COL Steele sees a short whip sticking up high out of your ruck he'll drop that juggernaut fist of his through your kevlar.

Alright Bros, stay safe.

-Deeds not Words
ummmm...i know this man. if you want to call him this. yes! he will approach pvt's. he did it all the time. i would not doubt these soldiers were told this...if he did it during a breafing with his soldiers at ft campbell, (the young soldiers loved it, they were chanting chants led by steele, while the sr's looked at each other with a what the heck look on there faces), what makes you think he would not have done it there. these soldiers were affraid of him; on top of that, everyone under his command was too (other sr officers and sergeants). steele got off on this stuff, he is crazy...to say the least. a coward too. sad part of it all, he's done so much more, and nothing as ever been said or done about any of them...these soldiers will be burned, and nothing will happen to the leaders...nothing. what is a reprimand, nothing. he should be place on trial as well...what a movie that will make.
Colonel Steele is a great man. The accused admitted in sworn testimony during the trials that they murdered the detainees on their own and that they were not acting under any orders given by Colonel Steele to kill all military aged males. They are in jail where they belong and Colonel Steeles career has been ruined by a 3 Star who's only combat experience was reading daily reports and watching movies. What a shame it is to be tried in the court of public opinion.
I served under then Cpt. Steele. As an earlier comment said, he is egomaniacal, fundamentalist and batshit crazy. And I would go one more and say he is a closeted homosexual. When he was a captain at Regimental HQ, prior to his command of B Co 3/75, he was infamous for having the officers who were new to the regiment strip naked and wrestle each other during the annual "prop wash" hazing of new officers. During his first inspection of B Co 3/75 he strode through the open ranks of the company feeling soldiers up and poking them with his fat fingers. Straight men don't want to see other men naked and have no desire to poke them to determine physical fitness. He is an ultra right wing Christian fundamentalist and in my experience in the Ranger Regiment, these types were normally the ones to possess the least amount of moral fiber. He was big as a house, could run like a dear and looked like the Thing from Marvel comics but none of that made him a particularly inspiring leader, especially compared to company commanders I had before or since. I was quite happy that he was "fired" from command of B Co shortly after returning from Mogidishu but appalled that the Army simply kicked him upstairs. No surprise that something like this occurred in a unit he commanded.
Also, it is my recollection that then Cpt. Steele was relieved of his position and moved out of the Regiment because he was found to be in possession of stolen government property (ammo). There was an investigation of the 18D who was assigned to our Bn aid station and some how Cpt. Steele got caught up in and was moved quietly out of the Regiment. I don't remember any members of Bravo Company having to fond a memory of him or his performance in Somalia but I don't think there was any one event that would have gotten him removed from command. On the other hand, had his performance been outstanding in all ways he most definitely would have commanded one of the Ranger battalions down the line and that didn't happen, he never came back to the Regiment. That right there tells me that his chain of command thought he was a shit bag.
I know this post is old now, but since meeting a soldier in Feb 07 in Laurel, MD who was out with his father having some time away from Walter Reed, was recovering from IED incident that took his leg, His name Staff Sgt Luke Murphy, who served under Col Steel in Iraq, he had nothing but positive comments about Col Steel. Funny thing is, after he brought up his commander's name, I questioned him if it could be the same Steel I served under in the 5th Bn 502 inf in Berlin Germany and it was the same man. I can say this much, if I had to go to war with anyone as my commander it would be Steel. call him what you will. There are many a great soldier in the US Military, but there are also a many winey, self serving, college tuition wanting pansy's also. Your country called upon you and now you have to do what you are trained to do, don't tarnish a man's career because he did what he thought would best keep his men alive. I believe under Steel, I and my fellow platoon members were trained and confident to do whatever we were called upon to do.
I never met this Commander in this storied Iraqi-deployed US Army Brigade but I can report that some key members of his staff in Iraq were unruly and combative and worked with outside commands in a manner that communicated something like "nobody understands but us, and if you dont agree, your not one of us...so F*&*#$-Off!
There was progress to be made on the project I was promoting in Iraq, but it did not happen in that Brigades Area of Operations because of the hostile, dismissive attitude of this commanders staff in dealing with some big picture solutions.
A regional, special-functional military team that took over late in his Iraqi command era, and they reported having a lot of work to do in cleaning up the civil-military relations that his Brigade caused. Members of this team and others reported overly aggressive KILL-KILL type behavior attributed either personally to the BDE CDR, his staff, or his soldiers. One story describes the BDE CDR aggressively entering and taking over a meeting with local Iraqi civilian leaders. Story relates his soldiers lining the perimeters of the room in aggressive, "arms ready' stance, while the BDE CDR insulted and humiliated the local leaders. At the same time, he shucked out one shotgun shell at a time and lined them up on the table while he spoke to them. Ended up with a line of shells matching the number of local leaders hew was addressing. Don't know if those leaders were righteous, but what public humiliation in that Iraqi culture does nothing but promote active, enraged, enemies (civil leaders in this case). If true, this was an unwise strategy.

