Skip to main content

BBC article and my upcoming deployment

Life is funny.  On the day that I leave my regular work (at a desk) and begin the process of deploying to Afghanistan, the BBC runs an article that quotes me, resulting in a deluge of emails and comments at a time when I have little opportunity to engage online.

I spoke with the BBC correspondent, Stephen Evans, more than four years ago when he visited West Point.

So, I ask that those who write me to have patience; my internet connectivity will be limited for the next couple months at least.  I will reply to each of you as I am able.  In fact, next year (summer 12-spring 13) I plan on taking a sabbatical to write a book on ethics in war, so I will (finally) have time to focus, think and write, and I will re-read all the good ideas I've received over the years on this blog.

Here at the replacement center at Ft Benning, GA, I've already enjoyed great conversations with an Army lawyer and an Army doctor about moral decisionmaking.  (The doc even shares my interest in exploring complexity theory and ethics.) Within 10 days, I'll be privileged to hear the stories, experiences, and perspectives of our soldiers who are engaged in the fight.  I am blessed to have such opportunities, and I will do my best to use tleverage my experiences to contribute to the wider conversation on war and morality.

Yours in the search for Truth,

pete

Comments

Hello. This is my first blog comment. When I grow up I want to join the marines and have read so much about them to be proud of. I am also amazed at their endurance and friendship that keeps them alive in the field. However I would like to know one thing. How do soldiers deal with the fear of death? Everyone fears death because the body wants to survive and this is a natural fear but how do soldiers overcome it to achieve their objective or save a stranger or friend? Please comment back soon.
Justin said…
Loved the BBC article, and your remarks in it. Even though you gave them a while ago, they remain current and relevant.

I reviewed the article, and linked back to you at my blog (http://wp.me/pDI8V-e7).

Thanks for continuing the work! As I've said before, I greatly admire you for it.
Cendorphins said…
I just saw that 32 suicides were reported to have occurred in July by Army soldiers. I believe that your material on the morality of killing needs to get to all 500K Army personnel... that it might help reduce this number.

How widespread is your information getting to the men and women that serve so that they can deal with this? Or are suicides the result of other stresses such as the stress of being killed or seeing others killed, or being at great risk in war (as opposed to doing the killing)?
Its really a great honor to know more information regarding the military related work issues which seems to be very interesting.
Pete said…
Cendorphins:

I agree that an understanding of the moral justification for killing in war would help those soldiers who suffer from guilt over killing, or who interpret the sadness of killing another human being and dreaming about those they killed as signs of guilt, which isn't necessarily the case.

But killing-related guilt of shame is only part of the problem. Other big stressors among combat veterans are: excessive use of alchol and prescription drugs; personnel policies (ARFORGEN) that separate vegts from their battle buddies; inability to make sense of the evil they encountered; not-wartime life seems boring and meaningless compared to deployed.

I'm not an expert, but these are some of the things I come across in my interviews.

Thanks for caring.
singulair said…
You have good experience. TWill definately keep close track of these pages.


Actos | Tricor | Avalide | Accupril
Its really a great honor to know more information regarding the military related work issues which seems to be very interesting.
We should always honor these military people for the sacrifices and heroic deeds.
I believe the things you whatever you have enclosed, all the way throughout the post are peaceful striking, good job and great hard work. I found it very striking and enjoyed reading all of it...stay it up, good-looking job. Thanks

Popular posts from this blog

Moral justification for killing in war

This is my latest version of laying out the argument. Feedback is welcomed!


A moral justification for killing in war
By Pete Kilner, 2009


Introduction:
The Army performs many of the same functions as civilian organizations, yet there is one absolutely unique and defining characteristic of our profession—we are organized, equipped and trained to kill people. As company-level leaders, we recruit patriotic young Americans to kill; equip them to kill; train them to kill; develop and issue orders for them to kill; issue fire commands for them to kill; and commend them for killing enemies of our country. We perform our duties well, and the American people sleep safely at night. However, we as a profession generally do not provide our soldiers with an explanation for why it is morally right for them to kill in combat. Consequently, many of the soldiers entrusted to our care suffer needless guilt after killing in war.
The purpose of this article is to offer you a tool—an explanation for the morali…

War can be an Experience of both Heaven and Hell

Many combat veterans have a love/hate relationship with their wartime experiences. They love the profound sense of purpose that their lives had; they hate the senseless evil that necessitated the war. They love the unity they experienced with their fellow soldiers; they hate the destruction they witnessed and sometimes unleashed.
Wars are visible, political conflicts that spawn invisible, moral conflicts within those who fight them.What combat veteran doesn’t feel pride and exhilaration, disgust and anger?That’s a volatile brew of emotions—a cauldron that veterans must recognize and reconcile in order to integrate their wartime experiences into their personal life narratives.
I am a career Army officer who embedded with combat units and interviewed hundreds of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan over multiple deployments. I am also a Christian. In the course of my own struggle to integrate my identity as a soldier with my larger identity as a Christian, I gained an insight—one informed by …

Killing enemy combatants--a justification

Introduction
The profession of arms talks about ‘morality and war’ using legal terms and concepts. For example, we justify our decision to deploy and fight when the President orders us because we signed a contract to obey the officers appointed over us. Similarly, we consider ourselves blameless when we kill enemy combatants as long as we do not violate the laws of war or the rules of engagement in doing so. These legal rules are so important to our professional identity that all soldiers receive instruction on the laws of war in basic combat training and then annually thereafter, and soldiers at war review the rules of engagement much more often, sometimes daily.

Not everyone in our society, however, accepts these legal answers to moral questions. War pacifists are people who believe that war is morally unjustifiable. They claim that soldiers are morally wrong to participate in war and to kill other human beings, regardless of what’s legally permissible at the time.

Currently, we milita…