I don’t think the military should train recruits to kill civilians. I think it damages a person to end someone out of expediency.
Most people are at least somewhat aware of the struggles some veterans have readapting to normal society. But a question that’s rarely asked is how the wars we’ve fought for over a decade may be affecting our domestic policing. Police departments provide a lot of jobs to former vets. According to GI Jobs.com, a Web site for veterans seeking civilian employment, 80 percent of the Dallas Police Department’s hires over a two-year period were military vets; approximately 20 percent of LAPD officers have military backgrounds.
The image of the truck Hernandez and Carranza were driving brought to mind the terrifying accounts relayed to me in 2008, when I interviewed more than a dozen returning Iraq war vets, many of whom had served multiple tours. Several told me how the Rules of Engagement had shifted between their first and last tours; early on, they were told to fire only on people who posed an immediate threat – Iraqis carrying weapons. Later in the conflict, “force protection” became the overarching principle, and several soldiers told me they were ordered to open fire on Iraqis caught walking in the wrong area or carrying tools that might be used to bury a roadside bomb.