Many soldiers in this command were excited about being HIS soldiers, and they have historically been HUA-HUA about being just being from that BDE. This apparently enticing command presence and the BDE tradition seemed to combine to a fever fury of gung-ho-ness that could have been applied constructively, but DID NOT RESULT IN POSTIVIE MISSION PERFORMANCE from my point of view. I believe this was either a reflection of the commands failure to instill discipline or perhaps an overly aggressive, de-humanizing, disrespectful approach to engaging the local Iraqi population.
One story describes aggressively entering and taking over a meeting with local Iraqi civilian leaders. Story relates his soldiers lining the perimeters of the room in aggressive, "arms ready' stance, while the BDE CDR insulted and humiliated the local leaders. At the same time, he shucked out one shotgun shell at a time and lined them up on the table while he spoke to them. Ended up with a line of shells matching the number of local leaders hew was addressing. Don't know if those Iraqi leaders were righteous, but in that Iraqi culture such behavior by the occupation forces does nothing but promote active, enraged, enemies (civil leaders in this case). If true, this was an unwise strategy.

Additionally, I was told by a Brigade-insider that kills were lauded as true rights of passage in that command, complete with ceremonial trinket awarding (a Bowie, knife for a kill, I was told). If this is true, I believe it over glorifies a harsh reality of war that is necessary, but should not be celebrated.

Many soldiers in this command were excited about being HIS soldiers, and had been historically been HUA-HUA about being just being in that BDE. This apparently enticing command presence and the unit tradition seemed to combine to a fever fury of gung-ho-ness that could have been applied constructively, but DID NOT RESULT IN POSTIVIE MISSION PERFORMANCE from my point of view. I believe this was either a reflection of the commands failure to instill discipline or perhaps an overly aggressive, de-humanizing, disrespectful approach to engaging the local Iraqi population.
At any rate, these aspects of the Brigades performance were likely a direct reflection of the values held by the most influential leaders in this brigade.
There is a good book to be written here in examination of human nature, human potential in war.
I am a soldier who was under Col. Michael Steels command when this so called "kill'em all" speech was given. WE WERE NOT ORDERED OR EVEN ASKED TO KILL UNARMED CIVILANS.
I'm fascinated that among soldiers who have served under or with Col. Steele there can be such wide discrepancies of opinion about the man. Between blog postings that portray him as a hero, and those as the opposite, it's hard for an open-minded person to know what to think. I'm writing about the Iron Rakkasans, and am interested to talk with anyone who had more to say about Col. Steele and the issues described here -- especially if you have first hand knowledge. Please get in touch with me at researching2009@gmail.com.
The trials are over, the guilty are in jail. I am amazed at the things that are never mentioned. Only 4 Soldiers out of a 3,500 strong brigade committed war crimes, the brigade was recognized by USCENTCOM for excellence in combatting terrorism in 2006, and no charges were ever brought against anyone else in the brigade. Has anyone ever heard of COL Ebel? He was the commander of PFC Steven Dale Green, who raped and murdered Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi and killed her family. Where are the MIL BLOGS accusing COL Ebel of telling Green to rape and murder?
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